Welcome to Episode 8 of season 2 of The Handmaid’s Tale! If you haven’t watched the episode yet, please do so and then come back here.

{SPOILERS, SPOILERS, SPOILERS} from here on out . . .


And here…








This week opens with Lionel Richie’s “Easy” playing on the record player in Serena’s, I mean Fred’s office. Offred (Elisabeth Moss), in voiceover, lets us know this is their new normal, she and Serena (Yvonne Strahovski) work in the evening. Serena writes. Offred edits.

Offred asks her if she misses working, and she gives a roundabout b.s. answer then admits, “I do truly detest knitting, to be frank.” Just as I’m about to start liking her, she tells Offred, “I won’t forget your help.” Allow me to please unpack this comment. Serena truly believes she is saying something kind and generous. Therein lies the problem.  What it actually shows is that Serena continues to view Offred as less than, beneath, not as good as her, however you want to word it. This is a super easy stance to take when you have all the power in the dynamic. “I won’t forget your help” is a cutting but subtle reminder from Serena, “Just because I’m letting you edit my writing doesn’t mean you’re not going to keep getting raped while I hold you down.” Great. Awesome. Thanks, SJ.

Serena drops the bomb that Fred’s coming home tomorrow. Party over and praise be and maythelordopenwevebeensentgoodweather.

Fred (Joseph Fiennes) hobbles inside while Offred watches from the stairwell window. He tells Rita he missed her cooking. Child bride gives him something she made at craft time in pre-K.

He heads to his office and thanks Serena for doing all she did while he was recovering. As she hides the pen Offred had been using, she lets him know she took the liberty of drafting his Canadian trip agenda. Please, Canada, don’t do business with these Gilead pigs. #SANCTIONS

He then leads her to the door and shuts it on her face. Like I said, party over and praise be and maythelordopenwevebeensentgoodweather.

When Offred heads up to her room, she finds the music box Serena had given her last season along with a white rose. Back to pretending to like knitting for old SJ.

At Nick’s, child bride follows him around like a baby duck following its mama. What do they call that? Imprinting. Child bride has imprinted with Nick (Max Minghella).

She has ten million questions she’s been saving up to ask him the minute he walks in the door until he finally heads back out to leave again. She bids him adieu with a “Praise be,” and he responds, “Mmmhmm.” LOL. Mmmhmm. Classic.

Serena confides in Offred in the kitchen that baby Angela (Janine’s baby) isn’t well. I’m sure it’s because of her dumb “mom” (Mrs. Naomi Putnam). Naturally, on the way to do the shopping, Offred runs into Janine.

At the store, Alma asks Offred if Fred’s back.

Janine (Madeline Brewer) shares this info, “My posting’s great. No bl*w jobs, just the ceremony. It’s a blessing.” At which point Emily (Alexis Bledel) sidles up and adds, “Being raped is not a blessing.”

An ambulance dedicated to infants rolls by and everyone kneels. Brianne tells Janine the ambulance is there for Angela. Offred calms Janine as best she can. She wants to see the baby! It’s not good.

At home, Serena comes upstairs to discuss baby Angela’s poor health. She tells Offred, “I’m not sure Gilead is exploring every doctor available to them.”


She asks her, “What do you think?” Offred’s as shocked at this as I am, sitting here with my jaw hanging open. What. Do. You. Think.

Serena brings Fred a tray of tea but that’s not why she’s really there. She’s there to get what she wants = Fred to get baby Angela the best doctor Gilead has for her. There is a neonatologist in Gilead. But it is a she. Which means she has no rights and is not allowed to be a neonatologist.

Fred refuses and she presses him to relent. He hits her with one of these: “We cannot question the will of God.”

She’s displeased with this answer.

RELATED: Read all of our recaps for The Handmaid’s Tale.

Offred suggests to Serena that Janine be allowed to see the baby in case it’s her last chance.

At the hospital, Serena asks Naomi (Ever Carradine), if this would be okay. This is her response:

“That horrid girl?”

Commander Putnam says, “I think God would want us to welcome her.”

This is Naomi’s response:

Janine shows up with Aunt Lydia (Ann Dowd). Aunt L and Offred argue about whether or not Janine should see the baby. She finally does see the baby in NICU.

Serena is there as well. As Janine and Offred show up, alone in the NICU, Serena tells Offred, “I’m going to see if there’s anything more they can tell us” in a *commence the secret plan* sort of way.

Offred nods, because this is the commencement of the secret plan.

In the stairwell, some Guardians lead the neonatologist upstairs. Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaand, the neonatologist is a Martha. So not only does she not have rights as a woman, she doesn’t have rights as a human being.

She has no idea why she’s there. The doctor in NICU tells her he’s glad to see her again. She doesn’t remember him because they only met once. She trained this guy’s mentor.

The neonatologist changes into her scrubs. Serena tells her, “We brought you here to get your medical opinion on the case.” Serena watches in awe as she, Dr. Hodgson, takes charge of baby Angela’s care LIKE A BOSS A** B*TCH.

When she puts a stethoscope around her neck for the first time since it was taken away from her – WOW. THAT WAS A MOMENT.

After a while, the Putnams are told that Angela isn’t going to make it. Dr. Hodgson can’t do anything for her.  

Janine holds her and strokes her and kisses her while everyone watches and cries, including you and me.

As soon as they get home, the Commander wants to see them both in his office. Serena tells Offred, “Let me handle this.”

Fred’s not happy to learn the Putnams got the doctor they needed. Turns out Serena forged Fred’s signature on Dr. Hodgson’s temporary transfer to the hospital.

He’s also not pleased to see Offred’s handwriting on some paperwork in his office. He says to Serena, “You involved the Handmaid in your transgressions?” The Handmaid. He doesn’t even call her Offred, just The Handmaid.

He blames himself for burdening Serena with so much responsibility while he was in the hospital. He reads from the bible about wives submitting themselves to their husbands. He drags a chair to the center of the room, takes off his belt.

She grabs the back of the chair while he BEATS HER WITH HIS BELT ACROSS HER BACK AS HARD AS HE CAN. 

It’s brutal.

Over at Nick’s place, child bride wants him to be proud of her for all the straightening up she’s done. When she was re-organizing she found a bound stack of letters. He is livid, “Never touch my things, do you understand me?”

In her room, Serena struggles to get undressed because she’s just been abused physically and mentally.

Offred comes to check on her. Serena pretends she’s okay but she is most definitely not okay.

Offred goes to Fred’s office and apologizes. Why? Because she doesn’t want to be beaten and she doesn’t want Serena to be beaten any more.

At the hospital, Aunt Lydia wakes up to see Janine holding a perfectly healthy and happy baby Angela. All she needed was her mama.


What’d you think about this episode? Let me know in the comments below or contact me on Twitter!  Looking forward to next week, episode 9!

Kim Bowman
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