Star Rating:

The Handmaid's Tale

Showing On: RTE Two

Season: 4

Episode: 7

Actors: Elisabeth Moss, Yvonne Strahovski, Joseph Fiennes, Samira Wiley

Release Date: Friday 18th June 2021

Genre(s): Drama, Thriller

Running time: 47 minutes

After a cracker of an episode last week, this week picks up right away and sees June finally on terra firma in Canada.

Now officially seeking asylum and calling Canada home (for now), June is quickly brought to a luxury hotel where she conks out in a bed for 17 - that's right, SEVENTEEN - hours because trying to destroy a theocracy is hard work, folks. We've been through four seasons of it. So, yeah, maybe she's earned it. Haven't we all, in fairness? There's a key moment where June and Luke try to comfort one another about Hannah being left behind in Gilead, and June does her best to comfort Luke with lies. We know Hannah may now be beyond saving, as Gilead has warped her mind to the point where she's terrified of her own mother. June is brought home and reunites with Moira, baby Nichole, and her own motherhood but it's almost as if she's a visitor and not really there herself.

This is laid bare when they go on a shopping run and June is standing off to the side while Nick and Moira juggle a nappy change in the middle of an aisle. It's clearly all too much for her, as she's trying to make sense of the idea of healthy crisps and then moments later, she's getting PTSD from looking at a water bottle's logo that is shaped in the wings of Gilead's national emblem. Later on, she and the other survivors of Gilead - Rita, Moira, Rory Gilmore (sorry, Emily) - share a boozy evening at their home, but as soon as Serena comes up, June snaps into focus. Elisabeth Moss' facial expressions have always been incredible at showcasing her internal turmoil, but the crazed smile she has during this scene is actually kind of terrifying.

This culminates when, at long last, Serena and June come face to face with one another. Serena pops in and out of 'Home'; we first see her on her knees thanking God for another week of pregnancy and asking for the strength to raise her child alone and without Commander Waterford. Despite this religious supplicancy, she's completely defiant to the US representative guy. When she meets June, she begs for forgiveness and repeats the same move to June, going down on bended knees. And then it happens. Seven years of rage comes out in a stream of absolute hatred and June nails Serena with a devastating line. Serena is way too calculating, we know this, to be so mournful in front of June and fair play to her, she sees right through it and gives her both barrels, telling Serena "that when (God) kills that baby inside your womb, you will feel a fraction of the pain that you caused us when you tore our children from our arms."

It's powerful stuff, and Elisabeth Moss and Yvonne Strahovski prove themselves to be perfect scene partners yet again, Moss going full-on animal rage while Strahovski is all crocodile tears. In the very next scene, she's back with Commander Waterford who, silly prick that he is, thinks she's come to her senses.

The episode rounds itself out with an uncomfortable sex scene between Luke and June, followed by June helping to guide the legal team's assessment of Serena for the upcoming trial. She's no less seething than she was earlier, but now there's a real sense that vengeance is finally coming down on the Waterfords. Is Gilead next?

Final Thoughts

  • Healthy crisps are a load of bollocks, and it's good that 'The Handmaid's Tale' is highlighting this issue.
  • Why does the prison the Waterfords are being held in look like a spaceship?
  • 'At Last' felt like such a weird song choice, tbh.
  • Calling it now - Hannah is going to be called in for the trial or something, or brought in again before the season ends.