Summary: Billy accepts June's plan and June is ecstatic. News arrives of the Waterfords arrest and that Winslow has gone missing. Mrs. Winslow comes by and Eleanor nearly reveals the plan to smuggle out children. June shouts at her upsetting her. Eleanor commits suicide and June sees her slowly dying, but she lets her die. Lawrence is distraught during the funeral but seems to suspect something about June. Serena's betrayal is confirmed and Fred is angry at her. Serena is allowed some time with Nichole but only after Moira shouts at her. Luke goes to speak with Fred who refuses to give any valuable information. Fred infuriates Luke who strikes him.
The Good: Elisabeth Moss is fantastic as per usual. I love how she conveyed June's excitement and happiness early in the episode. She has actual power now, 52 kids are going to be saved from Gilead and the Waterfords are facing some sweet comeuppance back in Canada. Everything is going perfectly from June, and Elisabeth Moss is able to convey a light in June's eyes that wasn't there in any prior episode. She is ecstatic about everything that has happened and for the first time in a long time, she is actually looking forward to what is coming up.
This makes Eleanor nearly revealing the secret plan to Mrs. Winslow such a scary moment. In this one scene, June is faced to look at the reality of her actually falling back down to just another handmaid. After doing all of the hard work to get to the top, it's unbearable for her so she lashes out at Eleanor to ensure that the plan goes along perfectly. But she goes the extra mile. When she is faced with an opportunity to rid herself of any risk by letting Eleanor die, she takes it, and in one of the show's darkest scenes, June simply lets Eleanor pass away quietly. The moment is shot perfectly and it gives me chills, and it reminds me a lot of the scene in "Breaking Bad" where Walt lets Jane die when he has a chance to save her. Of course this moment isn't executed quite as well (see: The Bad), but it still hits the mark.
Lawrence's reaction to Eleanor's death is pretty heartbreaking. He has been one of the best parts of the season, and his motives are pretty clearly defined. He loves his wife more than anything else, so it really destroys him to lose her. But Lawrence isn't stupid, and June seems oddly unperturbed by Eleanor's death to him. It seems like June and Lawrence are on-course for a major confrontation in the season finale.
The scenes in Canada are good for the most part. It's satisfying to see Moira trash Serena, just as it's satisfying to see Luke get a good, clean hit on Fred. It's refreshing to see the Waterfords in a powerless position and it lets their real character show, not the fake facade that they have been putting on for way too many scenes in this season.
The Bad: There's something lacking with Eleanor's death. In "Breaking Bad", Jane's death was the climax of a despairing episode that built slowly and intricately to Walt's fateful decision. Eleanor's death doesn't get the same treatment and there are only a couple of moments before it that allow us to buy into June's decision. The death isn't a major climax like Jane's was, it's just another underwhelming big moment in a season that has been filled with underwhelming big moments that haven't gotten the appropriate amount of set-up to make them impactful.
June continues to get away with anything and everything and it is becoming more frustrating with every episode. In the last two episodes, June has been responsible for the deaths of two important people, yet she has currently faced no consequences for it. Somehow it's easier to get away with murder in Gilead than it is in the real world. It's frustrating that Winslow's disappearance has been attributed to the Americans. Were their no cameras to track where he went? Did nobody notice him go into Jezebel's and never come out? Were there really no pieces of evidence left behind to track where he had went? It's absurdly easy. I'll make a comparison with "Breaking Bad" again to demonstrate how this story is really lacking. "Grilled" was a hugely eventful episode in season 2 of "Breaking Bad" that led to the death of a major character. The consequences of his death were explored for 3 full episodes after his death, and the entire following episode was spent covering up his murder. The story was fleshed out and satisfying because of the time dedicated to it. Winslow's death is cheap and underwhelming because of how quickly it got brushed aside without any consequences.
I think that June letting Eleanor die was a poor direction to take June's character. We have already explored the darkness inside June with the Ofmatthew story earlier this season. Do we really need to see more of it? This show is very low on characters I genuinely empathize with and care for, so it's dangerous to put June on such a dark path, especially when her actions have started to become more and more frustrating for me. Once I stop caring about June as a person, I will have lost most of my interest in the show. The show needs to be very careful with where it goes next. Unfortunately, the messy writing of this season hasn't got my hopes up at all.
I still find myself disconnected with Serena's storyline. Not letting us know why Serena set Fred up is a huge mistake. Since we don't know what Serena sacrificed Fred for, we don't understand the significance of her actions. Furthermore, Serena seemed to genuinely care about Fred in their reunion scene which contradicts the idea that she still hates him. I'm left confused with Serena's motives, and that makes her story arc wholly uninteresting.
The Unknown: Will June's children plan work out? Will they be saved? Will something go wrong? Will Lawrence escape? Is June going with him? What will happen to both of them?
Does Lawrence suspect that June let Eleanor die? How did he figure it out? What will he do about it?
What are the effects of Eleanor's death? Will that mean that June has to be shipped off to a new household since the Lawrence household no longer has a wife?
What was Serena's deal with Tuello? What is she getting in return? Why are the Waterfords imprisoned in such cozy holding cells?
Will Fred eventually break? What do the Canadians want to do with him? Will Gilead make an attempt to get the Waterfords back?
Best Moment: June letting Eleanor die.
Character of the Episode: June.
Conclusion: This episode had some impressively good storytelling surrounding June, but the writing problems, fractured storytelling, and lack of consequences all but nullify the impact of the episode. There is a great story underneath all of the poor writing this season but it hasn't overcome enough to create something worthwhile.
Just a university student who loves to watch TV. And criticize it like hell.