As we all witnessed at Queen Elizabeth II’s funeral, state funerals are no joke. Everything is controlled – a strict mourning system in place, just as with the royal family – and there’s a growing sense of nationalism, a side effect of the flag-lined streets. Over the past few seasons, Gilead’s lore has not only evolved, but become a more prominent aspect of the landscape.
In the first season, we hardly see the flag of Gilead; While Cambridge may have been the epicenter of the Gilead experiment in June, we learn in Season 3 that things are much worse elsewhere. When June rolls over to Washington, D.C., there is a shift away from heavy religious symbolism to a very authoritarian atmosphere. According to Shaun Schofield, a member of the graphic design team for “The Handmaid’s Tale,” it was on purpose.
Schofield explained to Refinery 29, in “The Handmaid’s Tale,” there are only two significant sources of bright colors: the maid’s robe and the flags of Gilead. Before, when the world of June was confined to Cambridge Gilead, we could hardly see their flag, but it was there: a black eagle holding an olive branch with a golden sunburst on a white field.
Now, the flag and the uniform share the same dominant color: red. Schofield says the black-and-red colors are intended to specifically invoke Nazi Germany. But for Fred’s funeral, the colors were flipped – red on black with gold, a sword crowned with wings – as well as black bars around the regular red flag.