- Gilead said goodbye to Fred Waterford on a season five episode of “The Handmaid’s Tale.“
- Showrunner Bruce Miller told Insider that Fred’s funeral was inspired by John F. Kennedy’s in 1963.
- Imagery like a riderless horse and a veiled widow walking alone were nods to it.
Fred Waterford was laid to rest in Gilead on “The Handmaid’s Tale” season five episode two, “Ballet.” In a joint interview with executive producer Warren Littlefield ahead of the premiere, showrunner Bruce Miller told Insider he and his team were inspired by John F. Kennedy’s 1963 funeral for the elaborate scene.
Miller said they borrowed the idea of a public parade from Kennedy’s funeral procession. Kennedy’s widow Jaqueline Kennedy Onassis and Fred Waterford’s (Joseph Fiennes) widow Serena Joy Waterford (Yvonne Strahovski) also wore similar black outfits and veils. But the similarities go beyond the basics.
Miller confirmed the riderless horse featured in the funeral scenes was a nod to the riderless horse that became an iconic part of Kennedy’s funeral procession. The horse at the former president’s funeral, named Black Jack, carried a saber and reversed boots in the stirrups of his empty saddle — symbols of a “fallen warrior,” according to the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum.
“Also, I loved the fact that for the most part, the first lady was walking alone. Not with anybody,” Miller said, referring to Onassis. “No one is escorting her. And that made it feel so bare and raw that she was just this sad woman out there on her own, not being comforted by anybody.”
In footage from Kennedy’s funeral events, Onassis in fact often walked alone or held her children’s hands. Similarly, on “The Handmaid’s Tale,” Serena Joy was walking alone with her child, though she was pregnant so she had no hands to hold.
Littlefield also pointed to similarities in the weather on that November day in Washington D.C. and in Gilead when Serena Joy returned from Canada to lay her husband to rest.
The executive producer said that on the day of shooting “the world was cold and gray.” They enhanced that effect and the flurries of snow in the scenes, but the vibe is reminiscent of the rain on the day that the US said goodbye to its president.
The episode’s title, “Ballet,” refers to the fact that June (Elisabeth Moss) was on a date with Luke (O. T. Fagbenle) at the ballet when Gilead is honoring Fred. Miller said that he and Moss, who directed the episode, didn’t necessarily purposefully plan to juxtapose the funeral with a ballet — they were just thinking about where June and Serena would naturally be on their journeys.
June didn’t expect to come out of the ballet and see Serena taunting her on a national stage by accepting flowers from June’s daughter Hannah (Jordana Blake).
Miller told Insider he doesn’t write the relationship between Serena and June “in stone” because in the Margaret Atwood book that inspired the series, their relationship is never what the reader might expect.
“Let the characters talk a little bit before you start telling them what they’re going to do,” he said, noting that he writes “spare” scripts and lets the actors guide his next move.
New episodes of “The Handmaid’s Tale” are released on Wednesdays.
Read the original article on Insider