The Handmaid’s Tale (S03E07): “Under His Eye”

The episode beings with a Salvaging, one of those highly choreographed events with Handmaids pulling the ropes that hang miscreants.  Another happy day in Gilead!

June is walking to the shops with the insufferable Ofmatthew.  She’s being even more insufferable than usual but at Loaves & Fishes is distracted by another Handmaid’s plea for help in picking an avocado, while Alma whisks June off to the fruit cocktail display.  (I’m  embarrassed even typing that sentence.)  The fruit cocktail is just a ruse to separate June from her Kool-Aid drinking walking partner, because who is waiting there but the MacKenzie’s Martha.  She and June make a plan for June to see Hannah at her school.

In Canada, Emily is being questioned about the crimes she committed in Gilead, while a concerned Sylvia listens.  You can tell she feels shut out.  The Swiss woman is sympathetic, but has to be neutral, because that’s as much a part of the Swiss identity as chocolate and watches.

The Waterfords are still in DC and there is still talk of them moving permanently to the capital.  Olivia shows Serena a beautiful house that hasn’t been renovated yet.  It hasn’t even been cleaned.  There are childrens’ shoes and jackets in the hall and schoolwork on the table.  There’s a framed family photo on the wall.  Ugh, Gilead is a mess. There is a nursery, and another bedroom with bunk beds, which Olivia comments will be so convenient for all the children.

Meanwhile, George is telling Fred that Canada is considering an extradition treaty, but alludes to Nichole being useful leverage.  Some people, it seems believe Nichole would be more useful left in Canada.

June brings a tray to Eleanor, and cheerfully suggests a walk.  Eleanor reluctantly agrees, but seems to perk up once outside.  They encounter Naomi, who is pleasant, though Eleanor weirds her out a bit by repeatedly referring to Angela’s near death.  On the plus side, Naomi does seem to be stepping up to the plate, Mommy-wise.  They continue on there walk, and Eleanor admits she had wanted children but Joseph didn’t think it was wise.  Guiltily, June admits to her ulterior motive for the walk and offers to take her home.  Eleanor says she feels like an adventure, so on they go.  

Emily and Moira are having coffee and trying to figure out if they have any friends or acquaintances in common.  They don’t.  When they leave, they get into an encounter with the people involved in negotiating Nichole’s return to Gilead, and end up getting arrested.

Eleanor and June approach the school.  The MacKenzies’ Martha has given June the name of a sympathetic Guardian, but he isn’t there that day.  Eleanor drops her husband’s name, and says she was promised a tour of the school.  Meanwhile, June strolls casually around the school’s high wall, where she hears Hannah’s voice and starts to cry.  (Seriously, this is incredibly risky.). She is brought back to the front, where things have taken a turn for the worse.  Eleanor is acting confused, and June takes her home.  Joseph very lovingly tucks Eleanor into bed.  He isn’t very pleased with June, as one might imagine, but June is defiant, telling him that Eleanor had come alive when they’d been outside.

Serena joins Fred at a restaurant, altering visiting an art gallery.  She seems happy, and they seem to be reconnecting.  Fred says he’s going to get Nichole back, but Serena has sussed out the fact that some parties found it more politically expedient to leave Nichole in Canada.

Moira and Emily have continued their bonding in jail with the other protesters.  It’s clear that Emily hasn’t been forthcoming to Sylvia, and that there are some things you couldn’t understand unless you’d experienced Gilead.  She admits to Moira that she killed a Wife in the Colonies.   Moira admits to Emily that she killed a Commander.  She thinks that, since they haven’t killed anyone since leaving Gilead, they probably haven’t turned into homicidal maniacs.  They discovered at the coffee shop that they had nothing in common except Gilead, but that’s a pretty strong bond.

Fred and Serena havevarrived at some kind of formal event.  Serena is taken by Olivia to meet some of the other Wives, who are very glamorous, in their Gileadian way.  They are welcoming to Serena, though she seems somewhat out if her depth, socially.  Fred asks her to dance, which they do very nicely, going by the polite applause from the appreciative onlookers.  I’m not sure why anyone’s applauding.  Yeah, there is more going on here, though I’m not sure what.

The episode ends as it began, with a Salvaging.  Only this time one of the people being hanged is the MacKenzies’ Martha.  The MacKenzies themselves?  Oh, they’ve left the district.  And if that wasn’t bad enough, it seems that the person who reported her was Ofmatthew, who had seen her talking to June at Loaves & Fishes.  She tells June this quite proudly, expecting a thanks for removing the source of June’s temptation.  June is practically foaming at the mouth and it’s all Alma and Janine can do to stop her from beating the crap out of Ofmatthew.

I liked this episode better.  I’m kind of interested, against my better self, in what the DC Wives are up to.  (I’m hoping for a Wiccan coven, because that would be awesome.)  And I want to see what happens to Ofmatthew.  But I’m less and less interested in June, and it’s telling that she’s become the least compelling part of the show.  And it’s sort of disturbing that the woman who pays for June’s crimes is a woman of color, and so is the Handmaid who betrayed them.  The show’s handing of race has been troubling.  In the book, all person of color have been sent to the Colonies, but the show has chosen to ignore that.  Are they going somewhere with that?  Why did the Martha get hanged and yet not a damn thing happened to June?

Other things:

– Do people wander around Loaves & Fishes all day, obsessively arranging those beat little canned food pyramids?

– Did we ever find out what Eleanor’s actual problem is?

– So high heels are allowed in Gilead?

Quotes:

“Fruit cocktail?  Really?”  “I’m crappy at improv.”

“Who lived here before?”  “I think they were Baptists.”

“You’re a prison bitch now.  She might like that.”