The Handmaid’s Tale (S03E11) “Liars”

After several weeks of not much happening, this week’s episode had a whole lot.  June is looking at the yes-muffins while she voices over that they can get out 52 kids.  How they’ll do that with a truck that can only hold ten, she’s not sure, but she’ll do if if they have to strap kids to the roof.

Eleanor’s behavior is getting more and more erratic and she’s turned violent.  Which culminates in her pulling a gun on Lawrence.  June talks her out of killing him and gets the gun away from her, but time is clearly not on their side here.  They all know it.  June settles Eleanor in her bed and returns to where Lawrence is drinking and offers her some.  Her hair is loose and as she drinks Scotch, it’s easy to think we’re looking at June in a flashback to the Good Old Days.  She coolly informs him that he owes her and he’s going to repay the debt by getting those 52 children out of Gilead.  He comments that they screened the Handmaids for a lot of thing but forgot to screen for mental health.  Insanity, inshmanity, I’m pretty sure they didn’t forget so much as simply not care.  (If you only concerned that the plumbing works, there’s no point in worrying about the wiring, amirite?). They also forgot to account for maternal love.  Yeah, that’s probably a bit more of a problem…

Serena is waiting by a glass door and Rita approaches with a suitcase that she’d packed for her.  Rita asks if she’s sure this is the best thing for Nichole.  Serena hugs Rita and says what sounds like a pretty final kind of goodbye as Fred pulls up in a very sweet little ride, a Mercedes convertible that he’s driving himself.  Wait, what?  The Waterfords drive off, heading north.

June is conducted to a meeting of the Uber Marthas.  The Marthas aren’t just a network, they’re a freaking Mafia, and these ladies are in charge.  They demand to know who put her up to this child rescue thing and why didn’t she ask their permission.  They also tell her that they could easily kill her and make it look like a suicide.  Wow, that went from 0 to 60 faster than Fred’s sports car.  She rolls her eyes and sarcastically asks them for permission.  Beth vouches for her and they remind her of the black market shipment due the following week.  They also mention someone named Billy, who is helping them unload.  Spoiler alert: this is important.  The final verdict is that she and the Marthas who agreed to help may carry on and they won’t interfere, but neither will they assist.

The Waterfords are driving through the countryside.  They talk about how there used to be factories and pollution and Gilead has returned it to its natural state.  I’m guessing that women being submissive to men is part of that ‘natural state’.  Ugh.  They also talk about how the Americans are weak and think that the Gileadians are weak too.   Double ugh.  Fred is really a tool and Serena is honestly no better.  Maybe a shade better, but really, even if he belongs in about the 28th Circle of Dante’s Hell and she only belongs in the 27th Circle, does it really make a difference at that point?  That particular topic is a bit above my pay grade, but feel free to discuss amongst yourselves.  Fred offers to let Serena drive.  She does, and once she gets over her nervousness about being out of practice, she begins to enjoy herself, speeding up while Chubby Checker happily urges listeners to ‘twist again, like we did last summer’.  They finally reach what seems to be an old inn, if such things still exist, run by an econofamily.

June and Beth discuss plans while chopping veggies.  Sienna, the other Martha comes in having gone to get Eleanor’s breakfast tray.  The breakfast is untouched, like Eleanor had never gotten it from where it had been left outside her door.  (Love the eggcup!  I collect egg cups, so this is a Thing for me.)  June asks if anyone’s seen Lawrence that morning.  Nope.

June finds his study a mess, piles of shredded paper everywhere and a note that just says ‘Sorry’. They’re gone.  So is the gun.  While going through what’s left, June has a bright idea.  And by ‘bright’, I mean ‘insane to the point of suicidal’.  If a plane is coming in with a shipment, then it has to go out again.  And it can go out full of children.  She just needs to speak to Billy the bartender.

Serena and Fred are talking about their old life, and Fred admits he had no idea all that Serena would have to give up.  He also says he couldn’t care less about the Winslows or DC, just Serena and their daughter.  That night, they are in a room with twin beds.  Serena invites him to join her in her bed.

Lawrence returns.  It seems he’s lost more power than he thought.  He can’t get anyone out of Gilead anymore, but he can take June to Jezebel’s.  She goes to the bar where she chats with Billy, cutting a deal.  He takes the children, she’ll give him all the masterpieces Lawrence stole from the museums.  All is well until Winslow spots June and asks her to go to a private room.  His attempted rape ends with him on the floor, stabbed repeatedly with a pen, his head reduced to a pulpy mass by the small statue in June’s hand.  There was five years of anger, fear, pain, humiliation, and rage in that single blow.  Five years of submitting to rape, of submitting to absolutely every hideous thing Gilead threw at her, and I’m just surprised that what was left of his head was still attached to his shoulders.

Housekeeping knocked and entered.  June was sitting on the floor, in shock.  The Martha asked no questions and wasted no time.  She directed her to a service exit and rallied the troops to clean up the mess.  June made it back to the car and curtly ordered Lawrence to drive.  He drove.

The Waterfords are at the appointed meeting place, and abandoned gas station.  Tuello pulls up and tells Waterford to follow him just up the road.  But as the drive further and further, Fred starts to get nervous.  They finally stop and get out.  Fred asks where they are.  Surprise!  You’re in Canada!  And you are under arrest for war crimes!  Serena?  Not under arrest.  Sorry Fred, but you done got set up!

Down in the basement at Jezebel’s, sheets and towels going in the industrial washing machine, except for the bloody sheets wrapped around Winslow’s body.  Those sheets and Winslow into the huge furnace.  Back at Chez Lawrence, Joseph hands June the gun.

A whole lot to unpack here.  Winslow is dead.  Fred arrested.  Serena?  We’re not sure.  It doesn’t look like she’s been arrested, but even if she had made a deal with Tuello, I wouldn’t bet against him reneging on the deal.  Eleanor?  Also not sure, but probably not safe (wherever she is).  And next week is the season’s penultimate episode.


Other Things:

– Am I the only one dying to know what exactly this super important black market shipment consists of?

– So, Beth was at Jezebel’s?  And she picked June for the Lawrence house?  Exactly how far reaching is the Martha Mafia?  (BTW, I have decided to call it the Marfia.  Pretty catchy, huh?)

– Did Fred really admit that he knows the fertility problem is his?  Does that mean he’s known all along that Nichole probably isn’t his child?



“Mr. Tuello didn’t know who he was dealing with.”

“You jumped on a train that was already moving and now you’re Che f*cking Guevara.’

“They’ll be coming for us.”