TV Club: On The Handmaid’s Tale, a deep breath just helps the punches land harder

As in all things, there are degrees of difficulty in television. It’s harder, for example, to stick the landing (Lost) than it is to create a perfect pilot (also Lost). Neither are remotely close to easy, but the to-do list is so much longer and the margin of error much smaller when you’re bringing something to an end.

It’s not as tough a proposition as a series finale, not by a long shot, but a second episode has a much higher degree of difficulty than a pilot. Gone, for the most part, are thrilling character introductions. Much of the world-building has been dispensed with, and there’s not the same need for a sexy hook designed to lure viewers who may have just been testing the waters. Instead, writers need to create the groundwork for much of what’s to follow without losing the momentum with which …

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