Need to catch up? Check out the previous The Handmaid’s Tale recap here.
Meet the new Ofglen, decidedly not the same as the old Ofglen.
Just when we’d fallen in love with Offred’s subversive new pal, Episode 2 of The Handmaid’s Tale yanks her away. While I’d love to envision Moira and Ofglen and any other Gilead escapee possibly rallying help up north, you just know they’re probably enduring something painful somewhere awful.
Whatever excruciating fate befalls the MIA ‘maids, however, I’m sure it’s nowhere near as weird as what transpires in Commander Waterford’s office the first time he summons Offred for some private time together. Read on as we review the highlights of “Birth Day.”
ALL ABOUT OFGLEN | The next time Offred and Ofglen head to the market, we learn some important facts about each. Offred was an assistant book editor who lived in Brookline, Mass. Ofglen is from Missoula, Mt., and was a lecturer in cell biology. Even though the new Republic of Gilead hates lesbians and academics — and Ofglen can check off both of those boxes — she has working ovaries, so she gets a pass. “Lucky me,” she says, wryly.
When a suspicious Offred wonders how Ofglen knows so much about what’s going on in the world, Ofglen reveals that she’s part of a network, and she wants Offred to “join us.” She mentions how highly placed Cmdr. Waterford is, and how intel about him would be very useful. “I’m not that kind of person,” Offred hedges. “No one is, until they have to be,” Ofglen replies.
BABY MINE | At home, Nick the driver warns Offred not to trust Ofglen because “it’s dangerous.” Oh, and he’s got a little something for Offred from the Commander: an invitation into his study later that night. Offred immediately thinks she’s going to be killed or something equally bad, and can you blame her? It’s not like anyone’s throwing these women impromptu parties or surprising them with days at the spa.
But Offred’s panic is tabled, for a while at least, by the arrival of the birthmobile, a red van (geez Louise, Gilead, does everything you do have to be on so on the nose?) that collects handmaids and brings them to a home when a young woman is in labor. The mom-to-be this time is Ofwarren, aka Janine, aka the handmaid who lost and eye — and then her mind, a little — after being insolent at the brainwashing center.
The day causes Offred to reflect on her own labor and delivery, at the height of the infertility crisis. She has her child in a nearly empty maternity ward, where Hannah is the only baby to have a normal, healthy birth. Hours-old Hannah, by the way, is ridiculously cute. The crowds praying outside are creepy. The fluorescent lights flickering in quiet, desolate hallways are creepy. And the distraught mother who brains a nurse and then tries to steal June and Luke’s daughter is hella creepy. (Thanks to some quick-acting cops and Luke, everything turns out OK. Well, except maybe for the nurse. That was a LOT of blood.)
THE BLESSED EVENT | Offred joins the other handmaids already at the house; they’re upstairs with Aunt Lydia and the sweating, straining Ofwarren while the mistress of the house pretends to be in labor, herself, in the living room while her friends — including Serena Joy — look on and nosh on party food. It’s so, so weird.
Eventually, Ofwarren’s baby arrives. And similar to the bizarre sex ceremony, the handmaid is forced to expel her commander’s spawn from her body while simultaneously giving his wife a modified piggy-back ride. The child is a girl, and healthy. She’s taken right away and handed to the older, richer woman while Offred and the other handmaids, including Ofglen, circle a sobbing Ofwarren and lend her what little comfort they can.
TRIPLE WEIRD SCORE | That night at the house, Offred heads to the Commander’s study, a room that not even Serena Joy has ever seen. And he wants her to… play Scrabble? Um, OK? She lets him win. He seems pleased with the “date” and asks her for another after he returns from a trip to Washington, D.C. And that’s it. They shake hands, then Offred goes up to her room and holds her hand over her mouth to quiet her relieved giggling.
MISSING ‘MAID | The next morning, Offred struts out to the gate (to Simple Minds’ “Don’t You (Forget About Me),” which is an inspired choice) to report everything to Ofglen. But another handmaid awaits her there, spouting the usual pious niceties that mean nothing. Offred cautiously asks if Ofglen was reassigned to another family. “I am Ofglen,” the woman responds. GUYS, SHE IS NOT OFGLEN. Offred’s voiceover sums it up best when she says: “F–k.”
Your turn. What did you think of the episode? Hit the comments and let us know!