Summary: Serena tells Offred that she will be evicted once the baby is born. Offred entrusts Rita and Aunt Lydia to take care of the baby when she leaves. The Waterfords go to Canada for better relationships. They aren’t welcome there and Luke confronts them in a mob. Nick gives the handmaid letters to Luke and they are exposed to the world. The Waterfords are sent out from Canada. Serena meets a man named Mark who offers her a way to escape Gilead but she doesn’t take the offer. Eden begins to have hostilities towards Nick.
The Good: I loved the development of the Waterfords going to Canada for this episode. The show has been so constricted in Gilead that it’s began to get frustrating (see: The Bad), so to expand a little allows for new territory to be explored. Furthermore, it allows Luke and Moira to fit more organically into the story, which rectifies the flaw of their storylines feeling like insignificant afterthoughts so far this season. The actual scenes of the Waterfords in Canada were pretty good. I particularly enjoyed the bits where Serena got to see the outside world firsthand, being forced to see the world which she abandoned in favour of Gilead.
There were some good character interactions too. Luke had good moments in this episode as he attacked Waterford for what he is doing to June, and got to interact with Nick later on. While the conversation with Nick wasn’t perfect, I think it was pretty good overall and had genuine emotion to it as Luke got to let out his anger while Nick did the right thing by slipping Luke the letters from the handmaids. The scene was constructed fairly well and made some progress towards getting me to like Nick’s character.
Speaking of Nick, he had a really good storyline here which did a lot to make me care about what happens to him. Nick made the decision to give the letters to Luke, and went the extra mile to tell Offred everything that Luke wanted to tell her. This showed his heart brilliantly, as he had no hate towards Luke because of his relationship with Offred, and seemed willing to accept that his relationship with Offred is temporary. Nick showing his acceptance is honourable and adds more depth to who his character is, and also makes me root for him more. This episode was nearly perfect for him.
The ending where the Waterfords got evicted from Canada was really good. The show has been very static so far (see: The Bad), and not much of substance has actually happened. But now, with Canada turned against Gilead and the letters leaked online, there is a promise for change which is exactly what this show needs to kick itself into gear.
The Bad: While this episode was certainly better than previous ones this season, I still have to mention my frustration at how the show appears to be static in its storytelling. When looking at what has been accomplished this season, it’s shocking to believe that nine full episodes have gone by. Not much has really changed in terms of storylines, and the show feels content with sitting back and showing us how terrible Gilead is. However, that’s a problem because season 1 already spent 10 episodes showing us this reality. Now we need to see something new, some change, and the fact that we haven’t got anything like that after nine episodes is pretty disappointing. However, I picked a bad time to mention this, as with the Canada plot in this episode, the show looks like it’s about to start changing things up a little.
Nothing exemplifies my point about being static more than the Serena and Offred relationship. While I am fascinated by their character dynamic and the way that they are explored, their relationship hasn’t evolved very much at all. The previous episode looked to change their relationship, yet all of that hard work is rendered pointless as Serena just decides to hate Offred again and be cruel to her. After all of this exploration of their relationship, everything is exactly the same as before which makes me question why the show even bothered focusing on the two of them so much.
Nick’s character had a good episode, but it wasn’t perfect. He is so rude to Eden to what is honestly a ridiculous level. It’s one thing to not show love to her, but Nick is downright awful to her to a frustrating level. The show is trying too hard to set up that Eden will be Nick’s downfall, so much so, that I fear it won’t feel earned when it happens.
The episode had some other major flaws too. For one, the show has been annoyingly inconsistent with the details surrounding Gilead. I am very confused about what the other countries actually know about Gilead and that hurts my ability to be engaged in the overall story. I don’t understand how the world isn’t aware that Gilead is against gay people, to the point that they have a gay man speak to Fred. I thought they sent people to Gilead, so shouldn’t they understand the rules and laws of the place? I find it impossible to believe that Gilead can just exist without the rest of the world understanding what Gilead is. Furthermore, if we are to assume that Gilead isn’t frowned upon, why do all the other people throw mean glances toward Serena? It seems like they understand perfectly well what Gilead is, so why can’t their government? It’s frustratingly vague. Additionally, it’s implied that the letter leak was the first time this information has been spread from Gilead. Seriously? Are we supposed to believe that hundreds of people have escaped Gilead, yet not one of them brought any proof that would expose the truths about what happens in Gilead? The story is frustratingly vague about all of this.
There were a few smaller scale flaws which still served to annoy me. For one, Nick gives the letters in a way which makes it insanely easy to track him. The Waterfords would have to be foolish to not suspect that Nick betrayed them, especially since he was seen in public. Another flaw surrounding the letters, is Moira’s reaction to them. How did she not realize that they could be significant to bringing down Gilead? Her wish that Nick gave a bomb or something felt exceptionally dumb and gave me an unintentional moment of stupid comedy. Lastly, having Luke charge Fred alone made no sense. There was a whole mob of people there, and yet only Luke charged Fred. With what seemed like only two security guards, I’m shocked that there wasn’t a huge riot when Fred arrived.
Finally, the ending was tone deaf again as the show tried to be empowering, despite its nature as what is essentially a depressing horror show warning us about the future.
The Unknown: Will we finally get some change in the story with that ending? I sure hope so.
Mark was a very curious character and his conversation with Serena interested me. Does he have any other motives, or does he just want to help her? Will she accept his deal at a later date or is she still committed to her decision of staying true to Gilead?
Best Moment: The best moment for me was with Aunt Lydia and Offred. It took a lot of courage for Offred to ask Aunt Lydia to take care of her child, and I was impressed with the way that the scene captured those emotions. Aunt Lydia was very genuine here and the most likeable she has ever been, as she genuinely cared for Offred and let her know that she will take care of the child, while also giving us an exciting glimpse of her backstory. That was a very good scene.
Character of the Episode: Aunt Lydia.
Conclusion: This episode had some really good scenes and developments, but some frustrating writing and that same vague explanation of Gilead as a whole detracted from this.
Just a university student who loves to watch TV. And criticize it like hell.