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Recap / The Handmaids Tale S 1 E 1 Offred

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Offred introduces us to the series' protagonist and Unreliable Narrator, Offred. It starts with a bang as Offred and her husband, seeing what's coming, try to escape through the woods into Canada. Cut to Offred, alone in her room, reflecting on her new life as a sex slave for a powerful Commander.

Tropes featured in "Offred" include:

  • Adaptation Expansion: While the plot sticks fairly close to the novel and sets up Gilead, there are several small differences. Also Ofglen's story; in the book, little is revealed about her except that she's a subversive working with La Résistance, and her ultimate end.
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  • Bathe Her and Bring Her to Me: A bath is required before "the Ceremony."
  • Becoming the Mask: During the Particicution, Offred finds herself caught up in the angry mob activities, despite herself.
  • Better Than Sex: According to Ofglen, the salted caramel ice cream they used to sell at the store which now offers ugly Puritan dresses for little girls.
  • Black Best Friend: Downplayed, but due to the Race Lift, Moira is this to Offred.
  • Black Dude Dies First : Luke being shot while the family tries to escape to Canada is the opening scene of the series. Later subverted, when it is revealed that he survived the gunshot and he eventually manages to escape.
  • Blood from the Mouth: The rapist spouts blood when being bashed by the handmaids.
  • Break the Haughty: Janine learns the hard way that her cocky demeanor is not getting her anywhere in the maiden school.
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  • Catchphrase: Of a sort. "Under His Eye," and Offred and Ofglen's "Blessed be the fruit" exchange.
  • Creator Cameo: Margaret Atwood has a cameo as one of the Aunts.
  • Dead Guy on Display: Offred and her companion come by three hanged men on display.
  • Deadly Euphemism: Apparently "Salvaging" stands for Public Execution of delinquents.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Offred is snarkier than in the book.
  • Dramatic Chase Opening: The opening scene shows Offred and her family being chased by some mooks.
  • Drill Sergeant Nasty: The Aunts, who carry electric cattle prods to beat anyone who gets out of line. Aunt Lydia is particularly brutal.
  • Eye Scream: Janine gets an eye plucked out for mouthing off to the Aunts.
    If mine right eye offend thee, pluck it out.
  • For Doom the Bell Tolls: Church bells signal a planned "Salvaging."
  • Get a Hold of Yourself, Man!: After Janine loses it, Moira slaps her and tells her exactly what will happen if she's caught.
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  • Get Out!: Serena wants Offred out of her room after the ceremony.
  • Ikea Erotica: Deliberately, as the Ceremony is supposed to be soulless.
  • Lie Back and Think of England: Offred during the ceremony.
  • Named by the Adaptation A few of the names chosen by the series for unnamed book characters are revealed in this episode:
    • The Commander and Serena Joy are given the last name Waterford. (While this was in the book, they did not appear to know which "Fred" might have been Offred's commander, as there were two possibilities. Additionally in the book "Serena Joy" is possibly an alias Offred made up, whereas here it is Serena's real name).
    • Offred does not reveal her name in the novel, but during an early scene in the Red Centre, one of the names revealed is "June." Many people have opined that June must be the narrator's name as all other characters named in the opening chapter are seen except June, so the creators of the series went with that interpretation.
  • Persecuted Intellectuals: Academics were sent to the Colonies, but Ofglen was made a handmaid because of her fertility.
  • Public Execution: The "Salvaging" in which the Handmaids participate.
  • Right Through His Pants: Everyone is fully dressed throughout the Ceremony, with the Commander reading the Bible to make it even creepier.
  • Run for the Border:
    • Unsuccessfully in the opening scene of the series. June and her family try to escape. Her husband Luke is shot off-screen and their daughter Hannah is abducted.
    • Ofglen tells June that she also attempted to flee to Canada. She was caught at an airport because she didn't have a Canadian passport, however her wife and son successfully escaped.
  • Sanity Slippage: Janine undergoes it during her time in reeducation at the Red Centre. By her time she's a full fledged Handmaid she's a complete Cloud Cuckoolander who has embraced her role as a Handmaid.
  • Slut-Shaming: One of the most memorable scenes from the book is recreated when the Handmaids in training point at Janine and say it's her fault that she was gang-raped and that God allowed it to teach her a lesson.


Example of: