The Handmaid’s Tale: Season 3, Episode 12 “Sacrifice” – Recap, Review (with Spoilers)

June, with her face hidden, at Eleanor's funeral.
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June makes a monumental decision which seems to weigh on her more than any other. Though, when it comes to Serena, her decision has her in a nearly joyous mood.


Network
Hulu
Director(s) Deniz Gamze Erguven
Writer(s) Eric Tuchman
Air Date 8/7/2019

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Recap

Meanwhile In Toronto: Fred, Moira, Luke, Mike, Serena Joy

Serena Joy is pretty much living her best life. Mike has her in what looks like a beautiful hotel suite and whatever agreement she brokered with him, it got her visitation rights. Oh, yeah, in case it wasn’t made clear, she screwed over her husband of decades for a baby that isn’t hers. Which is something Moira points out, as she is forced to allow Nichole to spend an hour with Serena, and before she is escorted out of the room.

But, before you think Luke and Moira were just coerced to deal with Fred and Serena being in Canada – you’re mistaken. Mike does allow Luke to speak with Fred, with a guard present, but you can tell he knew something was going to happen. Luke is, after all, June’s husband and this man kidnapped his wife, represents the people who stole his daughter, and what man do you know could have all that done to him and not snap? Especially when dealing with someone like Fred, who is just smug.

Fred after being punched by Luke.

Sacrifices Had To Be Made: Commander Lawrence, June, Eleanor

In Gilead, we’re told in one week, the plane will come in, and the kids will ship out. This is something which, at first, was rather joyous for June. A plan was coming together and was doing much good. On top of that, it seemed she was going to get away with murder for with Fred and Serena Joy taken in, it is assumed Commander Winslow’s disappearance may have been related in some way. However, there is the issue of Eleanor. Someone who is a bit overzealous about kids being rescued to the point she is willing to speak of it to some of the other wives.

As you can imagine, this is alarming to June since this will not only ruin her plan but probably get more people killed at once than she has gotten harmed thus far. So, she goes off on Eleanor, quite harshly, until Commander Lawrence stops her. But, what he doesn’t stop is the guilt Eleanor takes on from being chastised which leads to her killing herself. An action June could have saved her from, for she did discover Eleanor not too long after she took her pills. Yet, to protect all she planned, she lets her die.

Which, for June, might have been a good idea. Well, at least for now. For one issue June was facing was, with Fred being taken in, and Commander Winslow missing, it made a lot of the hotheads in Washington want to retaliate. Also, with those two gone, it has allowed Commander Lawrence to regain prominence. So combine a dead wife with a resurgence of power equals Commander Lawrence stopping his peers from locking down the border or more drastic actions.

Joseph looking at June with suspicion.

However, there is a serious issue that June now has to deal with. Eleanor was one of the driving reasons Commander Lawrence was willing to work with June. So, with her dead, and him suspecting something, did she create a short term solution which won’t allow for her long term plans?

Question(s) Left Unanswered

  1. Considering Eleanor is dead, does Commander Lawrence have much of a reason to go along with June’s plan anymore?

Review

Highlights

The Weight Of June’s Decisions Is Aging Her

I hope this doesn’t come off ageist, but there is something about looking at June, after Eleanor’s death, which makes it seem she has aged. Which I only point out since we spend a good 5 or so minutes an episode staring at June’s face. To not know every line, bruise, pore, and the structure of Elisabeth Moss’ face at this point could only be achievable if you fast forward.

So one would submit the stress of Gilead, grand plans, letting people get harmed, killed, or even committing suicide because of her pursuit of redemption, it’s getting to June. Maybe to the point that, before this is all over, she’ll likely die not from a bullet, but a heart attack or stroke. Which, I know, considering how Handmaids are medically monitored this isn’t likely to happen. However, a lot of things which shouldn’t happen do on this show all the time.

June looking towards Joseph Lawrence.

Serena Betraying Fred

It can’t be said June planned out Fred’s demise but as strong-minded as Serena is sometimes said to be, let’s not pretend June isn’t watching an old seed planted bear fruit. Serena has long been pushed to look at Fred as the reason she isn’t happy or fulfilled. So this, what could be considered her snapping, its on par with Luke punching Fred in the face.

On The Fence

Why Would You Let A Civilian With Motive To Inflict Pain Be With A High Ranking Prisoner?

Which really shouldn’t have happened. I get Mike will try to write it off as something he didn’t know would happen but, think about it, you have a war criminal in your custody. Why in the world would you let anyone who has reason to do them harm in the same room? He could have stabbed Fred, took the guard’s weapon, assuming he had one, and pretty much killed your leverage and gave Gilead all the reason they needed to start a war. But, I guess giving the audience a cathartic release was all that mattered, right?

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The Handmaid's Tale

Season/ EpisodeSynopsisEpisode InformationTopics & Focused Characters
Season 3, Episode 12 “Sacrifice”June makes a monumental decision which seems to weigh on her more than any other. Though, when it comes to Serena, her decision has her in a nearly joyous mood.
Director(s) Deniz Gamze Erguven
Writer(s) Eric Tuchman
Air Date 8/7/2019
  • Meanwhile In Toronto: Fred, Moira, Luke, Mike, Serena Joy
  • Sacrifices Had To Be Made: Commander Lawrence, June, Eleanor
Season 3, Episode 10 “Witness”June takes on a major sacrifice to make a breakthrough in her goal to liberate Gilead’s children. A plan which will test how competent Gilead’s security and leadership are.
Director(s) Daina Reid
Writer(s) Jacey Heldrich
Air Date 7/24/2019
  • A Jealous Man & His Petty Ways: Fred, Commander Winslow, June, Aunt Lydia, Serena Joy, Commander Lawrence
  • Playing The Long Game: Eleanor, Commander Lawrence, June, Fred, Serena Joy
  • Lost The Battle, Prepping For The War: June, Janine, Alma, Beth
Season 3, Episode 11 “Liars”With a recent announcement of season 4, it seems marketing coordinated that with an episode that may finally be the beginning of the end.
Director(s) Deniz Gamze Erguven
Writer(s) Yahlin Chang
Air Date 7/31/2019
Introduced This Episode
Billy Daniel Jun
  • Making Feeble Plans: Serena Joy, Fred, June, Beth, Commander Lawrence, Eleanor
  • The Best Laid Plains Of Mice And (Wo)Men:Serena Joy, Fred, Mr. Tuello, June, Commander Lawrence, Beth
  • The Rise, Fall, And Rise Again Of June Osborne:Commander Lawrence, June, Commander Winslow, Billy
Season 3, Episode 8 “Unfit”We finally get to learn about Aunt Lydia’s life before Gilead took over, but that may become an afterthought considering how the episode ends.
Director(s) Mike Barker
Writer(s) Kira Snyder
Air Date 7/10/2019
Introduced This Episode
Noelle Emily Althaus
Jim John Ortiz
Ryan Ian Ho
  • Petty Like Highschool: Aunt Lydia, June, Janine, OfMatthew
  • The Way Things Were: Aunt Lydia, Jim, Noelle, Ryan
  • Driven To Madness: Aunt Lydia, June, Janine, OfMatthew, Lawrence
Season 3, Episode 9 "Heroic"As June is pushed to the brink of utter madness, murder even, she snaps. But, in snapping, she may have found a new purpose for her life.
Director(s) Daina Reid
Writer(s) Lynn Renee Maxcy
Air Date 7/17/2019
  • Watching, Waiting: Natalie, June
  • Stir Crazy: June, Janine, Serena Joy, Natalie
  • A Renewed Purpose: Natalie, June
Season 3, Episode 7 “Under His Eye”As June loses yet another ally, so begins her possibly losing it. Though she might not be alone as Emily does as well. But, as that happens, Serena finds a crew.
Director(s) Mike Barker
Writer(s) Nina Fiore, John Herrera
Air Date 7/3/2019
  • Like-Minded: Serena, Olivia, Fred, Commander Winslow
  • Bird-Dog: Moira, Emily
  • You Stupid B***h: OfMatthew, June, Eleanor, Commander Lawrence
Season 3, Episode 6 “Household”We take a trip down to DC to learn if things are better or worse in the capital and oh, not only are they worse but June gets a wake-up call.
Director(s) Dearbhla Walsh
Writer(s) Dorothy Fortenberrry
Air Date 6/26/2019
Introduced This Episode
Commander Winslow Christopher Meloni
Olivia Elizabeth Reaser
OfGeorge Kirrilee Berger
  • Welcome To DC: Fred, Serena Joy, Aunt Lydia, June, Commander Winslow, Olivia
  • Negotiations With The Swiss: Nick, June, Serena Joy
  • Small, Cruel, And Empty: June, Serena Joy
Season 3, Episode 5 “Unknown Caller”We’ve come to the point where things might be beyond June’s control, and she may be forced to realize she’s no different than Commander Lawrence’s Marthas.
Director(s) Colin Watkinson
Writer(s) Marissa Jo Cerar
Air Date 6/19/19
  • Reminiscing About The Past: Eleanor, June
  • Attempts At Moving On: Luke, June, Serena, Mr. Tuello, Fred
  • Know Your Place: Aunt Lydia, June, Serena, Fred
Season 3, Episode 4 “God Bless The Child”June really tests the limits of her influence, but this time with the Waterfords and Aunt Lydia. Especially when Janine puts herself in a dangerous situation.
Director(s) Amma Asante
Writer(s) Eric Tuchman
Air Date 6/12/2019
Introduced This Episode
Oliver Charlie Zeltzer
OfMatthew Ashleigh LaThrop
  • Planning For The Future: June, OfMatthew, Oliver, Sylvia, Emily
  • Orchestrating Peace: June, Serena, Fred, Naomi
  • Separate & Unequal: Aunt Lydia, Janine, Naomi, Serena, June
Season 3, Episode 3 “Useful”Commander Lawrence begins to reveal his intentions to us and to say, even after an hour, they can seem ambiguous, that’s an understatement.
Director(s) Amma Asante
Writer(s) Yahlin Chang
Air Date 6/5/2019
Introduced This Episode
Pamela Laila Robins
Sienna Sugenja Sri
  • Serena Runs Home To Mother: Pamela, Serena
  • June Tries To Manipulate Joseph Like She Did Fred, Serena, and Nick: June, Commander Lawrence, Fred, Nick, Serena
  • Commander Lawrence Doesn’t Like To Be Bored, And It Shows: Commander Lawrence, June, Beth, Sienna
Season 3, Episode 2 “Mary and Martha”A few old faces return this episode, and we learn how willing Commander Lawrence is when it comes to participating in the new underground railroad.
Director(s) Mike Barker
Writer(s) Kira Snyder
Air Date 6/5/2019
Introduced This Episode
Beth Kristen Gutoskie
Cora Victoria Fodor
  • The Healing Process: Moira, Luke, Emily
  • Trouble Brewing: Aunt Lydia, Commander Lawrence, Beth, Cora, June
  • I Can Deal With A Lot, But Don’t Lie: Commander Lawrence, Beth, Cora, June
Season 3, Episode 1 “Night” [Season Premiere]The Handmaid’s Tale returns, and like many a season premiere, we are presented the calm before the storm.
Director(s) Mike Barker
Writer(s) Bruce Miller
Air Date 6/5/2019
Introduced This Episode
Mrs. Mackenzie Amy Landecker
  • Family Means Nobody Gets Left Behind Or Forgotten:June, Commander Lawrence, Mrs. Mackenzie
  • Meanwhile, In Canada: Luke, Moira, Emily, June
  • Things Will Never Be The Same: June, Serena, Nick, Fred, Emily, Commander Lawrence
Season 2/ Episode 13 “The Word” [Season Finale]For those, like me, who thought The Handmaid’s Tale was in a perpetual cycle, many things happen which break the wheel and lead us to believe Season 3 will be the fall of Gilead.
Director(s) Mike Barker
Writer(s) Bruce Miller
Air Date 7/11/2018
  • Ain’t No Girl Safe Raised in Gilead: June, Serena Joy, Fred
  • All Villains Eventually Fall: Emily, Aunt Lydia, Joseph
  • No One Gets Left Behind or Forgotten: Emily, June, Joseph, Serena Joy, Rita, Nick, Fred
Season 2/ Episode 12 “Postpartum”June may find herself responsible for yet another death as Emily finds herself in a rather peculiar commander’s home.
Director(s) Daina Reid
Writer(s) Eric Tuchman
Air Date 7/4/2018
Actors Introduced
Commander Joseph Lawrence Bradley Whitford
Cora Victoria Fodor
Eleanor Julie Dretzin
  • We Value Privacy Here: Joseph, Cora, Eleanor, Emily, Aunt Lydia
  • Find Love Where You Can Get It: Nick, Eden, June, Isaac
  • Dr. Jekyll, Mrs. Hyde: Serena Joy, June, Fred
Season 2/ Episode 11 “Holly”Desperate times call for desperate measures and June finds herself having to put her baby first as things become impossible for her.
Director(s) Daina Reid
Writer(s) Bruce Miller, Kira Snyder
Air Date 6/27/2018
  • The Great Escape: June
  • The Discovery: June, Fred, Serena Joy
  • The Joys and Pain of Childbirth: June
Season 2/ Episode 10 “The Last Ceremony”

Perhaps the happiest day of June’s life in a long time also meets yet another where she ends up getting someone killed.

Director(s) Jeremy Podeswa
Writer(s) Yahlin Chang
Air Date 6/20/2018
  • False Labor: June, Serena Joy, Fred
  • In The Lonely Hour: Eden, Nick, Isaac
  • Mommy Loves You: Hannah, Nick, June, Fred
Season 2/ Episode 9 “Smart Power”A trip to Canada temps Serena Joy, Nick meets Luke, and June searches for a godmother. Including Aunt Lydia who opens up to her.
Director(s) Jeremy Podeswa
Writer(s) Dorothy Fortenberry
Air Date 6/13/2018
Actors Introduced
Isaac Rohan Mead
Mark Sam Jaeger
Stuart James Gilbert
  • The Search For A God Mother: Serena Joy, June, Janine, Rita, Aunt Lydia
  • Meanwhile in Canada: Serena Joy, Fred, Moira, Luke
  • The Whisper Revolution Continues: Nick, Luke, Moira, Fred, Serena Joy, June
Season 2, Episode 8 “Women’s Work”Many women get a taste of the old world and there is the slightest bit of hope things could get better for them. However, said blessing is finite.
Director(s) Kari Skogland
Writer(s) Nina Fiore, John Herrera
Air Date 6/6/2018
Actors Introduced
Dr. Hodgson Karen Glave
  • Back To Work: Serena Joy, June, Commander Fred, Janine
  • No Good Deed Goes Unpunished: Serena Joy, June, Commander Fred
  • A Mother’s Love: Janine, Warren, Naomi, Aunt Lydia, June
Season 2, Episode 7 “After”A quiet revolution has begun with a bang and it seems Lillie’s bomb was just an exclamation point before a new chapter.
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
  • Aftermath: June, Serena Joy, Fred, Nick
  • The Whispered Revolution: June, Janine, Emily, Serena Joy
Season 2/ Episode 6 “First Blood”As Serena Joy and June continue their complicated relationship, something possibly game-changing happens at the end of the episode.
Director(s) Mike Barker
Writer(s) Eric Tuchman
Air Date 5/23/2018
  • Be Mindful of Eden: Eden, Nick, June, Serena Joy
  • Just When I Thought We Could Be Friends: Serena Joy, Fred, June
  • Tick, Tick, BOOM: June, Fred, Nick
Season 2/ Episode 5 “Seeds”Just as it seemed the world broke and killed June and she has assumed the role of Offred, she gets two serious wake-up calls.
Director(s) Mike Barker
Writer(s) Kira Snyder
Air Date 5/16/2018
Actors Introduced
Eden Sydney Sweeney
  • Meanwhile, Out West: Janine, Emily
  • A Slow Death: Nick, June, Serena Joy, Rita, Aunt Lydia
  • The Dead Shall Rise: June, Nick, Serena Joy, Fred
Season 2/ Episode 4 “Other Woman”How long can you fight and be defeated, be the cause of others misery and death, before you decide to give up? It seems June has found out the answer.
Director(s) Kari Skogland
Writer(s) Yahlin Chang
Air Date 5/9/2018
Actors Introduced
Annie Kelly Jenrette
  • Annie Are You Okay?: June, Luke
  • For June To Live, Offred Must Take Over: Aunt Lydia, June, Serena Joy, Alma, Rita
Season 2/ Episode 3 “Baggage”Guilt over not being the perfect mom, nor feminist, haunts June as she reminisces about her mother and how she has been as a mom.
Director(s) Kari Skogland
Writer(s) Dorothy Fortenberry
Air Date 5/2/2018
Actors Introduced
Holly Cherry Jones
Omar Yahya Abdul-Mateen II
  • Getting Used To Canada: Moira, Erin, Luke
  • Mother/Daughter Relationship: June
  • The Econopeople/ Being My Own Savior: June
Season 2/ Episode 2 “Unwomen”The colonies are finally seen as well as an update on two favorites – Emily and Janine.
Director(s) Mike Barker
Writer(s) Bruce Miller
Air Date 4/25/2018
Actors Introduced
Dan John Carroll Lynch
Ms. O’Conner Marisa Tomei
Jenna Keeya King
Sylvia Clea DuVall
  • The University Purge: Emily
  • The Boston Massacre: June, Nick
  • The Four Horsemen: Emily, Janine
Season 2/ Episode 1 “June” [Season Premiere]After her grand act of defiance inspiring a non-violent protest, it is time to see how Aunt Lydia plans to punish the girls and whether June’s pregnancy means anything in regards to that.
Director(s) Mike Barker
Writer(s) Bruce Miller
Air Date 4/25/2018
Actors Introduced
Ofwyatt Alana Pancyr
Ofrobert ?
  • The Final Days: June, Hannah, Luke
  • A Revolutionary With A Safety Net: Aunt Lydia, June
  • The Escape Route: Nick, June, Fred, Serena Joy
Season 1/ Episode 9 “The Bridge”It’s easy to get desensitized. Both in terms of what the show offers and in general. Thus making the job of an actor harder for they have to give more of themselves over to you – the audience. Now, up to this point, I shed no tears, felt no significant shock, and only admired Moss and Dowd’s performance. But in this episode, one of those things changed.
  • The Things Asked of Us: Janine, June, Moira
  • The Soul, It Cries for Freedom: Janine, June, Moira
Season 1/ Episode 4 “Nolite Te Bastardes Carborundorum”With it being 13 days since June has been outside, seen someone besides the meek Rita and malicious Serena Joy, she is losing it. Yet, she finds a message hidden away for her that provides strength.
  • Breakout!: Moira, June
  • I Want To Know You/ Have Your Life Be Bearable: June, Serena Joy, Commander Fred Whitford
Season 1/ Episode 7 “The Other Side”Rather than drag out what may have happened to Luke, as I want to believe they are doing with Moira, we get an episode dedicated to him.
  • Before The Car Accident: Luke, June, Hannah
  • After The Car Accident: Luke, Zoe [Rosa Gilmore], Peter [Ben Lewis], Christine [Kim Roberts], TBD (Erin Way)
  • 3 Years Later: Luke, TBD
Season 1/ Episode 6 “A Woman’s Place”As the Mexico ambassador visits, we get a peek inside the past of Serena Joy and her part in what eventually created Gilead.
  • The Woman Behind The Man: Serena Joy, Fred
  • A Valuable Commodity: June
  • Luke? He’s Alive.: June
Season 1/ Episode 5 “Faithful”Many characters have their true colors revealed and, alongside this, June herself we learn isn’t as innocent as she seems.
  • I Can See Your True Colors: Fred, June
  • One Way Or Another: June, Nick, Serena Joy, Emily
  • I Was the Other Woman: Luke, June
Season 1/ Episode 3 “Late”As it’s revealed what happens to those like the original Ofglen, June continues to try to navigate through a world in which she finds herself to be the lobster in the boiling pot.
  • It All Started Little By Little: June, Moira
  • The Benefits of People Thinking You’re Pregnant: June
  • What Happens to Gender Traitors: Emily (Formerly Known as Ofglen)
Season 1/ Episode 8 “Jezebels”Would it be wrong, if not odd, to say I was a bit bored by “Jezebel?” Granted, we got another character’s background story and saw someone from June’s past, but I found it difficult to be excited or engaged. To help understand why, look below.
  • The Life and Times of Nick Blaine: Nick, June
  • Never Trust Janine: June, Moira, Fred
Season 1/ Episode 1 “Offred” [Series Premiere]Being that Young Adult novels have come to dominate visual media dealing with a post-war period, it is a bit refreshing that those under 25 play little to no role in the series. Women who have experienced life instead are the focus and how they are dealing with a world which sent back women’s right at least a century.
Season 1/ Episode 10 “Night” [Season Finale]Solidarity is what causes and maintains revolutions. But for solidarity to sprout there needs to be one voice. One refusal to the oppressor. Which is what we get in The Handmaid’s Talefinale: “Night.”
  • Family: Luke, Moira
  • Insurance Policy: June, Serena Joy, Fred
  • Solidarity: June, Aunt Lydia, Janine
Season 1/ Episode 2 “Birth Day”
  • Birthday: June, Janine
  • I Would Like To Play A Game: Commander Waterford [Joseph Fiennes], June, Ofglen [Alexis Bledel]
  • I Am Ofglen: June

How Would You Rate This?

Negative Mixed Positive

2 COMMENTS

  1. “Do you think that Mike allowing Luke to have a go at Fred might’ve been intended as some half-assed commentary on the way in which the American military has abused POWs and suspected-terrorists in the past?”

    I think Mike has a thing for Serena and Fred is making his job difficult by not being willing to confess. Also, what Mike is asking of Luke and Moira, in terms of cooperating, is a lot so it could very well be this was the trade. Let Serena see Nichole, without making a big hoopla of the Waterfords being in Canada, and Luke gets alone time with Fred and we’ll bring Fred to justice.

    Now, whether or not Serena Joy was made aware of what Moira and Luke would get out of this? Who knows. All that we are made aware of is that she’d have visitation rights. So, if anything, the show is pushing that misogynistic theory that women can’t be in power because something like a child could easily unravel things. This is seen with Serena Joy and Eleanor, to a point.

    Oh, and like most Americans, I just live here. So no offense taken.

    “What did they think was going to happen? How would their imagined Gilead differ from the emergent reality? For that matter – how divided is the ruling council on policy matters? What percentage are hard-line true-believers and how many are just power-grubbing opportunists?”

    The way it seems to me, Serena Joy’s conservative writing was one of the inspirations and the means those who created Gilead formerly marketed their vision. However, I would say those who rule Gilead are the extremist who followed her writing and shared a similar vision. Hence the divided council for some just wanted a patriarchal society and others, like Commander Lawrence, had a full vision of how the society would run and survive economically, among other things. But, with Commander Winslow gone, Fred, and Commander Lawrence losing favor for not being on the bandwagon of the more extreme ideas, it’s causing issues with the long term viability.

    Of which, it’s hard to say how fractured the council is since it isn’t really made clear how Gilead’s government works. At least, I’m unsure if there is still a federalist system or something new altogether? With the only titles we hear being commander, not governor, president, or anything which implies ranking, the show has never made it easy to figure out who are the notable decision makers?

    For the people in Washington, do they have sway over the Boston area? Who rules over the area where The Colonies are? What about the Econo-people? With us only seeing a small bit of the suburbs and one city, Gilead may have been shown in a multitude of ways but its inner workings are still a guessing game.

    “I do wonder why they made Serena complicit in the design of Gilead for this series. Why do you think? Did the writers think that making Serena more directly involved would make her a stronger character? If so, then why did they keep her sense of shock? Did they think it would make her more sympathetic?”

    A part of me feels they wanted to show a white woman as both a hero and villain. Yet, never truly being completely good or evil. June, while presented as the protagonist, does a lot of things most audiences wouldn’t agree with. Same for Serena. While on the side of villains, there is this showing she wants to be good, or at least disagrees with what is a much larger evil.

    And I’d submit Serena’s shock mostly comes from, as you’ve noted, how sheltered and isolated the wives are. They don’t get to speak or read, and have limited tasks and movements. So what their husbands do is a bit of a mystery and they are rarely exposed to it.

  2. I have a theory about the assault on Fred…

    Last week you said that much of the hypocrisy and stupidity of authority figures in this show might be intended as a commentary on the moral inconsistencies of the current US administration and contemporary public apathy towards mainstream politics in general… the prime example being that in this adaptation The Commanders having their own private brothel is public knowledge and there’s no backlash from working class males over the fact that ordinary men get executed for committing adultery whereas the ruling elite are permitted to be unfaithful on a whim
    (In stark contrast to the novel, where the existence of Jezebels was a closely guarded secret, and when it became widely known, all involved were put to death – including Commanders, who are expected to abide by the same rules as civilians when it comes to marital fidelity)

    Do you think that Mike allowing Luke to have a go at Fred might’ve been intended as some half-assed commentary on the way in which the American military has abused POWs and suspected-terrorists in the past? You know, like some of the more pointlessly elaborate torture and petty bullying that went on in Guantanamo Bay?
    (if that’s so, then maybe they actually went a bit EASY on Fred here. No offence, but given America’s track record during The War On Terror, I wouldn’t have been surprised if Fred was treated worse than this)

    What I find more strange is that Serena got such a cushy deal – or that Luke & Moira would bother with her. But again, dramatic catharsis probably plays a part here too.

    One thing that’s puzzled me is that they show Serena, Fred and Joseph as being complicit in the basic setup of Gilead, but ignorant of some specific policy details – only later to be genuinely shocked and appalled when these are put into practice… which makes me wonder, what did they think was going to happen? How would their imagined Gilead differ from the emergent reality?

    For that matter – how divided is the ruling council on policy matters? What percentage are hard-line true-believers and how many are just power-grubbing opportunists?

    I do wonder why they made Serena complicit in the design of Gilead for this series. Why do you think?
    In the book she was not a party to the planning of this society and although a religious conservative, was not directly tied to the party that took over. Her resentment and dissatisfaction made a bit more sense, because she wasn’t prepared for the coup or an advocate for this specific brand of fundamentalism, she was just a small time televangelist muttering vague platitudes about how swell “traditional family values” are.

    Did the writers think that making Serena more directly involved would make her a stronger character? If so, then why did they keep her sense of shock? Did they think it would make her more sympathetic?
    (I dunno… I found this actually made her less sympathetic to me cause I constantly thought that she ought to know better… novel-Serena at least had more genuine-ignorance to begin with, so she wasn’t quite as much of a hypocrite)

    I’m glad to hear June is losing a bit of her physical indomitability, though I know nothing permanently debilitating would ever happen to her now. Eleanor’s death does strike me as an awfully convenient plot development but at least it makes her plans and concealment of past crimes a bit more plausible, like you said.

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