Aunt Lydia in ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ season 3 is spiraling out of control and her assault on Janine is proof
From using her electric cattle prod to punish the handmaids under her purview for stepping out of line to when she readily punished Janine by gouging her eyes out, her penchant for violence is something that has clearly come across in the dystopian show
Aunt Lydia (Ann Dowd) in 'The Handmaid's Tale' is a character you love to hate. From using her electric cattle prod to punish the handmaids under her purview for stepping out of line to when she readily punished Janine by gouging her eyes out, her penchant for violence is something that has clearly come across in the dystopian show.
What has always stayed under wraps was the inkling of compassion that still exists in her. It comes across in fleeting moments when she converses with Janine for the most part initially in the first two seasons. She is, however, a stickler for rules and that side of her will always wins and this is also the reason why her rescuing Emily from the colonies was written off as a deed for Gilead's sake.
Now, all of this has surfaced in season 3 and Aunt Lydia is spiraling out of control, fighting with herself and the people around her to prove she is still in control. In truth, she, of course, lost control the moment Emily stabbed her in the back and pushed her down the stairs. This was someone she considered one of her girls, and to being betrayed was not the only thing Aunt Lydia had to come to terms with.
She also survives to learn Emily has escaped and no longer under her control, and this has made her question everything she believes in. Was it all ever really under her control? We see this doubt surface yet again when Aunt Lydia loses her s*** and attacks Janine violently for suggesting she become Commander Putnam's handmaid again to give birth to another baby just so she could stay with Angela.
She uses her baton taser on Janine in the presence of the high commanders at one of their residences. This is not something one would expect of her and the looks thrown at her by the commanders and their wives prove that Aunt Lydia is probably losing her marbles.
She was walking a tight rope, trying to make it seem like nothing had changed while she directed the handmaids and oversaw their behavior in the commanders' residence, but there is nothing that can erase the inkling of doubt that Emily's act gave birth to. Will this be a stronger reason for her to resist Mayday or will this serve as a purpose to get her to switch sides?
We must also remember that this is the season that will show us a bit of Aunt Lydia's past. Who was she really before Gilead and what was her life like? What really inspired her to come up with something like "'Ordinary' is what you are used to. This may not seem ordinary to you now, but after a time it will. It will become ordinary." It would be fascinating to see how her past fits into the puzzle she has become today.
Executive producer Warren Littlefield revealed to the media that the eighth episode of season 3 will devote an extensive amount of time to show the audience what life for Aunt Lydia was like pre-Gilead. Speaking about working on this sequence, Ann Dowd said, "I can tell you without exaggeration it was eight of the finest days of my life. If I talk, I'm going to cry." She also added that seeing her character's past may help people understand her intentions in the present. Dowd said, "That's the hope, isn't it? When we see why or where a person hurts, things change, don't they?"
Episode 5 of 'The Handmaid's Tale' season 3 will air Wednesday, June 19 on Hulu.