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Serena Joy Doesn’t Deserve A Redemption Arc In Handmaid’s Tale

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Hulu’s The Handmaid’s Tale is trying to redeem one of its main villains, Serena Joy Waterford – but she doesn’t deserve it. Serena is one of the most despicable characters in The Handmaid’s Tale, with the character being one of the show’s only villains to go completely unpunished for her crimes so far. However, rather than having the citizens of Gilead get revenge on Serena, The Handmaid’s Tale is attempting to vindicate the monster who spent years torturing June. Although The Handmaid’s Tale‘s controversial Serena story may be playing into the show’s themes, Serena Waterford is just too far gone to deserve a redemption arc.

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Serena Joy Waterford has been one of The Handmaid’s Tale since the very beginning, appearing alongside Fred Waterford in season 1 of the Hulu series. Although Fred Waterford was killed in The Handmaid’s Tale season 4, with the Handmaids getting revenge on their former tormenter, Serena has managed to live with no signs of her paying for her crimes anytime soon. In The Handmaid’s Tale season 5, Serena lives in Canada alongside her newborn baby, with the show putting the character in a more positive light. Now that Serena is fleeing Canada with the rest of the Gileadean refugees, it seems that The Handmaid’s Tale is trying to redeem her.

Related: Handmaid’s Tale: Everything Season 6 Needs To Do To Set Up The Testaments


The Handmaid’s Tale Is Trying To Redeem Serena Joy

Serena in The Handmaids Tale season 5 episode 7

The Handmaid’s Tale is obviously setting up a redemption arc for Serena Waterford by trying to have the character learn from the error of her ways. The Handmaid’s Tale season 5 attempts to portray Serena as more sympathetic, with Serena receiving Fred’s severed finger after June sends it to her. Serena’s mourning over Fred’s death was a huge part of the character’s story in The Handmaid’s Tale season 5, almost as if the show wanted the audience to feel bad for the villain. Fred’s murder is one of the show’s most cathartic moments, making it odd for the series to use this event as the crux of Serena Joy’s redemption.

The Handmaid’s Tale is also attempting to redeem Serena by having her (and by proxy, the audience) realize that she is as much of a victim of Gilead’s systems as the Handmaids. Throughout season 5, Serena is staying with the Wheeler family, with their abusive treatment of Serena highlighting this. Serena’s time away from Gilead in Canadian prison is another example of this, with the series portraying the Canadians as cruel for keeping her in prison while she is pregnant and mourning. The series has clearly set up Serena’s thematic need for redemption, and the way in which The Handmaid’s Tale is going about executing it is rather odd.

The Handmaid’s Tale is attempting to redeem Serena Joy by not only having her relationship with June improve, but by having the two form a friendship. Although June starts out the season wanting to kill Serena, the two team up throughout season 5, killing an Eye and escaping Gilead. June is with Serena while she gives birth to her child, and the two even seem to be warming up to each other while on the train in The Handmaid’s Tale season 5 finale. Season 6 will undoubtedly continue this redemption arc – but it really doesn’t work.

Serena Joy’s Actions Put Her Beyond Redemption

the handmaid's tale 504 serena joy

Serena Joy Waterford is by far one of the evilest characters in The Handmaid’s Tale. Serena oversees the rape of June countless times throughout the early seasons of The Handmaid’s Tale, which is one of the most horrendous things someone can do. Serena also constantly threatens the lives of June’s children, using Hannah as a carrot. Serena has betrayed not only The Handmaid’s Tale‘s protagonists, but her own friends, with her framing and giving up various Commanders in order to increase her own power. Serena has done so many horrendous things that she does not deserve salvation.

Related: The Handmaid’s Tale Already Hinted How June Can Never Truly Win

Serena Joy doesn’t just interpersonally hurt people, though. She is also key to maintaining Gilead’s evil systems of power and abuse. Serena is spreading Gilead’s ideology in Canada, with her position as a Gileadean ambassador actively making the world a far worse place. Serena has major influence in Gilead’s halls of power, with her directly desiring to maintain Gilead’s theocratic fascism. She and her husband Fred are even the roots of Gilead, with the two starting the movement that would eventually lead to the overthrowing of the United States. Serena isn’t just a participant in Gilead’s evil systems – she’s the creator of them.

Joy’s Redemption Undermines June’s Suffering

Serena and June standing face to face on a train on The Handmaid's Tale

Redeeming Serena isn’t just bad because she doesn’t deserve it. Redeeming Serena also hurts the story of The Handmaid’s Tale by undermining June’s suffering. Serena has tormented June throughout all five seasons of The Handmaid’s Tale, with one of June’s biggest goals in season 5 being to kill Serena Joy Waterford. However, June seems to be forgiving Serena in the latter half of the season, working together with her and even possibly turning into her friend. This is completely nonsensical and out of character for June, with the redemption arc making June’s story so much weaker.

On top of that, redeeming Serena Waterford almost makes it seem like June’s suffering wasn’t that significant. If Serena can be forgiven for the systemic rape and murder of thousands of innocent people, then any of Gilead’s elites can be forgiven. The Handmaid’s Tale‘s portrayal of Gilead’s crimes is absolutely horrific, but now it seems like the series is retroactively making it seem inconsequential. June and Serena’s new relationship in season 5 goes completely against June’s experiences that the show set up, with potential themes of forgiveness and redemption being much weaker than those of revolt and change.

Joy Isn’t Redeemed In The Original Handmaid’s Tale Book

Serena Joy Handmaid's Tale

Serena Joy clearly doesn’t deserve forgiveness, and even The Handmaid’s Tale author Margaret Atwood understands this. Serena isn’t redeemed in the original The Handmaid’s Tale book, with her rotten villainy bookending the novel. At the end of the book, Serena discovers a relationship between June and a Commander, with her treatment of June causing the protagonist to contemplate suicide. One of Serena’s last scenes involves Serena berating June and calling her a slut, highlighting the lack of redemption Serena got. While the show seems to be taking Serena’s arc in a different direction, redeeming her in any way could hurt The Handmaid’s Tale as a whole.

More: The Handmaid’s Tale: What Happens To June In The Book

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Denis Ava
Denis Avahttps://bizgrows.com/
Denis Ava is mainly a business blogger who writes for Biz Grows. Rather than business blogs he loves to write and explore his talents in other niches such as fashion, technology, travelling,finance,etc.

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