It was the best episode of The Handmaid’s Tale this season, with an arrest, an attack, and a whole lot more muffins. Tara Ward recaps.
The second I laid eyes on this cheeky little chappie, I knew this was going to be a very special episode of The Handmaid’s Tale.
Did the happiest little muffin in all dystopia have any idea about what was about to unfold in Gilead this week? That Lawrence would try and fail to escape, and the Waterfords would accidentally drive into Canada and be arrested the moment their rotten feet touched the ground? That June would take to Winslow with a fountain pen and stab him until he died in a pool of his own rancid blood, leaving the Marthas to chuck his body into the furnace and set the temperature to ‘burn, motherfucker, burn’?
We’ve waited three long seasons for the women of Gilead to strike back, and I’ve never been so happy to see so much death and misery. I morphed into that smiley muffin, all soft bottom and crusty top, beady eyes aglow as the door slammed shut on Waterford’s freedom and Winslow met his firey end. Tip me out and dust me in icing sugar, I’m done.
June was at her Juney best this week, calmly talking Eleanor down from shooting Commander Lawrence, and refusing to endure another sexual assault at the hands of the Gilead patriarchy. She’s on a mission, hellbent on moving 52 kids out of Gilead. I only have two kids and it still takes me three hours to get them into the car to go to the supermarket, so who knows how June will smuggle 52 of the noisy little feckers into Canada without anyone noticing. Maybe dress them up as trees and make them shuffle quietly across the border. After this week, nothing would surprise me.
The political world is closing in on Lawrence. He and Eleanor make a run for the border, but are forced to return because they lack the correct paperwork. The government want to keep him in Gilead, which means both Lawrence and June are in trouble. June’s also in trouble with the Marthas, who’ve been secretly planning a rebellion of their own (involving a plane organised by a bloke named Billy from Jezebels), but June reassures them she won’t muck up their plans.
Oh, how I laughed.
June needs Billy to keep that plane in Gilead overnight, so she can chuck 52 tree children onto it. She sneaks into Jezebels, bribes Billy with all of Lawrence’s fancy artwork, and is nearly out the gate when she bumps into Winslow. Of all the joints, in all the dystopias, this piece of trash had to walk into this one. There’s no escape. As Winslow prepares to rape June, she repeats the words from last week’s Ceremony. It’s a job. Detach yourself. I am not here.
Suddenly, June snaps. There’s a violent fight, and June stabs Winslow with a pen, striking his chest and his side and the black cavernous hole where his heart should be. While he lies on the floor bleeding and mumbling about his children, June finishes him off with a blow to the head.
Holy shit, June. The pen really is mightier than the sword.
But what about those crazy Waterfords, I hear you ask? They take a trip to meet Mr Treason and Coconuts to negotiate Nichole’s return, and the fresh country air and his new sunglasses put Waterford in such a good mood that he lets Serena drive the car. A woman driving a car, as I live and breathe! They reminisce over the good times in their marriage, like when Fred fattened Serena up with chocolate croissants and how he took her writing career away. Fred tells Serena he’d give everything up for her, and then they have creepy twin bed Bates Motel type sex.
I had a holiday like that once, with lots of chocolate croissants and twin bed shenanigans, but it never ended like this. Treason and Coconuts lures the Waterfords to a secret place to talk, a place also known as ‘Canada’. They’re quickly arrested. Fred gets shoved into one truck and Serena into another, but guess what? Serena doesn’t look that surprised.
Suddenly, it all makes sense. Serena’s loaded goodbye to Rita, her anger at Fred in the forest, the way she let his hairy mouth nuzzle her neck as they lay together on the candlewick bedspread one last time. Well played, Serena, but if this means she’s given Fred to the authorities in return for bringing up Nichole in Canada, I will be forced to hate eat 52 muffins in one sitting.
As for our brave hero, June is rescued by the Martha she saved from the cages earlier in the season. The Martha returns the kindness by telling June how to get out of Jezebels, and removes all evidence of the crime from the room. Winslow disappears in a shroud of dirty linen, and in the basement, the washing machines shudder and the incinerator burns. Winslow is gone, quicker than that tray of chocolate croissants I hoovered down during the long winter of 2005.
Under his eye, a blessed day indeed.
The Bulletin is The Spinoff’s acclaimed daily digest of New Zealand’s most important stories, delivered directly to your inbox each morning.