It’s amazing how wonderful this show can be when it isn’t trying to up the ante on torture. When it’s not using the violent rape of a pregnant woman as a storyline, this show is capable of transformative television. Last night’s episode, “Holly” was an example of that.
This episode was devoted entirely to Elisabeth Moss and her other worldly ability to act. Seriously, this woman can transform herself into any role and would nail it every time. Director: “Lizzie, in this next scene you will become a half-eaten apple. Annnnndddd action!” Elisabeth Moss: *crushing it as a half-eaten apple. **Gets every award ever made by mankind
Onto the show!
Since Offred is currently free from her captors, I will go back to referring to her as June. I know some recaps have a passionate defense as to why they will only ever call her June. For me, when she is captured, she’s Offred and when she’s free, she’s June.
June is standing in the middle of the long snowy driveway at the abandoned house where she reunited with Hannah. She starts running after the vehicles that just took Nick away. She waddle runs about twenty feet before she realizes that her bundle of joy really restricts her cardio. June and I have a similar running style. Problem is, I’m not currently nine months pregnant.
Suddenly, a wolf appears and our little red riding hood is in a game of chicken with the black furred beast. June heads into the house to look for keys to the garage.
As June is searching for keys, we see pictures of maps on the wall. If you go back and pause the frame, it looks like maps are of the current outline of the new authoritarian regime. On a shelf, June finds a picture of Hannah and a Wife dressed in blue. This was a house where Hannah lived. Why don’t they live there now?
In a flashback, we see June dropping Hannah off at school. The little girl is crying and upset. The teacher is almost scolding June to remember the protocol on how to leave an upset child. June eventually tears herself away and walks away crying.
June’s ransacking is a success! Keys! She heads down to the garage, uncovers some sort of striped muscle car, and starts ‘er up. I’m not a car person, but the sweet hum of that powerful engine gave me a serious lady boner.
Just as I was about to yell, “Get outta there, girl,” the soft, soothing voice of my Oprah came through the speakers of the car. “The American government in Anchorage received promises of economic aid from India and China. In the United Kingdom, additional sanctions on Gilead were announced, as well as plans to raise the cap on American refugees relocating from Canada … Now a tune to remind everyone who’s listening — American patriot or Gilead traitor — that we are still here. Stars and stripes forever, baby.” Oprah got out and she is maybe the president? My heart is soaring!!
Driven by the power of The Oprah, June heads back into the house and starts scavenging for food, water and warm clothes. Just as June is admiring her pregnant belly in the mirror and while having a flashback to herself being pregs with Hannah, Fred and Serena pull up in front of the house.
Serena enters the house screaming Offred’s name like a crazy possessed person. Fred seems genuinely nervous like they could get in actual trouble if they were caught here. Serena heads upstairs and spots Offred’s handmaid dress. At first, I thought June was hiding like a kid, behind the curtains. My heart sank and I was ready to scream at June like when she was looking out of Omar’s windows. Fear not audience, she’s smarter than a four year old.
The dress is in a pile on the floor, and Serena goes into a rage. She stomps downstairs and begins to belittle Fred for setting up this Hannah reunion. “How could you be so stupid? They hate you! She’s always hated you!” Serena speaks truth. Especially when she tells Fred that he raped Offred. Ahhh, scusi? You did too, ya butt munch.
The fighting continues and Serena delivers some of her most truthful feelings since Gilead began. She reminds Fred that she gave up everything for this. She gave up her life. All she wanted in return was a baby.
Unbeknownst to the squabbling Waterfords, June is about to go Lee Harvey Oswald on their asses, up in the book depository window. When June was fumbling open that trunk I was shouting at the tv screen, “What are you doing!!! Stop!! They’re going to find y…oh shit, she found a gun.”
I knew there was no way that she would shoot the Waterfords, but for a brief moment I was so giddy that she just had the opportunity to do so. Not that she would have done too much damage with a shotgun from that distance. The buckshot would have messed them up, for sure, but they still would have been alive. Still, it could have been a little sweet justice.
Serena and Fred leave and June misses her chance to claim sweat revenge. Annnnnnd cue the labor pains.
To the past! We see June, Moira, Luke and Holly (June’s mom), taking a tour of a birthing center. Like the kind where you have a midwife and it’s all homey and stuff. June sticks her nose up at the center and is like, ummmm nah, I’m good, mom. Ima go have my baby at a hospital with drugs and doctors.
Moira, sensing the tension between the mother and daughter, breaks in with my favorite line of the night, “My friend Bridget had her baby in the woods in a stream.” We can only surmise that Moira is friends with a salmon.
June drags her Bout To Give Birth ass up and back out to the garage. She tries to figure out a way to open up the garage door but there isn’t any electricity. Fine, June’s gonna bust that door down with her penis on wheels. Yeahhhhhhh, that didn’t work.
She heads outside to shovel open the door? Oh hey, wolf. June slips. June falls. June’s water broke. Wolf howls. Audience howls. This baby is going to be born in Gilead. Damnit.
June heads inside to make a fire and pop out a baby. We see flashbacks of her birth with Hannah. Luke and Moira are there with their playlists of music. Holly is noticeably absent.
Before June births the babe, she heads outside and sees her wolf friend once more. June aims the shotgun in the air and fires off multiple rounds. Come and get me, Gilead.
I’ve thought about this act quite a bit since I watched it. I’m sure there will be a multitude of interpretations, but for me, I think June alerted Gilead of her presence because she knew there was no escape after the baby came out. She had a chance to escape while she was pregnant, but that chance was now gone.
Also, I think she was afraid she might die or be so incapacitated that she might not be able to take care of the baby. At least with Gilead goons on the way, even if she fell unconscious or died, they would find the baby before the child froze to death.
After shooting the gun, the wolf disappears and June heads back into the house to get that baby out. She strips down, channels her hunter gatherer ancestors, and starts to push. We see flashbacks of her pushing in the hospital, cut with flashbacks of her practicing breathing and pushing at the Red Center. We see Janine’s birth and Aunt Lydia telling her breath, breath, push, push.
June screams the scream of all screams and pushes forth baby Holly. She did it. I couldn’t help but think about how proud June’s mom would be, and then I started crying. Oh Handmaid’s Tale, you are capable of such beautiful storytelling.
June covers up the baby, talks to her new born daughter and we hear a vehicle pull up outside. Gulp. Will it be guardians to take her back to the Waterfords? Will it be Nick? The Resistance? OPRAH???
Until next week,