The Handmaid’s Tale: Episode Two

This episode opens with some excitement at the farm, as Eyes have come in search for the man that the Handmaid’s had found trespassing, and Mrs. Keyes had killed. June tells everyone to act natural and continue working, while she sneaks up to where they are talking to Commander Keyes. She overhears that the man they had killed was a Guardian. Mrs. Keyes is able to stay level and because of that, they decide to come back later to question everyone. Once they leave, June comes out from where she was hiding and realizes that this means she and the other Handmaids have to leave.

Across the border in Canada, Luke is at a fundraising event, where he presents Rita, one of  the Marthas that had escaped with the children (and the Martha at June’s house) as a featured speaker. She begins to make her speech, but becomes overtaken with emotion, which forces Luke back on the stage to thank her and switch gears into getting people to donate money. 

To start planning the next steps in her and the other Handmaids’ plan to keep Gilead from finding them, June gets hidden inside a truck as she’s taken to a big house. Left alone in the truck, a Martha comes to grab her and sneak her in. The house seems to be a brothel for the most powerful in Gilead. June is led to a greenhouse, where one of the prostitutes is there. She is June’s connection in the Martha Network, and tells her of a yellow safe house that can be ready for her the following day. June isn’t sure if she can wait that long, but she has an idea to do something to the military commanders she saw entering the building before then.

We then see Serena, who is getting a physical examination and being questioned about the abuse she’s received from Gilead and her husband, Fred. She excuses it as “proper punishment” or just anger that is followed by apologies. Serena then meets with her lawyer, who wants to show that there was a pattern of abuse, but she continues to not describe it as abuse. She gives Fred benefit of the doubt since she knew him before Gilead. In this sense, she is a bit naive, thinking that he wasn’t this way before. She may not have seen it, or he may have hid it. But when he was given the opportunity to seize power and control over others, he took it, with joy. Yet, Serena’s naivety clouds her judgement, and she thinks she can get Fred to drop the claim he has made in regards to her daughter.

In Canada, we are reunited with Emily, who has been helping Moira with finding permanent or temporary placements for the children of Gilead, whether it is them being reunited with their families, or adopted by another. Moira is upset at June for doing big things and not thinking it through, leaving other people to deal with it or clean up the mess. Emily empathizes with her, using the example of June giving her her child and

staying behind.  In this scene, we also meet Moira’s girlfriend, and they share an affectionate moment. Emily seems a tad jealous of this, and I wonder if she is seeing Sylvia or anyone else.

At the farmhouse, June brings up her idea to the other Handmaids. They aren’t sure about whether they should do anything, and as they’re discussing it, Mrs. Keyes comes in, so they go silent. She becomes suspicious of them stopping their conversation when she entered, and leaves in a fuss to the kitchen. June follows her and tells her that they’re going to leave the following night. Mrs. Keyes immediately begins begging her to take her with her. June agrees to, but that they’re going to have to to something about the Commander. At that moment, June, looking at the plant growing above her, realizes that those are poisonous berries on that plant, and that Mrs. Keyes has been poisoning the Commander. She asks her to teach her how to make more—she has found her way to subdue the military commanders at the big house.

We return to Serena, who goes to see Fred at the chapel room. She attempts to make him change his mind about Nicole, but he won’t let himself be tricked by her, as he says. Out of spite, he won’t let Serena be with Nicole. She claims his taste of power has changed him, whereas he believes he gave her too much freedom to begin with. The man Serena thought she knew never existed, and his attitude towards her here proves that.

Moira goes to check in on one of the children reunited with his real mother, and sees how he has not been able to assimilate to life outside of Gilead. He misses his “home” and “family” there. It’s unfortunate that many kids probably feel this way. They’ve all been raised from a very young age in an oppressive society with parents that weren’t really theirs, and it will take time for them to rehabilitate their memories and minds so their true parents are able to have a relationship with them again. Moira returns later on with Rita to talk to the boy and give him a sense of familiarity of the world he was forcibly brought up in.

June prepares to go back to the big house with the poison, and tells Janine to get everyone ready to leave in case things go wrong. When she arrives to the house, she tells the woman she had communicated with earlier that she has this to slip into their alcohol. 

We get a quick cut to Serena outside the building she is being kept in, and sees Mark come outside. She goes to him, telling him that she wants to separate herself from Fred completely. That will prove to be difficult though, as she is told her blood tests came back, and she’s pregnant. That’s a huge shock, as we were told it was impossible for her to have kids. The surprise on her face tells us that she wasn’t prepared for this at all. There is no doubt this will complicate things between her and Fred, and her own journey as a character.

Returning to June, she is putting poison in bottles of liquor for the woman to distribute. She pours shots and all the military commanders willingly take them—multiple of them. Jane walks out and leaves in the truck, content. However, when they arrive back to the farmhouse, all the lights are on, and June immediately senses something is wrong. As her and the guard slowly walk over to the house, she steps on bullets. Almost immediately, the guard gets shot in the head and falls dead beside her. Red sniper lights land on June from all angles, and Nick emerges from within the house. All the Handmaids have thankfully escaped, but now Gilead has their hands on June. There is no telling what will happen to her now.

Isabel Maina

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