The Handmaid's Tale is not an easy story for anyone involved, especially when it comes to women. Serena Joy, a woman who did everything to create Gilead, lost everything when it came into being, and is now at the mercy of her abusive husband. Offred, of course, is a fertility slave and is never allowed to forget it. But even Eden, who seems to have the easiest life of all the women in the house, is also miserable. When Eden and Isaac's story on The Handmaid's Tale comes to ahead this week, it's perhaps the saddest moment of all. Warning: Spoilers for The Handmaid's Tale Season 2 follow.
Eden, as I noted a couple of weeks ago, is 15-years old. If Gilead has been in existence for roughly five years, this means she was ten when girls stopped being allowed to go to school. What we know from her own telling is her parents were pretty religious even before Gilead came into being, and they lived on a farm, where she helped out every day. Gilead's values are her values, and she is rewarded with a "Husband on the rise" in the city for being one of the faithful.
She believes in being a Wife, she believes in having children and being a good citizen. Fans have worried her ambition could hurt Nick in some way, who has little interest in having sex with an underage teenage girl and has been upfront he's not in love with her. Her interest in Isaac, a 20-year-old guy who clearly fits her ideal, only made things more precarious.
But it turns out Eden as a Machiavellian figure who could bring down Nick was misplaced. A couple of weeks ago, I worried her teenage romance playacting with Isaac would get someone killed. I did not realize it would be her.
While Nick was running around ferrying Offred to see her kid and then disappearing at an inopportune moment while the Waterfords panicked they had run off, it turns out Eden was planning an escape of her own. She and Isaac fell in love, presumably had sex, and decided this meant she could no longer be married to Nick. But rather than finding a way to remove Nick, they just ran off together, probably heading to Canada.
The irony of Nick and June standing in the kitchen, fantasizing about stealing their baby and running away together to Canada, only for them to be interrupted to realize Eden and Isaac actually went through with it.
Unlike June, who tried to escape to Canada through back channels, whatever Eden and Isaac did to try and leave didn't work. Waterford's long reach had them back again soon enough. The tragic part was, Nick didn't care she'd run off. He didn't want to see her punished. He would happily take her back, let her live, find a way to make all of this work somehow.
But Eden was raised as a true believer in God. Having finally known love for the first time, she cannot believe God would find this wrong. She has all the self-righteousness of the devoted, and all the belief of a girl in love and all the confidence of a teenager who thinks adults are full of it when they say "you have your whole life ahead of you."
To his credit, Isaac stood with her, a true believer they were going to a better place to be together forever, instead to hang on a wall and rot.
Eden and Isaac's love story is a reminder of how this oppressive society hurts everyone, even though who believe in the country's message and their supposed faith.