SO MANY DUMB THINGS HAVE HAPPENED (HANDMAID'S TALE RECAP)
Guess what? I’m back, bitches. Just like the show, just when you think I should be over--I come roaring back! Your intrepid Gileadean reporter turned out to be just trepid and abandoned these recaps like they were the unwanted child of a single mother who works the day shift at Hooters. But just like that single mother, I’m here to get you and take you to McDonalds. Get your coat and your backpack and let’s go!
So many things have happened. Most of them dumb. Serena Joy took a secret flight to Canada and got to see baby Nichole and Luke. Luke received some cassette tapes that June recorded over Commander Hipster’s Awesome Mix (rude!) and with them, the news that Devil Fred is! Not! The! Father! The Waterfords engaged in a full out PR battle to win baby Nichole back from Canada, and made June pose with them. They went to our nation’s capitol, and discovered theocracy just all over the damn place--turning our nation’s finest phallic monument into a giant phallic cross and stapling Handmaids’ mouths. Detective Stabler is in charge, and I’m pretty sure he wants to eat Devil Fred’s butt, in a sexual sense. The Waterfords tangoed like Gomez and Morticia Addams, but less sexy. June and Serena got in a huge screaming fight at the foot of the decapitated Lincoln Memorial. June tried to see Hannah with Commander Hipster’s crazywife in tow, but didn’t get to, and also her walking partner snitched and the Martha assigned to Hannah’s new family got got. Upsetting! Also, Nick “Eyebrows” Nickerson is actually a BAD GUY?! Idk, I didn’t pay attention.
NOW AT LAST, we get to see that sweet Aunt Lydia backstory we’ve been jonesing for. You see, in the times before, when Gilead was just a gleam in Serena’s eye, Lydia was an elementary school teacher, driven out of her family law practice by the lack of children. She takes an interest in a mildly neglected little boy (the only child in the world who would not thrill at the idea of multiple fast food dinners). Little boy’s mother is a single mom, and let’s face it, a bit of a mess. She works at some ass-grabby restaurant/bar, chases married men, feeds her child potato chips. Lydia also has an interest in Principal Jim, the sweetest principal committed to film. (Rottenest principal committed to film in 2019? Big Little Lies Principal. Duh.) These two just shine at each other and quote bible verses and it’s cute late middle age love. Awww!
Lydia invites Single mom and little boy to her house, and sort of adopts them. She feeds them chili, buys little boy books, and tries to steer Single Mom towards a more godly path. Single Mom, freshly employed at Sephora, gives Lydia a makeup pallet and a makeover, just in time for her date with Principal Jim. And what a great date it is! It’s New Year’s Eve. They wear their finest sparkle cardigans and drink champagne. They get mildly tipsy and sing “Islands in the Stream!” If you know me, then you know that I love karaoke and sparkle cardigans and awkward older middle aged flirting. It’s really checking all my boxes!
Back to Lydia’s apartment the two go, and begin a make out session. Soon, my delight turns to trepidation as Lydia goes STRAIGHT FOR THAT PRINCIPAL D! She is just after that D! She’s fumbling around, trying to free that D! (Oh no, I whispered. He’s too religious for that.) Indeed, he is too religious for that and he gently shuts her down. She cries, her face hardens, and she rebuffs his tender request for another date. Truly, my heart was broken.
Straight after that, she turns Single Mom over to the newly strict CYFD and they take little boy away from her. Principal Jim begs her to reconsider but she is hardened, now. She will not relent. Gilead and Aunthood is just a hop, skip, and a jump away.
Meanwhile, in actual Gilead, fucking June is off the rails. Hannah’s family has relocated and no one knows where they are. The Handmaids attend a birth, and when the contractions stop, they all get in the birthmobile and Aunt Lydia takes them back to the Red Center for some shaming time. You see, everybody knows that June’s walking partner, OfMatthew, is the one who squealed about the Martha, and all of the Handmaids (except sweet, one-eyed Janine) are terrorizing her like they are in high school and her boobs are too big. June is just soaking it all in, full of malevolence, doing her total heel turn. But her heel turn is like a real sixteen year old girl heel turn. It’s like crossed arms and sneers and saying whatever she thinks about everybody.
June is put in the middle of the shame circle, and they all shame her. But like any sixteen year old girl, she is immune to direct shaming. Instead, she fake apologizes and then tells everyone that her walking partner, OfMatthew confessed to not wanting the baby. Instantly, the walking partner is in the shame chair and called a crybaby. She admits that it was only a moment of weakness, and she did feel a little different knowing that the baby she is carrying is a girl. The others were boys, so she felt okay shitting them out into a world so intent on male supremacy. With a girl, though, it feels different.
The birth gets back on track, and the Handmaids gather again. Sadly, the baby is dead on arrival (cord around its neck) and I wonder again about the wisdom of these home births. I’m fairly sure an obstetrician could have done wonders in this situation. We know they exist--we’ve seen them. Why is there this insistence in home birth when so many pregnancies are difficult? What I’m saying is: DUMB. Everyone is very upset, except June, who says that the dead baby girl is lucky not to be born into this fate.
We get a behind the scenes peek at the Aunts’ sherry and dossier review party. They pass folders with handmaids and commanders around and shoot the shit. We are told that one Commander does not want a handmaid of color, so there’s that. Who knows how that even plays? Lydia suggests that the Waterfords were the source of June’s bad behavior, and that the Lawrence household is not much better. She says something about apples and barrels and I don’t understand what that means.
Later, June goes to Loaves and Fishes and everyone mean girls OfMatthew. Lydia tells June that she is going to remove her from the Lawrences’, and June is like, whatevs. OfMatthew snaps and beats poor Janine with a can of lobster...bisque, I believe. The can definitely has a lobster on it. Aunt Lydia screams for her to stop, and OfMatthew smashes a Guardian with the same can and then takes his gun. She looks down the barrel, everything a blur, passed ducking handmaids in red, Marthas running for cover, and sees June and Lydia standing alone. June is doing a weird ass smile, because she’s gone full Joker now. OfMatthew looks down the barrel at June who smiles and cuts her eyes a little towards Lydia. I’m not sure about that. There is some intent in the motion but I’m unclear about what it was. Anyway, she gets ready to shoot Lydia, but Guardians shoot her first and she lays there, collapsed. They drag her bleeding body away, and June stands in the middle of it all, the sweet sounds of Doris Day’s “Que Sera, Sera” playing over the close up on her face. Fun fact: “Que Sera, Sera” had a prominent place on the ultimate 1980s mean girl movie, Heathers. So...June is Veronica/Winona now? Some bitches get what they deserve? I mean, sure but also no!
I’d like to see a real excavation of the fact that 1) June stayed in Gilead to “rescue” Hannah, in itself a ridiculous wish. I do believe that the Waterfords’ PR blitz strategy might have worked in reverse if June escaped to Canada, got with Luke, and started producing her own Koni 2012 videos about her stolen daughter. 2) She did get that Martha killed, and Hannah did lose someone who cared for her, and the Mackenzies did pack up and leave, because of June’s actions. Sometimes shame circles are not wrong! 3) She does use people, a lot, and is self-centered, a lot, and childishly willful. A lot. Now, for her to go all Nihilist Goth June is fairly easy without knowing what she’s thinking. This episode was focused on Lydia, and I guess we can see the parallels about how Principal Jim’s gentle (almost wrote genital!) rejection hardened her heart and led her to Gilead in the same way that losing track of Hannah has turned June into a heartless, nihilistic dumb dumb. Now she has goaded OfMatthew, who was annoying, sure, but was also going through her own shit, into murder and death. That’s not nice!
I’m not saying she can’t be mean. But I am saying that I need more insight into her character and these choices. Hurry up, show!
Stay tuned? Will I be back? Only time will tell, but I will reward the faithful at some point in time!