*Spoiler warning for The Handmaid’s Tale Season 2, Episode 10.
**Trigger warning for rape.
This week’s episode of the The Handmaid’s Tale was brutal. If you thought you hated the Waterfords before, you didn’t realize how much until now. Between Emily, June, Nick, and Eden, everybody lost this episode.
If you were wondering how Emily was getting through being a handmaid again after everything that went down last season, wonder no more. “You treat it like a job,” she says as the couple she’s placed with rape her. Plot twist, the guy has a heart attack and dies right after completing the act. I don’t know what we’re supposed to do with this development, but one thing for sure is that Emily is not ok. From the way she talks in the grocery store later, she sounds ready to give up, devoid of the energy to fight.
Our June is full of fight. After a false labor, that she smugly shoves in Serena’s face, June takes the courage to ask the Commander, that if Serena really is going to make her move to another district, if it could be her daughter Hannah’s district. June’s been able to get away with a lot the past few episodes, but it seems this was over the line. The Commander is enraged, and seeks to punish her. While he and Serena rant about her – they decide that she’s spoiled – they come up with a plan of retaliation. It’s true that sex can help someone go into labor, especially when they’re past their due-date. It’s been a long time since June’s had to go through a ceremony, and she’s not prepared. Watching the Commander and Serena hold her down while she fights and pleads with them not to go through with this is one of the most harrowing things I’ve ever had to see on TV. Any sympathy you were feeling for Serena is now gone.
Eden is finally pushed over the edge by Nick’s lack of interest in her. She makes out with the guard that’s been sweet on her the past couple of episodes. When Nick sees and she begs him to forgive her and he doesn’t even care, she just snaps. I understand Nick’s reluctance here. It wasn’t his choice to get married, he’s in love with someone else, and his wife is fifteen. But, I can’t help but feel for Eden in this moment. Nick doesn’t treat her like a person. He doesn’t even give her the time of day. That can be maddening and extremely hurtful. There’s no reason he can’t treat her like a human being. She’s also not as clueless as we all thought. She tells him that she knows that he’s into the handmaid. He denies it. As he says, to be involved with a handmaid would be “suicide”. I don’t think Eden’s buying it.
Nick may not be feeling guilty for the way that he’s treated Eden, but guess who is. Surprise, surprise, it’s the Commander. Like many an abusive relationship, he tries to make up for what he did to her by giving her a gift. In this case, he’s letting her visit Hannah. Nick drives her far away to an abandoned house in the woods. There we get to see June’s tearful reunion with her daughter. At first Hannah is angry and distant with June, for having abandoned her. But once June explains how hard she and Luke tried to get back to Hannah, and how much they love her, Hannah opens up. She has her mother back, and she doesn’t want to let go. That makes it all the harder when the guardians who brought her there tell her it’s time to go. June and Hannah having to say goodbye here is enough to make you ugly cry.
But wait, there’s a big twist before the end. After Hannah is driven away, some other guardians driving by notice Nick’s car, and wonder what it’s doing there. Nick tells June to stay in the house while he deals with it. However, the guardians don’t believe his story. They shoot him and drive away with both cars. It’s unclear if Nick will survive. So, June is left in the middle of nowhere, all alone, far from the Commander’s house, nine months pregnant, and it’s the dead of winter – the New England landscape is covered in snow. What is June going to do now?