The Handmaid's Tale

This recap of Episode 3 of THE HANDMAID’S TALE is chocked full of {SPOILERS}. ***If you haven’t watched yet, go do that and then come back here. ;)***

The episode opens on Ofglen (the original one, not the new one we met at the end of the last episode who we decided is actually Alma from the Red Centre) being led by guards down a bright hallway to a locked cell, with some sort of mask over her mouth.

Offred thinks, “Now I’m awake to the world. I was asleep before. That’s how we let it happen. When they slaughtered Congress, we didn’t wake up. When they blamed terrorists, and suspended the Constitution, we didn’t wake up then either.” Yowza. Dystopian nightmare fulfilled.

But guess what? Offred is woke now, so things are gonna change!! And I gotta tell you, I haven’t yelled and pumped my fists in the air that hard since I watched Joffrey drink poison (you know what I’m talking about, Game of Thrones fans).

Flashback to June and Moira jogging in the city, earbuds in, as Peaches‘, F**k The Pain Away plays. Seems like a normal enough thing, but when they jog by a woman on the street, she looks them up and down and gives them the dirtiest look. And I realize, mmm no, all is not well.

At a coffee shop, a mouthy little jerk of a cashier, harasses Moira and June after June’s credit card is declined for insufficient funds, which makes no sense to her since she just deposited her paycheck. He calls them “f*cking sluts.” And then tells them to “Get the f*ck out of here.” So I guess this is the moment when the “it” that happened starts to happen. Clearly, this dude’s feeling himself with a dose of extra strength straight-white-male-privilege.

Read all our The Handmaid’s Tale recaps, here.

At work, June sees a bunch of armed dudes assemble in the back of the office. The boss, Roger, announces that he has to let all the women go. As in laid off, “let go.” BECAUSE IT IS AGAINST THE LAW FOR THEM TO WORK ANYWHERE. Ohmigod, ohmigod. Rage stroke warning – Defcon 2. When June asks Roger why it’s just the women, he says, “I don’t have a choice.” Apropos word usage – choice.

It’s surreal to the women, as they pack up their desks and say their goodbyes. As they all leave the building, there are more armed dudes everywhere. One of them holds the door open, June thanks him and he responds, “Under His eye.” And June’s like, wtf, “Excuse me?” And he ignores her, because of course he does.

Back to the present, at the Waterford house, Rita politely tells Offred she’s got her lunch ready for her. Rita happily serves her, which is weird. She brings Offred a white rose in a vase and places it next to her freshly prepared lunch. Offred thinks, “F*ck.” And so do I. What does this special rose mean?

Rita tells Offred that Mrs. Waterford picked it especially for her, because they’re all so hopeful, because she hasn’t asked for “her napkins yet this month.” Okaaay. They all think that she might be pregnant. Mrs. Waterford comes in and straight away asks Offred if she’s nauseous or if her breasts are tender. I can tell you that I’m nauseous, watching her interrogate Offred about breast tenderness.

Mrs. W then invites Offred with her to go visit baby Angela. She tells Offred that she should finish her lunch because she needs “to be in the clean plate club.” Which is a very Mom thing to say and, might I add, a very inappropriate thing to say to the woman your husband thrusts into semi-regularly, while you watch.

Over at baby Angela’s, Mrs. Waterford and some other Commanders’ wives are there, drinking coffee or tea out of fancy china and, I assume, sharing woe-is-me stories about being barren. Mrs. W, who is holding Angela, asks Offred if she’d like to hold her. Then she lets spill that Offred will be fine holding her because, “she’s done it before.” Oh snap. Serena Joy isn’t as dumb as she looks. She’s done her homework on Offred, and she KNOWS she has a daughter! Then help her find her daughter, you HORRIBLE HUMAN BEING!

Mrs. Putnam joins them and tells everyone that Ofwarren bit her hand after she took Angela out of her arms. “I’m just counting the days until Angela’s weaned and that girl is out of my house.” The dog references just keep on coming. Ouch.

Offred goes to Ofwarren’s room to check on her. Offred, asks, “Janine, did you bite Mrs. Putnam?” I love that she uses her real name here. LOVE IT. And since she does, I will. Janine tells Offred that Mrs. P is always grabbing at her, grabbing “Charlotte.” Uh oh. Janine has named the baby Charlotte. She tells Offred that she can do anything she wants because she had a healthy baby. They’ll let her do anything. She then tells Offred a secret that she can’t repeat, “He loves me. He loves me so much. We’re going to run away together.” He, as in, Commander Warren Putnam, the baby daddy. Oh, Janine. Poor, broken Janine. Offred knows this is never going to happen, but she doesn’t have the heart to set Janine straight.

Downstairs, Mrs. Waterford and Offred wait for the car to pick them up. And their conversation is – odd. Serena Joy asks Offred if she enjoyed visiting with her friend, “I imagine you two have a lot to talk about these days.” In the understatement of the century, Offred admits that she’s afraid Ofwarren might be “losing touch.” Serena responds with, “That can happen with the weaker girls.” She admits to Offred that what they both have to do, as women, is “terribly hard and we must remain strong. Which is why I feel so blessed to have you.” Then she decides to stay back and let Offred ride home with Nick, ALONE. Perhaps there’s more to old barren Mrs. W than meets the eye (Eye? no pun intended).

In the car, Offred questions Nick about why he said Ofglen was dangerous. He proceeds to break it down for her, 1) things aren’t gonna change, no matter what you do, 2) no point in trying put on a brave face, 3) everybody breaks at some point.

As they pull into the driveway at home, Aunt Lydia is there with a scary black van, which usually means someone’s getting taken away. Nick tells Offred to “tell them whatever they want to know.” Offred and I both yell, “Nick!?”

In a flashback, Moira and June commiserate over how their bank accounts have been wiped/frozen/stolen because they’re women, but it’s cool because your closest male next-of-kin can access your account and just give you money as they see fit. On top of that, there’s a new law that women can’t own property anymore. And that’s when I paused the show to lecture my husband for 30 minutes about the wage gap. As he was not watching the show with me, he was… confused. But good news, he supports equal pay!

D.C. is under martial law because of “terrorists,” which Moira’s not buying. She’s organizing a march. Luke wanders in and tells them, “We’ll figure this out. This can’t last.” He tells Offred, “You know I’ll take care of you,” which Moira finds pretty patronizing. Poor Luke. He doesn’t realize the severity of his own wife’s situation or his role in it, just like my husband didn’t, pre-lecture.

They proceed to have a VERY TIMELY AND RELEVANT conversation about marriage and feminism. Moira lays into Luke about how June doesn’t need him to take care of him, that she doesn’t belong to him. But when it’s time for her to leave, she needs Luke to walk her to the train station because it’s too dangerous for her to walk alone.

Back in the present, Offred prays that she doesn’t want to die, she’ll do whatever she has to do to stay alive. Out of seemingly nowhere, Aunt Lydia ZAPS HER IN THE NECK WITH THAT BLASTED CATTLE PROD she carries with her everywhere. Some Guardian Cop questions her about Ofglen and what they talked about. She tells him they talked about shopping and the weather, both true. He asks her if they ever took the long way home, by the river. She tells him, “it’s pretty by the river,” and this a-hole says, “It’s private. What’d you talk about when you walked by the river?” Again, she tells him, shopping and the weather AND NOTHING ELSE.

Aunt Lydia chimes in by saying how beautiful Ofglen is. When Offred agrees, Aunt Lydia acts like Offred was the one who just called Ofglen beautiful. Is there a word for this? I wanna say gay-baiting? The Guardian Cop asks if they ever did anything “more than just talk” on their private walks, “Did she ever touch you?” Aunt Lydia asks, “Did you know she was a gender-traitor?” Ugh. Now there’s another derogatory category of people: Gender-traitors. These Guardians sure do spend an enormous amount of time plopping people in “sexual/gender” categories.

Offred ADMITS that she knew Ofglen was a lesbian, because she mentioned her wife, from before. She didn’t report it because she just didn’t think about it. The Guardian Cop then asks if Offred knew about Ofglen’s forbidden relationship with a Martha. Offred, feeling her oats, looks Aunt Lydia right in her smug face and says, “I knew she was gay.” And of course, Aunt Lydia shocks her with the cattle prod because the word “gay” is forbidden.

Aunt Lydia says, “Blessed are the meek.” Offred stubbornly responds, “And blessed are those who suffer for the cause of righteousness. For theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” I fully expected Aunt Lydia to shock her with the cattle prod, and she did. But not before whacking her across the body with it as hard as she possibly could.

Mrs. W runs in and yells at them, “She’s pregnant!” The Guardian Cop congratulates them on the blessed news but it’s not enough for Mrs. W. She tells him to get out of her house!

Over at Gender-traitor prison, Ofglen is led into a meeting room, which is bible court, as far as I can tell. Ofglen and her Martha partner (Laura Wilson) have been charged with “gender treachery” in violation of Romans 1:26. Bible judge (cough Jeff Sessions cough) pounds a gavel and says “guilty.” Because, this is not America anymore and sh*t is fully out of control.

The Martha is “sentenced to the common mercy of the state.” Bible judge lectures Ofglen about how much God hates her and then tells her that because she’s fertile, she’s sentenced to “redemption.” Both women are loaded into the back of a black van. They sit, facing each other, and grasp each other’s hands. The Martha kisses Ofglen’s hands. They break down, sobbing. It’s a powerful and tender moment. Which makes the next scene that much more upsetting.

The van comes to a halt, the Martha is dragged out of the van, and hung. Executed right in front of Ofglen, and in front of us.  As her girlfriend struggles in her last moments, the van pulls away, with Ofglen still in back, watching from the window and wailing in grief. At this point, I paused the show and gave my husband a hug. You should go hug and kiss and love the people you love too. We all should.

Nick checks on Offred in her room at the Waterford house to see if she’s okay after her interrogation. He tells her, “I should’ve just driven away with you,” and they allllllmost kiss.

In the bathroom, Offred holds her blood stained undies, so looks like she’ll be asking for her monthly supply of napkins after all.

In a flashback, June and Moira are at a march. Deja-vu (please see America: 2017). Violence breaks out between the protestors and the police, who are armed with machine guns. AND THEY FIRE THEIR GUNS AT THE PROTESTORS. When the shooting starts, June and Moira hide in a store, watching the police continue to purposely kill protestors. And if you think this kind of crap doesn’t happen right now in our world, please know that you are wrong. It does.

Back at the Waterford home, Serena Joy shows Offred the room she’s converting to a nursery, because she still believes Offred is pregnant. Serena Joy calls Offred her “miracle” with tear-filled eyes. Offred, feeling guilty. can’t take it anymore, she admits that she’s not pregnant, that she got her period. Mrs. Waterford loses her ever-loving mind, drags Offred upstairs and throws her in her room, “You will stay here and you will not leave this room. Do you understand me?” Uh, we all do, crazy with a capitol C. She adds, “Things can get much worse for you.” We know she’s not bluffing because we just watched a Martha die because of who she loved.

Original Ofglen, whose real name is Emily, wakes up in a hospital bed with a bandaged crotch. Aunt Lydia informs her that she can still have children, but things will be so much easier for her now, “You won’t want what you cannot have.” Emily’s been mutilated by these savages. And again, if you think this kind of crap doesn’t happen right now in our world, please know that you are wrong. It does.

My fave moments:

  •  Offred got woke.
  •  “In a gradually heating bathtub, you’d be boiled to death before you knew it.” Ya darn right. Open your eyes, people of America, before we all get boiled to death!
  •  Offred calling Ofwarren by her real name, Janine.
  •  Serena Joy knows June has a daughter. What else does she know?
  •  Moira, June, and Luke breaking down marriage and what it means.

What I hope we see in the next episode:

  • More clues about who’s the Eye in the Waterford house.
  • Does Serena Joy know where Hannah is?
  • Why did Commander Waterford go to D.C.? What’s his business there?
  • Max Minghella, shirtless, washing a limo or taking down a fence. Or both.

Something I learned:

  • The show’s official Facebook group is pretty legit. It’s currently by invitation only, so if you want an invite, let me know! It’ll be open to the public starting Wednesday, May 10.
  • #MacaronBurn is still not trending on Twitter.

This incredible show is most definitely not meant to be watched in a vacuum. It should be discussed, and at great length. What’d you think of this episode?

Her twitter:

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.
Her twitter: