Missed last week’s episode of The Handmaid’s Tale or need a refresher? Catch up on what happened in episode 10 of season 3 below!
June’s stay at the hospital is over – which can only mean one thing. Her former shopping partner, Ofmatthew, has died. She is escorted to the Lawrences’ house by Aunt Lydia. June is limping – her body still recovering after kneeling by Offmatthew’s bedside for weeks.
When they enter, the women notice that the Lawrences have redecorated the main rooms to meet Commander Waterford’s new regulations – bringing them up to the standards of homes in the capital. But June soon discovers that the rest of the house is just as messy as ever – filled with things Commander Lawrence won’t part with. June tells Aunt Lydia that her time praying in the hospital helped her understand her new purpose. Lydia seems pleased. But we know that June is more determined than ever to save the children of Gilead.
The Lawrences’ Martha, Beth, has been asking the Martha network to help find medication for Eleanor. No one can help. The Commander’s wife is getting worse. She is violent now. June asks Beth to ask around the network for someone who can help get children out.
June hears Eleanor screaming and finds Commander Lawrence leaving his wife’s room. The Handmaid confronts him – insisting that Mrs. Lawrence can’t stay locked up forever. He’s upset by the confrontation at first but doesn’t disagree when June says that he should take Eleanor out of Gilead and get her help.
Because she is without a shopping partner, June is escorted to Loaves and Fishes by an Aunt. The store has extra security since the incident with Ofmatthew. June quickly finds Alma in the refrigerated section. She asks Alma to find out how many of the Handmaids’ children are still in Gilead – because she is going to get them out. Alma reacts to this much like Beth did, warning June that she’ll end up on the wall. But June doesn’t seem to care.
An inspection bell chimes and the Handmaids are ushered out of the store. They form a circle in a stadium-like area, and Aunt Lydia announces that they have visitors. Commander Waterford appears. He quickly spots June – the only Handmaid in the crowd whose head is not bowed. He walks to her and tells her that he can arrange a transfer for her to D.C. She responds coldly that his wife is approaching. Serena and Commander Winslow appear. Winslow is visiting to inspect the Handmaids – and he has lots of questions for Aunt Lydia about the rebellions in the district.
Serena finds June in the crowd and asks her how she is. June wasn’t herself the last time they met – when she attacked Serena in the hospital. But their conversation is quickly interrupted by Commander Winslow, who asks June how Commander Lawrence treats her. He seems surprised by her response that she is treated with respect, but she quickly corrects with a humble reply that seems to appease him.
Back at the Lawrence house, June discovers that the Commander is attending a meeting – something he never used to do. It is clear that the capital is cracking down even on the leaders in the area. June sneaks into the library to look through Lawrence’s books, but Eleanor quickly enters the room looking for something of her own. When Eleanor asks June what she’s up to the Handmaid tells the truth. She’s looking for information on the children of other Handmaids so she can save them. Eleanor tells her the Commander keeps the records she needs in the basement. Then she takes June down and locates the boxes herself.
June finds her own file quickly. She then turns to Eleanor and asks her if she ever thinks about leaving. Eleanor knows that if Joseph took her across the border he would have to face the consequences for his part in creating Gilead.
In a meeting with the Waterfords and Commander Winslow, Fred brings up concerns that Commander Lawrence does not lead his household as he should. Four Handmaids and none have had children. And his house is not kept up to standards. Winslow acknowledges the contributions Lawrence has made in the past – but wonders whether he is fit to lead if he cannot keep his own household in order.
Back in the basement of the Lawrence household, June is learning all the can about the children of the Handmaids. She acknowledges that it has been five years since the women had their children taken from them. Beth snaps her out of her research, alerting her that she is needed upstairs for the Ceremony. The Ceremony that she hasn’t participated in since coming to this house.
June enters the sitting room and kneels as she knows she is supposed to. She has to direct the Marthas on where to stand – it’s clear they’ve never done this. Serena escorts Eleanor into the room. Then there is a knock, and Winslow, Waterford, Lawrence, and Aunt Lydia enter. We learn that this sort of supervision of the Ceremony used to happen when households resisted the event.
The group watches closely as Lawrence fumbles through the required reading. As they exit the sitting room, June notices guards in the hall. Aunt Lydia assures June that Dr. Michaels will be efficient – and the Handmaid knows that means she will be examined after the Ceremony.
Lawrence closes the door and says they can play a game or something for 20 minutes. June tells him that she will be inspected. Eleanor loses it – shouting at the Commander that he promised her they would never do this. He and June both try to keep Eleanor calm as they talk through what to do. They are out of choices. If they don’t perform the Ceremony, they’ll all be killed – including the Marthas. Lawrence kisses Eleanor and tells her he loves her, before pulling a curtain closed so she doesn’t have to watch. Then, June coaches Lawrence through the transaction that neither of them wants to have.
When it is done, Aunt Lydia checks on June, and the doctor performs his exam. Serena checks on Eleanor. Mrs. Lawrence does her best to seem normal and engage in conversation, but Serena senses her pain and comforts her. When all is done, Aunt Lydia declares the Ceremony a success.
Before departing, Waterford finds June and asks her how she is. She responds coldly again – saying she’s glad it wasn’t with him. Waterford is enraged by this but says nothing.
Later that night, June finds Lawrence drinking Scotch. He tries to give her birth control, but she refuses it – reminding him that if she were caught she would be torn apart by dogs. He promises he’ll get June a truck if she will get Eleanor to safety. June says she can get him out, too. If he brings the children of Gilead with him.
At the store, June fills Alma in on her plan to get the kids out – with a truck that fits 10. Janine listens in and wants to help. Alma plans to ask around to find children they can save. June lies to Janine about her son Caleb, not wanting to tell her that he died in a car crash.
At the Waterfords’, Serena tells Fred that she sees how hard he is working – but that he is prioritizing his own rise to power instead of Nichole. She wants her daughter back. She gives him the phone she was given in Canada by the American ambassador. And tells him to make contact and offer his cooperation.
As the episode ends, we find that Beth has asked around to see if any Marthas would help get children out. They all replied that they would.