Summary: Emily is moved to a different house after her Commander dies during a ceremony. Offred has a false labour which angers Serena. Offred goes to Fred in hopes that he will help her get repositioned near her daughter. Fred refuses and Offred reveals the baby isn't his. Fred and Serena force a ceremony and Offred is raped. Eden finally snaps at Nick. Fred lets Offred see Hannah and Nick takes her. Hannah has been renamed as Agnes. Offred emotionally meets with her but she leaves. Soldiers arrive and capture Nick while Offred hides.
The Good: This was a much better episode with a better emotional focus, even if the show still feels a bit disjointed (see: The Bad). Emily's storyline is one of the very disjointed aspects of the show due to how little screen-time she gets, but I did like her few scenes in this episode. I enjoyed the opening scene where a Commander died doing the ceremony and Emily coldly refusing to call for help was a pretty nice touch.
The main storyline was what made this episode so strong. The episode started with Offred having a false labour, which was a great way to raise conflict between Offred and Serena again. While I have been critical of the way their relationship has been handled recently, I still do enjoy seeing them having a permanent cold war against each other. Additionally, it was easy to buy this moment as a breaking point for Serena as Offred was a bit too antagonizing towards Serena, making it easier to buy Serena and Fred's decision to rape Offred, which seems a little extreme (see: The Bad).
I really enjoyed the scene between Offred and Fred. Fred learning the child wasn't his was a long time coming, and the moment was suitably powerful and shocking. Elisabeth Moss was terrific at showing the anger and rage inside of Offred, which allowed for a bit of June to come out and ruin Fred's world. I also loved how subtly the moment was handled, without any needless drama and over-the-top lines. It was just a subtle jab from Offred which revealed a lot to Fred bout the reality of his baby, which isn't actually even his.
Of course having Offred antagonize both Fred and Serena in the same episode can't possibly end well for her. This led into the most violent, uncomfortable and depressing rape scene in the series thus far. If you didn't hate Fred or Serena before, you certainly must now as they completely disregard the health of their child just to let out their frustrations at Offred in a scene which was bordering on taking it too far, but thanks to some clever cinematography and directing, it served its purpose of having the Waterfords get back at Offred without feeling needlessly violent (take notes Game of Thrones).
Surprisingly, this leads to Fred allowing Offred to actually visit Hannah, which is a very intriguing development (see: The Unknown). His motives are unclear which adds a lot of tension to he rest of the episode as we are unsure what to expect once Nick and Offred arrive. However, the episode actually commits and provides one of the most long-awaited reunions in the show as Offred gets to see her daughter once more. The scene completely delivered on the emotions, as Offred showed the necessary love, excitement, gratefulness and desperation that a parent would feel after seeing their daughter for the first time in years.
Just as good as that storyline however, was the ending which saw Offred go from a state of blissful happiness to total despair as she was suddenly thrust back into the real world, lonelier and more miserable than ever before. If she wants to see her daughter again, it looks like she will have to do it herself. The ending sequence was stellar with Offred in tears after having her daughter wrenched from her grasp, and she immediately turns to Nick for comfort. But then mere moments later she has to watch as Nick is taken away from her, leaving her completely on her lonesome with all of the grief she is feeling. It's very powerful stuff which engages the emotions appropriately.
Nick's storyline thankfully had a major progression here as Eden finally snapped at Nick and had to face the reality that Nick loves Offred and not her. It's tragic for her character, and the scene of Eden crying in Nick's room while he does nothing was pretty intense. It was an appropriate payoff and I do wonder if Nick is now facing the consequences of not loving Eden.
The Bad: Honestly Nick is an idiot. I want to root for him and the show has done a much better job with him this season, but seeing him stupidly do nothing to show some kind of love for Eden makes it really tough. He is practically digging his own grave, and it is really annoying to see that he seemingly doesn't even care about the fact that Eden could get him in really serious trouble.
While I really loved Hannah and Offred's reunion, I thought that the dialogue for Hannah wasn't good. She felt way too cold and angry for a child, and I never bought into the idea that she would be so detached after living in Gilead. Surely she wouldn't hate Offred in the way it is conveyed, and it feels even more awkward when Hannah comes around to Offred in just a few minutes.
I don't like the idea of Serena agreeing to rape Offred. Her priority is always the baby, so surely she would be worried about the baby. But she shows no regard for the baby just to get some revenge on Offred, which is really inconsistent with her character.
The show still feels extremely disjointed. It feels like we have completely different stories in each episode with no rhythm or flow between episodes. Last episode seemingly set up a huge uprising against Gilead, but that plot line has been dropped. It's annoying to see that these episodes don't properly connect with each other and it often takes me out of the experience when something completely different happens between episodes.
The Unknown: What happened to Hannah after she was taken in? How did she become so cold?
Was the capture of Nick an intentionally placed trap from Fred? Was it because Eden wanted Nick to suffer? Or could it have all been Fred's idea? Did he perhaps want both Offred and Nick to suffer? Did he figure out that Nick was likely the father to Offred's child? Or was this all just a big coincidence?
What dos Offred do now that she is all alone and far from home?
Best Moment: Offred reuniting with Hannah was so powerful and Elisabeth Moss played the scene so perfectly.
Character of the Episode: Offred.
Conclusion: This was a very strong episode with a lot of powerful scenes which paid off of long-running storylines. The show appears to be picking up as it heads towards the season finale which is very exciting. I will gladly take more impactful episodes like these.
Just a university student who loves to watch TV. And criticize it like hell.