It’s funny how the stars eventually align and life turns out the way you want it to. For one of our fave TV shows, The Handmaid’s Tale, we finally get to see Offred and her badass daughter, Emily, face off against one another. And what a showdown it is!
Tom Pattinson (Peter Mullin) and Harry Van De Kamp (Isaac Hempstead Wright) go head to head in a battle of wits and wills that has us gripped from the very beginning.
Watching these two middle-aged men engage in such verbal jousting makes me laugh because it’s so reminiscent of my own dad and uncle, who were best friends and went on to appear in several iconic films together. They would argue about politics and sports and eventually wind up in the other’s arms, passionately kissing. I’m sure you’ve experienced this type of male bonding, whether in a movie or in real life.
Well, The Handmaid’s Tale definitely doesn’t lack for excitement as these two alpha males—one a wealthy bachelor and the other a respected minister—square off against each other in a classic David vs. Goliath story that spans several decades. This epic battle of wills and wealth is ultimately won by the women (and a bit of magic)—but you’ll have to watch the whole season to find out how!
I didn’t want to miss out on this historical event, so I decided to rewatch The Handmaid’s Tale this past week. With only one episode left to go and a cliffhanger ending, I needed a refresher on how things ended up in the fabulousness that is Offred’s story.
Based on the Margaret Atwood novel of the same name, The Handmaid’s Tale is an adaptation of Atwood’s 1985 novel. It is an epic tale of power and oppression, starring Elisabeth Moss as Offred and Samira Wiley as her handmaid, June. You can read my full recap of the show here if you want to catch up.
Let’s begin by taking a look at Offred, played by Moss. She is a lonely, oppressed handmaid, whose entire existence is dedicated to serving the whims of her evil mistress, Reverend Mother Gudrún (Jenny Beath).
From the moment we meet Offred, we know exactly what type of person she is and what she stands for. She is a strong, intelligent woman who dares to question the established order of society. While her handmaid’s uniform is not the most fashion-forward outfit you’ll ever see—basically a long, brown dress with a white apron and a pinafore—it is the little details like the wrist cuffs that make it clear that this is a woman who knows exactly what she wants and isn’t afraid to get it!
But as the show progresses, we see that Offred is far from perfect. Despite her intelligence and moral backbone, she has a very limited support network and is completely dependent on the kindness of strangers, particularly when she is pregnant. Fortunately for her, she is given a reprieve when her former mistress, the fearsome Reverend Mother, has a change of heart and takes her under her wing.
What makes The Handmaid’s Tale such an intense episode to watch is that it explores the ripple effect that a simple decision offred makes for her world. One decision changes everything; it puts her life on a completely different course. In the final moments of the episode, we see this decision manifested in the form of an entirely different life for our Offred. With a new baby boy in her arms and a new sense of purpose, she dares to dream.
Tom Pattinson And Harry Van De Kamp
Now onto the men who bring this epic tale to life!
The first thing you’ll notice about Tom Pattinson (Mullin) and Harry Van De Kamp (Wright) is how much they have in common. They are both handsome, charming men who enjoy life and are protective of those they love. They also happen to be best friends who have known each other since childhood and have been inseparable ever since.
These two alpha males’ lifelong friendship is what makes them so compelling to watch. They argue about everything from politics to sports to current events, but in the end, they always end up hugging it out. They genuinely care about one another’s well-being and want what’s best for each other. Watching them bicker and back each other up, even when they are arguing about something that isn’t physically threatening, is incredibly endearing.
On the surface, this relationship seems fair and just. After all, they are both middle-aged, single men who have lots of time on their hands, so why not hang out and have some fun?
The truth is—and this is something you’ll have to decide for yourself after watching the episode—is that this friendship is extremely unhealthy for Tom Pattinson. He enjoys the benefits of bachelorhood (which is nice because he’s single and attractive), but he wants more than anything to settle down with someone he cares about. So while he’s perfectly happy to shower Harry with praise and admiration, in reality, he sees his friend as an obstacle to true love.
Why Is Tom Pattinson An Obstacle To True Love?
Let’s now examine why Tom Pattinson is an obstacle to true love. First of all, he’s a little too eager to please, which can sometimes backfire. For example, when he volunteers to accompany Emily (Dolores O’Riordan) to a costume party as her chaperone, he shows off his good looks and charm and is actually quite witty and knowledgeable about fashion. Unfortunately, this won’t be enough to persuade Emily that he’s the one she should settle down with. When he tries to kiss her at the end of the episode, she rejects him.
More importantly, as I mentioned above, Tom isn’t willing to let go of his best friend, Harry. Even when Harry decides to end their friendship, Tom isn’t ready to let go completely. So while he respects and appreciates Emily, he can’t help but feel an instant connection with Harry’s other daughter, Carol (Cara Buono). It’s not that he doesn’t like Emily, per se, it’s just that he likes Carol more.
Carol, The Real Winner
As for Carol, she is the real winner of this epic battle of the wills. Not only does she manage to steal the heart of Tom, but it also turns out that she is well-suited to be married to a man who has so much going for him.
First of all, we should mention that Carol isn’t exactly the type of woman to settle for less than she wants. Her fierce ambition and strong will make her an incredibly independent and determined individual. When she tells Tom, her father, and his wife, Emily, that she is engaged, they initially think she is joking—but she isn’t! She has found the man of her dreams and is determined to make him her husband. She is also well-aware of her family’s wealth, which she wants to use to help others—particularly women living in poverty.
What makes Carol such an incredible character is that she is intelligent, strong, and independent, yet she still has a soft heart. She always puts others before herself and works hard to prove to her loved ones (and the world) that she is a worthy partner for the man she loves. While she may play a minor role in the final season of The Handmaid’s Tale (she and Emily are framed for a crime they didn’t commit), it is clear that Carol’s time has come. She finds true happiness with her fiance and is an inspiration to us all.
A Battle Of Wits
This episode, particularly the final scene, is full of epic clashes of wits and wills. We are treated to a breathtaking display of intellect as these two middle-aged men engage in an intellectual duel—one that winds up in the other’s arms, passionately kissing. What an exciting moment this is!