Hulu’s The Handmaid’s Tale
Season 3, Episode 2: “Mary and Martha”
Directed by Mike Barker
Written by Kira Snyder
* For a recap & review of the Season 3 premiere, “Night” – click here
* For a recap & review of the next episode, “Useful” – click here
June (Elisabeth Moss) goes through the regular motions of being a Handmaid, like always. She meets with her newest partner to go run errands, Ofmatthew (Ashleigh LaThrop). They talk, but definitely aren’t well matched. At the store— colloquially known as Loaves and Fishes, perfectly twisted Christian shit— June finds Alma (Nina Kiri), briefly chatting until they can get somewhere better to talk. They secretly converse through a shelf, sharing the latest gossip, such as the Americans about to “lose Chicago.” June wonders about the Marthas.
Back at the Lawrence home, June brings back the wrong cut of meat. What tragedy. She’s then called to see Joseph (Bradley Whitford) and his wife Eleanor (Julie Dretzin). They’re in the parlour with Aunt Lydia (Ann Dowd). Lydia’s checking up on June, getting no bad reports from the Lawrences. Things go well, seeing as how Joseph’s empathetic towards his Handmaid (Father Gore’s extremely curious about this man’s backstory). This doesn’t mean Lydia isn’t suspicious. She winds up falling over on the stairs, helped by June who gets a shock with the baton. An insane woman. The internalised misogyny runs so deep within her it probably pumps through her veins.
“What kind of seed will you be, girls?”
Things for Luke (O-T Fagbenle) can’t be easy. He’s trying so hard to get his wife back, at the same time there’s Emily (Alexis Bledel) showing up in his and Moira’s (Samira Wiley) life with little baby Nicole— a reminder of June, as well as a reminder she’s being horrifically raped and used as a human incubator for Gilead’s patriarchy. Then there’s Emily. She’s getting a checkup from the doctor, hearing about “clitoral reconstruction” and other things involving her deteriorated health. Not only was she mutilated, she had to work out in that nasty place up at the Colonies. There’s really no telling the extent of the damage done to her body, let alone her mind.
Commander Lawrence doesn’t dig strangers in the house. There’s a Martha he doesn’t recognise. He asks June about it, so she tells him the woman’s staying until she’s able to get out of Gilead. She wants him to let it slide. “It‘s your funeral,” Joseph tells her. He’s an odd man, and it’s continually hard to tell what he’s thinking.
June’s able to get through to him, as much as it’s possible. He agrees to turn a blind eye. Meanwhile this gets June out of the Handmaid getup and into a Martha outfit, heading off with the other Marthas to play an active role in the rebellion.
June goes to the commercial area of town, where Handmaids usually can’t go. A brief freedom. She and Beth (Kristen Gutoskie) leave the escaping Martha to wait for her getaway driver. She “makes bombs” and will be going deeper into Gilead to do more for the resistance. Later, back at home, she turns up with another Martha who’s been shot by a Guardian. June has to deal with Commander Lawrence asking questions. Again she’s honest. He only wants the potentially dangerous annoyance off his doorstep.
Guardians are already knocking. Thankfully even Mrs. Lawrence does her part to help. June and the Marthas manage to keep the wounded woman hidden. She dies on the basement floor anyway. Joseph comes down to survey the aftermath, getting very angry in the process. He believes it was “a mistake” to bring June into the house.
Outside, in the dark, June has to dig a grave on her own.
Takes a while, but she gets the job done, putting the dead to rest with a prayer.
Emily’s having her eyesight tested. She gets new glasses, and real, regular life feels disorienting to her after all this time— the focus of her eyes adjusts, then she’s able to see her new existence clearly. She calls her wife, Sylvia (Clea DuVall). It’s the first time they’ve been in contact. Gradually, Emily is getting to be free again. And even though it takes getting used to, she’s no longer living by someone else’s terms or their archaic rules. She can be herself. She can love her wife again.
A beautiful part about Season 3 is that we’re seeing REBELLION instead of just the constant, dreariness of Gilead being brought down upon the Handmaids. We’re finally seeing more hope, more revolution. We’ve seen all that, over and over. Now let’s see these women revolt.
Father Gore can’t wait for more.
“Useful” is next.