Last episode write-up, I said Luke was my new hero on this series.
Then I saw this episode, and I want to change my answer to June.
See, this is The Handmaid’s Tale, so we need to flip flop back and forth between which female character is the worse villain. True, men are always worse, but the show can’t seem to decide if we should associate more with Serena Joy or Aunt Lydia.
My preference? Serena Joy helped make this society what it is. She’s worse. Aunt Lydia is a well-meaning extremist, emphasis on “well meaning”. She’s still bad, but she’s more of a direct evil in this society. Serena’s evil is more subtle. It’s probably why I find Aunt Lydia more intriguing as a character. She can be warm, and the warmth is genuine. But she’s also quick with a cattleprod, to say nothing of ordering eye removals and stonings. I really want to know Lydia’s backstory.
So, as Serena goes back to her blatantly unsympathetic ways, Aunt Lydia can actually be a source of comfort for June. True, Lydia will probably do something overtly awful very soon. But for this episode, she’s almost an ally.
Heck, the only ally June has for much of this episode is Rita the Martha. We haven’t seen much of her this season, but when June tells Rita how much she has missed the servant woman, I believe it. Sure, June can say as much to the Waterfords, but you know that ain’t true.
The salutation is as follows: June, Rita, Lydia, and the Waterfords are traveling to Washington D.C. to get some work into the whole “getting Nichole out of Canada” thing. Negotiations are underway with the Swiss acting as a neutral third party. The Waterfords are staying in the White House from the looks of things with High Commander Winslow. He has, like, a dozen kids. And I suspect most of them aren’t his. Clearly, he is a jackass.
Oh, Washington is much worse than the show’s usual setting. Washington Monument? Remade into a cross. Lincoln Memorial? Lincoln’s statue has been symbolically destroyed. That’s not subtle.
Less subtle is the area handmaids are all muzzled. Oh, and their mouths are sewn shut with metal rings of some kind.
June does make one last attempt to keep Nichole in Canada. She asks the Swiss if the wishes of the biological parents will take precedent over the Waterfords. Yes, they will. Nick is in the area. He’s the father. Will he take June’s side if she asks him to? He does.
And it turns out he may be wanted for war crimes in other countries. I wonder how the Swiss found out…
But yeah, Washington is terrible. It’s terrible enough that even a true believer like Lydia thinks this is too much. So much so that, yes, June will ask a normally terrible woman for comfort, and the terrible woman will give it.
As for Serena, well, before being forced to lead a handmaid group prayer, June tells her off in front of the smashed Lincoln statue. Once again, Serena refers to Nichole as her child.
And finally, June tells her what I have wanted June to tell her for multiple episodes. Namely, that Nichole is NOT HER CHILD. Serena is an EMPTY WOMAN DEVOID OF LOVE. And nothing will fill that void. Certainly not having a kid.
Oh, it was glorious.
Sure, I would think that would normally get June punished, but by this point, I’m just glad to see her say something to someone who really deserves a good telling-off.