We need to talk about The Handmaid’s Tale.
More specifically, the confusing new world we were introduced to in episode three.
In the episode, entitled Baggage, June leaves the Boston Globe building where she’s been hiding out for two months.
She’s picked up by Omar (played by Yahya Abdul-Mateen II), a member of Mayday, the resistance movement that’s helping her escape.
Together they travel to his bleak, grey apartment building in a part of Gilead we had never seen before.
The plan is for June to hide out there overnight, and then Omar would help her get to an airstrip, where a plane would be waiting to fly her out of Gilead.
Having The Handmaid’s Tale withdrawals? Alias Grace will also hook you in. We discuss, on The Binge. Post continues.
Omar and his wife, Heather (Joanna Douglas), are part of the lowest class in Gilead. They are what’s known as the ‘econopeople’. Heather is a ‘econowife’.
They also have a young son.
This scene has left fans with some pretty big questions, including who actually gets to decides who’s an econoperson, who’s a handmaid, and who’s a driver? And why are the econopeople allowed to raise children when the handmaids, like June, are not?
Diehard Gilead fans have offered some much needed theories online.
You see, June always makes reference to the fact she was an “adulteress” in her previous life. Her relationship with her husband Luke began before he was technically divorced, which seems to be a pretty big deal in Gilead.
And Ofglen (Alexis Bledel) was considered a sinner by the regime because she was in a same-sex relationship.
So, many believe the econowives were spared from being handmaids because they were living good “moral” lives before Gilead. Where as, the handmaids may have been doing something that the regime considered a crime.
“Speaking within the confines of the show… econowives can be fertile or infertile,” wrote Reddit user Tary_n. “They are not handmaids because they committed no crimes and were in legitimate heterosexual marriages pre-Gilead.”
There are still some lingering questions over why the econwives are allowed to keep their children when they’re such a scarcity in Gilead.
The answer, however, might be hidden in Margaret Atwood’s original book.
In the epilogue Atwood hints the econowives might be pressured into becoming handmaids as Gilead becomes even more intense in the near future.
The Handmaid’s Tale season two episode four drops on SBS on Demand at 5pm on Thursday.