Hulu’s The Handmaid’s Tale
Season 3, Episode 11: “Liars”
Directed by Deniz Gamze Ergüven
Written by Yahlin Chang
* For a recap & review of the previous episode, “Bear Witness” – click here
* For a recap & review of the next episode, “Sacrifice” – click here
There’s quite a situation at the Lawrence home.
June (Elisabeth Moss) walks in on Eleanor (Julie Dretzin) holding a gun to Joseph (Bradley Whitford). The Handmaid advises her not to become a murderer because of him. “We can‘t always do what we want,” she says. She speaks plainly to Eleanor, explaining “we all could‘ve done something” in the lead up to Gilead. Right now, they need Commander Lawrence alive. After the chaos, June tells him there are 52 children who need saving. She needs his effort. If only to save his wife, he agrees.
Later, June is taken to see the head Marthas. They don’t like her plan. They have their own and don’t want her interfering, disparaging her as a “Che Guevara” wannabe just because she helped Marthas get the baby out. This doesn’t faze the Handmaid. June’s Martha pal vouches for her, so the others decide to help after all.
None of that matters when they realise Joseph and Eleanor have taken off in the night. What will June do now without Commander Lawrence to facilitate her plans?
Commander Fred Waterford (Joseph Fiennes) and Serena Joy (Yvonne Strahovski) are headed for a B&B ran by Econopeople. He gives his wife the chance to drive, after all this time. A bit of freedom she hasn’t experienced in ages. It’s a thrill for her to speed down a road where nobody can see them and they can act normal. Too bad they’re fascists!
They stay at the B&B, talking about ‘what ifs’ and wonder what would’ve happened had Gilead not been created. They talk about different scenarios, all revolving around having children— it all comes back to the pain of infertility. Funny to see them dreaming of a different life when they worked so hard at building a fascist state. All of a sudden, a child— not even theirs, in any form— has changed their outlook. Little too late for that. They actually get in bed together. Something we don’t often hear of or refer to, is the fact the barren wives are likely left untouched, for the most part, by their husbands, given that Gilead is based on procreation. A special moment for the Waterfords.
Commander Lawrence returns claiming an “attack of conscience” brought him back. He actually couldn’t get out because of “new authorisations.” Also means he won’t be able to get trucks out of the state, either. He’s basically waiting for the hammer to fall, and that’ll further send June someplace else.
She dresses up and has Joseph bring her to the city. She’s headed to Jezebels, where she talks to Beth’s (Kristen Gutoskie) friend Billy (Daniel Jun), a bartender. He’s got access to a cargo plane. June proposes him a deal, offering a house “full of Picassos” and other valuable art— Lawrence, like a true Nazi, raided museums.
And who does June run into at the club? High Commander George Winslow (Chris Meloni). He’s curious why she’s there, why Commander Lawrence isn’t there with her. She makes it appear as if Joseph likes to be told about her sexcapades. This is when Winslow orders her onto the bed. She refuses to be raped and fights back, kicking him in the face, getting a punch in hers. He smashes her head into the floor. She stabs away at him with a pen until he’s punctured with holes upon bloody holes, asphyxiating on the blood in his lungs before she clobbers him with a heavy ornament. He weakly, pathetically calls out “My children” before she cracks him. Good riddance.
However, this leaves her in a lot of trouble.
Soundtrack note: “Only You” by Portishead plays during the Jezebels sequence
“One detaches oneself.
not my flesh.”
Eventually a Martha shows up to do housekeeping, discovering June bloody and out of it on the floor. She goes to the Handmaid’s aide, telling her about a service elevator. This is actually a woman from the cages— June saved her from the Colonies. A twist of fate gives the Handmaid a chance to survive. Beaten and bruised, she heads back to a shocked Commander Lawrence and they go home.
The Waterfords meet Mark Tuello (Sam Jaeger) in a “safe place” in an even more remote rural area than the B&B. Fred’s stressed out, not sure they can trust Tuello, whereas Serena has formed a bond with him. And the husband was right. Tuello’s lead them over the border into Canada, where the Waterfords are taken into custody. Fred’s charged with “war crimes” and more. FINALLY! One Gilead rapist slave trader is in custody.
Soundtrack note: Another Kate Bush song makes it into the soundtrack with “Cloudbusting” playing over the final sequence, as June wakes the next morning and the Martha cleans up the crime scene she left behind. These women are working together, for each other, for something better.
An utterly amazing chapter of the series! Long time coming for one of the Commanders, especially a High Commander like Winslow, to die, as well as for Fred to get what’s coming to him— he’s a greasy eel, so we’ll see if these charges actually stick. What’s best is the genuine hope that comes with Winslow’s death and how the women band together to be rid of him, keeping June’s rebellion alive.
Meanwhile, June and Commander Lawrence prepare for potential violent fallout.
“Sacrifice” is next time. Only two episodes remain.