Thank ya Jesus that we didn't get any statutory rape with sex doily's in this week's episode of The Handmaid's Tale. I could NOT take that again. What we did get was some stellar Aunt Lydia quotes (confirmed, she's delusional), some handmaid funerals, some Canada scenes, some confusing reassignments for Emily and Janine, and some great Loaves & Fishes grocery store action. I'm a sucker for their cream horns.
Let's start with the funeral. Handmaid's dressed like burka wearing penguins, march through the snow to a series of red coffins placed in the shape of the sun. Iris Dement's "My Life" played as the bizarre funeral rituals played out. Big Lyd says some interesting scripture that Holly and Heather, aka The Bible Nerds, will talk about on the podcast this week.
My favorite part about this strangely staged scene was Aunt Lydia's quotes. I literally LOL'd in the living room as she said, "I wish, I could give you a world without violence...without pain. That's all I ever wanted." *In the distance we hear the faint buzz of a cattle prod as a handmaid receives her punishment for not eating enough soup and we all collectively laugh in Aunt Lydia's delusional face. Even now as I write this, I am chuckling again. Like, seriously lady?
In the blaring sirens of the handmaid bus, we have the ladies talking about the toll of the explosion. 26 commanders and 31 handmaids lost in the Ofglenbo bomb. Poor Ofzed, she had a horrible name but was nice, and Ofedward was mean AND smelly. Wash yo hair, girl.
As the bus passes down the street, we see marthas and wives hanging from trees and houses. It's a good reminder that justice comes swiftly and without much evidence in Gilead. This plays out later on in the episode with Cushing as well.
We are at the hospital with Fred, Serena, and Nick. Serena is trying to pray Fred back onto his feet so that he can get his homework/paperwork done. #ThoughtsAndPrayers work as well in GIlead as they do here in real America. So, not very well.
Eventually, Cushing and Putnam come for a menacing visit. They break the news that Andrew Pryce is dead. Good riddance, but what does that mean for our boy Nick though?
To the Colonies!
We see the ladies marching with shovels. It's how they spend 50% of their day, it seems. The soothing sounds of zaps can be heard over the muffled voices of Aunts yelling, "Facing forward!" If you watch with closed captions, as I do, you will see it's always someone named Aunt Pauline that is yelling at the Colonies. She has no chill.
Emily and Janine are prodded straight into a vehicle along with several other Unwomen. Sorry ladies, looks like someone else will have to tend to the toxic tomato garden today. My first thought was, surely they wouldn't be taking them back to be handmaids again, right? I mean, they have been exposed to toxic waste and radiation and this would lead to an inability to successfully create healthy babies, right? RIGHT?!?
Up in Canada, we see a briefing with officials and a group of people including Luke and Moira. They are told about the explosion in Gilead and that handmaids were some of the casualties. Luke's like, let's go get some roti. Moira is like, wtf?
I understand Luke's disconnect here, but also, don't you want to find out if your fucking wife was one of the dead handmaids? Apparently, carb loading is more important. Big race tomorrow, I guess.
We see a flashback of Moira, June, and Luke at a coffee shop. Moira is going to be a surrogate mother for a nice couple in England. Girl is gonna get paid $250,000! Yeah, sign me up.
Back in real time, Moira asks the head press lady for information about her fiancee. She was rounded up before the war. Moira is taken to a room with tons of files and books and a very large section devoted just to children. These are the files of the dead.
Flashback, Moira is getting an ultrasound. Once again, the What Fruit of Vegetable Is My Baby Scale is utilized. Moira's fetus is the size of a brussel sprout.
Back at the Waterford's, Offred is putting away her black handmaid penguin outfit into a box. Rita steps in and nervously tells Offred that someone is there to see her. Creepy Cushing is in the sitting room wanting to ask her some questions.
Cushing has one of those sparse creepy beards. He's also a soft talker, so between the sparse beard and the soft voice, I was crawling out of my skin every time he appeared on the screen.
He asks her about Ofglen and what she knew about her. He also drops that he knows she wasn't kidnapped. Luckily Offred sticks to her story and is like, "I was taken against my will." Pretty sure she was saying this about June and not Offred, but both it will do for this creep.
Dogs start barking and Cushing goes to see what is up. Offred goes over to the window to see one of the Marthas getting shot. Cushing is cracking down and it appears that women are taking the brunt of the violence.
Back at the hospital with a barely conscious Fred, Offred's baby is offered up as a way Serena can soothe her ailing husband. After Offred leaves the room, she and Nick decide to once again play their favorite game of, Let's Make Out In Public Spaces So We Can Get Caught. As they were making out I was like, welp, June's an adulterer again!
Chez Waterford has Offred sitting at a dark table. Serena reveals that Ray Cushing and his wife Sonia were people they knew in the olden days. Back when brunch, The Gap and Real Housewives of Atlanta were still a thing. Offred tells Serena that Cushing came to the house and that he doesn't believe that Offred was kidnapped.
I couldn't tell if Offred was fucking with Serena here or if she was pushing her to take the bull by the horns and do something about this Cushing asshole before he gets them all killed. Maybe a little bit of both. Either way, it works.
Back up in Canada, Moira is still at it. Looking for any evidence of her fiance's death. Luke shows up with some food and they have a cute moment. I love these two together. More adventures of Moira and Luke, please.
In a flashback, Moira and June are in a lamaze class where Moira has a total pregnant lady meltdown. She's pretty big, at this point. Odette is the one leading the class.
To Gilead!, Nick is shouting out orders to Guardians. He opens the door to his bungalow to find a skulking Serena sitting in his kitchen/bedroom/living room/dining room. She asks if he's ever helped the commander sign documents for the Consular of Divine Law. Serena needs his help with these docs. "Will you walk me through the process?"
In a series of quick flashbacks, we see Moira has given birth to her baby and she is saying some last words before she hands him over to his new parents. Moira is out looking for wine and bumps into Odette. She's like, I'm not your doctor anymore, so let's do this.
It's after this flashback that we see Moira discover a picture of her dead fiance. Moira has a cry and so do I. At least Moira can have some closure now. Fuck you, Gilead!!!
At the Waterford's we see Offred, Serena, and Nick lurking. Cushing pulls up and Nick is like, arrest that douche. By orders of commander Waterford, you are screwed, buddy. "The evidence submitted by the Eyes, was overwhelming," says Putnam.
I'm left a little puzzled here. I hope we get further clarification as to what happened. I know they have set it up to show us that Putnam is shady and doesn't like Cushing's passive insults. Aside from that, I need some more explanation as to the process of Cushing getting arrested.
Meanwhile, at my favorite grocery store and yours, Loaves and Fishes, gruel is on sale, as is the corn pone. Best pone in Gilead!
Janine runs up and scares the shit out of Offred. She reveals what I had feared earlier. She and the others are back from the Colonies because of the death of so many of the handmaids. I guess we are to suspend belief that radiation exposure isn't a big deal? Fine. I'll pretend, but I won't pretend without grumbling first.
Offred sees a visibly upset Emily, shaking over some Granny Smith apples and she is inspired to tell Emily her real name. I'm June, she whispers. Is it weird that all I could think about as I saw Emily was, fuck, she doesn't have a clit. Fuck you, Gilead!!
June telling people her real name inspired all the handmaids to do the same. A chain event of Alma's, and Dolores's, and Brianna's and Sara's all whispering their names to one another. We get a view of Eden's face and we all see, this girl gonna cause some trouble. Damn you show writers for doing this to a 15-year-old! Also, fuck you, Gilead!!
In Canada, we get a meeting where all the dead handmaids' names are read aloud. Moira takes a photo of her and Odette and places it on a memorial outside.
In the last scene, we get Serena asking Offred to edit some of the new security directives. Serena is sitting at the big kids' desk and she looks pleased. She's been without power for so long, that now all it takes is a little sip and she is drunk on it.
Offred steps over to the desk and she lets Serena know that she needs a pen. Part of me wanted Offred to jam that pen straight into Serena's eye.
I loved watching Offred hold a pen and feel the paper. Elisabeth Moss is at her best when she is Offred remembering June.
The closing scene of Offred thumbing the end of the pen as if it were a bomb was such a great call back to how the last episode ended. What kind of bomb has Serena unleashed?
I don't feel like this episode was as complicated as "First Blood," but I was left with enough questions to feel puzzled and confused. I am looking forward to talking with the ladies this Sunday to find out what their take is on "After."
Blessed be, bitches.
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