There is more fight and light in this series than I expected, but don't get it twisted: this is some rough stuff. From the start, you're immersed in a world of fear, struggle, and heartbreak. In the new theocratic republic of Gilead, Offred must suppress her inner rebel to survive as a handmaid ("two-legged womb") to a powerful commander. We also see her life "before," when she was a carefree student, then a new mom. And we see glimpses of the country's transition. It's terrifyingly realistic. It's extraordinarily compelling TV.
The show follows an ensemble whose lives connect in a surprising way. That's right folks, there's a reveal! And it's really good. The final couple of minutes of this premiere are straight-up goosebumpy. And everything that comes before that moment is pretty damn good, too.
Kiefer Sutherland proves once again that he's a legitimately great actor as he plays a lower-level cabinet member who unexpectedly becomes president after a devastating attack on the Capitol. It starts quickly with a sequence that, while you know it's coming, still manages to shock. And the tension continues as this character, a man who has no business being president, decides what he should do (he is just as freaked out as everyone else).