“She’s been kind of a damsel in distress sometimes.”
For her role as Janine in the The Handmaid’s Tale, Madeline Brewer spent much of her first season on the show experiencing the very worst of what Gilead has to offer, complete with a cliffhanger in which her character was nearly stoned to death. Viewers were left with little in the way of answers regarding the future of the Handmaid when season one of the Hulu series concluded, but as recent episodes have revealed, everything is about to change in Gilead — including Janine.
“Janine is not really the same person that she was last season,” Madeline tells Teen Vogue. “She has kind of developed this new way of looking at the world. She’s changed a lot and evolved from when we last saw her.” During the second episode of season two, viewers caught a brief glance of the former Handmaid arriving at The Colonies, a labor camp used as punishment in Gilead’s autocratic society. It wasn’t until this week, in episode five, that we witnessed the full transformation Madeline speaks of.
Prior to this second season, Janine had faced continual hardships, the least of which included losing an eye for speaking out against a number of Gilead officials. At times, her story was heartbreaking, and although Janine had struggled to “find the light,” the heroic and lifesaving act of resistance her fellow Handmaids displayed in last season’s finale was a catalyst for change. “Last season, Janine was so drowning in darkness,” Madeline says. “She had to find a reason to keep going, and now that she’s danced with death twice she’s so grateful to be alive. She sees The Colony as another chance of life, even though they go to work there and die. She feels really deeply that by some divine miracle she’s been saved.”
This week’s episode highlighted just how different Janine’s outlook on life has become. In a scene with Emily (Alexis Bledel), another former Handmaid, Janine argues that despite how terrible the conditions of The Colony may be that her life had been spared twice and “there’s gotta be a reason.” Emily disagrees with the sentiments and notes their lives are devoid of purpose, saying: “We come here, we work, we die.”The contrasting viewpoints between the two stand out for much of the episode and culminate in a moving final scene. Janine orchestrates an exchange of wedding vows between two residents of The Colony. The nuptials, which occur between Fiona and Kit, causes a final scene of friction between Janine and Emily.
In a crucial moment of the episode, Emily reminds Janine that “this place is hell and covering it up in flowers doesn’t change anything.” Janine once again disagrees, saying: “So what? We come here, we die, so what if we die happy?”
Madeline tells Teen Vogue that the pair’s interactions were among some of her most important scenes. “Emily and Janine are so vastly different,” she says. “Janine sees it as an enchanted life, an opportunity and Emily sees it as hell on earth. I think it was good to show that juxtaposition of the two.”
It remains to be seen how Janine approaches the remainder of her time at The Colonies, but Madeline promises a continued evolution of her character in future episodes. She also shared her hopes for the role going forward, and has a few wishes for what the show might touch on in future episodes. “I’d like to see Janine in action,” she says. “I’d like to see her find her bravery, find her courage. She’s been kind of a damsel in distress sometimes. She has power in her and I’d like to see her save the day one time.”
With the rest of the Handmaids left behind in Gilead, it’s quite possible that Janine could someday become the hero. But in the meantime, Madeline believes her character has another mission. “I hope people take from Janine the recognition of that there’s a lack of empathy in the world,” she says. “And if we all felt a little bit more for each other the world wouldn’t be such a sh*\ty place.”
Welcome to Madeline Brewer Fan! I’m so excited to share with you all my new fansite dedicated to actress (and singer) Madeline Brewer! Madeline can currently be seen on season 2 of The Handmaid’s Tale on Hulu. I became a fan of Madeline when she was on the first season of Orange is the New Black and she played Tricia and was thrilled to see her on The Handmaid’s Tale which is just a brilliant series. I was surprised to see there were no fansites dedicated to her and took it as a sign to make one. Here you will find the latest news and photos of Madeline and I hope my little fansite can serve as an online hub for Maddie fans. I am not Maddie nor am I affiliated with her. I’m just a fangirl.