Finally! Something good. This episode of The Handmaid’s Tale was drama and tension charged and my heart was beating really fast most of the time because I couldn’t trust the show not to dash our hopes to smithereens.
Can you blame me?
The show has mastered the art of yanking us back suddenly after we glimpse a little ray of hope on the horizon.
I started saying “FINALLY!” from episode 9 when the Waterfords were arrested and I said it some more and with joy at the end of this finale…because the kids made it to Canada! THE KIDS MADE IT TO CANADA! YAY!
Sure, June is bleeding out in the middle of the woods while her fellow handmaids try to get her to some sought of safety but we have next season to worry about that.
Now let’s crack this episode review open.
The episode opens with a flashback!
I have missed those flashbacks showing us how horrible things were just before Gilead, the tension and fear of the days before everything went to hell is palpable.
And this flashback does a good job of showing us just how ‘ruthless’ it all was, with mothers separated from their children and thrust into this unknown world.
In this flashback, we get a powerful reminder of just how horrible Gilead is, as we see children with Down syndrome being taken away. I get a sense of dread at what is not shown but what we know is most likely about to happen.
We see naked women being inspected and herded into trucks.
It’s all very reminiscent of accounts of survivors of holocaust concentration camps. It’s terrible!
Plus, no one would tell June where her daughter is, she describes the whole scenario as ruthless and she intends to be just that in her endeavor to take the kids away from Gilead – ruthless.
In present-day Gilead, preparation is underway in the Lawrence household, prepping for the great escape. Tension keeps rising, my heart beats faster, and Beth keeps throwing up in the bathroom due to anxiety.
June, on the other hand, is a picture of bravery and resolve. She doesn’t seem bothered at all, as commander Lawrence notes. She might be scared and anxious but she did a great job of putting up a great front as they prepared to carry out this daring plan. Kudos to Elizabeth Moss for a great performance per usual!
Meanwhile in Canada, inside the swanky prison where the Waterfords are kept, Fred Waterford is getting prepared to play his last hand.
Serena, on the other hand, is walking around acting like she should be handed a medal, or in this case, baby Nicole, just because she turned Fred in. Get over yourself, Serena!
But really? I was wondering if they really agreed to let her walk free and have any sought of relationship with baby Nicole? Really? I’m already pissed she is allowed visitation with the baby. It’s more than she deserves as one of the founders of that hell Gilead. The whole arrangement is just weird and confusing.
What is not confusing though, is Fred’s anger towards Serena, as he turns on Serena, to my absolute delight and satisfaction. Yes! Turn on each other! No honor amongst thieves!
The next time Serena sees Tuello strolling towards her, he is not smiling, Baby Nicole is taken from her as she is handcuffed and arrested for “crimes against humanity, sexual slavery, the rape of June Osborne” for setting Nick and June up together so she could “claim the resulting child,”. Apparently, that is not covered under their immunity deal.
It’s interesting how that act becomes Serena’s undoing, Nick and June had a relationship on their own and she only nudged them on so she could profit off it, but….potato, potatoe.
Serena has always been an interesting character, we waver between liking her and hating her because we see her as a villain sometimes and a victim at other times. She has quite mastered the art of playing to both and she had Tuello fooled there with the victim routine for a minute.
Back in Gilead, things start going sideways when a Martha arrives early with a little girl even though the plan was to wait till sundown before showing up. “Is this Mayday?” the Martha asks. “Yes,” June says. IT HAS BEGUN.
The little girl, Kiki, and her Martha are from Lexington, the Martha drugged the mistress (wife) of the house and walked all the way to Commander Lawrence’s house through bushes while hiding from guardians on the way.
Things start getting even crazier when the Martha gets cold feet and wants to take the little girl back home. That’s when June goes commando on her and whips out the gun Commander Lawrence gave her, the Martha manages to escape without the child but I’m pissed she escaped. I felt like they were setting us up for heartbreak.
They should have subdued that Martha.
Maybe the Gilead world is making me ruthless just like its changed June who points a gun at little Kiki for crying. Common June! Too far.
I already concluded June has gone too far in the episode titled, Sacrifice, when she let Commander Lawrence’s wife, Eleanor die. I know Eleanor could have ruined their plans but it’s still cold and I still feel a type of way about that. I digress.
After the Martha escapes things just keep getting more dramatic and tense.
Things continue spiraling when Commander Lawrence comes back early from a meeting and tells June they have to abort the mission. Apparently, the Martha and child duo were spotted and a search is underway for them.
Bad news! Roadblocks and security everywhere! Just what we didn’t need today!
June is not having it though, and she makes it clear to Commander Lawrence that she is running things.
Yes, June. Let him have it! Architect of hell!
As it gets dark, more children and Marthas keep converging at the Lawrence’s and my anxiety keeps rising with every arrival. It’s all too tidy.
How do so many kids leave their homes and no one notices all the missing kids in all the households? Did the Marthas drug all the mistresses and commanders? It’s just a miraculously tidy plot outcome but okay. I’ll take whatever they give me at this point just to see a successful escape.
Rita arrives with an infant and has a little moment with June. June and a few of the others mark a path in the woods for the escape, tying clothes to trees.
They come back to a quiet house, my heart lurched a bit, I thought the house had been raided while they were gone… but it turns out Commander Lawrence has the children enthralled as he reads them Treasure Island by candlelight. The children in the room are more than 52, Beth notes. It’s a sweet moment.
An acute reminder of what normal life for these children should look like.
It’s the least, Commander Lawrence can do. He still doesn’t get a pass. He was involved in the creation of this hell and invented the colonies, an even worse hell. No, Commander Lawrence, you don’t get a pass for reading the kids a book!
Janine arrives and informs them that Kiki’s escaped Martha has been arrested, Kiki has been reported missing and everything is about to go to shit if they don’t move it!
Commander Lawrence refuses to go with the women, telling June that he has to clean up his mess. Good luck with that!
And then it’s GO TIME!
If your anxiety is not through the roof already at this point, then wait for it.
June, Rita, several Marthas, handmaids and a lot of surprisingly quiet kids move through the forest, stealthily, ducking from guardian searchlights.
They finally make it to the airport
There is a vehicle with guardians at the airport tarmac between them and the plane to freedom.
Of course, a wrench would be thrown in this sweet plan that was going fairly well all day. Thank you show writers.
I didn’t kid myself that it would be smooth sailing. The kids were already too quiet for my liking.
And so we came rather quickly to June’s annual season-finale decision. Where June chooses to stay, to sacrifice herself, to not get the hell out of Dodge. We keep going full circle with this narrative, the showrunners need to stop this. It has become Deja vu at this point.
June steps up and decides to sacrifice herself (of course) by distracting the guardians and have Beth and the others sneak everyone into the plane down another way. After an emotional parting, the other handmaids join June as they pelt the unsuspecting guardians with stones.
Thank you Aunt Lydia for the stone-throwing lessons! Remember that was the way handmaids were forced to execute other handmaids and they refused to do it to Janine in Season 2?
While the guardians are distracted, knocked out by stones and shooting at the direction where the stones are coming from, Rita and the others, down the road, sneak the kids into the plane.
Eventually, June reveals herself and is chased into the woods by a guardian. She is hit by a bullet but eventually shoots the guardian with the gun Commander Lawrence gave her after getting the guardian to radio in that everything is okay and buying them more time.
As wounded June lays on the floor, slipping into unconsciousness, the plane full of kids flies overhead and away to Canada. June and all of us heave a huge sigh of relief. Finally, we catch a little break.
Luke, Moira, and Emily are conveniently helping out with refugee efforts at the airport, when the plane arrives in Canada.
Their presence is a little too convenient for me. Lazy writing? Or the show trying to patronize viewers and giving us what we would love to see? Again, it’s too tidy. And they are really doing nothing but standing around.
Moira boards the plane and is taken aback to see so many scared little faces clad in pink clothes and bonnets staring back at her.
This is a very emotionally charged scene, made more so when Kiki/Rebecca is recognized and tearfully reunited with her father one of the volunteers.
Luke looks on at the disembarking kids expecting to see Hannah…. I’m sorry Luke. I really am. No such luck.
Emily and Rita reunite as she is introduced to Luke and she tells him, it was all June’s doing.
Back in the hell called Gilead, the sun is up and June is still on the ground, bleeding out. Some handmaids including Alma and Janine return and carry her off. June slips into dreams of Luke and Hannah as her eye closes. Into unconsciousness? Or death?
I guess we would have to wait till next season to find out.
Much of this season was wasted on aimless plots and characters. They turned June into a careless, unlikeable idiot which resulted in Hannah being moved away and the death of a Martha. Now they tidy it all up with the successful escape, this season was all over the place. Quite incoherent.
The finale was bittersweet. It’s the ray of hope we have been waiting for even though there was a little bit of “playing to the gallery”. A few, or maybe two key players get their comeuppance.
June still doesn’t escape though and that’s like a normal and accepted occurrence at this point but the showrunners have to move away from that narrative. There is only so much one can take repeatedly before losing interest.
Now it’s your turn. What did you think of the finale? How would you rate it?