Before this week I was unsure how The Handmaid's Tale, a relatively short novel by Margaret Atwood, could be adapted into multiple seasons of television. However, this week's Luke-centric episode expands the world and opens up several avenues for the dystopian series to take going forward. Be warned, there are spoilers for The Handmaid's Tale ahead. Episode 7 also introduces a new haven in Toronto that not only provides hope, but gives another side to this fundamentalist takeover. Is Little America, Toronto from The Handmaid's Tale real, and how quickly can I move there?
Unfortunately, this town or neighborhood does not exist in our world — or in the world of the novel. In 2013, a Canadian satire radio program called "This Is That" did a fake segment on a Toronto neighborhood called "Little America," but The Handmaid's Tale has (likely without knowing it) made that joke a reality.
In the show, the neighborhood seems to be centrally located and near Lake Ontario, with Toronto's CN tower in view. While resources like coffee are rationed, Luke and his fellow runaway are safe and settled there after escaping Gilead three years ago. The girl played by actor Erin Way still isn't speaking, presumably as a result of trauma endured in a handmaid training center, but she and Luke seem to have a healthy roommate relationship.
At the end of the episode he's called in to what seems to be some kind of central government office — maybe even May Day headquarters — and receives the message that June left with the Mexican trade delegate's assistant.
I'm fascinated by this flag, and the aesthetic design of Little America. That's Alexander Hamilton up there on the wall with Ben Franklin. Glad to see they chose to cool founding fathers. A portrait of Abraham Lincoln is on the other side of the room. Why are some of the stars only outlines? Are there states in America that haven't fallen to Gilead? The details are incredible.
The halls are also lined with missing person flyers, and people waiting to get news. Gilead is so clean and structured. That's part of what makes it so scary. I loved seeing, as the episode's title suggests, "The Other Side" to this dystopian society.
It's messy. There is a lot of pain, but there are attempts at progress. Little America is hopeful but not a savior yet. They're surviving just like everyone who is still stuck in the country formerly known as America against their will. I sincerely can't wait to see more of this community, and other parts of the world in the aftermath of Gilead in The Handmaid's Tale Season 2.