There’s a lot of bits of information being tossed around here to give additional backstory. There’s still fighting going on between the Republic of Gilead and the United States of America. The United States is down to two states, and one of them is Alaska (my guess is Hawaii is the other). Catholic Churches are being demolished, so being Catholic is an outlawed faith. Offred/June apparently was one.
Oh, and Handmaids are forbidden to have sugar.
Most of this episode is a series of small triumphs for Offred, even as she flashes back to the birth of her daughter, a baby that was almost stolen by a crazed woman shortly after she was born. Offred and Ofglen get to talking, and we learn Ofglen is apparently gay and maybe a member of an underground movement. We still don’t know who the Eye in the Commander’s house is, but the Commander wants Offred to come to his office alone at 9PM.
That sort of interaction is expressly forbidden.
But even as we open with another of those state-sanctioned rapes, one where apparently Offred and Serena Joy both seem to find tedious judging from their facial expressions, we also have a birth. The crazy one-eyed Handmaid Ofwarren (formerly Janine) is about to give birth. The local Handmaids are expected to be on-hand to assist. Is there a doctor nearby? Not that I can see. The Wives also go, where Ofwarren’s Commander’s wife pretends she’s the one giving birth complete with the other Wives giving lamaze type advise. Serena Joy has a wonderful expression that says she really knows how stupid all this is but goes along with it anyway.
The birthing process is a lot like the conception process. The pregnant Handmaid sits between the Wife’s legs to give birth, and the baby (a girl in this case) is immediately handed off to the Wife. All the Handmaid will be asked to do is nurse the child.
So, after all that, Ofglen reports she has no idea why Offred’s Commander would want to see her alone in his office. But if Offred can find out anything and pass it along the next day…
Oh, and Nick warns Offred not to get too close to Ofglen. That can get bad.
So, what does the Commander want? He wants to play Scrabble.
The game ends with something close to friendly banter and a handshake that may be the most erotic possible moment between Offred and the Commander the series will ever see. Granted, the Commander is not a romantic option for Offred. Nick maybe, since her husband is apparently dead, but not the Commander. That doesn’t mean he won’t want something for himself, but she’s not likely to be interested. At any rate, he wants to play again, but first he has to take a trip for some meetings in Washington.
Hey, Ofglen could use that information!
So, yeah, a series of small triumphs for Offred, immediately dashed the next day when she gets a new shopping partner, a new Ofglen.