This recap of Episode 10, the season one finale, of The Handmaid’s Tale is chocked full of {SPOILERS}. ***If you haven’t watched yet, go do that and then come back here. ;)***

For clarity’s sake, I’ll refer to Elisabeth Moss’s character as June when she’s not wearing the red robe and white bonnet, and as Offred when she is wearing the red robe and white bonnet.

This episode opens in a flashback to June’s first day at the Red Centre. Aunt Lydia calls the women sluts and makes them line up. June gets shocked by Aunt Lydia’s cattle prod for not humbling herself.

WTF, you ask? Humbling oneself consists of bowing your head and keeping your hands clasped together in front of you. All clear?

Aunt Lydia wants an apology from June, which she gets.

June is then taken to a dark room with a single chair in it, on which she sits. Several Aunts surround her. Aunt Lydia drags in a scary machine on a rolling cart. Aunt Lydia picks up a hose-like thing that’s attached to the machine as she apologizes for how painful this is about to be.

“You are so very precious, we wouldn’t want to lose you.” Two other Aunts hold down June’s arms as Lydia says, “Keep still now.” She holds the hose up to June’s ear and pulls the trigger, it attaches a little red tag to the top of her ear.

Back in the present, Offred’s on her way home from the store with the package Moira snuck out to her. While walking, she thinks, “It’s their own fault. They should’ve never given us uniforms if they didn’t want us to be an army.”

At home, Offred hides the package behind the bathtub in her bathroom. When she enters her bedroom, she gets a backhanded slap across the face from Serena Joy, who rants about how she trusted her, she tried to help her, blah blah blah. Serena Joy picks up the gold dress Fred gave June, which was crumpled up in a ball on the windowsill. Uh oh.

“You could’ve left me with something,” she says to Offred. She drags her into the bathroom. She makes her take a pregnancy test. She then orders Offred to get on her knees and “pray that God makes you worthy in some way,” before she storms out.

Serena Joy kneels in the hallway, grasping the pregnancy test as if her entire life depends on the result. She is all-consumed. She’s actually praying TO the pregnancy test. As a woman of a certain age, I feel for her. But on the other hand, get a hold of yourself, S.J. This is insanity.

Meanwhile, in the bathroom, Offred leans her face over the bathtub as the blood from her face drips into it. The alternating shots of S.J. in the hallway and Offred in the bathroom are PURELY gorgeous.

Serena Joy comes back into the bathroom with the pregnancy test, “Praise be, His mercy.” F*ck.

“He’s answered our prayers,” she says. Offred responds, “You think I prayed for this?”

These two women are so far apart emotionally at this point, I can’t imagine this pregnancy will do anything but intensify their division.

READ OUR OTHER THE HANDMAID’S TALE RECAPS HERE

Later, from her bed, June watches the ballerina in the music box spin. She remembers playfully speculating with Luke what Hannah would be like before she was born.

Downstairs, Fred finds Serena Joy in his office, Scrabble letters scattered on the desk in front of her. He pretends not to notice as he rambles on about his work. She says, “How many tiles do you pick to start?” She wants to play but he’s SOOOOOO busy.

He says, “In any case, you know the law.” To which she responds, “Yes, I do. I helped write it.” Someone’s feeling salty. Let him have it, S.J.

She’s leting him know she knows he’s been playing with Offred, and I mean that in all the ways you know it means. She says, “You need to keep your hands off of her! You are going to control yourself!”

And now, get ready for this, because if you’re a female or a male with his head on straight, you are going to lose it.

Fred says, “You brought lusting temptation back into this house. On your back, and on your knees. If I’ve sinned, then you led me to it.”

So, according to Fred: Because Serena Joy had intimate relations with him, her own husband, it got him so… just so… fired up… that he couldn’t control his lust, so he HAD to rape June (apart from the ceremony), and that’s on Serena Joy.

She’s not into it, “Everybody answers to God.” His response: “And you answer to me. Go to your room.”

She’s still not into it. “She’s pregnant,” she tells him.

They exchange the required proclamation of “praise be,” before Serena Joy drops this truth nugget on ol’ Freddy The Rapist: “It isn’t yours.”

She continues, full of absolute contempt, “You’re weak, and God would never let you pass on that weakness. You can’t father a child because you’re not worthy.”

She swipes the scrabble letters off the desk onto the floor and marches out of his office.

In the kitchen, Rita’s super happy, so she obviously got the news. She hugs Offred, “God bless you.” S.J. summons Rita, who kisses Offred on the cheek before she leaves. Why is Offred’s pregnancy such amazing news for Rita? Is it because she misses her son?

Nick comes in, asks Offred what happened to her face. “She found out,” she tells him. Then she tells him, “I’m pregnant.” He’s surprised. She says, “It’s terrible.” He says, “No, it’s not,” as he puts his hand on her belly. She puts her hand over his.

S.J. watches them from the kitchen, Nick makes eye contact with her and leaves. Serena Joy tells Offred to get her cloak. But they won’t be needing the car because she’s “made other arrangements.” This does not bode well.

There’s a car waiting for them in the driveway. S.J. warns Offred, “We have a long drive ahead, so get comfortable.” What is happening? I don’t know whether to be terrified or relieved.

Somewhere cold, Moira stumbles through an open, snowy field, until she finds a house. She goes in the garage, wipes the dust off an old license plate. Never thought I’d scream the word ONTARIO at ear piercing decibels, but I did. SHE MADE IT OUT! MOIRA MADE IT TO THE MAGICAL LAND OF THE NORTH!

She collapses on the floor of the garage, laughs.

Back in the car, on the long drive to we-don’t-know-where yet, S.J. knits as Offred nervously watches. The car stops, the driver rolls down the privacy partition and let’s S.J. know they’ve arrived.  Offred asks, “Where are we, Mrs. Waterford?” S.J. doesn’t answer, just gets out and tells the driver, “She’s in the car.”

Then she walks into a house for about two seconds and comes out of the house with …….. HANNAH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Offred watches from the car as Serena Joy talks with Hannah on the front steps of the house. Offred tries to get out of the car, but it’s locked. She screams and cries, bangs on the window, yelling “Let me out! Let me out! Hannah!”  She’s like a caged animal and I DO NOT BLAME HER EVEN A TINY BIT.

This is a level of cruelty from Serena Joy that is just beyond.

Serena Joy knows if she gets back in the car next to Offred, she’ll end up dead, so she sits in the front seat, protected by that privacy partition. Offred begs to let her see Hannah.

Serena Joy lowers the partition slightly and tells her, “She’s happy and she’s well-taken care of.” She goes on, “As long as my baby is safe, so is yours.”

Sickening. Completely sickening.

At this point, I want to see the blood of all these MONSTERS spilling into the streets, flooding Gilead with SWEET, JUST REVENGE.

Offred lays into her, with a heavy dose of truth-telling and a string of cursing and vitriol that I won’t recount word for word here.

Across town, at Bible Congress, Commander Warren Putnam admits his crimes against God, his brothers, and Gilead, but not any of his crimes against Janine because she doesn’t count as human. I HATE THESE DOUCHE BROS.

Fred smirks as he watches Putnam make his admission. Putnam leaves and the panel of Commanders discuss what they just heard.

It’s exactly like a Senate or House Committee in our version of America (#MyCountryIsAlreadyDead), where a bunch of out-of-touch old white men decide things for other people, but whose primary concern, first and foremost, is their own self-preservation (#resist).

Commander Price, who is in charge, wants to discuss what to do with Putnam. Fred wants to hurry things along. He thinks they should take it easy on Warren because they’re all rapists and sinners so, no biggy.

Price says that Warren’s wife personally asked him to make sure that Warren receive the harshest possible punishment, which is a shocker to Freddy. He assumed the wife would fall in line and beg for leniency for her hubby. Fred, my boy, you DO NOT UNDERSTAND WOMEN.

Cut to: Putnam being wheeled into an operating room on a gurney. With no warning at all, a surgeon CUTS OFF HIS LEFT ARM, FROM JUST BELOW HIS ELBOW.

Later at night, at the Waterford prison – Offred knocks on Nick’s door. He doesn’t answer. She waits for him on the steps, in the snow.

After a while, she goes back inside, marches right into Fred’s office. He’s like, “I’ve had quite a day. How about you?” Uh, let’s not play whose day was worse, c*ck

She tells him she needs his help, “I need you to protect my daughter, please.”

“Protect her from what?” he asks. What do you think, a**hole?

“From her. From Mrs. Waterford,” Offred says.

He tries to downplay S.J.’s rage, she wouldn’t hurt a child, she’s just a little woman, women don’t get angry, women are docile and obedient.

Offred’s all, “You don’t know her.” And he looks AFRAID. See:

He congratulates her on being pregnant, “Such wonderful news, a miracle really.”

He goes on, feeling extra-emasculated, “Is it mine?”

“Of course,” she lies. And he knows she’s lying, “You do that so well.”

Upstairs, June relaxes in her room, listening to that cursed ballerina spin in the music box. I swear I want to throw that thing across the room and smash it to pieces. But that’s just me.

June pulls Moira’s package out from behind the bathtub, opens it. FINALLY. It’s like Christmas morning!

The package is a huge stack of letters from Handmaids recounting their experiences, the children that have been taken from them, and their pleas for help. June reads their letters and cries.

They’re written on napkins, food wrappers, anything they could find to write on.

Back in the magical land of the North, Moira is interviewed by a refugee intake worker who told her she’s lucky she got here on mac-and-cheese night.

He’s very nice and very welcoming, because he’s Canadian. He gives her a refugee ID card. He gives her a cell phone that’s pre-paid for 12 months, $470 in cash, a medical insurance card, a prescription drug card, and some clothes. Be right back, gotta fill out my Canadian refugee request form.

I’m back, they said “Sorry, no Americans. Because Trump.”

Moira, shocked, cannot believe she’s safe. She just stares at the Canadian guy, dumbfounded.

At the Waterford house, Serena Joy, crying, sets up the nursery for Nick and June’s baby. Fred joins her, he apologizes.

“We’re bringing a new life into this world,” he says. “Yes. Yes she is,” Serena Joy says. “After that, she’ll be gone and we’ll be a family,” he assures her. No you won’t. You two are damaged beyond repair. A baby isn’t going to fix your level of broken-ness.

Upstairs in her bathroom, June wakes up on the floor next to all the Handmaid’s letters. Three bells are heard. “A salvaging today,” June thinks. Who’s getting salvaged?

Alma and Offred head to the salvaging. Once there, Aunt Lydia orders all the Handmaids to kneel. Guardians dump barrels full of stones in front of them as a Handmaid whispers to another, “Oh man, I hate stonings,” all non-chalant and irritated. The same we say, “Oh man, I hate Pepsi,” or “Oh man, I hate commercials.”

Aunt Lydia goes on about how beautiful the world is and how it’s full of miracles. This is obviously a lot of b.s. build up to something she knows is really horrible. “There is no greater sin than putting a child in danger, am I correct girls?”

“Yes, Aunt Lydia,” they respond in unison. They stand, remove their bonnets, and each pick up a stone.

Offred picks one up, stares at it. The Handmaids form a circle.

Guardians lead a person into the circle.

STOP, YOU GUYS. STOP.

I’m beside myself, this is too much. I can’t.

IT’S JANINE. JANINE THE CHILD-WOMAN WHO HAS ONLY BEEN ABUSED HER ENTIRE LIFE BY EVERYONE AROUND HER.

As they lead Janine in, she waves to everyone and says, “Hi.”

Offred realizes what’s happening at the exact same moment that we do.

Aunt Lydia says Janine has been convicted of endangering a child and the punishment for this is death by stoning. The Guardians chain Janine to a stake in the center of the Handmaid circle.

I’m telling you right now, if these girls don’t use their stones to just STONE THE LIVING H*LL OUT OF AUNT LYDIA and these Guardians, I don’t know what I’ll do. I’m going to lose it.

Aunt Lydia says, “I know how difficult this is, girls, I do,” crying as she speaks. “You know what to do. When I blow the whistle, you are free to begin.”

Janine says, “Not too hard, okay?” Does sobbing as hard as possible burn calories? That would be the one positive to come out of watching this scene.

You won’t believe who stands up to Aunt Lydia. NEW OFGLEN!

“Aunt Lydia, come on, we can’t do this!” she yells. A Guardian tells her to get back in her place. “No. I’m not gonna do it. I’m not gonna kill Janine, okay?”

He hits her across the face with the butt of his gun, she falls to the ground.

Janine cries, “Are you okay?” Ever the sweet-hearted Janine.

Aunt Lydia blows her whistle.

Nothing. The Handmaids just stand there.

Aunt Lydia screams, “Girls! Girls!”

Offred enters the circle, stone in hand. A Guardian points a gun at her, commands her to get back in line. Aunt Lydia comes down yelling, “These girls are my responsibility.”

Offred drops her stone on the ground at Aunt Lydia’s feet, “I’m sorry, Aunt Lydia,” making her point.

Alma does the exact same thing.

Then another Handmaid, and another, etcetera.

They all do it. Every single one of them.

Aunt Lydia says, “Go home. Go home, all of you, and think about what you have done.” She tells Offred, “There will be consequences, believe me.”

Offred smiles at Janine for a moment before she leaves.

Nina Simone’s, “Feeling Good” plays as the Handmaids walk back to their houses in slow motion, led by Offred.

In the magical land of the North, Moira heads out of the refugee center, when who should happen to walk in – LUKE!!!!

“Hi,” she says, “How are you here?” He tells her that her name came up on his list of missing family members who’d been found. She hugs him, breaks down in sobs.

At the Waterford house, Offred stares out the window of her room, thinking, “We refused to kill Janine and for that sin we will be punished, I have no doubt. I am in disgrace, which is the opposite of grace. I ought to be terrified, but I feel serene. There’s a kind of hope, it seems, even in futility.”

A  Guardian van pulls up to the Waterford house. Offred waits for them in her room.

Nick comes in, whispers to her, “Just go with them, trust me.”

Two Guardians come in right after, she leaves with them, as Rita watches, crying. Offred hugs her, whispers to her where the package of letters is hidden. As they take Offred downstairs, Rita gets it from behind the tub.

Serena Joy freaks out, “I have a right to know where you’re taking her.” Fred runs up to them, “I need to see your authorization.” A Guardian says, “Everything is in order, Commander.” Serena Joy grabs Offred’s arm, “What did you do?!”

Offred wrestles her arm away from her and goes outside.

She stares into the back of the black van, smirks at Serena Joy one last time, then climbs in.

Offred thinks, “Whether this is my end, or a new beginning, I have no way of knowing. I’ve given myself over into the hands of strangers. I have no choice. It can’t be helped. And so I step up, into the darkness within, or else the light.”

My fave moments:

  • “They should’ve never given us uniforms if they didn’t want us to be an army.” – LOVE this line.
  • “It isn’t yours.” – there is no quicker way to emasculate an oppressive little man whose sole purpose for existence is to impregnate.
  • That Ontario license plate reveal was juuuuust perfect.
  • Hannah is alive and safe – for now.
  • “There’s a kind of hope, it seems, even in futility.” An excellent reminder to never lose hope.
  • Tom Petty’s “American Girl” playing while Offred gets in the back of that black van and through the end credits. Never have I sung along so loudly.
  • Finally, the moment I wanted to see the entire season: MAX MINGHELLA HELPED JUNE GET THE HELL OUT OF THE WATERFORD HOUSE.

What I hope we see next season:

Revenge.

Final thoughts:

Prepare to watch this show gobble up awards left and right at the 2018 Emmys, and rightfully so. It’s visually stunning, superbly written, masterfully directed, beautifully edited, and the acting is absolutely out of this world.

I’ve thoroughly enjoyed watching and have loved recapping it even more. Cannot wait for season two!

Thank you so much for reading! I hope I’ve done the show justice. Please feel free to leave me a comment here, email me – kim@kimberlyjbowman.com, or find me on Twitter – @nachomother.

Praised be, b*tches.

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Kim Bowman

In addition to recaps, Kim writes witty ensemble TV comedies with strong female leads, none of which have been produced *insert sad trombone sound here.*

Nevertheless, she persists.
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