The Handmaid’s Tale (S03E05) “Unknown Caller”

The episode opens on the face of a grumpy old man.  Nope, scratch that, it’s Nichole, on the screen, because Luke is too stupid to realize that putting the kidnapped Gilead baby on television was possibly not a great idea.  (Where was Moira?  She’s smarter than that!  Why didn’t she stop that?)

At Loaves & Fishes, June is weighing dried peas into a container (very eco-friendly of Gilead, though it’s kind of negated by their attachment to big black SUVs and vans) and the other Handmaids are subtly showing their support for her having gotten Nichole out of Gilead, except Ofmatthew, natch.

The Manly Men of Gilead are meeting to discuss the Nichole situation and Fred says he wants Serena to be part of it and have a say.  This is startling to the other MMoG, but they allow it.  Serena wants to see Nichole one last time to say goodbye.

June is in her room when she’s told she has visitors and ‘they’ are waiting in the parlor.  ‘They’ are the Waterfords, who want June’s help.  They want her to speak to Luke about arranging a meeting so the Waterfords can see Nichole.  June calls Luke and a tense, emotional conversation takes place. Luke agrees to meet with Serena alone.  No Fred.  June hangs up and sits very still.  Lawrence silently extends a handkerchief, but June just quietly asks to be excused.

The following day, Mrs. Lawrence asks June if she’s okay.  June is sitting at the breakfast nook staring into the fire.  Mrs. L is surprisingly alert and animated, and tells June that a back in college, Mr. L would make her mixed tapes.  (Aww, remember mixed tapes?  Maybe the show should put out an album called The Handmaid’s Tape.  What songs would you put on it?)  They’rein the basement.

June pulls an old shoebox off the dusty shelf.  She pops a tape into a tape player and hits play.

Serena is at her mother’s house, packing for her Toronto trip.  Rita comes in.  She said a packet was left.  It’s for Luke.

In Toronto, Serena is Met.  Hey, it’s cute guy from last season, Mark Tuello!  He tells her the meeting will be somewhat public, and in order to blend in, Serena will be provided with new non-Gileadian clothes.  She is visibly happy when she sees Nichole, and between the smile, the clothes, and the loose hair, she looks very different.  Luke doesn’t look so happy.  He is barely civil and clearly on the defensive, but he relents enough to let Serena hold Nichole before Tuello breaks up the party.  Back in the room set aside for her to change clothes, she realizes she forgot to give Luke the packet.

On the plane going back, she sees that Tuello has left a cell phone in her bag.

Serena steps off the plane and tells Fred that it’s over, with regards to Nichole, but he says it doesn’t have to be.  Uh oh.  Danger Will Robinson!

Loaves & Fishes.  Ofmatthew seems distracted.  Actually, she’s kind of staring vacantly into space.  June asks if she’s okay, and Ofmatthew says she’s late.  And she hasn’t told her Commander yet.  June doesn’t have a chance to go into it, because a Guardian approaches her and asks her to come with him.

Canada.  Luke opens the packet and a mixed tape is inside.  He slips it into a Walkman.  After a few bars of “You Make Me Feel Like Dancing” June’s voice can be heard.  She speaks lovingly, assuring Luke that she does love him, but she wants him to know the truth, which is that Nichole was conceived with love, and about Nick, and that she had to build as much of a life for herself as she could.  She also told him that she would understand if he did the same.  Luke is crying and it’s really hard.

June is taken from the van by Aunt Lydia, who gives her some spiffy new Handmaid duds to change into and then she’s taken to the set of a formal parlor.  On the sofa are the Waterfords.  June stands behind the sofa and the camera rolls.

Moira turns on the television and she and Luke watch the Waterfords appeal to the Canadian authorities to return Nichole to them.  June looks like she’s turned to stone.  Really, really angry stone.  “Sunday Bloody Sunday” indeed.

Okay, so Ofmatthew is pregnant with number 4?  Given the fertility problems, this seems extraordinarily…lucky?  I guess?  Maybe ‘unlucky’ would be more accurate.  Ofmatthew seems less that happy.  She seems almost dead inside, though that might be unfortunate phrasing, under the circumstances.  And what is going on with Serena?  I’m getting a little fed up with the producer’s sucker punches.  Is she good?  Bad?  Willing to sell her soul to Gilead to get Nichole back?  Is this part of a plan she made with Tuello using the secret phone he gave her?  I’m getting fed up with the flip flopping and wish Serena would be established as either good or bad.

Other thing:

– When Luke was in the store, the salesclerk said not many people needed whatever he was buying.  Was he buying baby stuff?  Is Canada having the same fertility problem?  We know Mexico was willing to trade for Handmaids.  Is the fertility problem worldwide?  Western Hemisphere?  Northern Hemisphere?  North America?

– Who are the airplane pilots?  Are they loyal Gileadians?  Are they military?  Given the highly specialized knowledge and and skills they have, they couldn’t be easily replaced.  How do they keep pilots from defecting?  Are they blackmailed?  Families held hostage maybe?  I could see it.

– Did you notice the framed photo of the Waterfords with Nichole on the wall of the fake living room?


“Under His eye.”  “Bite me.”

“She’s not a fan of the peas.”

“I’m late.”