Unexpected escapes. An indecent proposal. Misogyny aplenty… If you’re still in therapy following that intense episode of The Handmaid’s Tale you’re not alone. After the episode that just went down we’re pretty sure we’ll all be checking in with our emotions for the next few weeks at least.
Given the intense vibe of the overall second season and some of the gut-wrenching things we’ve watched go down, the finale wasn’t shocking as a whole, per se. We knew the writers were going to have to top themselves with an all-out episode that wrapped the season while leaving us wanting more. Well, it’s pretty safe to say they delivered, huh?
We know the show is returning for a third season sometime next year, but until then let’s just recap all of the gut-punches and put them out there so that we can start the healing process.
Women aren’t being taught to read and write
In a world where the written word is forbidden and women are basically looked at as a vehicle for maintaining the house and procreating, of course it makes sense that the next generation of girls is being brought up not knowing how to read and write. That didn’t make us any less appalled to realize that fact when June found Eden’s secret bible and pleaded with Serena to use her power to convince the commanders that women should learn the basic skill. Hell, if a character like Eden couldn’t make it in Gilead — where her own family turned her in! — what chance does a little girl like Nicole/Holly have?
Fred Waterford is the biggest jerk ever
We haven’t been so hot on the Waterford patriarch for quite some time now, what with the rapes and wife-beatings and mind games. But we actually wanted to spit at him in the finale when he lewdly suggested to Offred that she stay back as his special little handmaid, and that maybe this time they could try for a boy. June standing up to that appalling thought was seriously our only saving grace during that awful, awful scene.
Meanwhile, Commander Lawrence is a good guy…
Emily was obviously at her tipping point, since she wasn’t about to let her latest commander perform the ceremony on her and be raped again. But finally things seemed to turn in her favour when Lawrence — the economic architect of Gilead — basically said, “yeah no… we’re not doing that.” Why? We have a theory he’s a good guy at heart, and somehow he was either coerced into helping construct this world or else he has some serious, serious guilt over his part in helping to create it.
Serena’s big stand
Yvonne Strahovski deserves some serious Emmy and Golden Globe recognition this year because we’ve felt a lot of things towards Serena Joy this season. She had another notable showcase in the finale though, when her own love for Nicole shone through. As an “adoptive” mother she finally took off some of her blinders and realized the world they were bringing these little girls into was a bad one for the fairer sex. So she did what any actual mother might do and she took a stand alongside the other wives. They were with her too, until she pulled out Eden’s old bible and read a passage from it in hopes of convincing the men of their cause. Unfortunately it backfired and Serena lost a finger instead, in part as a lesson to the other wives and in part for Fred to maintain some dignity and face in front of the other men. It was gross and awful, but at the end of the day she only lost a finger. Other people have lost a lot more in Gilead and it’s about time Serena started realizing that.
Emily goes berserk on Aunt Lydia
It was only a matter of time before Emily’s bloodlust surfaced again, and this time her rebellion hit where it really hurt: Aunt Lydia. Emily randomly attacked the woman after she came to check in on Emily’s first ceremony, and it was brutal and perfect. Even though we developed a little bit of sympathy towards Aunt Lydia this season given her closeness to June, we can’t forget what her role in Gilead actually is. So when Emily plunged the knife, kicked Aunt Lydia down the stairs and then kicked the knife in deeper, it was a conflicting moment. While the bloodlust in us wants some form of justice, we also realize the enemy you don’t know can be a lot more dangerous than the one you do, and anyone replacing Aunt Lydia could lead to some pretty scary changes.
We’ll admit we were a little freaked out during the family scenes the finale incorporated, in which June, Nick and Holly bonded while Rita kind of hung out. It felt mean to tease us with the image of what might have been. But the payoff, when Rita divulged she and the other marthas were getting June and Holly out, was totally worth it. We’ve never loved Rita more, and we hope the writers dig into her past a little bit next season. We really, really need to know where this woman came from.
Nick pulls out his gun
Speaking of June and Holly’s big escape, what the heck is it going to mean for Nick next season? He drew a pretty clear line in the sand when he showed off his gun and told Fred Waterford to stay put, but there’s no way that can end well for him. Did Nick just basically sacrifice his own life for his baby and baby mama? Or does he hope to one day join them? These are just some of the hundreds of questions we have right about now.
Serena makes the ultimate sacrifice
We don’t know if she was still in shock from losing a finger or if she finally, finally realized just how hopeless Gilead is as a “society” but whatever the reason, a nine-fingered Serena actually let June escape with Nicole. It was a nice full-circle moment that showcased how Serena may actually have some good in her heart, and that she does want the best for the baby she considered to be her daughter.
Emily escapes too
We had a feeling that Commander Lawrence wasn’t going to be driving Emily off to the gallows or anything that morbid after her attack on Aunt Lydia, but we had no idea he was busting her out of Gilead too. After everything that Emily has been through, we’re so incredibly jazzed for her to finally have some semblance of happiness, so here’s crossing our fingers that she actually does get to meet up with her wife and son.
June stays behind
Just when we thought there was going to be a happy ending for June — at least for now — she decided to send Emily and Nicole off to Canada on their own and stay back. Cue the rage. Yes, we know she decided to stay back to save her other daughter, but how? She’s still in full handmaid gear, she clearly can’t go back to the Waterford house, and if anyone catches her she’s dead.
Is anyone else experiencing severe anxiety right about now? And to think we have to wait until next year to find out what happens next.
Like we said, therapy for all.