The Field Trip From Hell: ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ Recap

Blessed be the fruit! This week on the Handmaid’s Tale, the Waterfords take June on a field trip to Washington D.C., which is now the scariest place on Earth apart from the inside of Fred Waterford’s mind. Fab.

We open on a group of Marthas who are all praying for Nichole as a result of Mr. Waterford’s extended prayer/PR campaign. It’s this campaign that has gotten the Waterfords invited to D.C., where Mr. Waterford will be hosting a national prayer-a-thon. June also has to come because they need to present an image of a perfect Gilead family—man, woman, and sex slave. Just as the Lord intended.

June takes the Amtrak down to D.C. with Aunt Lydia (I’m assuming they sat in the quiet car), which is where we get our first glimpse of the new Washington D.C.. Washington D.C. is different now. It’s scarier. How do we know this? Just look at what they’ve done to the Washington Monument:

Oh nooooo! They took America’s big penis and turned into…an anti-penis! What’s next, they replace the Air and Space Museum’s space shuttle with a Noah’s Ark replica? The portraits at the Portrait Gallery replaced with stills from Veggie Tales? This does not bode well for the rest of the field trip…

The only person who is actually jazzed for the trip is Aunt Lydia, in true field trip chaperone fashion.

Aunt Lydia: I’m pumped! Didn’t they used to say that? Are you pumped!?!
Also Aunt Lydia:

On the escalator ride up (sidenote: good to see the one thing left of the old D.C. are WMATA’s insanely long escalators), Aunt Lydia and June are treated to some very chic new handmaid fashions straight out of he Capitol. I’m talking about red cloth muzzles, honey! They’re all the rage! Straight in from Milan!

Aunt Lydia:


At The High Commander’s House

The Waterfords pick June up from the big period emoji that all the handmaids have to stand on while they wait for their chaperones and head to the High Commander’s house, where they’ll be staying for the weekend. What, no rooms at the W?

First thing to know about the High Commander: he has a f*ckton of babies. It’s a diverse bunch, which implies he has impregnated (read: raped) many handmaids.

Serena when she sees the children:

Fred is clearly trying to use the vacation as a way to repair their relationship, which is always a recipe for disaster. All that will come of this is the same fighting in a more expensive location. Trust me. I know.

Apart from the mountain of children, the High Commander’s house seems pretty chill. That is, until June tries to meet the HC’s handmaid. She’s rocking the mouth guard as is he fashion of the day and June tries to make casual chit-chat with her until we realize….HER MOUTH HAS BEEN SURGICALLY CLOSED WITH METAL BARS. THE CLOTH MUZZLE IS JUST COVERING UP A REAL MUZZLE!!! HANDMAID’S TALE, YOU NASTY B*TCH, WHY DO YOU DO THIS TO MEEEEE?

I said it once in fifth grade when I got diarrhea on the National Mall and I’ll say it again: D.C. sucks ass.

At Prayer Rehearsal

Fred is busy preparing for his big television debut, where he’ll get to pray in front of everyone in the country for the return of Nichole. Turns out Fred has been making a lot of videos lately and has become something of an amateur film student. As if he weren’t annoying enough. The TV appearance is incredibly choreographed, with a sea of muzzled handmaids praying before them. Of course what Fred does not realize is that all of this would be INCREDIBLY CREEPY to anyone who does not live in Gilead. Why would anyone release a baby into their care after watching this Blair Witch reenactment? Why would they not want to seem as normal as possible?

Not one to miss his girlfriend’s big day, Nick is also at the rehearsal and briefly stands in for Mr. Waterford, meaning that for one second Nichole’s real parents are actually on stage. Cute. Also, where have I seen this shot before?

Oh right…

Of course Fred tried to copy his hostage video from the Game of Thrones finale. Of course he did.

Back at the house, June tries to talk Serena out of trying to get Nichole back.

Serena: The High Commander’s kids seem happy!
June: Uh, lemme tell you about their handmaid…

Anyway, this is what you get for doing Serena Joy a f*cking favor. You should have known she would turn into one of those people who looked at the creatures in Bird Box the moment she saw Nichole. That’s on you.

The Swiss

Here’s were sh*t gets interesting. Fred the YouTuber has apparently annoyed the Swiss government into agreeing to act as a neutral party in talks between Gilead and Canada. The catch? They want to speak to June alone first.

Mr. Waterford: In our culture that wouldn’t be appropriate.
Me: Didn’t realize “douchebag” was a culture…

June agrees to speak to the Swiss because of course. Looks like we’re gonna have a classic June f*cking sh*t up situation on our hands.

Swiss Ambassador: So we should call you…?
June: June. Ms. Osborn if you’re nasty.

She tells the Swiss she wants to keep Nichole in Canada, which should be enough to keep her here, but it’s not because the world is f*cked. Apparently Canada is scared Gilead will invade them militarily because Gilead has a v. strong army.

June: Mr. Waterford is not her father.
Swiss Ambassador: Oh girl, we know you heard your tape.

June and the Swiss cut a deal—if she can provide them info from a high ranking official, they’ll advocate for Nichole to stay in Canada.

The Swiss: We need someone high up in Gilead.
June: Ummm do you know who my boyfriend is?

This scene ends with June having to explain to a group of nosey strangers that her relationship status is “complicated.” Some things never change.

Back At The High Commander’s House

We open on Mr. Waterford and the High Commander having man time in the man cave. As the President of the United States would say:

The High Commander says Fred might have a job offer in D.C. waiting for him, then weirdly touches Fred’s shoulder for a little bit too long. Is Fred about to get sexually harassed in the workplace? Is that going to be a plot line this season? I can’t…

Cut to: Nick and June consensually sexually harassing each other in the garden. They make out briefly before June tells him she low-key made a deal with the Swiss government and he has to go talk to them tomorrow or their daughter will have a f*cked up life. Typical date night convo.

Nick agrees and it’s like…great! Problem solved. Nothing to see here. Nichole is fine, the Swiss will keep their word, and this field trip from Hell can finally end.

Aaaand the Swiss betray her immediately. Turns out sexy Nick has a shady past. June tries to find out more info but all she gets is that he was a “soldier” in the “crusade” and Gilead “wouldn’t be here without him.” LEFT THAT OFF YOUR TINDER PROFILE DIDN’T YA, NICK?

The Big Prayer Day

It’s the day of Fred’s big group prayer and Aunt Lydia brings June a present. Namely, a cloth muzzle of her own. Très chic!

Aunt Lydia: When I get tired, I try to think of the good I can do in this world. If I can just help one person…one soul..
June: I have literally seen you pull someone’s eyeball out.

At the Lincoln Memorial (in which Abe Lincoln’s head has been blown off), June takes off her muzzle for one last sparring match with Serena Joy, and she goes all in. She calls her small and incapable of love, and says she should have “let her burn” when she had the chance. The only thing she doesn’t do is make fun of her leather finger. I guess there are still some boundaries.

Live footage of me watching Serena and June fighting at the Lincoln Memorial:


We end on Fred’s big prayer, which is as misguided and creepy as Fred himself. Again I ask, from a PR standpoint, how is this helpful? How is showing the world a bunch of muzzled sex slaves all praying in demonic unison a good case for someone to give you a baby? I am confused. Wouldn’t they want to minimize the visibility of the handmaids and downplay Gilead’s most controversial policies? Olivia Pope would never have let this go down.

We end on a shot of June looking directly to camera, like we have every single episode of this season. Who is directing these episodes? Oh…I know…

Predictions for next week: Canada agrees to give back Nichole, but June twarts them at the last minute, Aunt Lydia, disturbed by what she saw in D.C., joins the resistance, Fred moves his fam to D.C., only to find out the High Commander definitely wants to bone him, and I feel absolutely no sympathy for him at all. Also we’ll probably see some more of Emily (thank God).

Until next week! Under his eye!

Alise Morales
Alise Morales
Alise Morales is a comedy writer and performer. She is the writer of the Betches Sup Newsletter and co-host of the Betches Sup Podcast.