The Handmaid’s Tale (S03E13) “Mayday”

This is it people, the season finale!  The episode we’ve been waiting for all summer!  Operation: Pied Piper!  Mayday!  And what an episode it was!

Everything seems to be coming together.  As June walks through the streets with her shopping bag, accompanied by an incredibly (and conveniently) oblivious Guardian, Handmaids drop small packets in her bag.

The Lawrence household is busy, prepping for the escape.  Food is being wapped in cloth, water bottles are filled, and the mysterious packets, which turned out to be glycerine soap, were melted and smeared on the squeaky hinges of the gate.  June is usually with this job when a Martha arrives with a young girl.  She’s way too early but they walked all the way from Lexington to join them.

Canada: Tuello brings Serena a cup of coffee and the news that she’s going to be allowed outside the detention center to explore the city a bit, maybe get an idea of where she’ll want to live.  But first, a hectic schedule of questionings, deposings, and debriefings.  Fun!

Spoiler alert: the girl is called Kiki in Gilead, but we learn at the end that her real name is Rebecca, so that’s what we’re going to call her because it’s her real name dammit.  She’s asking June to tell her what it’s like in other places, as she can’t remember before Gilead, while June tends to a blister on her foot.  Her only frame if reference for life is Gilead.  Think about that for a minute.  I’ll wait.

This is when I cried the first time.

Maggie, the Martha, loses her nerve and wants to take are Becca back, but she apparently doesn’t know who she’s dealing with.  June is pissed and she’s not going to take it anymore.  And she has a gun.  Eventually Maggie escapes but without Rebecca.  Lawrence tells June that Maggie and Rebecca were spotted and says he’s pulling the plug on the operation.  June, at her scariest, informs him that he is not in charge, she is, they’re going ahead with it and if he wants to be useful, go find her a map.  And he does.  Damn.

Hey!  I just learned the point of those boots!  To give June a place to hide her gun!  Mystery solved!

Fred is being questioned.  When the session is over, he volunteers a bit more information to Tuello about Serena and her crimes.  Oh, she has immunity?  Fred is willing to bet this isn’t covered by the immunity agreement.  Fred’s not wrong.  Facilitating June’s impregnating by their driver Nick was extracurricular on Serena’s part, not condoned on the part of Gilead, and so not covered.  Too bad, so sad.

June and her lieutenants have been walking their proposed route to the airfield, marking the path as they go.  On their return, they receive two shocks.  The first is that all the children are all gathered at Lawrence’s feet, silent and enthralled, as he reads Treasure Island out loud to them.  The second is that the number of children FAR exceeds the expected 52.

This is when I cried the second time.

Hey!  It’s Janine!  I’m so glad she’s involved in this.  She arrives with news that something is suspected and the Eyes are everywhere.  They have to move.  Now.  June urges Lawrence to come with them, but he says that Eleanor would want him to stay and work on cleaning up the mess he made.  I hope this isn’t the last we see of Lawrence.  I want him to have a good redemption arc.  I admit, this has a lot to do with my fondness for Bradley Whitford, but still.  He and June say good bye, and the group of renegades heads out across the Alps to escape the Nazis.  Oops, sorry, wrong story, I meant to say, the group of renegades heads out to the airfield, pausing occasionally to drop down under the searchlights on the Eyes’ vehicles.  Then June makes a decision.  She tells Rita to make sure they all get there, they have an emotional farewell, and June sets out to distract the Eyes.  She is joined by the Handmaids, and years of participating in stonings come in handy, as they take down an Eye with rocks.  It works.  The Eyes follow them, shooting, while the Marthas get the children away.  June is eventually shot, but she’s still alive enough to pull her gun on the Eye, ordering him to signal the All Clear.  He does.  And she kills him.  She is laying on the ground, bleeding, and sees an airplane flying overhead.

The refugee organization has mobilized at the airport when the plane lands, including Moira, Luke, and Emily.  They are stunned at what they see, and Moira is clearly almost in tears.  Rebecca is speaking to Emily when a man calls her name.  Instantly, the hunted look on her face is gone, as Rebecca runs to her father and hurls herself into his arms.

This is when I cried the third time, and pretty much didn’t stop for the rest of the show.

Luke is anxiously searching for June, obviously heartbroken when he realizes she’s not in the group.  Emily introduces Rita to Luke and she hugs him, and tells him that this whole thing was June.  She’s the Scarlet Pimpernel.  She’s Katniss Everdeen. She’s the Oskar freakin’ Schindler of Gilead.

Morning in Gilead.  Handmaids are searching for June and find her, badly wounded but still alive, and the dead Eye lying next to her.  They form a litter for her and carry her out.  ‘Into Dust’ by Mazzy Star, one of my favorite songs, plays.  Credits.

Thoughts?  I admit, I loved this episode.  It wasn’t perfect, certainly.  It was it emotionally manipulative as hell.  Lawrence reading out loud while a group of children look at him like he’s a Santa Claus, Willy Wonka, and the ice cream man all rolled into one really didn’t serve the plot; its sole purpose was to make you go all gooey inside, but I can live with that. My issue is more with the season as a whole.  I think the actually planning of the whole escapade was a little skimpy.  I feel like too much time this season was spent in June’s epic sulkfest, and feel like this whole thing just somehow kinda came together as if by magic.  The pacing this season was off.  But it definitely ended on a high.

 

Other things:

– So, the plane lands and takes off every week regularly?  Does it have legitimate cargo or just the black market goods?  And how do the Gileadian authorities not know about it?  Or do they know about it?  Hmm…

– How long has Fred known about Nick and June and Serena’s part it in?  Has he always known?

– How poetic was it that the Commanders and the Wives were knocked out with rohypnol, a drug commonly used to facilitate rape?

 

Quotes:

“And you know, you don’t have to be a wife, or a mother, if you don’t want to.”  “Then what would I be?”  “You.”

“You said you weren’t going to be any trouble.”  “Yeah, I lied.”

“Sometimes you have to do the things you have to do.”

  

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