The Handmaid’s Tale: Season 2/ Episode 10 “The Last Ceremony” – Recap/ Review (with Spoilers)

June asking Hannah if she remembers her?
June: Do you remember me?
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Perhaps the happiest day of June’s life in a long time also meets yet another where she ends up getting someone killed.


Network
Hulu
Director(s) Jeremy Podeswa
Writer(s) Yahlin Chang
Air Date 6/20/2018

Trigger Warnings: At 2 minutes In and 28 Minutes in There Are Rape Scenes


False Labor: June, Serena Joy, Fred

It’s time! Well, at least it seemed like it. Thus leading to Serena Joy going into a tizzy, all the commanders, wives, and handmaids coming over, and of course Aunt Lydia as well. But, despite June having contractions, she is told she isn’t to give birth for another week or two. Something she relishes. If just because, with knowing she is soon to be forced out of the home, and Serena Joy even talking about put in another district, it gives her the ability to get real sassy. I’m talking about, even in front of Aunt Lydia, she is giving Serena Joy a lot of lip.

However, taking note Serena Joy wants June in another district, June decides to see if she has any pull left with Fred. Just to check if maybe that district can be the same one Hannah is in. Something that gets denied because June helping Serena Joy undermine Fred has not been forgotten. On top of that, her questioning his power is also a bit of a blow. Though, to make things worse, while she may have given Serena Joy snide comments, she decides to outright insult Fred by alluding to how he’ll never be a father.

Something you may think he would ask Serena Joy about but considering the audacity of June, he seemingly wants her out as much as Serena Joy at this point. Never mind questions of paternity. So, to push a natural birth to come, it is agreed between them to do the ceremony again – meaning Fred rapes June. One which is quite violent in a way for Serena Joy is really pressing down to keep June from moving and Fred thumps up against her pelvis in a way to make it seem they both are punishing her and reminding her of her place.

Commentary

June sitting in bed, looking deviously at Serena Joy.

Well, any sympathy I had for Serena went right out the window. For that scene of her holding down June, while she called out for her, there isn’t really any coming back from that. And while, yes, it isn’t June’s first rape scene, this is one of the few I can recall that were violent – That included fighting back. And while I get both Serena Joy and Fred were frustrated with June and the situation, the rape pushed them far away from being complicated people trying to make the best, or in Fred’s case take advantage, of a peculiar situation.

Yet, and I hate to sound like I’m victim blaming but you have to look at June’s role in this. June has used that baby as a shield over and over to protect her against Aunt Lydia and so she could give attitude to anyone and everyone without much fear of consequence. At some point, it was not going to be enough to protect her.

Which isn’t to say at all she deserved to be raped, more so that she knew what kind of people she was dealing with. Serena Joy has shown she is capable of being cruel and either giving or participating in unusual punishments – especially when you embarrass her. Same goes with Fred. He just beat his wife in front of you. Doing something you know was meant to humble her and have you as a witness to also put you on notice. Why in the world, in front of so many people, would you antagonize them? Serena Joy in particular since you know she is very hot and cold and wants you out of the house!

In The Lonely Hour: Eden, Nick, Isaac

While she grew up in Gilead and may not have been raised on Disney princesses and YA novels about star-crossed lovers, she did grow up in a loving home. So, naturally, Eden has certain expectations. All of which Nick fails to live up to. He doesn’t really talk to her, look at her, certainly doesn’t kiss her and sex? It is an obligation. Hence why she ends up kissing Isaac and experiencing what can only be seen as a moment of weakness.

Yet, for Nick, it gives him leverage in a way. She cheated on him and in the world of Gilead? Imagine what that would mean for her life and safety. That might be an offense which could force her into becoming a handmaid. Luckily for her though, Nick is rather indifferent about it. Something which only upsets her more for his wife just cheated on him and he doesn’t care. Leading her to assume it is because of June for she has peeped the way they interact but it seems him taking note of how that would be suicide calms that idea.

Either way, this marriage is in shambles with no signs it may ever be fixed.

Commentary

Eden kissing Isaac.

Eden is perhaps the only pure one left on this show. Well, her and Hannah. So them interacting with these corrupt adults who could only steer them in terrible directions is hard to watch at times. Which might just be why, on top of her being young and him preferring June, Nick doesn’t interact with her much. He knows he is tainted by his work and actions, and rather not be the one who corrupted this child.

Yet, there is this constant need to remind ourselves that Eden is isolated. Who knows if she may ever see her family and who she grew up with again. They live in a completely different district and it isn’t like women traveling alone is something Gilead encourages. Never mind, with Nick being an Eye, who knows whether, if he wanted to be so kind, he’d have the time off needed for them to go visit her folks and return. Plus, he has June to look out for. Someone who clearly needs some sort of presence to keep Serena Joy and Fred in line. Otherwise, well, you saw what happened!

Mommy Loves You: Hannah, Nick, June, Fred

Be it a show of power, guilt, or whichever way you want to describe it, Fred has a surprise for June. One which has to be handled while Serena Joy is away. What is said surprise? Well, Fred arranged June to see Hannah.

Now, how exactly did this happen? Especially considering there is a guardian present, not just Nick and Hannah’s Martha? That isn’t stated at all. Which leaves a lot of questions. However, what is stated is Hannah felt a bit abandoned by June and seemingly was beginning to accept that she may never see her parents again. So the reunion doesn’t lead to waterworks that quickly on her part. However, as time goes on and Hannah gets reacquainted, she becomes attached to June all over again. Naturally making their need to separate hard on her.

But, this blissful moment turns sour for once Hannah is long gone some guardians, not associated with Nick or Hannah’s parents, arrive and kill Nick. Leaving June stranded in some isolated mansion which does have a garage, so maybe she can drive off somewhere, but right now her focus is being within 2 weeks of delivery, the father and sole ally of hers being dead, and just seeing her child for the first time in over a year.

Commentary

Hannah asking June if she may ever see her again?
Hannah: Am I ever gonna see you again?

There is a serious need to question if Fred set Nick up. Not only because of what he may or may not know but June going off on him surely got some wheels turning right? Plus, maybe Fred wanted to show the full strength of his power. How he could, within a day or so, connect June with her child but also have someone killed. I mean, we’ve seen Fred’s ego. He rather prefer his ego stroked than the foundation of his ego tested.

But, following June seeing Hannah comes the question of whether, knowing Hannah has good step-parents, may just let her go and try to bring this new kid into a better life. For let’s be real, kidnapping a baby who isn’t born yet is enough of a challenge. Kidnapping a full grown child? How could June pull that off? Between checkpoints and more, even if she had a vehicle from the mansion, she’ll end up having the vehicle shot up and thus either Hannah could be killed, the baby, or her.

But, one thing at a time because June has to figure out how to get away from that abandoned mansion.

Other Noteworthy Facts & Moments

  • With the introduction of Commander Horace, we learn there are Black commanders and also that Black people can be promoted to commanders.

Question(s) Left Unanswered

  1. Whose mansion was that?
  2. How much does Hannah know about Handmaids? Heck, how are kids taught about Handmaids in general?
  3. Could the title of the episode hint at the idea that June may find freedom after this?

Highlights

  1. Hannah and June seeing each other again!
  2. Rita saying she’d tell the baby about June.
  3. Maybe Eden getting assigned to Isaac and finding happiness.
  4. Emily kicking her dead commander a few good times.

Low Points

  1. June being raped.

On The Fence

  1. What may happen to June considering she is 2 weeks from giving birth and stranded.

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Previous Episode’s Recap

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About Amari Sali 3330 Articles
New Jersey native Amari Sali takes the approach of more so being a media advisor than a critic to sort of fill in the gap left between casual fans of media and those who review productions for a living. Thus being open about bias while still giving enough insight, often with spoilers, to present whether something is worth seeing, buying, renting, streaming, or checking out at all.

4 Comments

  1. I never saw Nick as a match for June or part of some love triangle. June, I’ve felt, has manipulated the men of Gilead in order to obtain some form of comfort or power. With Fred, we’ve seen her stroke his ego to get out of Gilead and see Moira, get a picture of her daughter, and she made him feel guilty enough to arrange a meeting.

    As for Nick, same thing. She gave him enough to catch feelings and help her. He almost got her freedom but then something happened. June doesn’t love any of these men. They are just a means to an ends.

    Sorry about the late reply. After a certain length, Vuukle flags comments for me to review.

  2. Perhaps you’re right and Ive been too harsh in my assessment of “TV-Nick”, but he is certainly a big wimp in comparison to the book and movie versions… I guess what I find hard to fathom with “TV-Nick” is the writers rationale in making him such an extreme departure from “Book-Nick”, who could be selfish, but was also confident, charming and determined. “Book-Nick” also had a sarcastic sense of humour, “TV-Nick” is just so unceasingly serious.

    I wonder, since Luke is unambiguously alive in the TV version, perhaps they deliberately set Nick up to be a less desirable match in order that the audience would be onboard for an eventual Luke/June reunion? Do you think?

    If that’s the case, then it plays into a pet peeve of mine – I’m always irritated when writers present a love triangle and try to manipulate the audience’s sympathies by exaggerating the flaws of one partner or another.
    Indeed, one of the major flaws of the series in general, I find, is how OBVIOUS it is in trying to provoke specific emotional reactions from the audience, so it wouldn’t surprise me.

    A more charitable explanation is that the writers wanted to illustrate certain social or moral concepts (such as that apathy can enable tyranny and lead to further suffering), but then realised they only had the time and budget to accomodate a certain amount of characters – so changing the personalities of existing characters enabled them to work their message into the story more smoothly… but I find this rather problematic too.

    Because in practice it means that the characters go through experiences that should teach them a valuable lesson or at least shake up their established pattern of behaviour – but a few episodes later, they are back to their old ways, as the plot demands… only to fly off the handle again, as the plot demands… and this has the effect that every time I see some new “revelation” about the characters in this show I wonder if the character-development will stick or not…. I think this is a problem with “TV-Serena” & “TV-Fred” as well as “TV-Nick”. This episode made me wonder if the characterisation of Fred and Serena is ultimately going to go anywhere meaningful.

    I don’t think I’d mind so much the departures from the characterisation in the novel if the new characters had greater internal consistency, and their decisions didn’t seem so much like arbitrary conveniences to the plot.

  3. I don’t see Nick as a douche, used or new, but I can certainly understand your frustration. With me, I wouldn’t use as many negative adjectives for when it comes to Nick, I see him as someone to compare next to Fred. Nick isn’t necessarily lazy but certainly isn’t trying to climb Gilead’s power structure or make a huge amount of waves. He just enjoys not having a hard job and preferred it when he was glorified security. Because, he is fine with that and seems secure in that position.

    Fred, on the other hand, is very insecure, ambitious, but also has this desired to be like. Hence why he’ll bend over backwards and be a kiss ass to people who don’t even have power over him. As for Nick, as shown through Eden, who could report him as a gender traitor, doesn’t give a damn. If he doesn’t like you, he’ll do the bare minimum he has to but if he does like you, as shown with June, he’ll use whatever network he has to try to help you.

    So I wouldn’t call him lazy as much as someone who, if he isn’t passionate about something, he is going to show minimal effort.

    Which sucks for Eden but I find it hard to blame Nick for being coerced a wife. For even though Eden is nice, cute, and all that, Nick is from the old school where you chose your partner.

    But considering he is now dead and being dragged off somewhere, I guess now there is a need to wonder what does that mean for Eden? She is a widow to someone who, depending on the guardians spin it, betrayed Gilead. And guilt by association seems like a punishable offense.

    For she could bring up the letters, but then the question becomes – why did you wait to say anything? So that poor girl is screwed.

  4. Your blog is the main reason I keep watching this show, that and morbid curiosity to see what is, in effect, a glorified fan-fiction followup to a classic novel play out on my TV screen… as it meanders along, I find it more and more difficult to believe the writers have a plan for wrapping up this series. So many plot developments strike me as overly random, made up on the fly, and intriguing concepts/characters are introduced only to be covered fleetingly.

    Like you, I find it odd that June not only challenges authority (in a way that her literary inspiration never did), but is so foolhardy about it. I expect her to be more intelligent and crafty than this. Given her established smarts, I would’ve expected her to use a combination of lies, subterfuge and trickery to get what she wants – instead she just baldly says it out loud to people she knows are empowered to crush her on a whim. It seemed like the writers were having her behave out of character in order to accomodate some attention grabbing plot points
    (like Serena and Fred agreeing on raping her to “put her in her place” and somehow speed up the birth process – it makes no sense)

    Also, once again Fred bends the rules to indulge his own personal whims… this happens so often that it’s starting to strain my disbelief. Don’t you think it’s telling that they never show Fred making the arrangements for June’s meeting with Hannah? I can’t imagine how he’d explain to anyone involved (Hannah’s new parents, the soldiers on duty etc) that breaking the law to make one Handmaid feel better was a good idea and have it come off convincingly.

    Also, do you feel this series would’ve been at all improved if Nick had been depicted as a confident, suave, intelligent and charismatic person? (as he is in the book and earlier movie)

    The Nick of this series is self-absorbed, lazy, indecisive and inept at coping in a crisis situation… I think that even if I hadn’t read the book or seen the earlier movie I’d hate this character. Not only is he totally useless when push comes to shove, but he behaves like a massive dick – and with the way he handled Eden in this episode, pretty much forfeited all claim to my sympathies.

    why on Earth did the writers think it was a good idea to characterise him in this way? The Nick of the book was no saint, but at least he was good at his job and had enough social graces to play the system to his benefit. Why did the writers think depicting him an ineffectual douche would make the series better? In the book and movie, I was rooting for June and Nick to escape the US and begin a new life together. In the series, I wanted their relationship to end before it had begun.

    Do you feel at all exasperated at Nick and perplexed at his characterisation too?

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