Tensions continue to rise in Gilead, but June’s plan to start the revolution is coming together perfectly. Is this too good to be true? Tara Ward recaps this week’s episode of The Handmaid’s Tale.
It’s the pentultimate episode of season three, and life is positively jaunty in Gilead. The Waterfords are in the Canadian slammer, Winslow’s still dead, and June’s dream to steal a bajillion children and fly them to freedom is about to come true. There’s also plenty of carrots and potatoes at the supermarket, and I feel a hearty casserole coming on. I bet Fred Waterford loves a good stew, as much as he loves a delicious dystopia. Sucker! No stew for you, prison boy.
“I can’t stop imagining them in orange jumpsuits,” June says when she hears about the Waterfords, but she’d be sadly disappointed. Fred and Serena are being held in a detention centre that doubles as a sleek 4 star hotel, with crisp white sheets and comfy armchairs and a pleasant garden view. Mr Treason and Coconuts even gives Serena Joy free pizza and newspapers, which I certainly didn’t get that time I was upgraded to a double bunk with ensuite at the YHA.
Despite all the home comforts, Fred’s in a right state when he discovers his beloved wife set him up. “I want to be with my daughter,” Serena tells him, and if Fred had his Scrabble board in prison, he would spell out FUMING for a Triple Word Score of 36 points. “I pity the child that has you as its mother,” he replies, his sweaty hands around Serena’s neck. Ugh. Check the prison mini-bar, that guy needs to be invoiced $36 for a tiny block of chocolate, ASAP.
While those two argue about who should burn in hell first, luck continues to swing June’s way. She sits in her room, gun pointed, expecting to be killed once Winslow’s body is found. She waits for the knock at the door, the footsteps, the voices, but nothing happens. After the Waterfords’ arrest, everyone in Gilead assumes Winslow was also captured. Holy loaves and fishes, did June just catch a break?
“Fred and Serena are toast, and you got away with murder,” Lawrence tells June. “All in all, not a bad morning.” Mmm, toast.
With the airlift confirmed for one week’s time, word of June’s plan spreads among the Handmaids and Marthas. Even Rita cracks a smile when she spies June in the supermarket. “You’re such a boss now,” she tells June, as they hold hands across a tub of potatoes. “I’m proud of you.” It made my heart soar, mostly because I love potatoes, but also because I love all the joyful moments that we’ve had lately. I haven’t smiled as much since Aunt Lydia hooned past on her mobility scooter.
But let’s not get ahead of ourselves, because political tensions are escalating and Lawrence has to play both sides. The only way he’ll avoid Waterford’s fate is if he becomes a hero who gets 52 kids across the border, and that won’t happen if Gilead panics and starts World War Three. June’s nervous, Lawrence is stressed, and an increasingly erratic Eleanor nearly spills the beans about the escape to Mrs Winslow. That plane can’t come soon enough, for all our sakes.
Back in Canada, the Waterfords are greeted by a local welcoming committee. Moira brings Nichole in for a supervised visit with Serena, while Luke pops by for a chinwag with Waterford. Moira unleashes a barrage of home truths, reminding Serena that Nichole is June’s daughter, not hers. “Just because you got some new clothes, doesn’t make you any different,” Moira says, before calling Serena a true gender traitor. That toast just got burned again, FYI.
A round of applause for Moira, and one for Luke, who punches Waterford straight in the piehole after Waterford tells him June’s not the woman he once knew. That’s KAPOW, 14 points to Luke in the Scrabble game of life. “I’m not done!” Luke yells as he’s dragged from the room, but Waterford’s got at least two faces, Luke can come back any time.
Waterford’s right, though. June’s not the woman she once was. The old June would never let Eleanor die, but new June won’t let anything stop her from getting those kids out of Gilead. So when June finds Eleanor unconscious, a bottle of pills lying next to her, she does nothing. She kisses Eleanor on the forehead, closes the door, and pretends she never entered the bedroom. June waits. She waits for the footsteps, the voices, the cries. Mrs Lawrence dies, and June did nothing to stop it.
June and Lawrence stand together at Eleanor’s grave, silently contemplating their next move. Does Lawrence know the truth about his wife’s death? How will June get 52 children across the border? Will they build a bridge out of all those stale muffins? Under his eye, see you for next week’s season finale.
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