Is The Handmaid’s Tale… Will The Handmaid’s Tale… The Handmaid’s Tale isn’t…
[Whispers] The Handmaid’s Tale isn’t moving Serena and Commander Lawrence into some kind of unholy union… is it? [Whispers even more softly] And I’m not kinda into that idea… am I?
The idea is planted during this week’s episode, which finds the scarved architect of Gilead at one point palming the Widow Waterford’s belly and laughing with what seems like actual delight. While that particular exchange isn’t the most important in an hour which also includes June and Serena’s first post-dead-Fred faceoff AND a June/Nick phone call, it certainly made me stop and think about what kind of Mrs. Lawrence Serena might make.
Read on for the highlights of “Border.’
‘YOU WERE MAYDAY, TOO’ | At home, June and Luke are still reeling from seeing Hannah during Fred’s funeral procession. They note how she was wearing purple, but they’re not sure of the significance. “Not pink, though,” says Moira, who watched it on TV. “She’s not a little girl anymore.” June wants to talk to Nick, but without Tuello around, that’s looking improbably. Still, Moira knows of an unofficial group at the border that’s been having luck getting messages to people inside Gilead. Though she doesn’t think it’s a good idea for June to hang around with the group, which is “basically suicidal,” she asks for a meeting for her and June. “No men allowed,” she tells Luke.
And just like that, Moira and June meet a woman named Lily outside a BBQ joint. She’s one of the women June traded for Fred. “Sorry I didn’t do it sooner,” June says, a little uncomfortable under the woman’s awe. They travel to Lily’s compound at the edge of No Man’s Land, which is run entirely by women and is heavily guarded. That’s when June realizes Lily’s group is Mayday, and now it’s her turn to be awed. “We thought we made it up,” June says of the resistance movement. “We thought it wasn’t real. We thought we made it up because we had to.” Lily looks at her. “Well, then, you were Mayday, too,” she says.
It takes some time for the call to go through, but when it does, June asks Nick about he significance of the purple Hannah was wearing. “She’s ready,” he says quietly. “New school. High commanders’ daughters. Training for future wives.” She is 12.
June frantically asks him to transfer to Hannah’s district to watch out for her, but he gently tells her that he has a new wife (“you know how things are here”), and he asks about Nichole. Then he warns her that Commander MacKenzie — Hannah’s Gilead “dad” — is powerful and that they won’t be able to talk for a while. “Hey Nick, try and be happy, OK?” she says, flashing back to their last kiss. It’s bittersweet for both of them, and he hangs up.
SERENA HATCHES A PLAN… | What we know and June doesn’t: MacKenzie is suspicious of Nick, whom he saw talking with Mark Tuello while Serena was in Gilead. We also learn that Rose, Nick’s seemingly June-sympathetic wife, is the daughter of a well-connected high commander — is that why Nick married her in the first place?
Let’s back up a moment. Serena is still in Gilead, where the pageantry she pulled off for Fred’s funeral is being celebrated. Mark Tuello is still with her, though he’s made to wait outside while she, Nick, Rose and the MacKenzies dine at Commander Lawrence’s house. “We have a strict no-spies policy,” Joseph tells the American upon arrival.
The dinner conversation includes discussion of how the MacKenzies also hate June (mainly because they’re raising Hannah, whom they call “Agnes,” and June has long been a thorn in their sides), how they know she was involved in Fred’s death and how they think that Joseph needs to remarry soon because a single man has no place in Gilead leadership.
Commander Lawrence makes it clear that he has no plans to take another wife. Still, later, Serena suggests that he rethink his position. “Marrying for power, Serena, it doesn’t always work out well,” he says. “Depends on the marriage,” she counters. (Verbatim from my notes: WAIT WHAT?) She puts his hand on her stomach to feel the kid kick, and it affects him more than most things we’ve seen. “We’re gonna protect you, Serena. You and your child,” he says softly. Then the spawn moves, and Joseph grins, saying, “Praise be.”
Do I want Serena and Lawrence to marry? Nope. Do I want to see Yvonne Strahovski and Bradley Whitford routinely have scenes of domestic intimacy together? Absolutely. So I. AM. TORN.
Back at her room that night, Tuello tells Serena that staying in Gilead will be a mistake. “You must realize it’s not safe for women in this place, especially unmarried women,” he says. “I don’t believe that will be my situation for much longer,” she coos. Soon after, a messenger arrives to say she’s being called to the commanders’ council the following day.
… AND THE COMMANDERS LAUGH |Whatever she thinks is going to happen at that council meeting… doesn’t. After a weird exchange with Commander Lawrence, she’s brought before Gilead’s leaders to find out that she’s going to be a global ambassador for Gilead, “unofficially, of course.” They’re sending her back to Toronto “to best represent our sacred republic,” and she is mightily pissed to hear it. But she rebounds quickly enough, demanding a staff, a substantial budget “and protection from those who would hurt me and my baby.” They agree. She curtly thanks them. She leaves. Tuello, who’s been advised to hold the plane, flies her back.
Before they leave the compound, June and Moira get word that the Americans are escorting Serena back to Canada. And indeed, when Serena is in the car from the airport, she sees some “servants of God” holding candles in support for her. But then another car pulls into their path, Serena’s car is forced to stop, and June hops out of the blocking car to slam the window near Serena’s face. “Never touch my daughter again!” she repeatedly yells as Serena freaks out and commands her driver to get them out of there.
JANINE LIVES! | Let’s check in on Esther and Janine. The former is still unconscious, but that doesn’t stop an angry Aunt Lydia — who looks like she’s been crying for days — from slapping her in her hospital bed. Then the older woman makes her way to Janine’s room, falling to her knees by the redhead’s bed.
“Dear God, she does not deserve this! You know she does not deserve this!” Lydia cries, promising God that if He revives Janine, Lydia will turn things around. “I will do things differently,” she sobs.
Apparently, He listens. After Mrs. Putnam stops by to let little Angela be near her biological mother— like Janine did for the little girl when she was ailing after birth — Aunt Lydia wakes from dozing in a chair to find Janine’s bed empty… because she’s sitting outside, awake, in the sun. Now, will Aunt Lydia keep that promise?
Now it’s your turn. What did you think of the episode? Sound off in the comments!
This season is turning out to be horrible. Most of the storylines make no sense- why was June able to talk to Lawrence (and Nick too I guess) just fine before killing Fred, but now she had to go through all this trouble?
June should be moving on from Luke entirely and returning to Gilead to get Hannah back and tell Nick to get out. Instead we got ballet and food truck dates? I didn’t ask for this, and Luke and June trying again can only make this show worse.
I’m behind on the show, but little that I’ve seen or heard makes me want to catch up. Watching June and Luke attempt to repair their relationship (which I never liked and will never like) is not why I was drawn to the show. Some of the plot choices that I’ve heard about – Emily!! – make no sense.
They had to write Emily out because the actress felt she needed to step away from the show.
They made it explicitly clear they had to jump through hoops this time because Tuello was not there to be the connection and was busy away in Gliead.
I agree too much time was spent on the ballet.
Well this episode was kind of a hot mess!
All through that dinner, I’m thinking “Since when do wives get to discuss Gilead business, and actually get a say? I mean they cut off a finger for daring to read a book…”
Next I’m thinking “They sure retconned Hannah’s adoptive parents as super high up evil villains, didn’t they. Dude needs a mustache.”
And when Serena started seducing Lawrence, I could only think “I hope there isn’t a shark and water-skis coming up next. ” And I’m glad June’s refusal to cooperate with his risking it all to get her, Emily, and baby OUT safely didn’t mess things up to the point no-one’s-agent Lawrence would even CONSIDER marrying Serena to “maintain his place” in a system he’s actively been somewhat sabotaging.
And what was that whole “I’m staying” thing? She’s been in CUSTODY, and they only allowed the return for a burial for diplomatic reasons. HOW is it suddenly HER choice to stay?
Guess the Giliaders solved that dilemma by basically making her a spy. Yeah, like no one will see THAT coming.
And it looks like Nick may NOT make it through the season, what with the retconned MacKenzies on the warpath. He may be the next one running for the border in an attempt to survive.
But I’m glad Janine pulled through. And now, Lydia will change teams because she “made a deal with her maker” at Janine’s bedside. Neat little bow there.
Definitely not my favorite episode in the series. Especially with that convenient little roadblock/meeting at the end.
Yes I will stay with this show to the end, but I can’t try to see if it is realistic or makes sense, because it doesn’t make sense. It’s like they have an ending in mind and are just throwing things in that don’t make sense to get to the end.
All of those people lighting candles for Serena should simply step across the border and see how wonderful life is in Gilead! Especially the women who close their eyes to the atrocities of the Waterfords. They’re safe in Canada! Don’t see women in slavery. Would they really want their country to be like Gilead???
Well, there are plenty of women in the US now who support curtailing women’s rights… Religious fundamentalism is a disease.
I feel like you are missing the point. The direct parallel to this is women at anti-choice rallies. Woman voting for candidates that want to curtail their rights. Women buying books like the fictional one Serena wrote in the series. These things happen every day in America.
Serena’s story really confused me as to how it was up to her (& the commanders) if she could stay in Gilead. I thought she was in custody in Canada, only in Gilead as a courtesy.
Also, her baby bump seemed to double in size overnight.
I gasped when it seemed Serena and Lawrence were going to be coupled.
Looking forward to Aunt Lydia’s story.
I enjoyed the episode.
The cheese slid off of Aunt Lydia’s cracker.We will soon to be seeing some changes there.
June’s personal vendetta against Serena is completely understandable. But should June succeed in her mission and kill Serena, it will be an act of revenge instead of justice. Eliminating one woman will never bring justice and retribution to all the women who have suffered and are still suffering in Gilead. June will be villified even more. June is in dire need of psychiatric or psychological treatment to regain her focus and perspective and to process her anger. Not that I don’t want to see Serena get what’s coming to her but it should happen when June is in a clear enough mental state to seek justice and not just revenge at a single person. Strategically applying what she knows and what she is capable of, she could become the instrument who will develop the blueprint that saves all the women of Gilead.
That is what I am saying…June needs some counseling in the worst way.
Wow, Aunt Lydia must be a deep napper. I mean, how did she sleep through all that racket of Janine waking up and the noise from the elated staff transferring her from the bed to the wheelchair to the courtyard?