If you fall into that camp of loving-but-also-kind-of-hating The Handmaid’s Tale (Sundays, 9 p.m. ET, Crave) for no other reason than it’s a really compelling and well-executed show that sometimes just gets so dark that you need to cleanse yourself with a Marshmallow-filled episode of Veronica Mars to calm the heck down after watching it—well, we feel you.
We’re basically at the halfway point of season three, and while we haven’t had to witness much body mutilation, deaths, or babies being ripped away from their biological moms (yet), we’re waiting for the other shoe to drop with Nichole. And more specifically for her, Emily (Alexis Bledel), Moira (Samira Wiley) or any of the other refugees in Little America to be extradited back to Gilead. It’s quite an unsettling feeling, especially now that Commander Waterford (Joseph Fiennes) is secretly using Nichole as a political pawn, keeping her in Canada awhile longer to work on an extradition treaty while his wife Serena (Yvonne Strahovski) ignorantly checks out the haunted Washington real estate scene and tangos in front of her new blue besties.
Nope, we’re not talking about June (Elisabeth Moss) and her attempt to reconnect with Hannah at the school. (What did she hope to get out of that anyhow? There were guards everywhere. She was, what, going to ask Hannah if she wanted to escape, and then just stroll out of Gilead with her?) Not only did June put a mentally unstable Eleanor Lawrence (Julie Dretzin) at risk, but she’s now responsible for that Martha’s death and for Hannah (Jordana Blake) and her family disappearing. C’mon June. You could at least plot your revolution with a little more consideration. And beating up on a pregnant handmaid? In front of guards? Look we’re not huge fans of Ofmatthew (Ashleigh LaThrop) either, but you’re lucky your sisters-in-red had your back on that bridge.
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Naw, we’re talking about the scenes between Moira and Emily back in Little America, where this incredible story of survival, trauma, and pain is unfolding. It kicked off with the duo trying to connect over a beverage, only to realize they basically had nothing in common in their pre-Gilead lives. Meanwhile, the only thing bonding them now is their shared “gender-traitor” statuses. But then they went to the protest together to question Canada’s consideration of giving Nichole back, only to land in jail and really open up about what that trauma was and what it means for who they are now. These are the scenes we’ve been waiting for.
How compelling was it to watch Emily—decked out in regular clothing—have to listen to that list of crimes being rattled off in front of her wife? She did what she did in Gilead to survive, but murder and attempted murder sounds pretty brutal when you’re on the other side of it. It’s no wonder she felt like she just couldn’t open up to Sylvia (Clea DuVall). How do you share that pain and trauma while perfectly explaining the circumstances in a way that doesn’t a) transfer that pain or b) make the person you love look at you differently? It’s an impossible task, and one that even as viewers we can’t really understand until Emily and Moira had that conversation in prison. Heck, we could have had about 20 more minutes of those two bonding, which just goes to show you the abundance of talent this series has. Rory Gilmore is all grown up people, and red really isn’t her favourite colour.
Nothing against June, but these side character developments are what we’re here for so far in season three, and we can’t wait to see more of them. From the sounds of things we’ll get exactly that in next week’s episode, which is a bottle episode—an episode that stands alone from the rest of the series—revolving around Aunt Lydia (Ann Dowd). It’s the episode we’ve been waiting for since we first met the character and promises to answer a lot of our burning questions about who she is and who she once was.