Hulu’s The Handmaid’s Tale
Season 3, Episode 5: “Unknown Caller”
Directed by Colin Watkinson
Written by Marissa Jo Cerar
* For a recap & review of the previous episode, “God Bless the Child” – click here
* For a recap & review of the next episode, “Household” – click here
Somehow, a glimmer of hope shines in Gilead. June (Elisabeth Moss) is proud to have gotten her child out. She knows now that Luke (O.T. Fagbenle) has the baby. She wants to be free, too. She longs for her husband.
Quickly, she’s brought out of daydreams. At the Lawrence home, June tries asking Joseph (Bradley Whitford) about her husband. He, as usual, acts like a smug asshole. What’s this dude’s deal, anyway? He’s impossible to read.
The Waterfords are off doing business. Fred (Joseph Fiennes) is giving Serena Joy (Yvonne Strahovski) a seat at the table. She speaks to the rest of the council, in hopes of getting more info on Luke, who was originally in “urban planning” but now does construction part-time and gets “refugee aide” from the Canadian government. Serena gets a report about Nicole— the tiny lady is developing into a healthy infant.
“Absence makes the heart grow fonder—
What about the rest of me?”
June’s called to a meeting with Commander Lawrence, Serena Joy, and Commander Waterford. She’s told the Waterfords want to arrange a meeting: one last time to see the baby. She refuses to contact her husband. That’d be a deep existential wound. Unless she can get something significant in return. “I want you to owe me,” she tells Serena. That’d be a MIGHTY HUGE favour to call in someday.
So, the call’s made. June gets Luke on the phone. He’s shocked to hear her voice. She assures him she and their girl are okay. They exchange I love yous. Luke apologises for not doing more. June has little time. She asks him to go to the airport in Toronto to meet the Waterfords. He’ll only meet Serena.
Fucking devastating. A lot of scenes in The Handmaid’s Tale are upsetting. This one broke Father Gore’s heart quietly, so bad. While Luke weeps in the streets June has to keep her composure in front of everybody, refusing to show them weakness. Only when she’s alone in her room can she feel all those emotions.
And still, she remains strong.
Soundtrack note: June listens to “You Make Me Feel Like Dancing” by Leo Sayer
Serena’s given a mysterious package by Rita (Amanda Brugel). She hides it from her husband. She heads off in a plane with a guard, meeting Mark Tuello (Sam Jaeger) again. She’s given a change of clothes to “blend in” outside Gilead. She’s brought to meet a reluctant Luke. It’s awkward, though they each try their best. She foolishly insists June is “safe” but he knows better— she does give him the name of the new Commander his wife’s serving. She tries telling him she’s protected June, as much as possible. Before they part, Luke lets her hold the baby.
What about the package marked FOR LUKE? The phone / note?
“God bless you”
Soundtrack note: Commander Lawrence puts on “Cruel To Be Kind” by Nick Lowe
At the grocery store, June’s taken by Guardians.
Simultaneously, Luke’s listening to a mixtape from his wife— he got his package after all. It starts with Leo Sayer, then June interrupts the music, speaking to him through the cassette deck (like those of us who are old enough to remember did as teenagers). She tells her husband about how she “had to build a life” in Gilead. She understands if he needs to do move on in some ways, because Nicole is actually named Holly, and she was “born out of love” with Nick. She pleads for forgiveness. She promises she’s trying to keep their daughter safe.
June is taken to Aunt Lydia (Ann Dowd) and brought to a room where she’s told to take off her uniform. She’s given a fresh new one, to make her look snappy for the cameras. They bring her to a set where Serena Joy and Fred wait. On TV, the Waterfords address the world. They ask the Canadian government for help with the “dangerous fugitive” who stole their child. Holy fucking WHOA! June can barely contain her rage.
Soundtrack note: “Sunday Bloody Sunday” by U2 closes the episode
“I’m not the woman you remember.
She’s part of me,
but I’m doing what I need to
Whopper of an ending. Utterly horrific. There’s so much that could happen after this and it’ll be interesting to watch unfold. Luke might be in for trouble. Not only that, June’s going to kick her rebellion into high gear, too.
Can’t wait for more. Season 3 is getting better with each passing scene.