Claire Danes has nothing on us when it comes to our reactions over Sunday night’s third-season finale of The Handmaid’s Tale, “Mayday.” Because after an entire season in which the writers, Elisabeth Moss, and everyone else involved in making the show led us to believe that all the bad things would happen by the finale, the episode turned out to be a freaking delight.
Now don’t get us wrong. Gilead is still very much intact and there will be some major repercussions for what went down on Sunday night. But by the end of the episode, we were down two influential commanders, we still had an important one on the resistance’s side, Serena Joy (Yvonne Strahovski) finally got her comeuppance, and Mayday was officially born. It doesn’t get much better than that.
All or Nothing
The episode opened where we left off, with the Lawrence household prepping to save 52 children by flying them out of Gilead and into Canada where they would be granted refugee status. Of course nothing in this show is ever quite that easy, and when a Martha brought a little girl hours too early the whole plan was jeopardized.
But you know who didn’t give up? June. She was ready to tip the scales of justice in favour of the good guys for once, no matter what it took. Even if it meant threatening to shoot that Martha when she got cold feet, or pointing the gun in the little girl’s face when she was about to cry. Heck, even Lawrence got an earful when he tried to pull the plug on the whole thing. They say no great mind has ever existed without a touch of madness, but we think the saying also applies to anyone in Gilead attempting to orchestrate an escape of that magnitude; June was definitely on the brink.
The Great Escape
With authorities on the lookout for a missing child and a Martha, June’s OG plan to bus the kids to the plane became out of the question. That meant they had to avoid the patrolled roads and walk the woods instead, resulting in scary, darker, and more visually pleasing scenes. Logistically the walk worked out in their favour too, as more than the planned amount of children showed up to be rescued. How would June have possibly turned any of them away, especially given her cold demeanor in the first half of the episode? This woman was going to rescue anyone and everyone who needed it.
So luck was on their side, but once that group miraculously arrived at the runway they had one final obstacle to face: a lone guard with a loaded gun and plenty of ammo. Which meant someone—and we all knew who—would have to sacrifice themselves in order for the kids to make it.
Here’s where we can’t help but love this show though. Rather than let June face the guard solo, Janine and all of the other handmaids and Marthas involved in the rescue got the kids in the plane and then turned around to help June distract the guard, who had called for backup.
There’s something so touching about the fact that a place like Gilead can’t break that sisterhood spirit. True resistance is about banding together, and these final scenes were such a great example of that.
A Smooth Landing
In the end the plan worked. June shot the guard after he called off his backup while nursing a bullet wound herself. The plane took off and miraculously landed in Canada, where Moira, Luke, Emily and a slew of other volunteers—including the aforementioned little girl’s real father—were on hand to receive them. It was heartwarming yet also heartbreaking, especially when Luke realized that his own daughter might be on the plane… and then she wasn’t. But Rita was, and she made darned sure that Luke knew his wife was the one who made the entire operation come to fruition.
Heck, we’re tearing up all over again just thinking about it. That’s the thing with this show: the lows are so incredibly low, but the highs are so emotionally high—and often we get both within the same scene. And that’s when the real magic happens.
Some Lingering Questions:
So now that another season has wrapped with such an emotional high, where does that leave everyone else in Gilead? We have several follow-up questions as the powers that be begin prepping season four.
What happens to June?
She’s hurt, and while we know she’s in good hands with the handmaids that came back for her, a wounded handmaid is definitely cause for suspicion in Gilead. Will June somehow resurface unscathed, only to land in another household with a stricter commander, as Aunt Lydia promised? And on that note, where does this leave Lawrence?
Where is Agnes/Hannah?
Does Lawrence really not know where Hannah is, or is that something he continues to hide from June? The whole reason June stayed behind at the end of season two was for her daughter, but now that she’s become the unofficial leader of mayday is that still her purpose? Would saving her daughter be enough or will she carry on until Gilead burns down?
What happens to the Waterfords and Nick?
Watching Serena enjoy an iota of freedom only to have it snatched away from her for her own Gilead crimes was beyond satisfying. But what does life for a war criminal in Canada really look like? So far both Fred and Serena have been enjoying some pretty plum accommodations, but that can’t last forever. Speaking of Serena’s Gilead crimes, what happened to dear old Nick? When we last saw June’s former lover he was in a formidable place, leading the troops to war in Chicago. We have plenty of unanswered questions about him and his role in Gilead, and we’re kind of sad that he wasn’t in the back half of season three to help answer some of them.
How will Gilead respond to this loss?
Getting those kids out was a huge accomplishment, but things are going to inevitably blow up from here. The powers that be in Gilead may not know about the plane now, but once it becomes worldwide news (and we’re sure it will), security will tighten up even more.
Also, let’s not forget about all of the women who helped the children get to the plane in the first place. Their households will know they had something to do with the orchestrated escape, which means they really have nowhere to go. Is this the start of an underground refuge? Or will all those bodies wind up on the wall?
So many questions, and so many months until we have any answers.