Kari Skogland Interview: ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ director
“When you work on any project, they all become your darlings,” declares Emmy nominee Kari Skogland about choosing which episode to submit for Emmy consideration this year. In our exclusive webcam interview (watch the video above), the director admits, “I wasn’t able to make that choice terribly easily because this year I had four episodes to choose from and I could only submit one. So I asked a lot of people and they were still divided, so I tossed a coin,” she laughs.
Skogland is nominated for helming the episode “After,” the seventh episode of season two. It is her first Emmy nomination, and the third directing nomination for the series, after it scored two noms last year, including for eventual winner Reed Morano (for the pilot episode “Offred”). Skogland, the sole woman nominated in the Best Drama Directing category this year, is up against Oscar and Emmy nominees such as Stephen Daldry (“The Crown”), Alan Taylor and Jeremy Podeswa (“Game of Thrones”), Jason Bateman and Daniel Sackheim (“Ozark”) and the Duffer Brothers (“Stranger Things”).
“After” chronicles the aftermath of the climactic sixth episode “First Blood,” in which a desperate handmaid detonates a bomb at a newly built convention center in Gilead, killing hundreds of bystanders, including a number of handmaids. The episode follows the fallout from that shocking attack, where Offred (Emmy nominee Elisabeth Moss) forges an alliance of sorts with Serena Joy (Emmy nominee Yvonne Strahovski). The episode also spotlights Moira (Emmy nominee Samira Wiley) in flashbacks, where it is revealed in flashbacks that she was a surrogate for an infertile couple before the war.
Although Skogland struggled to decide which episode was her best from this season, the director admits that “After” had “a real cinema to it, it had a big journey,” she says. “The episode went from this bleak, horrible, emotional moment where we saw all of the handmaids destroyed by the loss of their friends and loved ones,” Skogland explains. “The episode went from that, to this ignited moment where Offred literally used a pen like a detonator, much like the detonator in episode six. The pen was mightier than the sword and she clicked it. So we went from this bleak place to where she aligned herself with the devil and she found herself in doing that.”