The Handmaid’s Tale (S02E12) “Postpartum”

The penultimate episode of season 2 picks up some vague amount of time after the episode before. The baby, now named Nicole, is living with the Waterfords. June, as dictated by S.J., is not. She’s living at the Red Center where she is hooked up to a milking machine. Seriously, June has effectively been reduced to a cow. But not a very productive one, they’re getting less and less from her. When Rita tentatively tells S.J. that their supply is running low, a plan is put into place.

June is taken to a church (because of course) where Fred and the baby are waiting. Apparently, the hope is that the baby’s presence would ‘prime the pumps’ (Aunt Lydia’s words, not mine) and it works. Aunt Lydia persuades Fred that bringing June back into the house would be beneficial, but S.J. is less than pleased.

But all this is overshadowed by two interesting turns of events. One is Emily be assigned to a new Commander, who is described as the ‘architect of Gilead’s economy’ (again, Aunt Lydia’s words, not mine) and a very powerful man, who could have his pick of Handmaids. He doesn’t act like the other Commanders. He also has a one-eyed Martha who doesn’t act like other Marthas and a wife who doesn’t act like other Wives. He knows all about Emily’s past transgressions, and seems unbothered. It is the least Gileadian household ever.

The other turn of events is Eden and Isaac. June advises Eden that she should grasp at love wherever she can. Eden does. She and Isaac run away together, and are caught. A whole new fun family activity! A trip to the swimming pool! Nick urges Eden to say whatever is necessary to escape her fate, but she refuses. She and Isaac rare led to a diving platform, chained to kettlebells, and while Eden is reciting the ‘Love is patient, love is kind’ lines from 1 Corinthians, they are pushed into the pool to drown. It’s a horrific scene, even S.J. looks appalled, and June is crying.

Later that night, June goes into the nursery where S.J. is trying to sooth the baby. She gently asks S.J. if she’s okay. S.J. silently invites her to sit in the chair, and hands Nicole/Holly to her. She sits down and watches as June nurses the baby, who is quiet and content for the first time this episode.

As I said, there is only one episode left of the season. Looking back, I honestly haven’t been thrilled with the way the season has gone. I feel like there hasn’t been any real progress in the stoyline; two almost-but-not-quite-successful escape attempts is really too much. June is exactly where she was at the start. And the Isaac and Eden storyline was weak. There wasn’t even an attempt to make Isaac a character, and not much of one in Eden’s case. They didn’t serve to advance the story at all. Thoughts?

Other things:
– Wow, did you see the artwork in the Lawrences’ house? Really very Un-Gileadian stuff. I mean, there was a Basquiat on the wall, and I’m pretty sure that was an Art Spiegelman book that Emily is caught looking at.
– Bradley Whitford! FTW!
– Given how rare fertile females are, doesn’t it seem more likely that Eden would have been forced to become a Handmaid rather than be executed? I mean, why waste a perfectly good womb?

Quotes:
“I think I’ve earned a whole cake.”

“I’m wondering why such an important, brilliant man would take in such a shitty Handmaid.”

“Maybe she went to the mall. I heard there was a sale at Old Navy.”