‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ Season 3, Episode 10 Recap: Muffins Mean Yes
*Warning: Spoilers ahead*
In last week’s episode of The Handmaid’s Tale, June (Elisabeth Moss) kept vigil at Ofmathew’s (Ashleigh LaThrop) hospital bed until the end. And although June nearly lost her mind in the process, she did successfully hatch a new plan: to get children out of Gilead.
Let’s find out how she gets the highly illegal ball rolling in episode ten.
We open on June walking home to the Lawrence household while Aunt Lydia (Ann Dowd) hurries her along. When they arrive, they find the house has been redecorated in accordance with Commander Waterford’s (Joseph Fiennes) new regulations that every Gilead home must be in line with Washington, D.C., standards.
Aunt Lydia tells June that the house is now fit for a child, which is convenient since they arrived home just in time for this month’s ceremony. But all is not well in the Lawrence household. As Beth (Kristen Gutoskie) tells June, Eleanor Lawrence’s (Julie Dretzin) bipolar disorder is worse than ever (“she throws things now”) and the network refuses to provide her with the medication she needs.
Commander Lawrence (Bradley Whitford) welcomes June home and they discuss what to do about his ailing wife. June suggests the Lawrences escape Gilead so Eleanor can get the help she needs. As she turns to leave, Commander Lawrence sarcastically asks, “What do you know about how much someone can take?” June succinctly replies, “Everything.”
Later, June goes to the grocery store and tells Alma (Nina Kiri) she needs her help. Alma says the Guardians are watching them closer than ever and June is “conspicuous.” June tells her about her plan and Alma warns that she’ll get hanged just for thinking about taking children out of Gilead.
Afterward, the Handmaids are taken to a stadium and Aunt Lydia tells them to try and look their best for their “very special visitors.” Just then, Commander Waterford enters the stadium and beelines it to June. He tells her that he may be able to arrange transfer for her to Washington, D.C., if she’s interested. She answers by saying his wife is here.
Commander Waterford addresses the women as High Commander Winslow (Chris Meloni) looks around. Serena (Yvonne Strahovski) takes a moment to ask June how she is. June responds that she’s fine and inquires about how her arm is. Commander Winslow then comes over and asks June how she likes Commander Lawrence. She responds that he treats her with respect and High Commander Winslow seems to find that funny.
When she arrives back home, June finds that Commander Lawrence is at work (“he goes to meetings now”). So, she heads to his office and looks for files that explain where her fellow Handmaids’ children may be. Eleanor enters the room looking for a book and asks June what she’s up to. June tells her the truth and Eleanor informs her that the files she’ll need are kept in the basement. So, down they go.
While they search through the files, June asks Eleanor if she’s ever considered leaving Gilead. “You mean somewhere where I can get mood stabilizers instead of herbal tea?” Eleanor quips. It seems she’s thought of it, but Commander Lawrence is technically a war criminal and would be jailed if he ever left the country.
Meanwhile, the Waterfords and High Commander Lawrence chat about ways in which they can make Gilead better. Serena asks if anyone has been resistant to the new changes they’ve instituted, and Commander Waterford suggests that Commander Lawrence’s fitness to lead his household and Gilead should be reassessed. High Commander Winslow is resistant, but when Commander Waterford insinuates that Commander Lawrence’s virility may be an issue, he changes his tune. (Ironic, since Commander Waterford didn’t even father baby Nicole.)
So, that evening June is called to the sitting room for a ceremony. The Waterfords and High Commander Winslow are there so they can make sure Commander Lawrence and June actually go through with it. Commander Lawrence jokingly asks if they’re going to get in the bed with them because that would definitely make things more interesting. He reads the obligatory Bible verse and the Lawrences and June head to the bedroom to commence the ceremony.
Safe in the confines of their room, Commander Lawrence suggests they all play canasta instead, but June says a doctor will check her. They have no choice but to go through it. Eleanor breaks down and June and the Commander try to quiet her, so they’re not found out.
After it’s done, June waits for her examination, and Eleanor recedes to the other room, where Serena checks on her. Before they leave, Commander Waterford asks June if she’s OK. She says, “I mean, at least it wasn’t you.” He’s stunned and leaves.
That evening, June finds Commander Lawrence in the kitchen and asks if Eleanor is all right. He says she’s very quiet and hands June a gift: a pack of birth control pills. The punishment for contraception is being torn apart by dogs. When June says this won’t be the last time they have to perform the ceremony, he says he knows and tells June he’ll get a truck so she and Eleanor can escape safely. She reasons that he can get out too if he brings them something valuable…like “the stolen children of Gilead.” He contemplates this but is uncomfortable with the fact that it would make him “a hero,” which he is not.
The next day, at the grocery store, June sees Alma. Alma tries to avoid June, but she corners her and says her son Dylan is safe “and he’s blonde.” With that, Alma says she’ll try and help but they won’t be able to do this alone. Janine (Madeline Brewer), who’s standing nearby, butts in and says she’ll help. She asks if June knows anything about her son, Caleb, and she responds that he lives in California on the beach with a super nice mom. Janine is in awe.
Meanwhile, the Waterfords have a powwow. The Commander apologizes to Serena for the intensity of last night’s ceremony at the Lawrences’. She says it’s fine, but he needs to refocus on getting Nicole back home. She tells him she met an American in Canada that can help them be reunited with Nicole—all he has to do is offer his cooperation. Does this mean that they, too, may leave Gilead?
Back at the Lawrence household, Beth tells June that she spread the word about getting children out through the Martha network. When a Martha is interested in helping, she sends muffins. The entire kitchen island is full of muffins. June smiles and says, “We’re going to need another boat.”
Will June be successful in her endeavors to get the children of Gilead out? Will Serena and the Commander switch sides? And, will Commander Lawrence be able to stay out of the fray for much longer?
We’ll find out when The Handmaid’s Tale season three, episode 11 drops next Wednesday, July 31.