The Handmaid’s Tale (S02E13) “The Word”

This is it the season finale of “The Handmaid’s Tale.” But don’t worry, it’ll be back next year. I’m kind of hoping they go back to 10 episodes, I think there wasn’t enough this season to sustain 13 episodes. There was too much filler.

When the episode opens, we’re at the Waterfords, and June and Rita are working together to pack up Eden’s belongings. Among other things, June finds a Bible, with marginalia. Eden had been reading and writing in secret. Wow. Did not see that coming.

Everyone in the house is shaken by what happened, and when Eden’s father says that as soon as Eden and Isaac arrived at the Spencer family farm, they immediately reported them. Fred, of course, commends their piety, while June and S.J. exchange shocked looks. Later, June shows S.J. the Bible, saying Eden was just trying to understand her faith and her place in the world, and does she really want a Gilead future for her daughter. S.J. sees the Spencers to the door, and once alone, June gets into an argument with Fred. He slaps her, but not half as hard as she slaps him back. There is about a year of pent up hatred in that one blow.

June is walking with Emily and Janine and tells them about the Bible. They see Eden’s and Isaac’s bodies hanging at the Wall. Tonight is Emily’s first Ceremony with the eccentric Commander Lawrence.

There is some kind of Wives gathering. S.J. Is talking to Naomi about their lovely daughters. S.J. tentatively sounds Naomi out about any fears she may have for their future. It seems she does have some, and so do some of the others.

Ceremony time at Chez Lawrence. Emily finds a knife in the kitchen and conceals it before going into the sitting room and kneeling on her cushion. Lawrence comes in, asks her what she’s doing, and then tells her there won’t be any Ceremony.

S.J. comes into the council room where the Commanders meet to do their Commandering, and tells them that she and some others have an amendment to whatever passes for the Gileadian Constitution. A bunch more Wives come in, and they state that they want their daughters to learn to read so they can read the Bible themselves. S.J. then pulls out Eden’s Bible, and reads from it. The end result is not good. Not only is the amendment thrown out, but S.J. Is arrested and summarily punished for reading with the loss of a finger.

Aunt Lydia arrives at the Lawrence house to get a report from Lawrence about the Ceremony. He tells her that Emily did very well, and she goes to tell Emily the good news. Well. Talk about pent up hatred, Emily proceeds to beat the living snot out of Aunt Lydia. Eventually she is lying at the foot of the stairs, bleeding, and Cora the Martha drags Emily to her room. Emily is now terrified of what will happen. What happens is Lawrence grabs her and stuffs her into his car.

June let’s Fred and S.J. in and Fred takes S.J. to the bedroom. Fred yells for Rita while trying to find the tea. June helps him make tea for S.J. but has no idea where Rita is. Fred makes a vague suggestion that June could become a permanent part of the household, and if June behaved ‘properly’ could even be allowed more visits with Hannah.

That evening, June is burping the baby after a feeding, when she hears noise outside. The house across the street is engulfed in flames. Rita come in and tells her she can get her and the baby out, but she has to go now. June does so. She isn’t spotted by anyone except S.J., and when June tells her she can get Nichole out and to safety and the life she deserves, S.J. agrees. June is accompanied to the rendezvous by a series of Marthas. A car pulls up. It’s Lawrence and Emily. June has a flashback about Hannah, and knows she can’t leave her alone in Gilead. She hands the baby to Emily and asks her to take care of her. June watches Emily and Nichole drive away to safety.

Yeah, I cried in this episode, but overall this season hasn’t thrilled me. Again, the pacing was off this season. So much filler, when there could have been a slow build up showing the Wives gradually becoming disillusioned about Gilead and worried for their children. There hasn’t been the slightest indication of Naomi being concerned about Angela in any way, let alone willing to take a risk to try to improve her future. Quite the opposite, the show made it clear that Naomi didn’t have the slightest interest in Angela, except how having a baby improved her social status. I just wasn’t sold on that part. And at the end of the episode, June is still stuck in Gilead. I’m not sure as can tolerate another season of women being raped and tortured. Season three is going to have to make some fundamental changes to June’s situation, or they will lose me competely.

Other things:
– OMG, it’s still winter! Seriously, this place is always winter and never Christmas. Basically, Gilead is Narnia?
– So, Eden was evidently reading and writing in secret. Does that mean she may have read the letters and kept what she read a secret?
– So, how did Aunt Lydia know Emily had had a Ceremony? Is there an official schedule kept somewhere? Does she check on all of them or just after the first one? Or just on Emily, since she’s such a problem child.

“I slept with her husband.”

“Oh tequila, I miss you most of all!”

“We all have our roles to play. Serena needed to be reminded of hers.”

And, because this is the season finale, a bonus quote:
“Your girlfriend is a badass.”

Truer words…

Until next season, Under His Eye.