‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ Season 2, Episode 9 Recap: Oh, Canada

*Warning: Spoilers ahead*

  • Nick and the Waterfords take a not-so-enjoyable trip to Canada, where all hell breaks loose. 
  • Serena receives an offer she really shouldn’t refuse, and Nick comes face-to-face with his competition. 
  • Moira, Luke and Erin get one step closer to making things right in the world. 
  • Offred tries to make sure her baby will be cared for after her time with the Waterfords is up. 

Ready, set, let’s recap. 

handmaid s tale commander waterford and serena
George Kraychyk/Hulu

Cue The Ooo Response

The episode opens on Offred (Elisabeth Moss) daydreaming in her room…because, honestly, what else is there to do in Gilead. “This could be an Airbnb, not a great one. A three-star review maybe…[The] owners are super nice but creepy as f**k…Ritualized rape required,” she muses about her strange living situation. Ultimately, she decides pining over things you can’t have (like freedom) isn’t worth the energy, and just in time, Rita (Amanda Brugel) comes in and says they’re being summoned.

As the ladies of the house learn, Commander Waterford (Joseph Fiennes), Serena (Yvonne Strahovski) and Nick (Max Minghella) are going on a little work trip to Canada. A guardian with anger issues and a chip on his shoulder named Isaac (Rohan Mead) will watch over the household while they’re gone. The Commander tells the women to be on their best behavior like they’re dogs being left at a kennel. Guess it’s not too far off.

Later, the Commander finds Serena in her greenhouse, where she tries to convince him that she should probably stay home and make sure her flowers don’t die. The real reason she’s feeling anti-vacay? It’s Offred’s third trimester, and she’s worried she’ll miss something. The Commander tries to butter her up by saying, “The terrorist attack has opened up talks for diplomacy,” and that this trip is “a crucial part of this baby’s future.” Oh, and he needs her there to prove that women in Gilead aren’t oppressed. She’d rather be with her flowers, but does she really have a choice? Nope.

handmaid s tale eden with cookies
George Kraychyk/Hulu

Prepare For Takeoff

As the threesome prepares to depart, Eden (Sydney Sweeney) rushes up to Nick with some homemade cookies. She says she’ll miss him and that she hopes he’ll represent them well. He doesn’t return the sentiment and simply says that he’ll be back in a few days. Ah, newlywed life.

Serena is also not feeling affectionate. Before hopping on a plane to a place where women are allowed to read, she makes her way up to Offred’s room to say goodbye to her pregnant belly and drop a bombshell—after Offred delivers the baby, she’ll be sent packing. Offred refuses, saying that handmaids usually stick around to nurse their babies, but Serena is having none of it. “I think we’ve all had more than enough of one another. Don’t you?” she reasons.

There’s nothing Offred can think to say but, “Yes, Mrs. Waterford.”

handmaids tale waterfords in canada
George Kraychyk/Hulu

Oh, Canada

In the Great White North, Moira (Samira Wiley) and Luke (O.T. Fagbenle) argue with a government official, saying that Commander Waterford, a terrorist, should be arrested for his crimes against humanity upon arriving in Canada. They don’t get what they want, but they are encouraged to speak out…as if that will change anything.

And as the Waterfords drive through the Canadian streets, Serena marvels at people living normal lives and kissing on the street. (Is that some envy we sense, oh Gilead devotee?) Soon they arrive at their hotel and meet with government officials. The Commander shows off his French and one man pointedly says that he and his husband used to enjoy visiting the States before being gay was considered a crime. Canada: 1, Gilead: O.

The men walk off to begin their round of meetings, and Serena is given a schedule of her own that includes photos instead of words. A woman escorts her to a garden and they chat about their diametrically different lives. The Canadian woman’s life is her job, and Serena basically has neither. The woman says she heard that Serena loves knitting, and although we know she detests it, she lies and says she does.

At another stop on the itinerary, a little girl marvels at Serena’s outfit and asks if she’s a princess. The girl’s mother is clearly unsettled by her presence and refuses to share an elevator with her. So, Serena heads to the bar (a funny sight) to enjoy a glass of Riesling. She notices a handsome gentleman next to her trying to light a cigarette and seems tempted to light up herself. She moves to a table and he tries to strike up a conversation with her, explaining that his “other vice is speaking very respectfully to beautiful women.” She retorts that she doesn’t talk to the press, but he’s not a journalist, he’s just a dude named Mark who works for the American government “helping people.” She asks him to clarify which American government he’s referring to and he says they still have a stronghold on some states. No longer beating around the bush, he offers to help Serena get out of Gilead and says he can have her on a plane to Honolulu in an hour. He also promises she could publish her story, and she says that it’d make great propaganda but that she’s not in the business of betraying her country. He quips back, “I thought you already did.” That’s the last straw and she ends the conversation but takes his pack of cigarettes.

handmaid s tale nick in canada
George Kraychyk/Hulu

Remember Your Scripture

Later, protests mount as the Waterfords and Nick arrive back at the hotel. Luke and many others are there wielding posters with photos of their lost love ones. Seeing the Commander makes Luke feel emboldened, so he bursts through the barricades, calls the Commander out and accuses him of raping his wife. The Commander, Serena and Nick notice the photo of Offred he’s holding but remain calm. “You have a twisted perception of our country, Mr. Bankole. But we all know the media has a twisted perception of the truth these days,” the Commander replies. And when Luke curses him and says his reign won’t last forever, Waterford coolly responds, “You should remember your scripture, Mr. Bankole. This Kingdom enjoyeth forever.” Luke swings at him and Commander Waterford tells the guards to be gentle with him because “He’s a lamb of God.” *Chills*

handmaid s tale luke in a bar
George Kraychyk/Hulu

Words Can Be Powerful

Later, Nick dips out to seek out Luke and finds him in a bar. Luke is incensed by his face, but changes his tune when Nick says he knows June. He goes on to tell his lover’s husband (yikes) that she’s OK, but that she’s pregnant with the Commander’s baby. That really sets Luke off, but he swallows his pride and instead asks about their daughter, Hannah (Jordana Blake). Nick doesn’t know where she is or if she’s well, but he does give Luke the Mayday letters that Offred tried to burn in episode five. Luke gives him a message for Offred: “You look out for her and tell her that Moira’s living with me now. And you tell her that I love her. And you tell her that I’m not gonna stop. No matter what happens I’m not gonna stop.” Nick shakes his hand and tells him his name and then he’s gone.

Later, Luke, Moira and Erin (Erin Way) read the letters. Moira’s not satisfied and says she had hoped for a bomb or something that would make “Gilead go boom.” Erin pointedly responds that these could comprise an enormous boom if used in the right way.

So, the next morning when Commander Waterford and Serena step out for another day with the government, they’re met with disdain and told they’re no longer welcome in the Great White North. Turns out Luke, Moira and Erin shared the letters on the internet and, obviously, the outcry is horrendous. Commander Waterford accuses them of believing slander and they’re shown the door, but not before a woman tells Serena that she doesn’t know how she lives with herself.

Protesters surround Serena and Commander Waterford’s convoy to the airport, pounding on the cars and preventing them from moving faster than a glacial pace. Suddenly, Moira pounds on the window holding a sign that reads, “My name is Moira” and Commander Waterford spots her. He recognizes her from Jezebels and we’re left to wonder if he’ll put two and two together and blame Offred for all this.

Later, when the Waterfords are out of Canadian airspace, Moira, Luke and Erin cheer and sing the American national anthem.

handmaid s tale offred in her room
George Kraychyk/Hulu

Now Accepting Godparent Applicants

While the Waterfords cause all sorts of commotion in Canada, Janine and Offred stir up some trouble of their own. On their walk to the grocery store, Janine tells her pal that she thinks she’ll be allowed to see baby Angela again soon because they smell alike, and you can’t keep people who smell alike apart, duh. Annoyed by their conversation, Isaac tells them to shut up and Janine talks back. He knocks her out with his machine gun and drags Offred home.

They arrive back at the Waterford compound without groceries and Rita tells Isaac that the baby needs fat and protein. But, sensing his mood, she compromises and says she’ll just make beans. Eden helps him lighten up a smidge by flirting with him and letting him taste what she’s cooking. Isaac orders Offred to go take a nap, and she asks Rita to come up with some warm milk before heading upstairs.

Upstairs, Offred tells Rita that Serena is making her leave right after the baby is born and asks what she thinks about the whole situation. Not wanting to get in any trouble, Rita says that Mrs. Waterford is the boss and what she says goes. Offred tries a different angle and asks Rita to watch over the baby like a godmother when she’s gone. Rita points out that they don’t baptize kids here but says she’ll do her best given the whole Waterfords and Isaac situation. After Rita leaves, Offred pats her stomach, relieved, and says, “There you go. I got you.”

The next day, Aunt Lydia comes over to give Offred a little checkup. Aunt Lydia mentions she heard there was a snafu on the way to the grocery store, and Offred brushes it off, saying she “spoke out of turn” and has been “a bit spacey.” Aunt Lydia chalks it up to hormones but reminds her that she must follow the rules.

Before Aunt Lydia leaves, Offred opens up and tells her that she’s frightened for the baby’s safety once she’s sent away. Offred asks if she’s familiar with the term godmother and wonders if she’d help keep an eye on the baby because, “any man that would hurt a woman would hurt a child.” Alarms are going off in Aunt Lydia’s head and although it’s not proper Gilead decorum, she promises to look after the baby and even tells Offred that she was a godmother to her sister’s child before Gilead came into power. Offred apologizes for her loss, and Aunt Lydia creepily responds that it wasn’t her fault, but at least there’s another person who’ll make sure the Waterfords don’t royally screw up this little tater tot’s life. Hey, it takes a village.

handmaid s tale the waterfords face off
George Kraychyk/Hulu

Well, *this* Certainly Isn’t Honolulu

The Waterfords return home, and still spewing propaganda, Commander Waterford tells Serena that they’re lucky in a lot of ways. She says they are, but the trip has clearly impacted her. She unpacks and finds Mark’s cigarettes in her bag. She walks toward the blazing fireplace and throws them in. So, looks like that’s a definite no on Honolulu.

Nick slinks up to Offred’s room and tells her that the letters from Jezebels got out and that they made a difference. Offred is overjoyed and they embrace. Nick tells her that he met her husband and that he was the one who published the letters. Offred is overcome with emotion as Nick tells her that Luke said he loves her, will never stop fighting for her and that he’s taken Moira in. “Oh, my God, they could kill each other,” she laughs. Nick says he should go back to Eden, but before he walks out, he tells her he loves her and kisses her. Boy, oh boy, what a messed-up love triangle square this is.

This news brings back the fire in Offred’s belly and she muses, “Moira is Hannah’s godmother. She got out. It was impossible, and she did it. I know I should accept the reality of you being born here and make my peace, but f**k that.”

*Sniff, sniff* Is that another escape attempt we smell? Hey, maybe Serena will come to her senses and join Offred when season two, episode ten hits Hulu on Wednesday, June 13.

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Cat mom, yogi, brunch enthusiast

Lex is an LA native who's deeply obsessed with picnics, Slim Aarons, rosé, Hollywood history and Joan Didion. She joined PureWow in early 2017.