Everyone who has a gross feeling in the pit of their stomach after watching that latest twist on The Handmaid’s Tale (Sundays, 9 p.m., Crave) please raise your hand. Oh, everyone? Well then in that case it seems like the series is continuing to do its job really, really well.
We knew things between June (Elisabeth Moss) and Serena (Yvonne Strahovski) were going too swimmingly (how else do you describe their poolside smoke last week?) and that at some point the other Gilead-approved boot would drop. Well now it has, and in front of millions of viewers too, thanks to Fred’s little plan. But let’s not get too far ahead of ourselves here.
Sunday’s latest installment, “Unknown Caller,” was all kinds of heartbreaking, as we expected when Gilead learned of Nichole’s Canadian location.
It all started with June’s awful phone call to Luke (O-T Fagbenle), in which she told him to bring Nichole to the Toronto airport so that Serena could fly in for a quick goodbye. Obviously June wasn’t into the whole idea, but she agreed to do it so that Serena would owe her. She feared for her husband’s safety, of course, but at that point in the episode the women were still on the same side—a.k.a. the one where they wanted Nichole to have a better life. So why shouldn’t June try and trust Serena?
Because Serena is never, ever to be trusted. All that woman has ever wanted was to be a mother, and she took Nichole’s “kidnapping” pretty damned hard. For four episodes she’s been a shell of her former self, contemplating taking her own life, setting her home ablaze and questioning her place in the world. When a person has been stripped of everything and anything they hold dear, it drives them to do some pretty desperate things. In Serena’s case she just wanted to be a part of Nichole’s story, and Luke made that incredibly hard for her.
You can’t blame Luke, of course. From his vantage point, Serena is Enemy No. 2 right behind Fred Waterford (Joseph Fiennes), and he was trying to do right by June in telling Serena off. What he didn’t know was the sacrifice that Serena made in giving that baby up in the first place, or that June and Serena were trying to work together to take down the powers that be in Gilead. So even when Luke realized Serena could still harm June and he agreed to take the necklace Serena had for Nichole, you could tell that Serena wasn’t sure her own legacy and love would be forwarded.
Nichole is “going to know exactly where she came from and how brave her mother was for getting her here. That’s her story. You’re never going to be anything to her,” Luke said.
That speech, coupled with Serena’s sudden power and say back in Gilead courtesy of one Fred Waterford, were huge turning points for what was to come. Rather than take Mark Tuello (Sam Jaeger) up on his second offer to defect to Hawaii (with a way better wardrobe), Serena got back on the plane and returned to her restrained life, ready to close the chapter on Nichole for good. Except when Fred hugged her and told her that it actually didn’t need to be over, the old Serena we all know returned.
Meanwhile June is happier than we’ve seen her in a long time and being embraced by her fellow Handmaids for successfully getting a baby outta Dodge. Even Ofmatthew (Ashleigh LaThrop), who is now pregnant with her fourth Gilead baby, seemed to ease up on the piousness front and warmed to the idea of Nichole being free, which was pretty telling considering her previous stance on the matter.
Of course this is The Handmaid’s Tale and any happiness on this show is always short-lived. So when a couple of Eyes showed up at the market to whisk June away to an undisclosed location, we knew it couldn’t be good.
Sure enough, Fred had concocted a new scheme, one involving some flashy TV cameras, his wife and an unwilling June standing in a fake living room where they pleaded with the Canadian government to help out a “family in mourning” over the kidnapping of their daughter. And what was Serena doing this entire time? Staring blankly ahead, ignoring June altogether.
Cue the end credits and an ominous rendition of U2’s “Sunday Bloody Sunday.” Sigh. Obviously this isn’t going to bode well for anyone, but mostly Nichole. We have a feeling this video is going to be successful, and that Canada may in fact work out some sort of extradition agreement. Why? Because as we wrote last week, that kind of thing happens every day in our real-life world. And this show is adept at showcasing the ugly side of humanity that we’re not always willing to see.
That doesn’t make our hearts hurt any less at the idea of Serena and June being at odds again, or at the prospect of Nichole being returned to Gilead. On the plus side, Luke received that tape from June with a recording of Nichole’s true origins, so here’s hoping he can somehow use that to discredit the Waterfords claims to her altogether. That, or Serena actually uses her secret phone from Mark and gets the heck out of Gilead already. We don’t know how much more of her character flip-flopping we can take. Especially when we just want to like her already.