The Handmaid’s Tale 4×02: “Nightshade”

Hulu’s The Handmaid’s Tale
4×02: “Nightshade”
Directed by Colin Watkinson
Written by Kira Snyder

* For a recap & review of 4×01, click here.
* For a recap & review of 4×03, click here.
Father Son Holy Gore - The Handmaid's Tale - June SpiesThe stables are being cleaned and the dead Guardian’s getting fed to the pigs. June’s preparing the others for a visit from Guardians as Esther greets them outside. She makes sure Janine doesn’t flee in terror, sending her to find Alma. Meanwhile, June keeps an eye on things as the Guardians meet with Esther and her Commander husband. Esther plays the dutiful wife to the Commander and keeps the Guardians off the scent of anything suspicious. Soon, the men are gone. But Esther’s concerned about them dropping by, and June now knows she must leave that place. June believes Mayday will get them somewhere else safe. First she has to go talk to them, which means going back behind enemy lines. This leaves Alma and the others very worried.

In Canada, Luke’s at a reception talking about his wife and the important things she’s done. He then calls Rita up to speak to the crowd about June and the heroic efforts to save all the children. They’re now calling the incident “Angels Flight.” Rita talks about how “Gilead has a way of bringing out the worst in people,” yet it pushed June to become better, stronger. She’s unable to keep talking, nearly breaking down, so Luke rushes back up to comfort her and assure the crowd there’s still hope that June remains alive. Of course they can always use donations to help the fight and help the escaped children start fresh beyond the walls of Gilead.
Father Son Holy Gore - The Handmaid's Tale - Rita Speaks

“Pray for Gilead”

Father Son Holy Gore - The Handmaid's Tale - June & DaisyWhen June gets back behind the walls of Gilead she’s brought to meet Daisy (Laura Vandervoort). The legend of June precedes her. Daisy talks with June about the various rebellions occurring since everything the latter accomplished. She says there’s a safe house not far from Commander Keyes’s property, another farmhouse. She says word can’t go out until tomorrow, and that means the Handmaids can’t go until then, either. Daisy briefly talks about a “new offensive” the men of Gilead are planning, and she also expresses the sentiment that Mayday won’t save them. But June tries to instil Daisy with hope, that Mayday is them, not some distant army.

In Canada, Serena Joy’s being physically examined and questioned about her husband, whether he had ever sexually assaulted her and so on. She does admit to the physical abuse from Fred, and the psychological abuse becomes very clear, as if we didn’t already know. After that, we see Serena grappling with her lawyer’s ideas about how to handle her case, and she’s resistant to the idea that she was abused; clearly all that time in Gilead, all the internalised misogyny and the violence, has all but permanently warped Serena. Not exactly surprising. Serena’s holding onto some old idea of Fred, prior to Gilead. Now she’s convinced she can change Fred’s mind.
Then there’s Emily and Moira, doing their best to find homes for the Gilead children. Heartbreaking. We also see Moira has been trying to build a new life. She has a partner, Oona (Zawe Ashton), and they have a somewhat normal life. Can’t be easy after all Moira experienced in Gilead. You can tell she enjoys the new life but isn’t wholly comfortable with it just yet.

Alma and the others are trying to convince June not to do anything drastic. They’re worried she’s being reckless, that she might get herself killed. But June is determined to do whatever’s necessary. Meanwhile, the Handmaids are still a bit unsure around Esther, except for June. The young wife doesn’t want to be left out of the rebellious plans, yet the Handmaids worry they can’t really trust her. June has a private talk with Esther, telling her not to worry too much, though the latter simply wants freedom from that wretched existence. She tells Esther they’re leaving tomorrow and that doesn’t sit well with the girl. Esther begs to be trusted, to be taken along when the Handmaids leave. And June agrees. She also realises Esther’s been poisoning the Commander; perfect! Fuck that old rapist. Plus, this gives June a dastardly idea.
Father Son Holy Gore - The Handmaid's Tale - Serena Joy's Lost FingerIn a chapel at the Canadian embassy, Serena meets with Fred. They talk about how God has been made “small” here, outside of Gilead in the land of the heathens—that’s how Fred sees it, anyway. They talk about Serena’s legal strategy and how it will lay bare their lives, as well as the processes of Gilead. Fred appears to be dead set against working with his wife. He talks frankly about how he won’t let Serena get out of this free, especially not with their fake daughter. Is Serena finally going to wake up to the realities of her husband’s hideousness? Better hurry up. Because Fred’s not fucking around.
Also, later, Serena discovers she’s pregnant. Whoa! What?!

Moira continues to deal with all the fallout of June’s rebel mission on the Canadian side. She sees how tough it is for the kids adjusting to this new world full of freedoms. She meets with one kid, Asher, who hates this new place. The boy misses things in Gilead, where it felt like home; he was too young to know what was happening or what horrors were being visited upon the women around him. Moira understands it because she’s been there, too, only on a much more sinister level. She starts to think June has been a “messy bitch.” Is that fair? What was June supposed to do, let all those children continue to be abused and the little girls grow up to become Handmaids? I get that it’s difficult, but blaming June here isn’t the answer. Though, for Emily and Moira, it’s mostly just blowing off steam and not wholehearted criticism of June. Plus they’re free, it’s easy to talk shit from their position.

Meanwhile, June remains on the ground back in the U.S. trying keep the rebellion going. She has to go to the local Jezebels, where she meets Daisy again. She’s brought poison for them to use, after cooking up a batch with Esther. She offers Daisy solidarity before the big murderous show begins. This sequence perfectly begins with David Bowie’s “Suffragette City” and the poisoned booze starts to flow through the room filed with Commanders and other Gilead personnel.
Once the deed’s done, June heads back for the Keyes farm. But she feels that “somethings wrong.”
She and the friendly Guardian head up to the eerily quiet farmhouse. They come upon bullet casings all over the ground. Then, the Guardian’s shot in the head, painting June with blood. This place is no longer a safe haven. June goes for the gun only to find herself covered in red dots. And there’s Nick before her, asking for the whereabouts of the other Handmaids. A devastating betrayal, even if Nick says it’s to keep June alive.
Father Son Holy Gore - The Handmaid's Tale - June's Poison

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