There is no question that Season 2 of The Handmaid's Tale presented us with some of the most disturbing and difficult-to-watch scenes in television history. It pushed the boundaries like nothing else, and actor Joseph Fiennes has opened up about one particular scene he believed went too far, which he successfully fought to get cut from the script.
Spoilers for The Handmaid's Tale Season 2 below
Speaking to Entertainment Weekly for a SAG-AFTRA Foundation event, Fiennes said that the scene in question was due to appear in Episode 9 of Season 2, when his character Fred and Serena (Yvonne Strahovski) travel to Canada on a diplomatic mission in support of Gilead.
Fiennes explained, in part: "We had a moment where Fred was going to rape — after meeting Luke (June's husband, played by O.T. Fagbenle) — rape Serena in a hotel room straight after, and it just didn't track for me. I had to go out on a limb and refuse to do it because I felt that even though Fred is who he is, he's human."
He added: "And I think that he would be reeling from the interaction with Luke, and that suddenly the reality comes face to face with him and he would be digesting that and trying to understand it, and he wouldn’t necessarily be switched on by being in Canada in a new hotel and trying to heavily persuade his wife to do something that she wouldn’t want to do."
The actor succeeded in getting the offending scene removed after writing a number of long emails, presumably to showrunners, and eventually made his case that "Yvonne had tracked Serena so beautifully that her disenfranchisement with the regime and Fred was so beautifully charted it didn't need a heavy scene to kind of suddenly push her over the edge."
It would have certainly changed the tone of the episode, titled "Smart Power," and the course of the second season had the scene gone ahead. It's the first time that we really see Serena have significant doubts about her role in Gilead, and more than that, that she might want to defect herself when she's offered an escape route to Hawaii by an ex-U.S. government official.
Although it was a relatively subtle scene for the show, it was a powerful shift for Serena, and the idea of her turning her back on Gilead is something that will surely be explored in Season 3.
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