There are so many horrifying things about Gilead that we don’t even know where to begin. The weird caste system. The way men dictate how women use their bodies. Those wool-type dresses the women are forced to wear no matter what the weather.
And then there are the ceremonies. You know, those monthly rituals that are timed to a handmaid’s menstrual cycle, and in which her “owners” essentially rape her in hopes that she gets pregnant and bears them a child. We’ve been spared that brutality for much of the current third season of The Handmaid’s Tale (Sundays, 9 p.m., Crave), but this week, thanks to Fred Waterford, the show brought them back in the worst way.
Remember how Commander Lawrence doesn’t bother with ceremonies in his household? Well apparently when another commander is concerned that things aren’t operating as disgustingly as usual, they can stick their nose in it and request a special visit—one in which a doctor will actually check the handmaid to make sure that “virility” is going down.
Cue the gagging, right? We all know Fred has a weird obsession with June—to be honest it’s probably why she’s even still alive at this point. But he clearly also feels a continued ownership towards her, and that is why he’s throwing Commander Lawrence, a.k.a. the architect of Gilead and one of the most powerful commanders of all, under the bus. It’s really not a good look for him. Like, get a new handmaid already. Or even better yet, leave all the women alone and just go away forever.
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Anyhow, when Fred and Commander Winslow showed up on ceremony night, we knew things were going to be bad. Unfortunately “bad” doesn’t even begin to describe it. Sure, we didn’t actually have to see the ceremony itself, but we certainly saw all of the awfulness leading up to it—including Eleanor’s sobbing reactions and Lawrence’s blatant ignorance about the very thing he helped to orchestrate in the first place. And that’s kind of what made the ceremony one of the worst ones yet, isn’t it? The fact that June had to become the coach who rallied “Team Lawrence” to perform this thing together so that they didn’t all end up on the wall?
I loved the look Commander Waterford had on his face after June said “at least it wasn’t you” 😂 #HandmaidsTale
— Mom 🌼 (@awholejessica) July 24, 2019
We can’t even imagine what it would be like telling a man how to rape you, or to know that you’d probably have to coach him and his wife through it month after month now that the household is in question. Obviously June needs Lawrence alive in order to begin moving children out of Gilead, and Lawrence himself needed motivation to defect (his love for Eleanor turned out to be a great motivator). But it was still one of the darkest turns the series has taken… and that’s saying something for a show in which body mutilation and rape are an inherent part of the system.
“I’d be a hero.”
The way that Bradley Whitford delivered that line was fucking perfect.
The self-loathing in his tone was almost palpable. #HandmaidsTale
— Margot Marina (@AtomicMargot) July 24, 2019
The whole storyline certainly didn’t bolster Fred’s popularity with viewers, that’s for sure. It didn’t do much for Serena’s image either. We haven’t exactly felt the love for either of those characters this season (or… well, ever). But add in the fact that now, after this episode, they may also defect to Canada for a second chance and we’re kind of livid. Of all the characters to get a shot at freedom, those two are the least deserving, and it makes our blood boil to even think about them landing in Canada where they can be free. Shudder.
— rosechocglam (@rosechocglam) July 24, 2019
As gross as the thought is, at least the episode ended on a positive note when the secret underground group of marthas came through with a record-breaking number of muffins, indicating to June and the Lawrence household that they were game to help children escape. Look, we’re not naïve and we know that getting kids out of Gilead will be far from easy. But is it heartwarming to see so many women band together in a bid to change the crazy world they’re forced to live in? Hell yes. We could all use more muffins in our lives at this point. And if we have to rally around a show like Handmaid’s to help us believe that positive change can happen to people really living in these kinds of circumstances in the world, then we’re all for it.
— The Handmaid’s Tale (@HandmaidsOnHulu) July 26, 2019
In fact, muffins for everyone.