Welcome back to another week of Gilead hijinks, as Serena takes a quick trip to Canada, June discovers the power of a mixtape and Fred has another dumb idea. Tara Ward recaps episode five, season three of The Handmaid’s Tale.
There’s not a second in June’s day where she’s not worrying about something. Will I ever get Hannah out of this seething hellfire of misery? Will Luke be safe now that everyone knows where Nichole is? Will the supermarket have dried peas? So many worries, so little time, so it’s good that the Waterford’s cunning plan to say goodbye to Nichole will definitely not add any stress to June’s life whatsoever.
Now that Gilead knows where the baby is, the Waterfords want to say goodbye to her in person. They ask June to call Luke and arrange a quick get-together in Canada, like it’s no big deal for her to ring her husband up out of the blue after not hearing his voice in years, not since that time they tried to flee the country together.
Lawrence gives June two minutes to make the call. Hold the line, June. Hold the mother flipping line.
Imagine one minute you’re shopping in the corner dairy, the next you’re speaking with your wife who is held as a prisoner of her own womb in a foreign disaster zone. I get one call from a stranger wanting to selling me ceiling insulation and I run screaming to the bathroom, but Luke took it all in his stride. June was even calmer, going into robot Handmaid mode and telling Luke the necessary details while the clock ticked down.
What can you say in 120 seconds to the person who means the most to you, other than “I love you,” and “the woman who watched her own husband try to impregnate me every month wants to say goodbye to the baby your wife had with another man who she accidentally fell in love with, which is the very same baby that you’re now raising as your own, because you’re a legend?”
That’ll do it, I reckon.
June’s worlds collide in a Canadian airport terminal. Serena is reunited with Mr “Treason and Coconuts” from last season, who makes Serena change her clothes to become “less conspicuous”. Honestly, a woman can’t even go to a foreign airport to meet the husband of her handmaid without being told what to wear.
Luke is super pissed off, while Serena is a broken tap of tears over Nichole. “You’re never going to mean anything to her,” Luke tells Serena. Serena will flood all of Canada with her tears, and I will be washed away too, because if there’s one thing that’s going to make me fold like a camping chair it’s people crying over babies, especially dystopian ones.
Back in Gilead, June discovers a box of ye olde mixtapes the Commander made for Mrs Lawrence early in their relationship. June chooses a cassette, and the sound of ‘You Make me Feel Like Dancing’ rings out through the basement. The Lawrences get in on the act too, and the scene where they awkwardly jerk their bodies to the weird rock and roll sounds from yesteryear was everything. You make ME feel like dancing, Mrs Lawrence.
Serena returns without the mystery package Rita asked her to smuggle across the border, and with a secret cellphone that Treason and Coconuts hid in her handbag. “In case you need me,” his note says, but how bad does this shit have to get before Serena dials 111 and books a one way trip to Hawaii? Her husband chopped off her finger, she hates the man she’s married to, and she has to wear green every day. Enough is enough.
“She was perfect,” Serena tells Waterford of her visit with Nichole. “And now it’s over.”
But it’s never over in Gilead. Waterford put on his thinking cap while Serena was away, and before June knows it, she’s wearing a new frock and is chucked in front of some cameras to listen to the Waterfords implore the Canadian government for Nichole’s return. Waterford’s ideas are always shit, and this is no exception. So many dumb ideas, he should get it tattooed across his heart.
This face tells me June’s not going to take this lying down/sitting up/hiding in the basement listening to ’70s disco hits. She manages to speak to Luke on her own terms by recording a message over Lawrence’s mixtape. This was the parcel Serena smuggled out, and in it, June urges Luke to make a new life for himself. She tells him Nichole was born out of love. “I’m not the woman you remember,” she says. “I’m doing what I need to survive.”
The recording is a delicious nod to the book ending of The Handmaid’s Tale, but if this is June’s way of telling Luke she’s never getting out of Gilead, I’m going to eat my own weight in dried peas.
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