I’m actually glad this season is over. It was a riveting year to be sure, but it was also very emotionally draining and disturbing; there’s only so much suffering a person can handle.
Third Time Ain’t The Charm
Word is an odd season finale. It’s much slower than I would have liked, and it teases us with a status quo change that never comes to fruition. As much as I love Elisabeth Moss and this show in general, I really needed June to finally escape Gilead. I don’t fully buy her decision to stay behind to save Hannah. Does June not think she’d have a higher chance of helping her daughter if she came back with reinforcements? It feels too much like a contrived writing decision because the writers are terrified of changing up the status quo. Little do they know that having to sit through ANOTHER season of June in the Waterford house is going to get old fast. Maybe she won’t go back to the home and meet up with her fellow rebels, but I wanted more risk-taking from the season’s final scene.
Joy No More
Serena Joy has undergone a complex journey this season. As despicable as Mrs. Waterford has been this year, Yvonne Starhovski has always managed to convey the sympathetic side underneath (well, most of the time because Serena is a monster). It’s a true testament to both the writing and her acting that I actually felt bad for Serena losing a finger, since this vile woman had poor June raped only a few weeks back. Nevertheless, the seeds have been planted for Serena to lead one hell of a revolt, as evidenced by her bringing all the wives together to ask that their children be given the right to read. The character has truly become an integral part of the show’s fabric; I can’t picture it without her!
Retribution is Here
Although the show somewhat sidelined Alexis Bledel’s Emily during the latter half of the season (she got one helluva episode in Unwomen), I loved watching the poor Handmaid go berserk and viciously attack Aunt Lydia. Although I certainly don’t want Ann Dowd to leave the show (and I’m positive she’s still alive but probably paralyzed), the scene is probably the finale’s most memorable. All it takes is a simple line (“it’s like I cut out your tongue“), to trigger Emily who snaps and proceed to stab the women who took her clitoris. The icing on the cake is that Emily doesn’t stop there, but continues to punch her monster, push her down the stairs, and savagely kick her when she’s down. It’s a very cathartic scene, which speaks volumes as to how much suffering we’ve witnessed these characters endure. Wow!
Moreover, it must be said that Bledel delivers such a tour-de-force performance. Notice how she’s overcome with joy after attacking Lydia, but then the reality and consequences of her situation begin to settle in and she starts sobbing. Masterful!
Bits & Fruit
– Eden’s dad turned his own daughter in to be executed. Yeah, you can say it… Wtf!
– The most satisfying moment of the year: June finding the bravery within to retaliate after Fred slaps her and slapping him back. I need that GIF to watch forever and ever, and ever.
– Word is a great showcase for Rita who gives June and Nick some much needed alone time with their baby, and ultimately encourages June to escape. Hope she doesn’t get punished (she surely will).
– Notice how June tells Nick she loves him, but he can’t say it back as the specter of Eden’s murder hangs over his head.
– Love how Serena and Naomi basically start a revolution while speaking in code. I actually really like Ever Carradine and would love to see more of her on the show.
– So much relief when Lawrence revealed he wasn’t interested in the ceremony and Emily realized she wouldn’t have to kill him (or herself).
– Such a despicable moment: the Commander asking Fred if he “forgot his lunch” when Serena walked in. Asshole.
– I love that Lawrence lied to Lydia and told her the ceremony went “splendidly”. He’s so sneaky.
– June taking Serena’s hand after she loses a finger really surprised me. How can she muster up so much compassion for the woman who had her raped? She really is a saint.
– No surprise that Fred struggled to find the tea and started calling out for Rita like a child having a tantrum. I kind of wanted June to bash him on the head with the tray.
– “God send me an obedient woman”. Yeah like we needed more reasons to loathe Fred.
– The “go fuck yourself” moment is oh so gratifying, particularly since Fred is trying so hard to bribe June through her daughters.
– Lawrence makes Emily listen to “Walking on Broken Glass” – a song I’ve loved for over a decade. I don’t think I’ll ever think about it the same way again.
– Nick keeps Fred in the house forcefully. I guess he and Rita are really going to suffer next year.
– In June’s room, Fred finds the phrase “Nolite te bastardes carborandorum” on the wall. Remember what it means? “Don’t let the bastards grind you down.” Hell yeah!
– June finally acknowledges Serena’s love for Nichole. She lets her say goodbye, and even speaks her language (“blessings to you Serena”). Impressive!
– Who started the fire? Any guesses?
– It was seriously inspiring to see so many Marthas work together to get June out of the neighborhood safely. The music was particularly stirring and goosebump-y.
– Super sweet scene with June taking out a picture of Hannah, remembering singing to her, and then introducing her picture to Holly.
– And there we have it, Commander Lawrence is indeed a good guy. Bradley Whitford is so good in the part and I’m praying the show gives him a much larger role next season after he helped Emily escape.
– June tells Emily to call her baby Nichole. Why? As a thank you to Serena for helping her escape? Stick with Holly please.
– As frustrating as that final scene was, it was admittedly badass to see June lift up her hood like some hellbent avenger.
Rita: I treated her like shit.
June: I slept with her husband.
Lawrence: Have a nice life. Don’t get caught! Keep away from drugs!
I don’t agree with the ending which stopped this finale from being one of the all-time greats, but this was still an enormously engrossing closer to the year.
Want some scoop on season three? Check out this interview with showrunner Bruce Miller.