Much like June towards the end of episode 4 of The Handmaidʻs Tale, I might be a little broken. Broken because our girl June is back at square one and broken because I don’t know how much more torture I can take. Also, if we get any more bath scenes with Aunt Lydia giving out vagina washing instructions, I’m out y’all! Sorry, not sorry, Aunt Lydia.
The episode begins with June’s dissent into madness. And can you blame her? Girl had a taste of sweet, sweet freedom, and now she’s back at Cattle Prod University having to repeat her freshman year.
June is chained to a bed, while she counts the flowers on a grandma comforter. We see a giant room filled with one bed, one June and some Aunts. Aunt Lydia strolls in and June lets Big Lyd know that she isn’t going to take her shit anymore and she’s not going back to being Offred. Aunt Lydia utters the first of many chill worthy lines of the episode. “June will be chained in this room until she gives birth. And then June will be executed. Offred has an opportunity.”
Aunt Lydia has set aside her cattle prod and has decided to try mental torture out for a while. Lyd’s new method begins to work immediately, because June decides she would much rather live at the Waterford’s house than be chained up with grandma’s comforter until she births and then she is executed. Offred is reborn and she get’s a fresh new red dress. Offred, shante you stay. June, sashay away.
When Offred is returned to the Waterford’s, a meeting is held with the whole gang. It’s here that we learn how the Waterford’s have decided to spin her escape. She was kidnapped by terrorists and has now been safely returned to Fred and Serena's loving arms. Praise be.
Despite Aunt Lydia’s threats, we immediately see Offred starting to defy her captors, especially Serena. She gets sassy with Lyd on her way up to her bedroom, she gives Nick a smile and a long look in front of Serena, she passively talks back when she is supposed to be quiet. She’s not letting June die, just yet.
Serena isn’t having any of it, and she pops into Offred’s room and chokes her against a wall. Offred even begins to smile, despite the fact that Serena has a hold of her neck. After she releases her choke, Serena says that Offred was gone for 92 days. By my calculations, that puts Offred at just over 18 weeks pregs. On the What Fruit of Vegetable is my Baby Scale, that means the Offred-Nick spawn is at the bell pepper stage. Next week, heirloom tomato!
Ok, can we talk about this bath scene for a minute? That was some disturbing tv. I decided that my “Find someone who looks at you the way Aunt Lydia looks at June’s vagina” meme was too gross to post, but I still stand by that comedy. Seriously? What bacteria from her vagina is gonna affect the baby? This is what happens when you get your anatomy facts from the bible and not an book based on scientific facts.
Let’s get to that baby shower, because this is where the fundo freaks of Gilead are on full display. You have all the prominent wives gathered at the Waterford house for some good ol fashioned culty rituals. Bitches be standing around in a circle, weaving strings, holding hands, kneeling and chanting. The words that they are chanting are from the bible, and the bible nerds (Holly and Heather) will get more into the meaning of this verse on our podcast this week.
While Serena and the gang are acting out a scene from the 1996 Fairuza Balk classic, The Craft, Fred is out shooting blanks. Haha. Fred publicly asks his group of cult bros if there’s any way he can get sent to Canada on the diplomatic mission because his wife is a raging beast right now and he REALLY needs to get away from her. Fred, you might have a tiny bit of blame when it comes to the volatility in your home, son.
Back at the house, the Let Me Speak To Your Manager ladies are lamenting about how tragic it was that Serena missed out on the first trimester. Damn you terrorists! One of the LMSTYM’s says something about the baby’s first kick and Serena be like, ohhh it’s too soon for that. Offred was like, "ahhhhh actually ho, that happened last night. Ya basic.”
Serena shoots daggers, lasers, machine guns, bombs and great white sharks out of her eye’s towards Offred. Aunt Lydia stands behind Offred patting her shoulder and acts almost like her body guard. Is she standing such a close guard over Offred to protect her from herself, or is she actually there to protect Offred from Serena? Hmmm.
Following this, Serena takes a mean girl smoke break. She’s all emo and by herself out on the veranda. Probably thinking about how Offred embarrassed her in front of her friends and stuff. Her revenge plans are interrupted by Aunt Lydia who basically puts Serena in her place. Lyd drops that it’s only natural for Serena to resent Offred and “God will forgive you for that.” Then she takes Serena’s Virgina Slim and tells her that smoking is bad for the baby. Burrrrnnnnnn.
Eventually we go through the ridiculous ceremony where Offred and Serena hold hands and we see a close up of Offred’s face. It’s broken. Can you imagine escaping for 92 days and having that freedom and hope, only to be brought back to your captors and forced to be not a person but a walking vessel? How do you not slump over in despair and die?
Here’s a running tally of the fault that June has to swallow this episode. She finds out Rita didn’t give the letters to the Mayday contact, Ofglen’s tongue was cut out for standing up for Janine, Omar was killed for helping June, Omar’s wife was made into a handmaid, Omar’s child was given to “fit” parents, and Mayday has gone silent and is no longer helping handmaids.
Omar’s death is shocking and we see Offred break completely. Aunt Lydia reminds her that Omar’s death and the break up of his family is not Offred’s fault, but June’s fault. June did this, but Offred is innocent.
In the flashback scenes, we see Luke’s wife confront June right after her hot yoga class, because of course June does hot yoga. June is a side bitch, who willingly and knowingly began an affair with a married man. Just like Dolly Parton sang about in the song “Jolene” she asks June, please don’t take my man.
Back in the real world, we are left with our girl June, who we want to win. Winning however, comes with consequences. Every time June fights back, someone loses a fucking tongue or a hand, or their kid, or their life. Rooting for her to fight back, means someone else gets hurt.
So what are we left with? A shell of a human, who used to be like all of us. Flawed as shit and pretty basic. She now has to deal with the fact that she isn’t looked at as a person, but a baby container. She is a vessel who's engorged uterus will get cuddled at night and Serena will act as if Offred isn't even there.
Episode 4 wasn't my favorite and I think I know why. I can no longer root for June to resist Gilead knowing that every time she fights back means punishment or death for someone else. Where do we go from here? It seems bleak as hell, so I'm hoping we get some Colonies or Canada action next week. I don't know if I can watch robot Offred chirp "We've been sent good weather today," over and over for the rest of the season.
Blessed be, bitches.
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