The Handmaid’s Tale: Season 2, Episode 7 “After” – Recap/ Review (with Spoilers)

Serena Joy sitting at Commander Fred's desk.
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A quiet revolution has begun with a bang and it seems Lillie’s bomb was just an exclamation point before a new chapter.


Network
Hulu
Director(s) Kari Skogland
Writer(s) Lynn Renee Maxcy
Air Date 5/30/2018
Actors Introduced
Commander Cushing Greg Bryk
Odette Rebecca Rittenhouse

Meanwhile, In Canada: Moira, Luke

As reports come in about the bombing, Moira is freaking out while Luke is strangely cool about it. He calls it faith but, as a queer woman, belief in a god is kind of hard for Moira at times like these. Which leads to her suddenly deciding to look up her girlfriend, Odette, from before Gilead’s takeover.

As for why? Well, perhaps with the idea of losing June, Moira wants to look up her former doctor turned girlfriend who helped her deliver her first baby. Yes, you heard right, Moira is a mother. However, more so in a surrogate, get paid $250,000 per baby, kind of way. But that baby got adopted by English people so no need to worry about baby Gavin – Odette is the one to worry about.

Well, was one to worry about anyway. For in Moira’s search she learns Odette is dead.

Commentary

Odette reintroducing herself to Moira.
“You can call me Odette”
Odette (Rebecca Rittenhouse)

Why is Odette just being brought up now? All this time in Canada and just now Moira’s ex-girlfriend, the one who helped in her first pregnancy, now she pops into her head? Was this all really just for a quick reminder that Moira and Luke exist and news is spreading about the bombing? Not that the idea is terrible, for we could use some time in Canada – like figuring out what the hell Luke does all day. However, throwing in a random character who is dead? Could it be this was a very disconnected way of following up on why Moira didn’t take that lady’s number in the last episode? She isn’t over her ex and maybe hoped she was still alive?

Aftermath: June, Serena Joy, Fred, Nick

While Fred is alive, but a bit disoriented, about 26 commanders and a bit more than that, in terms of Handmaids, are dead. Including Commander Pryce. Thus putting Gilead on edge for while what goes around comes around, considering how heavily militarized they are, feeling so vulnerable is uncomfortable and a shock to them. Hence why a witch hunt happens which leaves Handmaids, Marthas, even a commander, dead and hanging like Halloween decorations – right on the street mind you.

But a bad situation becomes worse when Commander Cushing gets involved and decides to take a second look into June’s “kidnapping.” Something which puts Serena on edge for with commanders being killed, and her by no means wanting to deal with the stigma Cushing can bring, she talks to Nick. Someone who, with his knowledge of divine law as an Eye, finds a way to take down Cushing using Commander Fred’s name and powers. Which doesn’t make a lot of sense until you realize what Serena Joy likely did.

Commentary

A picture of Lillie Fuller as she is announced as the person responsible for the bombing.
We believe she’s the person responsible for the bombing.

Can it just be said that when June brought up Commander Cushing was interrogating her, and she told Serena Joy, it really sounded like a threat. After all, with Fred in the hospital, that meant Serena Joy had full command over the house and while I’m sure Aunt Lydia checks in, there are many ways Serena Joy can get her kicks without it being noticed. Like with the stunt she pulled with Eden that was all about June knowing her place.

Yet, as gone into with the next topic, it seems Fred being away had an opposite effect. Rather than cracking down on the household, this inspires Serena Joy to look at Nick, even June, as allies. Maybe even empower herself a bit. Thus leading to Serena Joy creating yet another revolution on the show.

The Whispered Revolution: June, Janine, Emily, Serena Joy

Seemingly, with the number of Handmaids killed, clemency is given to those who are still capable of birth in the colonies. Meaning Emily and Janine? Yeah, they’re back and likely we won’t see the colonies again anytime soon. But with them back means the whispered revolution has begun. For whether you look at Janine’s revolution, being a more merciful God than Gilead praises, who loves everybody or June deciding to share with Emily, everyone really, her birth name, not her “Of-“ name, each one is taking a chisel to Gilead as a society.

But perhaps the one making the most shocking moves are Serena Joy. Well, that is if she is truly typing up documents and forging Fred’s signature on them. Which she even wants June to join in by being her editor. A position which puzzles June, at first, but then she accepts. Be it because peace with Serena Joy means an easier time in the home, maybe also for the escape, or simply the idea of doing what she once enjoyed is a hard opportunity to pass up.

Either way, it seems Lillie has become a martyr who has inspired many a woman to believe they aren’t helpless. That either accepting their fate or running aren’t their only two options. They can also fight. Not in a physical way, but fight the culture which maintains their oppression by simply strengthening their sisterhood.

Commentary

June properly introducing herself to other handmaids.
“My name is June”

One thing not mentioned is how, during June’s act of rebellion in the grocery store, Eden was there. Which, again, leads to the question of what role will she ultimately play in this show? While Gilead has set her foundation, she is away from home and among a different social class. How she takes, or clings to what she knows, that is something which should be interesting. For who knows if teenage rebellion, as we know it exists. Much less this idea that, outside of Gilead, there are places where girls like her would have freedoms or in the past they were given more abilities to do things.

I mean, I’m sure between rewriting history and censorship such information is limited, after all the internet is a privilege and not as widely available as it is in our time. But, perhaps that might be for the best. Since now it forces the revolution to be old school. Not be a bunch of online voices but voices coming out of real people. Tiny acts of rebellion like supporting a lesbian couple, not stoning Janine, or saying your real name vs. your owners.

Heck, even though Serena Joy likely finds the circumstances unfavorable, it even gave her a bit of a kick in the pants. Making you wonder, as she probably tries to steer Gilead, to the best of her abilities and Fred’s power, to her vision, will she get caught? Also, if and when she does, will she be sent to the colonies or will it pretty much be death? She can’t have kids so being a Handmaid isn’t an option. Also, considering her back and forth with June, what led her to trust her enough to be her editor? Is Serena Joy really that desperate to make peace with June, she’d actually empower her in some way?

Granted, even though she is empowering her, June would be working for Serena Joy, so it isn’t like she wouldn’t still be over her. However, June having influence is a weird idea. One which becomes even more curious as you think about Rita and Nick. Technically Eden should be thought about too, but she knows nothing about nothing so it isn’t really something to think about – for this anyway. With Rita and Nick though? While Rita is a victim of circumstance, a Martha did just get killed for trying to pull out her pass. So, even with Commander Cushing handled, I’m sure she is still rattled.

Then with Nick? With him asking to get out of Fred’s household, there is this thought that he knows something is going to go down. It’s just a matter of whether a commander or someone on the inside blows the lid. Which, considering Nick’s life before Gilead, it seems he really doesn’t want the responsibility and pressure of dealing with that pending fiasco.

Question(s) Left Unanswered

  1. How will Aunt Lydia act considering Janine and Emily are back?
  2. Do former handmaids sent to the colony ever get this kind of reprieve and get to go back?
  3. Considering how they have been in a toxic environment so long, you’d think the former handmaids would be checked to see if they could still produce healthy children. Don’t you think?

Highlights

  1. The Whisper Revolution: Seeing multiple women, in their own way, fight to either reform or dismantle Gilead was something. To the point that, for reasons I can’t explain, I found myself crying when June started getting all the handmaids to tell each other their name.
  2. Emily and Janine are back in the suburbs!

On The Fence

  1. While anytime we get with Moira is appreciated, the whole Odette situation, unless truly to show why she is a bit shy about starting a new relationship, seems like something which should have been looked into.

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