Last week, The story of the maid gave us a brief respite from despair. We went bowling. We drank beer and listened to music. We watched Luke (OT Fagbenle) and June (Elisabeth Moss) genuinely enjoy themselves while we – the emotionally flimsy audience – tried to forget the bigger picture. Luke and June had made a perilous journey into no man’s land to collect a USB stick containing information about their daughter Hannah. There The story of the maid As the most enduring show on television, I knew their happiness would be short-lived.
June is in captivity…again
June and Luke don’t make it out of No Man Land with the flash drive, but it takes a while before the identities of their arrestees are clear. It’s not Gilead, says June. The truck smells too strong of harsh disinfectants for the draconian, fertility-obsessed state to consider it “unhealthy.” That’s what a survivor like June has left – the keen ability to read a situation. Her sense of survival sometimes seems to outweigh her wish to survive.
For most of the episode – dubbed “Together” – Luke and June are locked in nondescript cells next to each other in a nondescript building in the middle of nowhere. Luke is freaking out in panic – pacing, chattering non-stop. But June possesses the supernatural ability to remain calm in extreme situations. She also manages to calm Luke down. This is where she’s been many times: alone in a dark room she’s not sure she’ll ever leave.
Luke is right to be afraid; it’s hell He is beaten up when he refuses to be taken away by June. June, in turn, blames herself for letting Luke go on the escapade to no man’s land in the first place. She was the one who knew how bad it could get. She understood firsthand the depravity and brutality of this dark world where masked men literally shake their cages just to keep the prisoners nervous and terrified.
At some point, however, Luke cycles from panic to resignation. “We couldn’t say goodbye last time,” he tells his wife through the cage that separates them. Here June vehemently disagrees. She tells him and the audience for the first time (I think) that it was “hope” that kept her alive during her first tour of Gilead. Hoping that somehow they would find each other, and that’s exactly what happened. “We’ll do that again.”
Nick is going to be a father… again
Meanwhile in Gilead, plans to harvest Esther’s (Mckenna Grace) uterus – to give it to a more willing maid, I imagine – are put on hold when doctors discover she is already three weeks pregnant. She tells Lydia (Ann Dowd) that Commander Putnam raped her, which is literally the very tragedy Lydia taught her to endure, albeit in the context of another abusive scenario that Gilead calls a religious ceremony. Esther, handcuffed to a hospital bed, screams in fear as Lydia approaches her. She hits the bed so hard that I cried a little.
But do you know what they say in Gilead? Raping a woman is another man’s chance. Putnam has been making life difficult for Lawrence (Bradley Whitford) and Nick (Max Minghella) for some time. Most recently, he shattered Lawrence’s dreams for New Bethlehem. Esther’s pregnancy gives Lawrence a chance to get revenge with the rule book. Commanders agree that Putnam should be executed for the crime of “raping unallocated property.” In the middle of breakfast, while Mrs. Putnam watches, Nick shoots him in the head.
Lawrence is one of the most intriguing and terrifying men on the show. He is so committed to his amoral attitude toward almost everything that he is sometimes mistaken for a good guy compared to actively evil men like Putnam. But he is not. He’s just a ruthless pragmatist. And Nick? His wife is understandably upset when her husband returns home from a long day of state-sponsored murder. Rose worries about the kind of person Nick is, but he assures her he’s only making Gilead safer for… HER BABY!
Serena is in prison…again
At first it seemed that Serena (Yvonne Strahovski) would be temporarily transferred to the Wheeler mansion to protect her from June. Now it is clear that she is in maternity prison.
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The Wheelers install a birthing suite in their attic so Serena doesn’t have to travel to town for her ultrasounds. They even arranged her a date with her gynecologist so she can find a new father for her baby. Because of her moderately high blood pressure, they forbid her to walk on the premises. It’s really ironic. All it took to finally curb Serena’s ambition was for her to have the baby she’d always wanted.
However, Serena gets some unexpected good news. It turns out that Mr. Wheeler’s private henchmen were behind June and Luke’s arrest, and he promises to take care of June… forever. Apparently, impending motherhood has done little to quench Serena’s thirst for blood. She asks you to bring justice yourself.
Once Wheeler’s men confirm that Luke is legal in Canada, they decide to dump him back at the border (hopefully with a USB stick hidden somewhere). Thank God. June thinks she’s on her way back to Gilead when Wheeler’s personal bodyguard — a guy named Ezra — stops the convoy and tows her to Serena’s.
Like a real movie villain who can’t resist one last taunt, Serena tells Ezra to untie June’s bonds so she can pray. June rolls her eyes, plays along and prays for her children. “May they do better than us,” she tells her. Serena draws the gun, takes a step toward June, and unexpectedly turns to shoot Ezra (who I think was wearing Kevlar, but still goes down long enough for the sworn enemies to run off together). As it turns out, Serena hates being told what to do more than June does.
So June gets in the driver’s seat of Ezra’s car on orders from her old conspirator. Serena gets in the backseat, so it’s more of an Uber ride than a tribute Thelma & Luise. As brief as this truce may be, it’s exciting to see them back on the same page.
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