Alright everyone, here we are. The finale of season 3 of The Handmaid’s Tale. If you’ve been following these recaps, you know that I’ve found the quality of this season to be…mixed. The first half of the season seemed fairly aimless, and the whole show has suffered from the fact that the intense rules they set up for the world of season one just can’t hold three seasons in. For one, June should have been hanged like, 10 times by now. For another, you can’t make me like the Waterfords. You just can’t. You especially can’t make me give two f*cks about their romantic Canadian road trip one episode after they forced June and Commander Z to have sex in front of his mentally ill wife for basically no reason. Sorry, but no amount of letting Serena drive is gonna get you out of that one.
That said, the season picked up a lot of steam once June came up with her plot to save 52 children (it’s almost like having a plot…is good for the plot) and we’ve been cruising on some good old Handmaid’s Tale emotional torture ever since. This episode was no exception. I cried like five times during this episode. My heart was in my throat the entire time, and at one point I actually had to physically stand up and walk around just to blow off some of the excess tension. That’s not to say there isn’t some bullsh*it in there, or that it doesn’t end with June looking directly to camera (spoiler), but all in all, this was a very good end to an extremely patchy season, and I think I’ll be back for season four. You think one wonky season can lose me? Pssh. I watched all of True Blood, bitches. You can’t lose me if you tried!
Now, to the episode…
We open on a flashback to right after June was first captured. She’s in a cage while guards scream “SHUT THE F*CK UP” at a line of disabled women being shoved into a van. This is literally just the first 30 seconds. Strap the f*ck in. June talks to a guard standing outside her cage and says, “they took my daughter and I don’t know where she is! Can you please tell me where she is?” If you didn’t think about the border here, you haven’t been reading your Betches Sup Newsletter and that, sadly, is on you.
A some random woman with curly hair is screaming obscenities at the guards as they all get loaded into a truck and it’s like wait…I know that voice. It’s….it’s…pre-crazy pre-one eyeball Crazy Ass One-Eyeball Janine! Yes!! It’s her before she was battered into becoming the Spongebob of Gilead, when she was just a regular-ass lady with a cursing problem aka all of us!! You love to see it.
Janine This Whole Scene:
Present Day Gilead
Back in the now, June is musing about how Gilead became Gilead.
June: Where does it come from…this talent for ruthlessness?
Me: Idk girl, you’re the one who watched a mentally ill woman overdose and then lied about it to her family because she annoyed you, so you tell me.
The plan to kidnap 52 children is going suuuper well, despite the fact that literally every handmaid is acting conspicuous as f*ck, handing things to each other in broad daylight and giving each other little secret smiles. For reasons that are unclear to me, June and Aunt Lydia have a little chaperoned meet-up in the middle of a bridge and Aunt Lydia notices that the handmaids are acting weird immediately. June, per usual, cannot help but be the most suspicious person in the world.
Aunt Lydia: What was that Janine just handed to you?
June: Oh…nothing… *winks*
Aunt Lydia: You’re not up to something are you?
June: Me? Up to something? Never! *winks again but really slowly*
Aunt Lydia: Why do you keep doing that?
June: Keep *wink* doing *wink* what *wink*?
Aunt Lydia: …I will kill you.
Anyway, none of this matters because in this world June gets away with everything, while background characters are killed for giggling. We just have to accept it at this point.
At Commander Zaddy’s house, everything is underway for the big plan. Beth the Martha is sick because her bitch-ass is “afraid” of “dying” or whatever. Someone should warn her what June does to people who don’t keep their sh*t together.
It’s still not 100% clear how the plan is going to work, but it clearly relies heavily on baked goods, as do all plans involving the Marthas. June also appears to be cutting up large amounts of soap, which makes me wonder…are they making bombs? Is this gonna be a Fight Club situation?
(It’s not, and the soap is just for the children on their journey, I guess, but its like…how the f*ck you gonna have a revolutionary underground domestic terrorist cut soap for an entire scene and not have her make a damn Tyler Durden soap bomb? COME ON, PEOPLE!!!)
Back to Chateau Prison aka Canadian jail. Serena (who is a war criminal), is informed that soon she’ll be allowed to leave the facility to sight-see in the city whenever she wants. At this point I’m having a hard time finding a difference between Serena’s jail time activities and my work trip to Montreal in 2017, but okay.
Later, in another portion of the jail, limp dick Fred tries to make a deal of his own. He clearly has not been as useful as Serena, seeing as he is wearing the same white shirt and suspenders he was wearing when they first caught him and she has a whole new wardrobe from Talbots.
But all that is about to change. Because Fred has info. Important info. Against Serena. Mr. Hot American Guy warns Fred that Serena has a deal that makes anything she did in Gilead immune from prosecution, but Fred insists this info is DIFFERENT.
My first thought is that he’s going to tell Mr. Hot American about how Serena basically masterminded blowing up the White House, but he doesn’t. He tells him about some other sh*t (we’ll get to it) that honestly seems well within the purview of her plea deal and is also sh*t they could have guessed Serena was involved in.
Between this and the soap, I feel like Handmaid’s Tale should stop f*cking around and just get me in the writer’s room for season 4. We’ll have Gilead straightened out in eight episodes flat and any oldies that are played will be tasteful and appropriate to the scene at hand. Just sayin’…
Back in Gilead
The first little girl has officially arrived (some people are always early) and June does her best to make smalltalk with a child even though she is a hardened criminal and murderer.
Little Girl: Do you know what it’s like…out?
June: It’s like it was before Gilead.
Little Girl: Yeah well I’m eight f*cking years old so I have no idea what that means.
June then begins to femsplain women’s rights to the little girl (you’re allowed to wear slutty outfits, you don’t have to marry some asshole, vocal fry is a right, not a privilege, etc…) and she’s just about to get to second wave feminism when her Martha bursts back in and tries to take the little girl back.
Everyone is freaking out about this Martha blowing the plan but June just calmly walks upstairs, grabs her glock, and informs the Martha that she will absolutely shoot her in the f*cking face if she so much as steps outside. Casual.
Little Girl Watching This All Go Down:
The Martha makes a run for it and June chases after her, fully ready to unload into the woods, but then ends up turning the gun on Little Girl and holding it in her face for about ten seconds, which is approximately thirty seconds too long to be holding a gun in a little girl’s face.
June This Whole Scene:
Cut to: June in Commander Zaddy’s office, feeling *really* bad about that whole “holding a gun in a little girl’s face” thing. It’s okay June, sh*t happens. Sometimes you get up on the wrong side of the bed. You snap at your boyfriend. You almost kill a child. Chalk it up to the Mondays and get back to your plan! Then in walks…COMMANDER ZADDY IN A SUIT YES MA’AM! Yum yum! Slurp! Owooooooga! Break me off a piece of that mourning old guy! HellooooOOOOooo (male) nurse!
Okay I’ll stop now.
Commander Zaddy is there to tell June that the Martha she let get away was actually spotted, and the plan is too dangerous and he’s calling it off. To which June replies…
June informs Commander Zaddy that despite his very cool penis, she is actually the one in charge here. She’s the one who came up with the plan. She’s the one communicating with the Marthas. And most importantly, she’s the one who is currently holding a gun.
June: Men…f*cking pathological.
Me this whole scene:
Back in Canada, international war criminal Serena Joy is casually hanging out with infant Nichole, fully outside her jail cell, without a care in the world. Until…she is under arrest! Was she not already under arrest? I distinctly remember her being placed under arrest.
Finally we find out the very bad thing that Fred told the Canadians and it’s that…Serena told Nick to impregnate June? Really? That’s the thing?
Serena: But isn’t this specifically covered by the plea agreement you described three scenes ago?
Mr. Hot American: No!
Serena: But why?
Mr. Hot American: Reasons!!!!
Honestly I cannot make heads or tails of this crazy Canadian justice system.
In Gilead, June is trying to be her best to be as nice as possible to the arriving children, probably to make up for the one she almost shot in the face. Inside, Command Zaddy has gathered all the children ‘round to read them a bedtime story. And my ovaries grew three sizes that day.
Janine arrives and tells them a Martha has been arrested, and June decides they need to GTFO before the whole plan is ruined. They leave and finally the plan is revealed…they’re gonna walk all 52 children (including babies) through the woods in a big-ass line, tying very large obvious white bows to trees along the way. Great work, team!
Now, here is where sh*t is stressful. I had about ten heart attacks watching them walk this Disneyland field trip’s worth of kids through the woods, while cars go by in the distance. I know Handmaid’s Tale. I know this show. I knew there was no way they were just gonna march these 52 lil ducklings through the woods with no problems, so I’m just sitting there waiting for the other shoe to drop. What’s going to happen? Is the baby going to cry? WHY ARE THEY ALWAYS TRAVELING WITH A BABY THAT IS ABOUT TO CRY? F*ck!!!
Finally, trouble arrives. June realizes there is no way for them to get to the airplane without crossing directly in front of some guards, so she does what June does best and offers to sacrifice herself. She’ll distract the guards (flash them??) while the others run by. Again, a foolproof plan.
But wait!!! Just as June is about to sacrifice herself, a bunch of handmaids and the Marthas (including Janine and OfRobert) come to help. Who is with the children at this moment? No f*cking clue. I think only Rita. As someone who once worked as a camp counselor and had to take a large group of children to Six Flags, I do not envy Rita in this moment. Like, I’d take my chances with the guards over chaperoning 52 children any day. Just my opinion.
While the kids stealthily cross a very very lit street, the handmaids enact their master plan to distract the guards by…throwing rocks at them? What?
This might be the most unbelievable scene in handmaids history. Like, I know that handmaids are highly skilled rock throwers, but this sh*t is ridiculous. For one, how the f*ck do they have so many rocks? Like, perfectly formed, large rocks. Second of all, they are not that far from the guards, and those guards have military grade weaponry (available now at Walmart!!). At some point wouldn’t they just…walk into the woods and figure out who the f*ck is throwing rocks? Why are these guards so afraid of rocks? Are we really supposed to believe that rocks + trees are an acceptable defense against an AR-15? Somebody tell Congress!
Anyway, this actually works because all of June’s plans work. But June hasn’t given up on the idea of sacrificing herself just yet. She breaks from the crowd and lures the guard into the woods. He shoots her. She shoots him. Everybody is shooting everybody, bang bang guns guns etc…etc…
Eventually, June incapacitates him and tricks him into giving the all-clear to his boss before point-blank shooting him in the face. How many murders is that for June this month? 3? 3.5 if you count the little girl she almost shot in the face? That’s almost one a week!
Hella injured, June lays in the grass and prepares to die. As she does, the plane flies overhead, and she knows she got the children out safe.
Me this whole scene:
Back in Canada, they’re having a mini-Gilead reunion/welcome party. Moira and Luke (the Jordan and Demi of Handmaid’s Tale) are there. Emily is there. It’s the whole crew! When the 52 children arrive, Moira is the first to greet them.
Moira: Hello, I’m Moira.
Little Girl: First question, when can I change out of this fugly dress?
They take the kids off the plan and immediately wrap them in tinfoil blankets and its like like OKAY ENOUGH WITH THE SYMBOLISM ABOUT THE BORDER!! I AM ALREADY VERY UPSET ABOUT THE BORDER!! I WATCH TV SO FOR A BRIEF MOMENT I CAN NOT BE THINKING ABOUT THE BORDER!! GODDAMMIT!!!
Within minutes of being in Canada, Little Girl recognizes one of the relief workers as…her dad? That feels like quite the coincidence, but whatever. I’m so emotionally raw at this point that I accept this as something that could possibly happen.
We end on Rita meeting Luke for the first time and telling him June masterminded the plan.
Luke: Uh cool but where is she tho?
The Woods of Gilead
Cut to: June dying in the woods. She’s barely alive, flashing back to days with Hannah and Luke on a playground before Trump got elected or whatever the f*ck happend that brought all this about.
But of course, June can’t die, otherwise there’d be no show. Out of the woods emerge all her handmaid friends, who have constructed a little handmaid gurney out of Lord knows what and carry her to…IDK but probs not the hospital. Where will they bring her? What’s going to happen next? What is June thinking as she looks directly into camera for the 500th time?
Next season….on The Handmaid’s Tale…
Before we dive into this, the penultimate episode of The Handmaid’s Tale, I want to present you all with a theory I’ve been working on. I think much like how every friend group has a Carrie, Samantha, Miranda, and Charlotte, they also have a wife, a handmaid, an aunt, and a Martha.
The wife is the rich friend who always looks chic and knows the best bars/clubs/island getaways. The downside to hanging out with her is she can be kind of a bitch sometimes and is always in a long-term relationship with the douchiest bro you’ve ever met in your life, who she insists on bringing to everything.
The handmaid is your most fun friend with a f*ck it attitude who is basically down for everything. The downside is that she comes with a lot of baggage and can turn psycho on a dime (usually after alcohol consumption), and is always embroiled in some crazy drama between herself and one of her many romantic partners.
The aunt is your responsible friend who acts as the group mom, to the point of being constantly disappointed with all of your antics. Sometimes you have to hang out without her because she’s kind of a giant asshole, but there is something about her that you guys like enough to keep her in the group (probably that she always remembers to get good photos when you’re out).
Finally, there is the Martha, your friend who gets sh*t done. Is she the hottest of the group? No. But only because she is busy getting sh*t done. She is always silently grinding while the rest of the group is fighting or f*cking (or both), and one day you sign into Twitter and see she’s on the cover of Forbes and you didn’t even know she owned a business. Make sure your group has a Martha so you can always have someone in your life who will bail you out of jail and not say sh*t about it to anybody. This is my theory and I stand by it. Sound off in the comments!
Now onto the episode, which opens on June playing with a gun and exhibiting absolutely zero gun safety techniques. She’s just swinging a loaded gun around pointing it at her own face! You know, this is exactly why Gilead needs to work on its gun problem. You can’t just have loose guns floating around, getting into the hands of untrained criminals with a long history of mental health issues. It’s dangerous! But luckily that’s just what’s happening in Gilead, and is in no way tied to real life.
Downstairs, the Marthas inform June that Billy the bartender is in for their plan because he has sent them a basket of whatever baked goods mean “hell yea let’s kidnap a bunch of kids.” One room over, Command Zaddy and some other dickless Gilead goons are chatting about the news of the day. June then offers to bring them tea because she knows the men will keep talking about all their classified info in front of her, not realizing that she can hear with her tiny woman ears, or understand with her tiny woman brain.
Apparently sh*t is going down between Canada and Gilead, because Canada “lured the Waterfords across the border and arrested them,” or whatever. Why anyone would notice or care that Fred Waterford was gone is beyond me.
June Outside As She’s Finding Out the Waterfords Are In Prison:
June Inside As She’s Finding Out the Waterfords Are In Prison:
When the goons leave, Commander Z informs June that not only are the Waterfords in custody, but the government now thinks Canada also had something to do with the disappearance of Commander Winslow, meaning they won’t be coming after her for stabbing him with a pen all those times.
As Commander Zaddy so succinctly puts it: Fred and Serena are toast, and you just got away with murder. All in all, not a bad morning.
At The Grocery Store
June is back at the grocery store, which is basically resistance headquarters at this point, to tell OfRobert the plan is ready to go. June truly could not act more suspicious as she is doing this. She dramatically looks around approximately every 2.5 seconds. Do you want to get caught?
June then goes to meet up with Rita and also talk about the top-secret plan in public. Rita had heard of June’s plan and knew it was June, because June is the only bitch crazy enough to pull something like this off. Rita says she has offered to help with the plan and the two of them clasp hands over some potatoes. It’s honestly very sweet.
In Canadian Prison
Cut to: Fred Waterford having a Jeffrey Epstein moment (aka luxuriating in his unreasonably nice prison cell). Serena comes in to talk to him and I’m like…what the f*ck is this? Aren’t they supposed to be in jail? Is this what being arrested in Canada looks like? You just get to live in a sleek mid-century modern one bedroom? Brb—headed to Canada to do crimes.
Serena reveals to Fred that she’s made some kind of deal to stay in Canada with Nichole, and he should do what he can to save himself. Fred then immediately starts choking her, which is why we don’t LEAVE TWO INTERNATIONAL CRIMINAL PRISONERS TO JUST CHILL IN A ROOM ALONE WITH EACH OTHER COME ON CANADA Y’ALL CAN’T BE THIS NICE.
At Commander Zaddy’s
Back in Gilead, Madame Zaddy needs to get her sh*t together fast. She almost reveals the entire plan to Commander Winslow’s wife, who seems to somehow know that June stabbed her husband to death with a pen even though that’s impossible. Women’s intuition is really something.
Later, Lawrence tells June that the government closed the border, but their talk is interrupted by Madame Zaddy, who is trying to leave the house. She’s apparently in the middle of some kind of episode, and because Gilead thinks mental illness can be cured via tea and prayer (funnily enough, Marianne Williamson thinks the same thing), it’s only getting worse.
Whereas one episode ago June was able to calmly talk Madame Zaddy out of shooting her husband in the head, this time June loses it on MZ and starts shaking the sh*t out of her. You can’t shake Madame Zaddy! She’s basically like a baby, and you can never shake a baby! This is like harming Janine. It’s just not done.
Me: Wow this is the first mean thing June has ever done to Madame Zaddy!
Narrator: It will not be the last.
In Canadian Prison
Cut to: Luke and Moira going through security at the Vancouver Ritz, aka Canadian jail. You know, I’m not saying that prisoners should live in squalor by any means, but the Canadian government appears to have provided Serena with a fully furnished one bedroom with bay windows. It also looks like she was allowed to go shopping at Ann Taylor Loft, and swing by DryBar for a blowout.. Seems a little much for the woman who literally helped blow up the White House.
Turns out whatever deal Serena has made with Canada not only includes her stylish new digs, but she also gets to visit with Nichole, the baby whose life she explicitly came to the Canada to ruin. Once again, this seems like a pretty good deal for a war criminal.
Luckily, Moira is having less-than-none of it, and proceeds to be a giant bitch to Serena from the moment she enters the room.
Serena: Hello, I’m Serena, it’s nice to meet you.
Moira ends her rant by telling Serena about all the times Fred visited the Jezebels, tosses off a casual “you are the REAL gender traitor!”, and sashays away. The most brutal read since Azealia Banks called Grimes a “dirty-sneaker-inbred-out of the woods Pabst beer pussy meth head junkie” back in 2013. Iconic.
Moira leaves and Serena tries to continue her playdate with Nichole and ignore the fact that she just got roasted in front of her own baby. The attendant whose job it is to watch Serena and the baby (good call) tells Serena she’s not allowed to refer to herself as “mommy” because she’s like, not actually Nichole’s mommy. All in all, a pretty bad morning for Serena Joy.
In another part of the jail, Luke is allowed to meet with Fred in his jail cell, despite there being no logical reason for a prison to allow that to happen. Whatever. It ends pretty predictably—with Luke punching Fred in the face and being dragged out screaming, “I’M NOT DONE! I’M NOT DONE!” This is why jails have rules, Canada.
The Death Of Madame Zaddy
How do we even begin to dive into the f*cked up nature of this scene? How can June, as a character, recover from what happens here? Is this going to be like in season two of Friday Night Lights when Landry straight-up kills a guy with a metal pipe and then just goes back to being the comic relief character and we’re all supposed to forget he is a stone-cold killer? Anyway, let’s get into what happened…
June goes to check on Madame Z, who hasn’t been well since her only friend in the world shook the sh*t out of her in her own home. June peeks in to bring Madame Z more of her very effective mood tea and realizes…OH SHIT. MADAME ZADDY HAS OVERDOSED. I THOUGHT SHE DIDN’T HAVE ANY DRUGS?!? I AM CONFUSED!
At first, June does the right thing and goes to get help, but then she just…doesn’t, and lets Madame Z die. Not only does she let her die, but she then just backs out of the room and pretends she was never there, so some other poor person has to find her body.
Seriously, why did she do this? Because she was almost telling people about the plan? Doesn’t this now completely remove Commander Z’s motive for helping with the plan in the first place? Why not just pretend you found her, and spare some poor Martha the trauma of finding a dead body. Why June? Why?
Next thing we know, the whole house is in mourning, particularly Commander Z, who is visibly devastated and preparing her funeral.
June This Whole Scene:
The final scene of the episode takes place at Madame Zaddy’s funeral, and gives us a nice little sampling of Gilead’s funeral fashions. The wives wear their traditional blue with a tiny black veil—very Jackie O—while the aunts and handmaids are just given a black cape to put over their normal clothes. Every friend group has one. We end on June looking directly to camera, because of course we do.
On to the finale!
Images: Hulu; Giphy (4)
There are two episodes left of Handmaid’s Tale season three, which is really too bad because I feel like they are just hitting their stride. It took us 10 episodes to figure out wtf this season was going to be about, but now we have it: June is going to help get an assload of kids out of Gilead. Feel like that could have been introduced in episode one.
We open on muffins. 52 muffins, to be exact. Each one representing a different child a Martha would like to help get out of Gilead. TBH the prevalence of muffins throughout this episode made me have to pause and revisit this early internet video. Simpler times. In the living room, crazy Madame Zaddy is casually threatening to shoot Commander Z at point-blank range. None of this phases June in the slightest, who begins talking Madame Z down with absolutely zero urgency.
June: I mean, you could kill him, but then our plan to escape would be ruined, so maybe don’t?
Luckily this line of thinking works on Madame Z, who decides not to shoot her husband in their living room after all. Good on her.
June and Commander Z then take a moment for a post-attempted-murder cooldown, and she informs him that they now need room in a van for 52 children, not the 10 they had previously agreed upon. But what’s 42 extra children among friends, eh?
Roadtrippin’ With The Waterfords
Cut to: the Waterfords headed out for a little road trip. It’s just Fred, Serena, the open road, and whatever meds they take to sleep at night. We’re not sure exactly what the plan is, but it looks like they’re driving up north to meet up with Serena’s Canadian buddy in hopes of negotiating for Nichole. Also, it’s just fun to get away for a while, isn’t it? Living in a tyrannical religious patriarchy state is exhausting. Like most impromptu couples’ road trips, this will either be the thing that saves their marriage, or the thing that ruins them. We’ll have to see which.
To show how fun and cool their trip is going to be, Fred lets Serena drive. It almost makes you forget that she could do this all the time if it weren’t for the government he created.
The Meeting Of The Marthas
Back in Boston, June has been summoned before a tribunal of angry Marthas who all want to know what she means by “I’m getting 52 children out of Gilead.”
Beth Giving June Advice For Talking To The Marthas/My Friends Giving Me Advice Before Going Out Anywhere: Don’t ask any questions. Don’t say anything extra.
Right off the bat, the Marthas let June know that they can and will kill her. (This is also how I start all of my business meetings.) Luckily, Beth vouches for June and they come to a compromise: the Marthas will let June do her little “saving dozens of children” thing, if she waits to do it until a special shipment they’ve been working on arrives.
The big takeaway from this scene? Do not f*ck with the Marthas. They are no joke.
Unfortunately, June leaves the meeting and realizes that the Martha’s death threats are the least of her worries, as it appears Commander and Madame Zaddy have ghosted their plan and run off on their own. You hate to see it. Commander Z at least had the decency to leave behind an “I’m Sorry” post-it, à la Berger in SATC.
Not to be deterred, June then decides to do the thing she promised not to do five minutes ago and f*ck with the Marthas’ big shipment, using the rock-solid logic that “any plane that flies in has to fly out.” I mean, show me the lie?
Roadtrippin’ Pt. 2
Serena and Fred decide to crash at a random family’s house (I guess hotels aren’t a thing in Gilead) and take a cute walk down memory lane.
Serena: Remember my first book?
Fred: You were such a good writer!
Serena: Yeah, that was before we helped blow up the White House and installed a religious autocracy that took all my rights way…why did we do that again?
Serena then low-key blames Fred for the fact that Gilead happened, and I have to call bullsh*t. We all know I’m not one to stan for Fred Waterford, but they both made Gilead happen. Like, isn’t his exactly what Serena’s book was advocating? Didn’t she basically go on a speaking tour across America to say women should stay in the home? Did she think that meant all women except for her?
Fred and Serena then have the customary “let’s move here!” talk that every couple must have when they go on a vacation anywhere. I’m sorry, but am I supposed to care about Serena and Fred’s love story here? Am I supposed to be happy that they’re reconnecting in the forest? Because I don’t and I’m not. Sorry.
Well, well, well, if it isn’t Commander Zaddy. Just like any other man who ghosts, just when you think he’s gone forever he shows back up looking all sorry and sh*t. Pathetic. Turns out Z doesn’t have the right clearance to get out, meaning the government has caught onto the fact that he was less than thrilled at the prospect of assaulting his handmaid—a dead giveaway for a #resistance fighter.
Once again, none of this phases June, and she tells CZ to shut the f*ck up and take her into the city so she can work on her plan to steal the Marthas’ plane. CZ drops June off at Jezebel headquarters, where she looks for “Billy” aka the guy who arranged the plane.
First question: where did June get all this going out gear? She’s got a full face of makeup, backless dress, and her hair is curled. Was all this sh*t just lying around the Lawrence household? Was Madame Zaddy a party girl before the war?
June’s plan actually goes extremely well and it takes about five minutes for her to arrange to get the children out in exchange for some Picassos the Lawrences have lying around. Sadly, just as she’s about to leave she gets spotted by none other than creepy Commander Winslow. I guess if you decide to take a trip to a prostitution palace, you should be preparted to get pulled into some light prostitution.
He takes June back to his room and you think we’re going to get a classic Handmaid’s assault scene, but not this time! June and Commander Winslow get into a huge fight and she ends up stabbing him with a pen like, one hundred times and then killing him with the base of lamp.
Who among us hasn’t gone out for the night, only to end up going home with some lame guy, deciding you’re not into it, and stabbing him to death with a pen? Typical #SaturdayVibes for sure.
June then finds herself stumbling out of a guy’s room, covered in blood (again, who hasn’t?), where she is discovered by…one of the Marthas she saved from the colonies! The Martha recognizes June, even with all the makeup and blood, and helps her escape out the freight elevator to sleep off her murder hangover.
Road Trippin’ Pt. 3
Serena and Fred head back out on the open road, where they finally meet up with SJ’s hot American friend living in Canada. He tells them he has a “safe place for them to talk just down the road” and then they proceed to follow him for what looks like hundreds of miles.
Fred, A Genius: Hey! This isn’t just down the road!
Finally, they stop and get out of the car and…SURPRISE! They’re in Canada now and being arrested for war crimes! Oops! As they’re arresting Fred and Serena, they read him his crimes which include “kidnapping, torture, slavery, and rape,” to name a few.
Serena This Whole Time:
Me This Whole Time: Charge him with being a little bitch!
Cut to: June waking up in her clothes from the night before thinking something like, “what happened last night? I vaguely remember killing a guy…”
We then have a montage of June getting ready in her handmaid clothes cut with the Marthas cleaning up all the evidence of Commander Winslow’s murder, including disposing of his body in an incinerator.
The moral of this story? The Marthas are the realest in the game. Make sure you have some Marthas in your life.
We end on Commander Zaddy giving June a gun and telling her the government will be coming for them soon. Considering how much damage she was able to do with a pen, I’m excited to see where this goes. Until next week!
Images: Giphy; HBO
How are we feeling, Handmaid-heads? This week’s recap is rated NC-17 so please don’t read it out loud to your kids! Considering how much of this week’s plot revolved around semen, it’s really the best I could do. We begin with just a snippet of Symphony Number 9 by Beethoven (deep cut) before we go straight to June, limping her way back to Commander Zaddy’s house with Aunt Lydia. Apparently Lydia’s plan to move June out of the Lawrence house from two episodes ago is no longer a thing.
Lydia: You’re a good girl, OfJoseph.
Me: Didn’t you and all the other aunts just do a roundtable shit talking sesh of her? Two-faced bitches…
Turns out the Lawrences have redecorated to “D.C. standards” according to “Commander Waterford’s proclamation.” Now the Waterfords aren’t only rich family in Gilead that can’t bring themselves to buy a f*cking lamp.
In the kitchen, June catches up with Beth the Martha, who tells her that the delicious basket of scones on the table are actually a message from the #Resistance telling her they can’t get any more meds for Madame Zaddy, whose mental illness has been getting worse. This is why we take our meds, people.
Martha Beth: Scones mean no.
Me: Aaaaand I know what my new tattoo is going to say!
June wastes no time letting everybody know about her plan to free all the children in Gilead. Apparently she’s completely cured of the insanity she displayed the past two episodes, and nobody is going to bring it up again, just like the time I lost my sh*t during Spring Break and had to leave Cabo early. Oops.
June: I’m going to free all the children!
Finally Commander Zaddy/Lawrence appears, looking all conflicted.
June: You know you could free your wife and take her to Canada where she could get help.
Lawrence: Okay well you’ve been home for less than five minutes, so why don’t you chill?
At the Grocery Store AKA The Den of the Resistance
June heads over to the juice aisle, which is basically a freedom fighters’ bunker at this point, to tell OfRobert about her amazing plan to free all the children.
OfRobert: I can’t talk to you. They’re watching us. And you’re really conspicuous.
Finally, somebody tells her.
The handmaids are then all ushered to a stadium that is conveniently attached to the grocery store for an “inspection” by none other than Fred Waterford, the human embodiment of the word “ugh”. He has taken his micropenis compensation tour to DC, where he’s doing fabulously. He arrives and starts bothering June immediately, like an ex who texts you “merry Christmas” after not seeing him for seven months.
Fred is joined by Commander Winslow (or, as he is known in the comment section, Commander Stabler) and Serena Joy, who opts not to mention the fact that last time she and June hung out, June tried to stab her with a tiny knife. Tactful.
Stabler immediately starts going in on all the handmaids and points out Janine’s new velvet eyepatch as not “regulation.”
Me/Aunt Lydia’s Inner Monologue: YOU KEEP JANINE’S NAME OUT YOUR MOUTH BITCH!!!!!
Commander Winslow then turns to June to ask her how she’s liking living with Commander Lawrence, to which she replies that he “treats her with respect.”
Back at Commander Zaddy’s
June has been free for 48 hours and wastes no time breaking into offices to steal important documents. She’s in Commander Lawrence’s office, which is literally full of books. Stacks and stacks of books—Game of Thrones, Harry Potter, The Other Boleyn Girl—he’s got ‘em all. Just as she’s about to give up her search, June finds a valuable ally in Madame Zaddy, who can probably still smell June’s crazy and sees her as a kindred spirit. Despite all the sh*t everyone has been talking about her, Mrs. Lawrence seems pretty with it and cool at this moment. Maybe the best medicine for her illness is…collusion!??!
Luckily for June who, in case you forgot, is going to free all of the children, her commander keeps files on all the children born to handmaids in Gilead conveniently located in his basement.
June gets the documents and immediately turns to her own file, which is kind of like when you look at your own Insta page to try and see how it looks through someone else’s eyes. (We all do this, right??)
June: Have you ever considered leaving Gilead?
Madame Z: You mean go somewhere where I could get mood stabilizers instead of herbal tea?
Honestly are we even sure that Madame Zaddy is crazy? Or is she just another woman who has fallen victim to that label when really she’s just having normal emotional reactions to the intensity of her surroundings? **exhales large puff of marijuana smoke**
Sadly, MZ explains can’t just leave because her husband is a “war criminal” who “invented the colonies” and is “responsible for unspeakable torture and death.” Don’t ya just hate when that happens?
Anyway, this scene ends with MZ finding a mysterious looking special box and bouncing back upstairs.
At the Waterfords’ Hotel
Back at their hotel, Fred is clearly jealous that June has found a new commander who is cool and not a rapist. As most insecure people do, he then immediately starts talking sh*t on Lawrence to Winslow, dragging him for not getting any of his handmaids pregnant. As we know, Fred is just projecting here because he knows deep in his soul that he is the one who is shooting blanks and he couldn’t get a handmaid pregnant if he came in her brain. (I told you this was rated NC-17.)
Then Fred and Winslow start speaking cryptically about a way to “ensure virility” in the Lawrence household and Serena Joy is like, “Uh…isn’t that a little extreme?” The last time something like this happened, Fred assaulted June into going into labor, so I think we can all tell immediately that whatever the f*ck this is, it’s not going to be good.
June gets called in from looking up where all her friend’s children are (Janine’s son is dead, btw) by a very freaked-out looking Martha who tells her “they need you in the sitting room.”
It’s immediately clear that things are set up for Ceremony, which makes me realize we haven’t seen a Ceremony at all since last season. Not that I’m complaining.
Fred, Serena, Winslow, and Aunt Lydia all show up and we realize that apparently tonight’s ceremony is also a group date. I’m immediately like, okay so where is this going exactly? Are they gonna watch them do it? Are they gonna put them into bed and then check the sheets like in Shakespearean times? Will Aunt Lydia sub in and give Lawrence a hand job?
Eventually we find out that while they are not going to actually watch the Ceremony go down (good), they are going to have a doctor immediately “examine” June to make sure she has man seed inside her. For religious folk, these Gileadens really are freaks.
For his part, Commander Lawrence is extremely not into what is happening and immediately tries to find a way to get out of it. So was I, as I was watching it. Suddenly I’m over here thinking that maybe he could finish in his own hand and then give it to her somehow and then she would—you know what, I’m not even going to finish this.
Sadly, there is no way out and it is June herself who has to tell Commander and Madame Z that they’re just gonna have to f*ck now. MZ does not love this idea, which again, isn’t really all that crazy and is a pretty appropriate reaction for what is happening around her. She starts screaming and sh*t but then June, who has gone from insane herself to human Prozac in just one episode, calms her down.
They have sex—or whatever you would call what just happened between the two of them—but for the first time ever, Handmaid’s Tale doesn’t make us watch it. Thanks, I guess? As promised, June is “examined” in front of an audience of three people and found to be sufficiently cream-pied (I believe that is the medical term).
TLDR: I think the whole point of this scene is to show Lawrence that the world he cannot protect himself or his wife from the world he has created, and force him to #resist. Also we learn that the punishment for using contraception is being torn apart by dogs.
At the Waterfords’ Hotel
Cut to: the Waterfords relaxing after a hard day of rape by proxy.
Serena is annoyed at Fred for focusing on his career over their kidnapped baby. She then tells him about her hot American friend in Canada who gave her ciggs that one time, and tells friend they can work with him to get baby Nichole back. F*ck the Waterfords.
Our episode ends with June convincing OfRobert and Janine to help her get all the children out of Gilead. With Commander Z fully flipped, June now has access to a truck. June does not tell Janine that her son is dead, which is probably wise.
Back at the Lawrence residence, Beth the Martha put out feelers for the whole “freeing the children” and the response was…not scones!!! It’s muffins!!! Scones mean no!!! Muffins mean yes!!! June is really going to save the children!!!
This moment of triumph is ruined by June looking to camera and saying, “we’re gonna need a bigger boat,” at which point I threw my laptop across the room. I’ll leave you with this video of comedian Andrew Farmer doing an impression of Ann Dowd (Aunt Lydia) as Ursula the sea witch. Enjoy.
Ann Dowd as Ursula the Sea Witch. Come on. #AnnDowdAsEveryVillain pic.twitter.com/czGuKbJ39o
— Andrew Farmer (@thatsajellyfish) May 24, 2019
After last week’s truly insane ending, I honestly went into this episode with no predictions for what was going to happen, and thank God for that. Right off the bat, the episode changes it up by starting with decades-old pop music and a closeup on June’s face. Quelle suprise! A true subversion! What once was old has been made new again!
Okay, I’m being a bitch. I’ll stop. We start the episode with June attending to OfMatthew in the hospital. OfMatthew is alive, but barely. Her mind isn’t there, but her body is being forced to carry the pregnancy to term. The 11th grader who got a 5 on her AP Lit exam would recognize this as a metaphor for what is is like for all women in Gilead. June is forced to stay and pray for OfMatthew’s baby throughout the pregnancy which—fun twist!—has made her fully insane now.
Side note: Can you imagine waking up from a coma and your bully is just like, standing there singing “Heaven Is a Place on Earth”?
During the day, OfMatthew’s hospital bed is poppin’. It’s the place to be. The wives are there. The other handmaids are there. She’s got an assload of doctors. And these creepy little girls in pink keep walking by. Finally, after all this time, she’s popular!
June is totally f*cked up now and can barely walk from having to kneel all the time. In another time, this condition would be known as “blowjob knees.” She tries to kill OfMatthew by holding onto her breathing tube, but a little alarm goes off and the doctors come back in. Drats!
The Next Day
The next day, all the handmaids gather for their number one handmaid activity, aside from bearing children: a prayer circle. June is so crazy now she can barely pray, and Janine is all f*cked up from the time OfMatthew beat the shit out of her with a can of chowder. Fun times.
Turns out OfMatthew really did Janine dirty and f*cked up her eyeball hole. Not that her eyeball hole was doing great to begin with. Nobody has given her an eyepatch for some reason, so Janine attempts to cover her infected eyeball hole with a chic side bang. Unfortunately, chic side bangs are banned in Gilead, so Lydia makes Janine tuck her hair behind her ear. I think it’s safe to say Janine’s hair does not look sexy pushed back.
The handmaids all leave, but Aunt Lydia hangs back to check in on OfMatthew’s progress. OfMatthew starts having a seizure, probably because she is a half-dead body being forced to carry a pregnancy to term. Idk tho. I’m not a doctor.
June When OfMatthew Has A Seizure/Me When I find Out My Guy Friend’s Wife Has Gone Into Labor: If you’re lucky, you may get to see her sh*t herself.
As we all know, Lydia hates cursing, so she does not appreciate this comment. June then asks Lydia if she can leave the hospital (not very strategic thinking) and Lydia predictably says no.
Aunt Lydia: God never gives us more than we can handle.
Me: What about the time you tried to give your coworker a handjob and he rejected you and it made you go apesh*t and get your friend’s son taken away? Remember that?
In the background, we see a doctor dispose of a dirty knife he used to cut OfMatthew’s leg open, and June smiles. Don’t these people realize that if you leave June in a room with a knife she’s 100% going to steal that knife? That’s like, the Handmaid’s Tale version of Checkov’s gun.
June waits until night time to go check out the whole dirty knife situation. She’s changed into her nightgown/slip, which is actually a pretty cute peasant-cut white dress. Pop a flower crown on and it’s honestly a perfect festival lewk (and/or a costume from the movie Midsommar).
June wastes no time sticking her hand in a medical waste deposit box, and gets her finger pricked with a needle. Whatever. She’s not not trying to die. Her medical dumpster diving is interrupted by Janine, who is in the hospital due to an infected eyeball hole. And this, dear readers, is why we wear the eye patch.
Janine, pure as f*ck, comes over to OfMatthew’s bed and forgives her for repeatedly hitting her in the eyeball hole with a can of soup. June, Squidward as f*ck, immediately sh*ts all over Janine’s parade. June is quickly becoming the type of person who tells little kids Santa isn’t real.
Janine: I want you to get better.
June: She’s not going to get better.
Me: CHRIST CAN WE NOT LET JANINE PRAY?
June uses Janine’s prayer as an in to suggest she and Janine just go ahead and kill OfMatthew with the extremely tiny knife she’s acquired. Predictably, Janine is not into this idea, like at all.
Janine: You’re selfish! You’ve changed!
Me: Go OFF queen!!!!
June then immediately tells Janine to get the f*ck out. Looks like somebody can’t handle a little constructive criticism.
The Next Day
June doesn’t kill OfMatthew after all, but that doesn’t mean she’s done f*cking around with her tiny little knife. Luckily for June, Serena Joy shows up out of nowhere looking extremely knife-able. Unluckily for her, it’s actually hard to kill someone with a tiny knife, especially if you can barely walk because your knees are all f*cked up from praying, so SJ subdues her pretty easily. She doesn’t even freak out that much, because honestly the whole murder attempt was pretty sad, and June ends up injuring herself more in the process. Is June the Bagel Boss guy?
A nice-seeming doctor comes by to sew up June’s hand. Nobody is concerned that she acquired a knife and was going to use it to kill herself and others. Casual reminder that in season one, handmaids got murdered for blinking too sluttily.
June: My mother was a doctor. She treated pregnant women, and she always put her patients—the women—first.
Personally, I love how June is batsh*t crazy for the entire first half of the episode, but then as soon as she has the opportunity to lecture a man about feminism, she is 100% lucid and on top of her sh*t. I feel seen.
Turns out Chill Doctor actually knows June’s mom from back in the day, and they bond over that.
June: You know, last night I was going to kill everybody in here and myself, but now that we’ve chatted I’m feeling a lot better.
Chill Doctor: Oh ya I totally knew that would happen. Don’t worry about it.
That night, June is given a new hospital bed, so I guess stealing a knife and threatening to kill everyone worked. Unfortunately she doesn’t really get to enjoy it, because OfMatthew’s vital signs start going crazy. Is she going into labor? Is she having a miscarriage? It’s hard to tell.
The doctors run in and do a C-section, and pull out OfMatthew’s premature looking baby. So now Handmaid’s Tale has shown us a premature baby C-section and a still birth in two back-to-back episodes. Thank you Handmaid’s Tale!
The Death Of OfMatthew
The next day, June packs up her sh*t and gets ready to go. OfMatthew is still alive, but barely, and everyone says she’s going to die soon. As June is leaving, one of the creepy little girls in pink offers to help her carry her bag. We find out that the little girl is at the hospital because she just found out she can have babies. Turns out all the little girls June has been seeing coming in and out of the hospital are being inspected to see if they can have babies. Bleak. As. F*ck.
June leaves the hospital with Aunt Lydia, but then last minute decides she wants to go back and stay with OfMatthew until the end. Classic June. Always almost leaving places and then deciding at the last minute to go back and be tortured again. I guess it is the least she can do for bullying OfMatthew so badly she lost her mind and committed suicide by cop (it’s a thing, look it up).
Meanwhile, in the next room, Janine’s eye is back to normal. Or at least, it’s back to the status quo. As a nice gesture, Aunt Lydia brings Janine a little red eye patch to wear. Between this and Serena Joy’s leather finger, Gilead has really cornered the market on high-end accessories for female torture victims. A booming industry!
The episode ends with June in OfMatthew’s hospital bed, showering her with compliments, like ya do when you realize you’ve been kind of a bitch to someone. She then promises to free all children, including OfMatthew’s new baby boy, from Gilead. Sure, June. But you’re always saying that.
OfMatthew dies while June sings “Heaven is A Place on Earth.” Not sure if that’s the song I’d personally like to go out to, but okay. In another subversion of the art form, this episode does not end with June looking directly to camera while they play The Jackson Five or some sh*t, but instead ends with only the sounds of OfMatthew’s heart monitor indicating her death. Now I’m kind of wishing we had the old endings back.
Images: Hulu; Giphy (4)
Alright fam, this episode of The Handmaid’s Tale was a rollercoaster. It swung wildly from amazing (Aunt Lydia flashbacks!!!!!) to absolutely terrible (stillborn baby close-up), and I’m just going to go ahead and say right now that yes, it does end with June looking directly to camera while kitschy music plays. How many times are the writers going to do this? At this point, every time it happens I can’t help but think of this video and start laughing uncontrollably:
Elisabeth Moss at the end of every episode of Handmaids Tale. Needle drops included. pic.twitter.com/WtgBaPget2
— Chrissy Shackelford (@ChrissySh) June 29, 2019
Can someone show the writers of The Handmaid’s Tale this video so they realize this trope is over and they can move on to something else? Please?
Back In Gilead
We open on a handmaid named OfAndy giving birth. It is truly hard to keep all these handmaids straight. I had no idea OfAndy was even a thing. Since OfMatthew revealed that she narc-ed on Frances the Martha and got her killed, OfMatthew must now face the snitch’s fate of getting stiches. What did she expect?
In this case, the stitches are emotional, as Gilead has been transformed into North Shore High School, with June acting as Regina George.
June: That was a really good prayer, OfMatthew. You’re so religious.
June: …so you agree? You think you’re really religious?
The other handmaids are literally bullying OfMatthew while OfAndy gives birth. And when I say literally bullying, I mean literally. They’re shoving her. They’re snickering behind her back. At one point someone breaks something and blames it on her. It’s a whole-ass mess. And June is just standing there like:
The only person who is not into the bullying is poor, sweet Janine. She’s that one popular girl who always sticks up for the nerds because she’s low-key in all the AP classes with them and would probably be a nerd herself if she weren’t so hot. It’s not her fault she’s so popular.
This scene is difficult because, on the one hand, it’s tough to watch someone get bullied, especially when that person is pregnant and scared in Gilead. On the other hand, she totally snitched and got someone killed.
June sums this up best when she says “She got someone executed. She doesn’t feel sorry about it. She should have kept her f*cking mouth shut. Also that’s the ugliest effing skirt I’ve ever seen.”
Even Aunt Lydia takes notice of the bullying and tells June to “tell your friends to cool it.” Between Aunt Lydia saying “pumped” in the DC episode and her saying “cool it” in this episode, I think it is safe to say she’s been perusing Urban Dictionary.
At The Red Center
As with all cases of girl-on-girl bullying, the handmaids have now been assembled in the gym for trust falls. June is in the middle of the shame circle, but just like the kid who gets detention every day, it has lost its effect.
That is, until Aunt Lydia pulls out the Hannah card and makes June admit that her actions led to Hannah (who she calls “Agnes” because that’s her new name, unfortunately) losing her Martha and having to move. This clearly f*cks June up for a second, but just like Regina, June has a few pages of her burn book yet to reveal, and she’s not going to go down without a fight.
June: Yeah, well OfMatthew told me she doesn’t want her baby.
Clearly, June has taken it too far. Keep OfMatthew’s baby out your mouth. Like, I know she’s kind of tragic, but she’s Janine’s friend, so be nice to her, okay??? Also, harming a child and/or endangering a child in any way is a big f*cking deal in Gilead (except that one time Janine did it) so saying this puts OfMatthew’s life in genuine danger. Very uncool.
Speaking of Janine, she’s watching all of this go down like:
The group then turns on OfMatthew, who is already on the brink of a mental breakdown after all the bullying she endured at OfAndy’s birth. Hats off to actress Ashleigh LaThrop for conveying OfMatthew’s genuine terror here, and hats off to the cinematography for really putting us in this scene. I felt like I was the one getting bullied here, and frankly, I did not appreciate it.
At this point I start to realize that this episode has gone from Mean Girls to Heathers real fast (esp. with the red outfits) and that can only mean one thing: a lot of people are going to die.
Aunt Lydia Flashback
The best thing I can say about this episode is that it blesses us with the one thing we’ve all been wanting since season one: an Aunt Lydia flashback, complete with a sex scene. Didn’t actually know we needed that second part until it happened, but thank God it did. We’ll get to it later.
The first thing we learn about OG Aunt Lydia is that she was a teacher at a school. Makes sense. Her hair is down, she has a blow out, she’s rocking sensible flats and a flowy top, presumably from Chico’s.
Lyds has stayed late because one of the children in her class has yet to be picked up by his mother, whom Aunt Lydia clearly does not like. The principal of the school stops by and she immediately quotes the Bible at him, so clearly she hasn’t changed too much since the old days. The principal clearly digs this Bible reading, and the two of them have distinct sexual chemistry.
Can Aunt Lydia spit game?, I wonder.
Unfortunately, the flirting sesh is interrupted by the boy’s mother, who is clearly a struggling single mom. Aunt Lydia invites the two of the over for chili, but only so she can keep judging them and making shady comments. I have also done this many times to my dinner guests, so I get it.
At the chili cookout, Single Mom curses in front of Aunt Lydia, which would get you tased to death in today’s world. Since it’s not today’s world, Lydia’s only weapon is a vicious side-eye, which she uses often.
We end this scene with a couple more pieces of Lydia info:
1. Her full name is Lydia Clements.
2. She used to be married but he “was a mistake.”
We cut back to the Red Center, where Aunt Lydia is fulfilling her dream of making struggling women pay. She releases all the girls from the auditorium and thanks June for “telling what you know about OfMatthew,” but we know what she really means is “I’m on to you, bitch.”
Back at Commander Zaddy’s, June is trying to figure out where the f*ck Hannah moved to. I guess she should have thought about the fact that moving exists before she tried to break into her home and school. Hindsight is 20/20.
June: I need to know if you’ve learned anything about Hannah and the Mc—
Like most bullies, June’s home life is extremely f*cked up right now. Her Commander is mad at her. She doesn’t know where Hannah is. She’s struggling and lashing out at her peers. You hate to see it.
They get called to help with OfAndy’s birth again. I guess I didn’t realize that she never actually gave birth the first time. Shows where my priorities are at. The handmaids are all hands on deck for this baby, except for June, who is just chilling in the doorway. Maybe her parents wrote a note saying she could sit out?
Ultimately, the baby is stillborn and has the cord wrapped around its neck, which the director chooses to show us in vivid detail. Not something I necessarily needed to see on a Wednesday, but okay.
June sits out of the post-stillbirth group hug and instead pops over to go stare at the dead baby, which is some pretty extreme antisocial behavior from our girl June Osbourne. What’s her issue? Other than like, everything that has ever happened to her.
Finally, June returns to the Lawrence home, where the Commander inexplicably wants her to start hanging out with his wife again. Pretty sure that didn’t go great last time, but whatever.
June, who is clearly having some sort of mental break, responds to this attempt at friendship by laying into Commander Lawrence about the world he built, and how it affects his wife. Is she wrong? No. Was this the best moment to convey this sentiment? Probably not.
At The Aunt Office
And now for another glimpse into the daily life of Aunt Lydia, who apparently is in charge of deciding which handmaid goes where along with two other Aunts. They do this using a giant lazy susan and not like, computers, for some reason.
Do computers still exist in Gilead? They have to, right? I feel like a shared Google Doc could be helpful here.
At one point, Aunt Lydia refers to a family that “doesn’t want a handmaid of color”, which is significant in that it is the first time Handmaid’s Tale has addressed racism at all. Prior to this, you kind of got the impression that all racism was magically cured in whatever war happened. In my mind I rationalized this by saying that perhaps the fertility crisis has made people so desperate for babies it overrode hundreds of years of racial bias, but if that’s the case, this show should probably like, say that at some point. Just a thought.
Once the Aunts are done excusing racism, they go onto their favorite activity: sh*t talking June. Clearly, Aunt Lydia is not impressed with her mean girl turn, and the Aunts can’t help but notice that her walking partners keep going insane. Maybe it’s time to send her to military school?
Aunt Lydia Flasback #2
Wow. This next scene was a wild f*cking ride, so strap in because we’re about to cover a lot of ground. We start with Aunt Lydia at Single Mom’s house. Clearly they have become close, even though Lyd is still making condescending comments about her roughly every 30 seconds. Single Mom is unfazed by this (she’s got a lot of other sh*t on her plate) and decides that what Aunt Lydia really needs is a makeover. And starts sensually applying makeup to Lydia’s face. For a second I’m like…are they going to hook up? But they don’t. This is just a standard makeover. Lame.
Beat for the gods, Aunt Lydia goes out for a night on the town. Yes, you read that right. Aunt Lydia goes clubbing in this episode and yes, she is wearing a sequined top.
And who is she at the clurb to meet? Oh, just the hot principal from one flashback ago, of course! Not only are they hitting it off and looking amazing, it is also New Year’s Eve. Bold choice for a first date, but Aunt Lydia is a bold woman. She enjoys a single glass of champagne and then we cut straight to them doing drunk karaoke. Who among us hasn’t had the exact same night? One minute you’re enjoying a glass of champagne, the next you’re screaming “No Scrubs” to a room full of strangers. Life comes at you fast.
Speaking of fast, Aunt Lydia and Hot Principal go home together ON THE FIRST DATE. Now of course, there’s nothing wrong with going home with someone on the first date, but given Lyd’s entire personality, this is pretty surprising. The two start making out and it’s like…what’s gonna happen here? Is he gonna try to go too far and get pepper sprayed? Will this be Aunt Lydia’s first taste of blood?
Quite the opposite! Aunt Lydia goes to give Hot Principal a casual first date hand job and HE TELLS HER THEY ARE MOVING TOO FAST!!! He slut-shames Aunt Lydia!
In his defense, he does say that he wants to see her again, but Lydia is already heartbroken. And what does a heartbroken Aunt Lydia do?
And by “sh*t” I mean the lives of two innocent people by reporting Single Mom to whatever the Gilead version of CPS is for “moral weakness.” Hot Principal watches all this go down with a sad look in his eye.
Where is the woman who tugged his dick just a few months ago? Or do hand jobs not count as moral weakness, just like they don’t count as cheating?
Back in Gilead, June is standing in the snow to meet up with OfMatthew who is not. doing. great. Like, she’s crying before they even get to the bus stop. They’re really layering this bullied child motif on thick.
They make it to the grocery store, and within five seconds we see OfMatthew losing her sh*t in the seafood aisle over a can of lobster bisque. The combination of the bullying, the pregnancy, and her natural narc-iness are too much to bear. Like many bullied youths before her, she is about to lose her f*cking sh*t in a public place.
Then, OfMatthew does the one thing you’re never supposed to do: she physically attacks Janine! Like, really beats the sh*t out of her! This is why you can’t be nice to people. Within 30 seconds, OfMatthew has gone full Carrie on everybody at Loaves and Fishes.
To make matters worse, she attacks a guard and steals his gun. So now she has a gun. Basically, OfMatthew was bullied so badly it drove her to buy a gun and open fire at a grocery store. I see no parallels to our current world there! None at all!
Just as we think she is going to shoot June (who is so crazy at this point, she just kind of stands there smiling), she turns her gun on Aunt Lydia. I know Aunt Lydia survived being stabbed seven times and falling down the stairs, but can she survive being shot at close range in the grocery store?
Sadly, we do not find out because the guards kill OfMatthew (who we learn is really named “Natalie”) right there next to the frozen shrimp. Damn. RIP OfMatthew. You mostly sucked, but I did feel bad for you at the end there.
As I mentioned before, the episode ends with June looking to camera while Nancy Sinatra’s version of “Que Será Será “plays in the background. Yawn.
Images: Hulu; ChrissySh / Twitter; Giphy (7)
Back to Gilead! Let’s dive into the horrors Hulu has brought to us this week, shall we? We open on a Canadian protest, which I imagine is a very polite affair. Baby Nichole, a hardened member of antifa at this point, is on the front lines with Luke, her new pseudo-dad. Based on the epic fatness of her widdle cheeks, it seems like Nichole is thriving. Good for her.
You know who is not thriving? June, who is still sadly being forced to hang out with OfMatthew the Narc at the grocery store. June is tuning out OfMatthews’s narc-ery by dreaming about having sex with Luke at the clurb. This is also how I get through talking to annoying people.
June: Nobody dies from lack of sex.
Me: Speak for your damn self.
OfMatthew takes this opportunity to make a dig at June about Luke (could she tell June was just thinking about it? Does OfMatthew have a radar for horniness?), to which June responds “bite me.” Good for June.
It turns out that all of Gilead is looking for Luke, echoing my sentiments last recap that this thing with Baby Nichole is going to turn into an Elian Gonzalez situation, except instead of being saved by dolphins she was saved by Emily. (If you don’t know wtf I’m talking about www.google.com can help.)
Cut to: Fred and SJ at a meeting to talk sh*t about Luke. Gilead has apparently hacked Nichole’s medical records, which gives Serena what the kids call “all the feels.” Clearly being separated from her daughter has caused Serena significant mental distress, even though she knows her child is going to a better place. It’s almost as though separating children from their families is extremely traumatizing for everyone involved and should be reserved for the most extreme circumstances?! Food for thought.
Fred: Help me understand what it is that you want.
SJ: Well two weeks ago I had ten fingers and a baby and now I don’t have either so maybe let’s start there?
At Commander Zaddy’s Place
Cut to: June at the door, lurking and listening, aka doing what she does best. Turns out the Waterfords have stopped by for a casual chat. Who would have guessed in season one that these guys would form a mini friend group? They’re going to parties together, they’re hanging out after hours. I bet their group chat is littttt.
Turns out they’re not just there to shoot the sh*t, though. They want to arrange a meeting with Baby Nichole. Damn, Baby Nichole! She’s going to meetings! She’s out here protesting! She has a more active life than I do and I’m 29 years old. Wow.
SJ: Call your husband.
June: Oh yeah I’ll grab my cell phone and do that.
June tries to convince SJ this is a bad idea, to no avail. She’s like, “girl, listen, I know how this goes and it absolutely ends with you and her new mom talking about hypoallergenic dogs while you get arrested. Trust me.” Serena won’t hear it, so June decides the best course of action is to just go along with this extremely bad idea in hopes that SJ will owe her one later. Solid choice.
Cut to: June sitting at Commander Zaddy’s desk like a goddamn boss. She attempts to call Luke once but he ignores it, just as any respectable individual who receives a call from a blocked number would do. He picks up on the second attempt, probably assuming she’s one of those Chinese telemarking services that calls from a number that looks like yours.
Luke: Hey can you take me off the li—
June: Heyyyyy it’s me!
Can you imagine picking up a call that you 100% thought was your student loan company and having it be your long-lost wife? TG he didn’t let it go to voicemail. That’s where phone calls go to die.
June: I need you to go to the Toronto airport to meet the Waterfords. Bring Nichole.
Luke and Everyone Else on the Planet: Uh that sounds like a really bad idea?
Ultimately Luke agrees because like, if your kidnapped wife calls you for the first time in years to ask you for one favor you kind of have to do it. You can’t really be like, “ahhh the next two weeks are kind of crazy for me but maybe check back in a month?” Also, like any respectable person, Luke refuses to meet with Fred, meaning SJ has to go alone. Cue Serena Joy’s Eat, Pray Love: Canada Edition! It takes place entirely in the Toronto airport and she doesn’t eat anything but there is a lot of praying.
Commander Zaddy tries to offer June a handkerchief for her tears when she’s done with the call, but she slaps his hand away like a boss. She’s a stone cold bitch who cries for no man. Also she has PTSD and has to shut down to deal with trauma. Relatable!
The Mix Tapes
Next thing we know we’re with June and Crazy Madame Zaddy, who may not be so crazy after all. She tells June that Commander Z used to “curate cassette tapes for in college,” which is the least romantic way of saying your boyfriend made you mix CDs that I’ve ever heard.
This revelation comes as no surprise. Of course Commander Zaddy is one of those mix tape-making Seth Cohen motherf*ckers. Of course he is an indie boy. It’s always the f*cking indie boys. They start out all nice and cute and sensitive, and then the next thing you know they’re yelling about being friend-zoned and inventing the colonies. Typical sadboi behavior. Given my dating history, I can’t believe I didn’t spot it sooner.
Cut to: June hauling ass to the attic to find the mix tapes and see if they’re embarrassing. Surprisingly, they are not—though one of the tapes is called “A MIXTAPE MIASMA,” another typical indie boy move. TBH based on the first song alone this mix tape slaps. Pass Commander Zaddy the aux any day of the week.
Serena In Canada
Next, we see Serena getting ready for her big vacation to the Toronto airport. She is going to bring Nichole a giant hideous necklace to remember her by. Sure, Serena. Sure. Before SJ leaves, Rita gives her a grubby little package that SJ is supposed to pass on to Luke.
Okay, can I just pause and say, how the f*ck is this happening without any government intervention? Once again, the rules of Gilead are all over the place. Two episodes ago, June was getting in trouble for “gossiping” at the grocery store, but now Mr. Waterford is chartering a plane and negotiating with the Canaian government and the government has no f*cking clue?? Tell me how.
SJ arrives in Canada and changes into some sensible flats and a cowl neck sweater, courtesy of the hot Canadian government official she met on her last trip. He’s apparently there to make sure everything goes okay and SJ doesn’t pull a Janine and try to jump off the airbridge with her baby. Good call.
Luke is absolutely stone cold, and like, I get it. He doesn’t know that Serena Joy lost her finger and had a change of heart. All he knows is that she held his wife prisoner in her home while her husband assaulted her regularly. Pretty good reason to hold a grudge, imho.
The meeting goes…not great. Luke isn’t very interested in giving Nichole the hideous necklace, which causes the old Serena to go claws out and basically low-key threaten June. It works in that Luke agrees to take the necklace, but it doesn’t work in that I doubt Luke will be inviting her to Nichole’s first birthday party or anything.
He does let her hold Nichole a little bit before heading back to Gilead with her sh*t husband and her leather finger. That was nice of him. He is repaid for his kindness by listening to a mix tape from June (this is what June wanted SJ to pass along) that is actually a cleverly disguised recording of her telling him Nichole isn’t a baby born of assault, but actually a baby born of love with her hot new military boyfriend.
I leave this scene thinking about Luke realizing that he’s been free as a bird in Canada for years getting absolutely no ass while June is getting dicked down by a hot ROTC guy on the daily while also living in a patriarchal religious slave state. That probably hurts more than the cheating, if you ask me.
Back In Gilead
Cut to: a single shot of the Zaddy family creepily listening to “Cruel to be Kind” in their living room and not talking to each other. How very Seth and Summer of them.
Serena returns to Mr. Waterford, who was not allowed in Canada because he (say it louder for the people in the back) absolutely sucks ass. He tells Serena that her relationship with Nichole “doesn’t have to be over,” and it’s like…see, Luke? This is why you have to be at least semi-nice to the crazy rich lady from Gilead who is obsessed with your baby. Have you seen her eyebrows? You don’t mess with women whose eyebrows are that good. You just don’t.
Meanwhile, June is back at the grocery story with OfNarcthew, who is actually being semi-cool for once. She apologizes for being such a bitch earlier and reveals it is because she is pregnant again. She is very sad and clearly just generally not jazzed about carrying her rapist’s baby to term. If only she had access to a safe, legal medical procedure that would help her end her pregnancy so she would not have to endure that trauma. If only.
Moments later June is arrested and I’m like, “this is why you shouldn’t be gossiping at the grocery store, bitch! You’ve been warned!” It’s honestly hard to tell what June is being arrested for at this moment. For kidnapping her baby? For attempting to kidnap her other baby? For setting up a meeting between the first kidnapped baby and her half-mom? There are so many options.
Turns out this isn’t an arrest. It’s a forced television appearance for which they make June change into a whole new handmaid outfit, complete with shawl. Just as I predicted, the Waterfords are now making an international appeal to get Nichole back, and June has to be present because…? I feel like it doesn’t help your cause to remind the entire world that this baby actually belongs to the sex slave behind you, but whatever. The entire broadcast is the creepiest thing I’ve ever seen, with the scary-ass Waterfords crying to the camera in front of their own demonic portrait.
Any reasonable human who watched this psychotic press conference would absolutely never give these freaks their baby back, and would probably start donating to a “save the babies of Gilead” fund immediately out of sheer horror. But I guess we’ll have to wait until next episode to see how the world reacts.
Images: Giphy (2); Tenor; Hulu
Aaaand we’re back. Hulu released three new episodes of The Handmaid’s Tale yesterday, but today I’m only tackling the first one because between this and the Ava DuVernay Central Park Five series, I need an extra session or two with my therapist.
Let’s start our recap with a recap: when we last left June, she had made arguably the dumbest decision of her life and remained in Gilead to save Hannah, while Alexis Bledel and the new baby f*cked off to Canada with the help of Commander Zaddy (the guy from The West Wing). The baby, of course, will suffer a far worse fate (being named Nichole).
We open on June frantically texting Emily to be like, “JK sorry actually I think I wanna get in the van after all!!!” (Not really, but this is what I would do).
Commander Zaddy finds June just walking around on the street like its nbd and plays the role of the audience by being like, “Uh…wtf is wrong with you?”
June: I had to come back for Hannah. I couldn’t leave without her.
Me: You totally could tho…
Commander Zaddy agrees to help June because…well, we don’t really know yet. It’s hard to get a read on Commander Zaddy.
Back At The Waterfords’
Oh god, it’s Fred. We begin with Fred losing his sh*t and being very annoying like the sad beta male that he is. He’s all pissed off because June stole their baby and carved sh*t in the wall and lit a bunch of sh*t on fire. Fair, but for some reason, coming from him it seems annoying.
Fred: She burned down half the city and kidnapped our baby!
Me: Ugh, Christ, can we get this man a Xanax? He’s hysterical…
Then Serena Joy drops a bomb by admitting she helped June and the baby escape, and leaves Mr. Waterford and his micro penis to figure out what to do next. I halfway expected Nick (who has been sexily lurking in the back of this scene saying nothing) to come out of the shadows at this point and be like, “Well while we’re all sharing things, I’ve been boning Offred this whole time and that baby is actually mine because you’re impotent,” but he didn’t. Shame.
Cut to: Serena Joy smoking a cig. I guess they don’t have Juuls in Gilead.
At Hannah’s House
Oh, so June is gonna try to get Hannah…right now? I figured she’d like, take a minute to formulate a plan or something but nah, she just has Commander Zaddy drop her off at Hannah’s place for a little improvised kidnapping.
Getting into the house is surprisingly easy, and she also has no issue sneaking up on that Martha she met the last time she broke into Hannah’s house. The Martha doesn’t scream or anything, she’s just like, “The Commander isn’t here,” and lets June go upstairs to take Hannah. Truly no questions asked.
June goes up to Hannah’s room and the cops show up immediately because of course they do. It’s honestly impressive how fast they arrive. June once again succumbs to her fatal flaw: having absolutely no idea when to GTFO. She just like, chills in Hannah’s room for a bit, ties a little piece of yarn around her arm, packs a bowl, smokes it, updates her LinkedIn, etc…etc…
Eventually she’s captured, because she made no real effort to not be captured. At this point I’m very confused, because I obviously know that Offred isn’t going to die, but like, just based on what I know the rules of Gilead to be, she is probably facing death. Like, they cut off Serena Joy’s finger for reading the Bible.
Random Woman from the Shadows Just as June is Being Taken Away: Jonathan, please bring her inside.
Me: Uh who the f is this and who the f is Jonathan?
Okay, so we find out immediately that this woman is Hannah’s new fake mom and she seems…honestly chill? Just like when any two moms get together, they start talking about their children (though in this case it is the same person).
Mrs. Mckenzie: She wants a dog!
June: She’s allergic!
Mrs. Mckenzie: We’ll get a goldendoodle!
Mrs. Mckenzie: I know!
June: Okay I have to go be arrested now! Bye!
Mrs. Mckenzie: TTFN! Please stop breaking into my house!
I leave this scene having no idea which one of them is right.
Back At The Waterfords’
Horrible energy at the Waterford house, per usual. Mr. Waterford—who I literally just realized is the Jared Kushner of Gilead—is still all freaked out because his baby has been kidnapped by his rape victim in an act of triumphant revenge, and his wife helped. Yawn.
Turns out the cops just brought June back to the Waterfords, which seems to go against all the rules of Gilead (last season they drowned Eden in a pool in front of the entire town for dating), but okay. Whatever. This is what’s happening.
Serena Joy is pissed that June came back and left Nichole with Emily. Serena Joy thinks Emily is a “murderer” because she “once drove a car into a crowd full of people.” Ugh. Doesn’t Serena realize that Emily had like, reasons?
Nick, Speaking for All of Us: What the f*ck is wrong with you? Don’t you know you’re going to die here?!?
June: I know 😉
Emily & Nichole
Oh right! Yes! These two! Emily is on the final leg of her journey, where she has to just casually run across a river. NBD. Personally, if I were Emily I would be very annoyed with June. I was on my way out and then you show up and give me a BABY? I wasn’t mentally prepared to care for a baby! Now I gotta do water parkour with a damn baby? I thought we were friends…
Anwyay, Emily attempts to get across the river with the baby and she just gets washed right back up on shore. The police come and we’re all like welp, this is it, there goes Emily and Nichole. Pack it up and go home guys, there’s no way they’re getting out of this one.
But wait…what’s this? The cop is being all friendly and respecting her rights as a woman? OH MY GOD, HE’S CANADIAN!!!! YESSSS BITCH YOU MADE IT!!!
Back At The Waterfords’
Mr. Waterford has calmed down, and surprisingly came up with a pretty good lie to keep the cops from all getting hanged by the government. This might be the first time he has ever been useful in his life.
Mr. Waterford leaves SJ alone in the bedroom after telling her the plan and we see SJ just like…go dark before our very eyes. You can tell she has finally made the crucial transformation from 95% that bitch to 100% that bitch.
What will she do? Will she kill herself? Will she kill Fred? Ohhh F*CK SERENA JOY JUST BURNED THIS BITCH DOWN.
NO MORE DARK ASS HOUSE.
NO MORE HORRIBLE RAPE BED.
IT’S ALL ON FIRE! ALL OF IT! SO MUCH FIRE!
AND HER AND OFFRED ARE JUST…STANDING THERE?
WHAT ARE YOU DOING THERE’S LITERALLY A GIANT FIRE??!?
Once again, June has no idea how to GTFO. She just hangs around in the on-fire house, laughing to herself as the walls literally start collapsing around her.
June: Burn motherf*cker, burn.
Me: OKAY BUT CAN WE HAVE THIS MOMENT OUTSIDE ON THE SIDEWALK THIS SH*T IS ABOUT TO BLOW.
Cut to: a truly insane fire sequence set to anachronistic music because that’s The Handmaid’s Tale’s favorite thing to do.
Me during this whole sequence: Is this Game of Thrones? Is Gilead where Drogon was flying to in the finale? I’m confused…
Emily arrives in Canada and gets the welcome every person hopes for anytime they walk into a new room: a full standing ovation. Imagine if every time refugees arrived in our country we gave them a standing ovation? That’d be nice…
Cut to: Luke and Moira picking up the mail. Turns out, Offred sent Luke a polaroid of Hannah. Cute.
Then out of nowhere, Emily shows up and is like, “Are you Luke?”
How she found them or knows what Luke looks like is a mystery to me.
Emily: Your wife saved my life.
Luke: Uh…who are you again?
Cut to: the red center, where June is doing her chores. A random handmaid rolls up and whispers to tell her Emily and baby Nichole made it to Canada.
Honestly, there were very good acting moments from both Elizabeth Moss and Actor-Who-Plays-Luke* here. Very good.
*his name is O.T. Fagbenle.
Offred’s New Home
We end on June getting her new assignment, which is obviously going to be at Commander Zaddy’s place. It is, and he asks her if she’s going to cause him any trouble.
June: Of course not 😉
Conclusion: This episode had so much fire and winking at the camera that I honestly mistook it for a GOT-Fleabag crossover. (HBO and Amazon, you owe me if you use that idea).
Images: Hulu; Giphy (2); @handmaidsonhulu (2) / Instagram