What's On: ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ Enthralls, a Road Trip on ‘Fargo’

Matt Roush
Byron Cohen/FX

(L-R): Frances Fisher as Vivian Lord and Carrie Coon as Gloria Burgle in 'The Law of Non-Contradiction' episode of Fargo

The Handmaid’s Tale (Hulu): Elisabeth Moss mesmerizes as Offred in this remarkably gripping adaptation of Margaret Atwood’s nightmare allegory. The enslaved surrogate of a childless couple, Offred has spent nearly two weeks confined to her room and retreats into memory: some happy from before the revolution that turned America into the totalitarian Gilead, others revealing the dehumanizing conditioning she and her fellow handmaids—including Samira Wiley as the rebellious Moira—endured from the terrifying Aunt Lydia (Ann Dowd). Offred will take solace and inspiration wherever she can find it, including enigmatic words etched on the walls of her closet.

Fargo (10/9c, FX): A showcase for Carrie Coon as dogged policewoman (is she still chief or not?) Gloria Burgle, who takes a road trip to sunny L.A. at Christmastime to see what she can learn about the cloudy past of her deceased stepdad Ennis—who back in the mid-1970s was a celebrated science-fiction writer named Thaddeus Mobley. The young writer’s misadventures in Hollywood, worthy of Billy Wilder, occupy much of this change-of-pace episode, featuring an impressive Thomas Randall Mann as the pre-Ennis Mobley, the latest in a long line of hapless Fargo stooges who should have known better.

Greenleaf (10/9c, OWN): The juicy drama about unholy divisions within a church family reaches its midseason finale, with Jacob (Lamman Rucker) offering Triumph’s pastor Basie Skanks (Jason Dirden) a way to clear his debt—by letting him take control of Triumph II. And dastardly Uncle Mac (GregAlan Williams) is on another collision course with Grace (Merle Dandridge), which always makes for colorful fireworks.

Inside Wednesday TV: Anyone who saw the nuclear-holocaust TV-movie The Day After when it first aired in 1983 will remember the impact it had. ABC’s The Goldbergs (8/7c) relives the trauma, which freaks out Barry (Troy Gentile) to such a degree, he begs Murray (Jeff Garlin) to build the family an underground bunker. … Archer’s Chris Parnell and Veep’s Matt Walsh guest on ABC’s black-ish (9:30/8:30c) as the dean and president of Zoe’s (Yara Shahidi) new college, to whom she begs for mercy when she learns Dre (Anthony Anderson) forgot to turn in her housing application. … Bravo’s most prominent personality takes on another gig as host of Andy Cohen’s Then & Now (10/9c), which uses iconic moments from our pop-culture past to reflect on headlines of the day. In the premiere, he looks back 20 years to 1977, when Titanic ruled the box office and Princess Diana’s death devastated the world. … A surprise pregnancy sends Jules (Amanda Peet) and Brockmire (Hank Azaria) on a road trip to Pittsburgh with typically outrageous results on IFC’s irreverent Brockmire (10/9c). … black-ish star Anthony Anderson fills in as host for the night on ABC’s Jimmy Kimmel Live (11:35/10:35c) while Jimmy takes paternity leave. We wish his family, especially newborn Billy, well.

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