Welcome to Episode 12 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…

 

 

we…

 

 

go.

 

This week’s episode opens with Serena (Yvonne Strahovski) bathing a baby at home. It’s Holly! Whom Serena has renamed Nicole. We’re one minute in and I’m already mad. Hope you’re faring better.

We find June (Elisabeth Moss) pumping milk at the Red Center while Aunt Lydia (Ann Dowd) chirps “Blessed day” at the top of her sing-songy lungs.

June is a very sought after Handmaid, according to Aunt L. Commanders and their wives all want her to be their new Handmaid. She’s currently #1 at the top of the “I Want To Rape Her/Help My Husband Rape Her” list. What. An. Honor.

One of the wives sent Aunt L a basket of baked muffins as bribery to get June as their Handmaid. She offers one to June, “You’ve earned it.” Unfortunately, June picks a bran muffin out of the mix. Haven’t we all made that mistake at least once? Because it looks like banana or oatmeal or zucchini, doesn’t it?!?

“Great. Praise f*cking be.” she thinks to herself.

Fred’s (Joseph Fiennes) been awarded a brand new job, and a bigger office. Because the world is so fair. Right, guys?

Nick (Max Minghella) is back and he’s fine (in every sense of the word.)

He and Fred share surface level gratitude for each other while also low-key hating on one another and it’s so fun to watch.

Fred instructs Nick to hang a portrait on the wall behind his new desk. It’s of Fred, Serena, and Holly (reminder: Holly is Nick and June’s baby). This isn’t low-key hating, it’s in-your-face hating.

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

At the Waterford house, Rita (Amanda Brugel) reminds Serena that their supply of June’s breast milk is running low and that “Sometimes the milk dries up if the…” Serena cuts her off, “YES, I KNOW.”

I hope we get to see Rita truly go off on these a**hats before this series ends.

In a sanctuary at the Red Center, Fred and Nick have brought June to see Holly. Fred introduces “Nicole” to “Offred.” RAGE STROKE.

June asks to nurse her. Fred says no. Aunt L steps in, “If you keep the infant separate from the source, we’re going to have to repeat this whole process.” She suggests June return to the Waterford home while the baby is nursing so she can breast pump there instead.

It worked! June’s back in her old digs in the Waterford house. The worst kind of Groundhog Day imaginable.

Fred has to explain to Serena why he let June back in their house.

Serena’s rules are:

  • #1 June can’t have any contact with the baby.
  • #2 June pumps in her room.

Fred responds with a snarky, “Mother knows best” as he strolls out of the room.

What a loving pair of new parents! How lucky Holly is.

Aunt Lydia leads Emily (Alexis Bledel) to her new posting, “Commander Lawrence is a very brilliant, important man,” and this is Emily’s last chance.

He’s “considered the architect of Gilead’s economy.” Get it? He’s their Alexander Hamilton – on the darkest timeline.

Inside, Commander Lawrence runs downstairs and I don’t know whether to be happy or terrified. He (Bradley Whitford) is not interested in the usual Gilead pleasantries. He looks at Emily as if he recognizes her.

Then he opens the door for Aunt L to leave. She wants to wait until Mrs. Commander Lawrence greets her.

“She won’t be coming down. She’s not feeling well,” he tells her. “We’re good here.”

Aunt L reluctantly leaves.

Again, I don’t know whether to be happy or terrified of him. His Martha makes a racket in another room and he screams, “Don’t touch my stuff! You want a beating?”

She responds, “Try it, old man.” Out of context, this seems horrible. But she says it in a teasing way. Clearly, she’s not the least bit afraid of him. And he has no actual intention of beating her.

I’m starting to feel less terrified.

After he leaves the room, Emily looks around. It’s full of books and paintings and antiques and knick-knacks and a piano and . . . this is not a typical Commander.

This guy is intriguing, that much I know.

At the Waterford’s, June pumps milk in her room. She hears Holly making cute baby noises downstairs. She brings her milk downstairs and sees Serena singing to the baby.  

She runs into Eden (Sydney Sweeney) in the kitchen. Eden is so dying for life advice. She asks June if it’s best for a baby to be loved by two loving parents. June tells her “in this place, you grab love wherever you can find it.”

Poor kid, she knows nothing.

The next morning, Nick can’t find Eden. She was gone when he woke up.

June says,

“Maybe she went to the mall. I heard there was a sale at Old Navy.”

LOL.

After a moment, he says, “Our baby is so beautiful. I wish I could hold her.”

He wishes they could run off and be a real family. So does she. It’s heartbreaking.

They’re interrupted by Fred looking for – guess who? Isaac. He never showed up for his shift this morning.

June’s only been back a day or two and she’s already sparked #RESISTANCE in the Waterford house. I’m living for it.

Fred is livid. He desperately needs Serena to tell him what to do but she couldn’t care less at this point. She’s got baby fever and wants him to leave her the f alone.

Later, Holly is crying a lot. The kind of baby cry that breaks your heart. Serena doesn’t know what to do. She can’t calm her down. She shuts the door, takes out her breast and tries to feed the baby. But there’s no milk. So, of course, baby Holly cries again.

In the kitchen, Rita brings in the laundry, which includes Holly’s baby clothes. June holds some of Holly’s clothes close to her face and takes a big whiff.

Fred finds June in the kitchen and wants to know why she hid in the house where she had the baby rather than come home with him and Serena. So she tells him.

He asks her how the reunion with Hannah was. Primarily, he wants to be thanked for making it happen. So gracious.

She suggests they play Scrabble sometime. He says, “We’ll see.”

Over at Commander Lawrence’s, Emily prepares to go to sleep. A woman comes in her room and asks who she is. Then she tells her that Joseph, Commander Lawrence, came up with the Colonies. It was his idea.

He runs in and drags her out of the room screaming. She’s his wife, Mrs. Lawrence.

So now I’m back to being terrified.

He summons Emily downstairs to his office. He pours them both a glass of alcohol.

Then he asks her a lot of questions about herself, but he already knows the answers.

Including that she’s a lesbian.

And that she has a wife and son.

The next morning, at the Waterford’s, Rita tells June they found Eden and Isaac and brought them back.

Nick does his best to convince Eden to lie and say she might be pregnant or that Isaac took her against her will. She won’t lie.

She asks him for forgiveness and he asks for her forgiveness.

A crowd, including Serena, Fred, Nick, June, and Rita, watches as Eden is led to an indoor swimming pool in handcuffs. She’s been found guilty of infidelity.

She and Isaac (Rohan Mead) are instructed to renounce their sins and plead for mercy.

They don’t.

Eden’s mother screams her name from the crowd.

Eden and Isaac are both shoved into the pool from the high-dive handcuffed to weights that sink to the bottom.

Back home, June sits with Nick in the kitchen and tries to console him. He won’t have it.

She finds Serena in the baby’s room and asks if she’s alright. She’s not.

Holly starts to cry and June offers to get her a bottle.

Serena motions for her to sit, she hands Holly to her, and June breastfeeds.

……………..

What’d you think about this episode? Let me know in the comments below or contact me on Twitter!  Looking forward to next week, the SEASON FINALE, episode 13!

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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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