Moira's 'Handmaid's Tale' Fate Has Changed Dramatically

by Victoria McNally

It's hard to know where you'd end up in a revolution like the one in The Handmaid's Tale. I'd like to think I would escape and survive. But the reality is not even Moira, who better represents the fierce rebellious heroine that most would like to see themselves as, was able to survive with her rebellious spirit intact. At least, it seemed like she hadn’t until the end of the latest Handmaid’s Tale episode, where she appears to have gotten her second wind — but where Is Moira going in The Handmaid's Tale now that she’s escaped again?

Moira’s fate bothered me the first time I read Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale, although I suspect that it was intended to do so. Throughout the book — and the series, too, up to her return in Episode 8 — she seems like an unstoppable force. Even before the rise of Gilead, Moira is depicted as a proud, rebellious feminist; when things start to go south, she’s the first to see the writing on the wall, and even under captivity she’s clear-headed and calculating. Of course she tries to escape the Red Center, because exactly the type of person she is — a fighter to the end.

George Krayachyk/Hulu

But after her escape attempt fails and she’s given the choice to live out her days at Jezebel’s, Moira seems a little more humbled, and a little more resigned to her fate. It’s not so bad, she tells Offred when they meet; she gets a roof over her head and all the food and alcohol she wants, as long as she prostitutes herself for men who despise her. In the book, Offred describes the shock of seeing how she’s changed:

She is frightening me now, because what I hear in her voice is indifference, a lack of volition. Have they really done it to her then, taken away something — what? — that used to be so central to her? And how can I expect her to go on, with my idea of her courage, live it through, act it out, when I myself do not?

Of course, the book’s version Offred is not so tenacious as her TV counterpart, who’s more than willing to put her safety on the line to help the Maidez resistance. When Moira objects, telling Offred that she should “Go home and do what they say,” Offred isn’t afraid to call Moira out on her uncharacteristic cowardice. She even mirrors what Moira once told Janine: “You keep your f*cking sh*t together, and you fight.”

Even though Moira continues to blame Offred for her hesitation (but why? Is it out of guilt? Relief?), she clearly takes her friend’s words to heart. Not only does Moira help Offred achieve her objective for Maidez by the end of the episode, but she also puts on an encore performance of her original escape attempt by fashioning a weapon out of a toilet part, disguising herself in an authority figure’s clothes, and getting as far away from her captors as she can.

George Krayachyk/Hulu

It’s not clear where Moira is going now, but knowing what she knows about how Lucas made it across the border alive, it’s likely she’ll try to head in the same direction. Heck, she might even make it pretty far in her military uniform and vehicle. Even if she doesn’t, though, it’s empowering to see her still fighting with a smile on her face. Not everyone would be as brave as her and Offred if something like The Handmaid’s Tale ever came true, but at least they’re both here to inspire audiences now.