The Handmaid’s Tale (S03E04) “God Bless the Child”

So, we open to see a whole lot of Handmaids walking through the streets.  They’re walking in pairs, each one with her walking partner, in some weird parody of a ‘Madeline’ book.  Then they’re joined by Marthas, also walking in what the Brits call crocodile formation.  And then another Noah’s arc line comprised of Commanders and their Wives.  The groups descend on their mutual destination, a church, where June and Ofmatthew are told they get seats of honor, apparently because they’ve both given birth.  June is somewhat shocked to learn that Ofmatthew has given birth to no less than three children for Gilead.

Our first flashback of the season, this time to Hannah’s christening: June is the one who is really into it, Luke and Moira are indifferent, though willing to indulge this quirk of June’s, and Holly is openly, if mildly, disdainful.

Oh man, I love ‘Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring.’

So the ceremony is a dedication for the babies of Gilead, including Angela.  There is some version of a sermon, in which the priest prays for Nichole.

Canada: Emily is finally going to see Sylvia and Oliver.  Sylvia meets her at the subway stop and they go to her house.  It’s sweet and awkward.

Back to Gilead: the Handmaids have been invited to the reception for baby Angela at the Putnams’ house (as long as they stay in the kitchen and don’t go near the buffet).  Serena is talking to June in the hallway (Serena seems reluctant to join the other Wives in the parlor) and then Fred approaches, but Serena snubs him mercilessly.

Canada: Emily and Sylvia are at home.  Emily is in Oliver’s room, looking at the photos of the three of them and marveling that the little preschooler she remembers is now old enough to have sports trophies and books.  Oliver comes in.  Of course he’s much bigger, but her fear that he’d forgotten her seems unfounded.  Both are a bit shy and it’s awkward and incredibly sweet.

Aunt Lydia sits down on a chair, tired from limping around.  Janine brings her a cup of tea (could be coffee, but tea feels right) and tells her she’s prayed for her to get better.  The Handmaids in the kitchen watch and comment that she could have at least spiked the drink, but that’s Janine for you.  Ofmatthew defends Aunt Lydia.  (Really, they need to be careful about what they say in front of her.)  But no one has a chance to get into it, as Fred comes in, encouraging them to check out the buffet, especially the deviled eggs, and if anyone says anything about it, tell them he said it was okay.  That clears out the kitchen.  Not because everyone is racing to the buffet, but because they’re all kind of weirded out by Fred.  Which is what he wanted, as he wants to ask June for her help in reconciling with Serena.  June tells him Serena needs to feel like she has some kind of voice, even if it’s behind the scenes.  June finds Serena alone, smoking by the indoor pool. (Nice!)  She tells Serena that Fred wants to reconcile and is willing to make some concessions.  Serena doesn’t seem hugely enthusiastic, but she does seem willing to consider the matter.  She offers June a cigarette and they smoke in companionable silence.

Canada: it’s Oliver’s bedtime, and Oliver asks Emily to read to him from his dinosaur book.  Before long, both Emily and Sylvia are in tears and Oliver takes over reading to his crying moms.

Naomi brings Angela into the parlor, and Janine comes up and asks to hold her.  Surprisingly, Naomi allows her too, and it goes fine.  Until Janine begs to be allowed to come back to them as their Handmaid, and then Aunt Lydia comes in and starts to hit Janine with her cane.  Viciously.  Janine is on the floor, probably unconscious, and Aunt Lydia continues to beat her, until June puts her arms around Janine to protect her and tells Aunt Lydia to stop.  She does,  seeming to come to her senses, and realizes everyone is staring at her in horror and shock.  Aunt Lydia retreats to another room where she starts to cry.  Welp, that’s the end of that party.  On the plus side, Ann Dowd is masterly in this scene.

Canada: it’s evening now, and Emily and Sylvia are on whT looks like a porch or patio. Emily says she should go check into her hotel, but she doesn’t leave.  She sits down and Sylvia sits with her.

As everyone is getting ready to leave the Putnams, Serena tells June that a girl Hannah’s age would be attending a school of domestic arts.  The one in Hannah’s district, she says, is in Brookline.  The girls have recess outside every day after lunch.

Guardians arrive at the Putnams, and need to speak to Fred, Serena, and June.  They have a tablet, with a video of an anti-Gilead protest in Toronto.  Luke is at the protest, holding Nichole, who is clearly visible on the video.  I’ve never warmed to Luke and  now I’m seriously annoyed at how stupid he is.

Canada: Luke and Moira are talking to a priest, saying the baby should be baptized.  Though the priest is a little concerned that the baby’s actual parent isn’t there, they convince him that it would be what the mother wants.  Nichole is baptized.

 

Other things:

– Did you notice the view down the stairwell at the church?  It was shaped like an eye.  Since this is in a church, does that mean the stairwell is His eye?  If they’re are the bottom of the stairs, does that make the Handmaid’s literally under His eye?

– Okay, what is Ofmatthew’s deal?  Is she really that pious?  Has she lost her mind after giving up three (!) babies?  Is she really good at compartmentalizing?

– Aunt Lydia is really starting to crack.  Can we please get her back story?

 

Quotes:

“Let’s baptize this stinky little sinner!”

“Just the usual.  Jello,shots, charades, a little karaoke.”

“So move the point.”

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