The Handmaid’s Tale: Episode Seven

With a small but mighty step, June now stands on Canadian land. Mark, as a representative of the U.S. Government, asks June if she would be harmed if she returned to Gilead. She confirms that she would and makes her statement to seek asylum. With that, she is taken to a swanky hotel to stay in as she adjusts to this new environment. As they make their way to her room, however, she drowns their voices out and she takes in her new surroundings. It is very different from what she had been assimilated to in Gilead. Mark and Moira leave June and Luke in her hotel room to give them space. He offers to order room service, while June goes to the bathroom to take her first real shower in a very long time. As the water washes her clean, we see all her cuts and bruises from the pain and torture she had endured. She may be washing away what is on the surface of her skin, but there are things deep within that will never be cleansed with a shower. She wraps herself in a robe and walks out of the bathroom to see Luke arranging the food he had ordered on the table in the living room. Instead of joining him to eat, she closes the bedroom door and lies down on the bed.

Moments later, Luke knocks on the door and opens it to see her fast asleep. He leaves her be, and the next day, June wakes up to see Luke laying on the couch in the room.  She offers him to sit next to her on the bed. He does, and begins to apologize for what he couldn’t do; that he couldn’t save her or Hannah. To make him feel better, June begins to tell him about when she saw Hannah (except this isn’t the most recent time when she didn’t remember her). She tells him about how big she is, how she told her that her mom and dad loved her, and that it was okay for Hannah to hate her.

We transition to June talking to Mark about how she had gotten the children out of Gilead. Luke comes into the room and tells her that she can end this now so she can go see Nicole. Mark attempts to dissuade her, and taking a break might cloud her memories as she creates new ones in a new place. But, she decides to leave, and Luke takes her to his home. They walk in to see Moira, Emily, and Nicole. Emily hands Nicole over to June, who starts crying. It has been a long year since she had sent her away with Emily to safety. Now, she gets to rock her daughter to sleep.

Moving to Serena, we find her in the prayer room as she prays to God about her pregnancy. Mark enters the room to talk to her about the current situation. Fred continues to request to see Serena, but she refuses. Mark tells her that talking to him now could help them, especially with June being here. With that, she reluctantly goes to see him. He, of course, tries to touch her belly, and she quickly walks away from him. Fred tells her that he wants to be a good father and a good husband. If they drop their fight with each other and team up, they can help each other through whatever June tries to do to them.

The next morning, June wakes up to sounds from Nicole downstairs. She goes down to see Moira and Luke cooking breakfast. Moira mentions how they’re out of a lot of things and that she needs to go to the grocery store. She can leave June and Luke alone for a bit and take Nicole with her. But, June wants to go with her. So, they all take a trip to the grocery store together.

At the grocery store, Nicole starts to cry because she needs her diaper changed. Moira goes to do that, leaving June and Luke. They’re in the chip aisle, and there are a lot of options to choose from. June tells Luke to continue doing his shopping while she decides on the chips. As she goes to grab a bag, in the space behind it she sees Alma’s face. Her mind is having a Gilead flashback. She goes to the end of the aisle, but it is not Alma who she saw. Then, in front of her, is a stack of water with a branded logo of angel wings, that looks just like the statue in Gilead. That triggers her into a panic attack as she begins to play back all the horrible things that happened to her.

It cuts to June back at the house, dressed up, as they’re having Emily and Rita over for dinner. Emily has arrived with her son, Oliver. June says hello and as she’s giving him a hug, Rita comes in. They share a long embrace, many words between them unsaid. Later in the evening, we see the women sitting together, drinks in hand, talking about the trauma they all endured in Gilead. June asks the other women if they ever wonder if they deserve to be here. They all struggle with the fact that they got out while others didn’t, but in a way, it is a big “fuck you” to those that put them through so much that they were able to escape from them and live better lives. This leads to June asking what they know about Serena. Rita tells her that she had seen her, and that she is pregnant with the Commander’s child. June is visibly, and understandably angry at this news. If they could’ve gotten pregnant together all along, why did she have to endure the continuous rape, torture, and abuse from the two of them? Noticing that things are getting tense, Moira gets up to grab more alcohol. As she does, she sees her ex-girlfriend Oona outside, and runs after her to talk to her. She doesn’t want them to be over, that she wanted them to be a forever thing. But Oona feels differently, since Moira had put her friend in front of her, and their work. Moira wants to fight about it, to get through it, but Oona refuses to fight there and then, that they can do it another night when she’s not freezing in the cold.

After the other women have left, June is in the kitchen drinking wine, as Luke cleans up. He asks her if she had fun, to which she nonchalantly responds, “Yeah, for sure.” They hug and she goes to kiss him. As they kiss, he’s respectful of her space and if she’s okay with it. She then pulls away, apologizing, and leaves. It then cuts to the two of them in bed. Luke is sleeping, but June is wide awake, obviously still thinking about Serena. It bothers her so much that she leaves and has Mark pick her up to go see her.

When June enters the room, Serena is immediately remorseful, saying that she’s paid the price for this chance. June sneers, “You never give me credit for anything.” She’s right, because Serena hasn’t exactly made up for all that she’s done, and it wasn’t her efforts that allowed for this meeting to happen in these circumstances. Serena still wants to make amends, but June will not accept it. “I brought myself here so I could tell you how much I hate you. You don’t deserve to make amends to anyone. The only thing you deserve is a full life of suffering, and shame. You have destroyed my life, my family, my friends, my country, and my child. There is no one less worthy of redemption than you,” June declares. This causes Serena to tear up. She kneels down in front of June, telling her she’s sorry and begs for her forgiveness. June, with a terrifying look on her face, void of any ounce of empathy or compassion, bends down to be at eye-level with Serena. With absolute spite, she tells her that God will kill the baby inside her and that will only make her feel a fraction of what she had done to June. “Do you understand me?” June venomously states. She says it two times more, louder, and with such hatred, paralleling when Serena had once done the same to her. It’s a frightening thing to witness, in all honestly. The rage pours out of June and it’s unnerving that she has brought herself to act like the woman before her.

June doesn’t act any better when she goes home. She climbs onto the bed and begins kissing Luke as he’s sleeping. He wakes up, asking her what she’s doing. She doesn’t say anything, and begins to rape him. He tries to object and she covers his mouth until she has completed. It’s a shocking thing to see this character doing, and these two scenes back to back with Serena and Luke feels like such a departure from the character we know and root for. I’m hoping that the rest of the season doesn’t continue to make her unlikeable, because I did not like the June I saw at the end of this episode. Then, in the morning, it’s as if she did nothing wrong, as she plays outside with Nicole and Luke watches. You do see a slight change in his attitude, though. I wonder if he will ever confront June about what she did.

Serena, clearly affected by June’s visit, goes to see Fred and tells him that she needs him. It then returns to June and Luke making a snowman for Nicole as June says in a voice over in regards to Serena, “If you feel yourself getting sucked in by her, run, run for your life.” To me, that is almost like her, as a narrator, is telling the audience not to fall for her remorse act, and to stay on June’s side. Well, with where the writers took her character in this episode, I’m not sure if I can. It’s disappointing, after all the time we have spent with her and with all the good she’s done. I guess we’ll see where this goes in the final three episodes.

Isabel Maina

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