The Story Behind That Horrific “Handmaid’s Tale” Opening Scene

The Handmaid’s Tale has returned, and it’s already given us a shocking first episode that makes us all wonder how they would ever surpass that in the rest of the second season. We were forewarned by the show’s producers that this shock was going to happen, yet seeing the actual horrors were more than we could’ve ever anticipated.

We’re now past Margaret Atwood’s story in her novel, and Offred is still living in Gilead along with the rest of the handmaids that survived season 1. We saw the first season close with the ladies rebelling against Ann Dowd’s Aunt Lydia, and so here they are now, ever ready for punishment. The handmaids, all in their iconic red dresses, were rounded up, handcuffed, and muzzled with brown leather gags. They were led through to the familiar sights of what once was Fenway Park, one of the most iconic ballparks in the history of the nation. In the story, Fenway Park was not another nameless place. Rather, it’s the representation of what had happened to society in that future. What once offered joy and excitement in people was now a place of death and execution. The field was set up with several gallows, ready for a mass handmaid hanging.

Except they didn’t die. The entire set up was simply a ruse to strike fear among the handmaids. The entire scene lasted nothing but eight and a half minutes, but it was some of the most effective moments the show has ever seen since the beginning. It was also a marvel of talent genius, especially since it was a performance done in silence, where the actors had to convey through only their eyes.

According to executive producer Warren Littlefield, there had to have been consequences for what happened in the season 1 finale. When the handmaids united in action and did not stone Janine to death, you knew that something bad was going to happen. You knew that the regime would retaliate–only they waited until this season to do so. In retrospect, we’re actually surprised that the hanging didn’t actually go through. It’s probably all in the fact that the handmaids now definitively know that the regime could get to them, and they could kill the handmaids anytime they wish.

It’s also important to point out the fact that the event took place in Fenway. It was simply a reminder of things past, of the way life used to be and the way it is now. There was actually a little bit of filming magic done in that episode, which only adds to the marvel of this episode. Elizabeth Moss, who plays Offred, and the rest of the cast actually filmed the scene in Ontario, Canada, while the camera crew took a few shots of the field while in Boston. The finished scene was put together in the studio. How they ever captured the emotion of it all without being even on location is why they are the professionals. We can’t wait to see what the show has in store for the rest of the season. If they’re starting it out this way, we can only imagine what horrors we’ll be seeing in the future.

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