Here’s what’s happening in the world of television for Wednesday, June 12. All times are Eastern.
June finds herself once again in the orbit of the Waterfords on The Handmaid’s Tale, but hey, at least Janine (Cam’s Madeline Brewer) is back. Read on for our conversation with Brewer, as well as a bit about Martin Scorsese’s unconventional trip down Bob Dylan’s memory lane.
The Handmaid’s Tale (Hulu, 3:01 a.m.): Last week, Hulu unleashed three episodes of a show you definitely should not binge, all at once; this week, we’re mercifully back down to one. With The Handmaid’s Tale, one is usually more than enough. In this week’s installment, June (Elisabeth Moss) somehow winds up attempting to broker peace between Fred (Joseph Fiennes) and Serena (Yvonne Strahovski), and while that’s certainly the main event, it looks like we’re also due for some time with Janine—and anything that brings Madeline Brewer back on the scene is welcome in our books.
Seriously, remember this?
She’s good, is what we’re saying. In a top-tier cast, she stands out. And like June, Emily, and Moira, she’s got depths unexplored. We spoke with Brewer briefly about what we can expect for Janine this season, her relationship with the not-at-all Aunt Lydia-like Ann Dowd, and how she manages to hit punchlines in a nightmarish show like this one.
The A.V. Club: Janine’s had a particularly hard time of it. Without giving too much away, what’s her arc like in season three?
Madeline Brewer: There’s definitely not a typical shape to it. Her arc bounces around quite a bit. There’s a lot that’s happened to Janine, and she’s working towards being able to take matters into her own hands. Janine is the kind of character who has things thrust upon her, she isn’t always proactive. I think she kind of stays in her little world, and that’s been working for her. But if it stops working, she’ll need to try something new.
AVC: One thing we’ve seen more and more throughout the series is Janine’s sense of humor. You get the sense that before Gilead, she was probably wickedly funny.
MB: I mean, the writing is so brilliant. I feel very lucky in that those moments of levity, those fun kind of dry wit moments, are in some scenes reserved for Janine. She kind of breaks that really tense wall because she gets to live in a world of her own. June has her inner monologue, but Janine says hers out loud, in a “what did you just say?” kind of way. That’s very fun.
AVC: On the flip side, there’s her very complicated, upsetting relationship with Aunt Lydia. How do you define that, when it’s so complex and contradictory?
MB: It’s just layers and layers. Ann Dowd—it’s funny, because she’s just like a second mother to me. I love her like family. I just love that woman. And you’re right, it’s a very complicated relationship—but if you thought that in the first and second seasons, you have no idea. It’s like, “oh my god, these two women.” It’s very different than June and Lydia’s dynamic. There, there’s a power struggle. With Aunt Lydia and Janine, it’s almost like a mother and child thing, in a deeply fucked up way. Like, “I love you so much, fuck you.”
Rolling Thunder Revue: A Bob Dylan Story By Martin Scorsese (Netflix, 3:01 a.m.): Part long-lost concert film (stitched together by Martin Scorsese, who also directed the gargantuan Dylan documentary No Direction Home), part Scorsese-created origin story, this is a curious feature, to say the least. That doesn’t mean it’s not a compelling one. Here’s our own Mike D’Angelo on the film:
...While the tour’s “revue” aspect largely gets lost, Dylan himself is a wheel on fire, all but snarling into the microphone from beneath the white face paint he wore most nights, apparently as a glam-influenced mask. Indeed, Rolling Thunder’s primary frustration is that Scorsese repeatedly cuts away mid-song in order to contextualize what we’re seeing with talking-head interviews (including a rare contemporary sit-down with Dylan himself). The film is strongest when simply observing these legendary performances, largely unseen for four long decades.
Read Mike’s review for more.