The revolution in Gilead has finally begun, and it’s taking place one batch of muffins at a time. Tara Ward recaps the latest episode of The Handmaid’s Tale.
The revolution we’ve waited nine long episodes for is here at last, and how do we know? Muffins. It turns out the network of Marthas’ have a secret language of resistance, where scones mean no, we can’t find any more medicine for Mrs Lawrence, and muffins mean yes, we’ll help June get the children out. The Marthas are the unsung heros of Gilead, because who wants to fight an uprising without a handy serving of bran and berry? Not me, friends. Not me.
June’s been stuck in Gilead for five years, and it felt like she spent another five kneeling at Natalie’s bedside. June returns to the Lawrences to find things are very different. Either Waterford is throwing his weight around or Lawrence discovered The Life Changing Art of Tidying Up, because all the art is gone from the walls and books lie on the floor. Marie Kondo wouldn’t put up with this sort of shit, especially when Commander Winslow says that all Handmaids will have bars through their lips and veils over their mouths. At the very least, that’ll make it really tricky to eat those muffins.
The mood has shifted in Gilead. The system’s come back to bite Lawrence in the arse, because his wife’s mental health is getting worse and he’s under scrutiny from Winslow and Waterford. June tells Lawrence he could get Mrs Lawrence out of Gilead out if he wanted to. “Fear can be a great motivator,” she says, but so can muffins, FYI. Waterford persuades Winslow to make an example of Lawrence, even though Winslow used to play golf with him every Sunday. Golf! What a lark that must have been.
I hoped we’d seen the last of the Ceremony, but thanks to those two douchebags, it’s back on the dystopian agenda. Winslow and Waterford pop round to Casa Lawrence for a chinwag and to bear witness that Lawrence is performing his Commanderly duties. While the nervous Lawrences take June to the bedroom for the Ceremony, the others wait downstairs so they can compare the size of their egos and scoff down a pile of stale scones.
This is not a blessed day. Mrs Lawrence is falling apart, Lawrence just wants to play canasta, and June’s the only one with a grasp on reality. “You helped create this world,” she tells Lawrence. “How long did you think it would be before it came for you?” She knows the Ceremony can’t be avoided if they want to survive, and weirdly ends up persuading Lawrence to do his duties. “Treat it like a job,” she tells him. “You’re not you, I’m not me.” He is the muffin man, June is the egg man, I am the walrus, do do de do.
June’s the queen of detachment, but it’s fine, she has work to do. She’s determined to save the stolen babies of Gilead, and when Mrs Lawrence casually shows her the secret Handmaid files, June finds all the information she needs. She persuades Alma and Janine to help her, but doesn’t tell Janine that her son died in a traffic accident. Instead, she says he now lives in California, and it’s a moment of kindness that I’m sure will never, ever backfire on June.
Having a wife is backfiring on Waterford, who’s been sucking up to Winslow big time. Fool! Serena calls her husband out for putting his own political career ahead of getting baby Nichole back, and reveals her secret Treason and Coconuts cellphone. You could build a house with that brick, but all Serena wants is for Fred to make a call, cut a deal, and play both sides of the game. Can Waterford do that, though? He has enough trouble playing Scrabble.
Back at the Lawrences, Joseph gives June some contraception (for which the punishment is being torn apart by dogs, WHAT) and promises her a truck for 10 people, as long as one of those is his wife. June agrees, and later finds the kitchen filled with muffins. The Marthas will help June free the children of Gilead, and knock me down with a cattle prod, is this good news in The Handmaid’s Tale?
Blessed be the fruit muffin. “We’re going to need a bigger boat,” June says with a smile (a smile!). I don’t know if she needs the big boat for the children or for the muffins, but either way, it’s all aboard, me hearties.
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