‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ Season 3, Episode 4 Recap: ‘Be a Good Girl’
*Warning: Spoilers ahead*
In season three, episode three of The Handmaid’s Tale, Commander Lawrence (Bradley Whitford) tested June’s/Ofjoseph’s (Elisabeth Moss) limits and Serena (Yvonne Strahovski) and Commander Waterford (Joseph Fiennes) struggled within the confines of their new normal.
With the arrival of episode four, some of them are newly finding their footing in the strange world of Gilead.
We open on everyone in the district—Handmaids, Marthas, Wives and Commanders—walking in their respective lines toward a church. It’s time to celebrate the birth of the new babies in Gilead. As they approach the church, Handmaids who have given birth to babies are offered seats of honor. June learns that Ofmatthew (Ashleigh LaThorp) has already brought three children into this wretched world.
Inside, they take their seats and June recalls Hannah’s (Jordana Blake) baptism long ago. Her mother, Holly (Cherry Jones) was ardently against it, but Luke (O.T. Fagbenle) and June felt they should show their appreciation for their stroke of luck.
The Dedication ceremony begins and Wives bound in holding their new babies as the Handmaids who birthed them look on. Ofmatthew especially hardens when she sees her son. June says he’s very cute and Ofmatthew replies that “they’re all beautiful blessings.” The Dedication continues and the priest mentions he would be remiss not to say anything about the baby that was stolen from them by a force of evil. He’s of course referencing Nicole. As this happens, June looks at Commander Waterford sitting alone and can’t quite put a finger on what she feels for him. It should be hate, but it’s closer to love or maybe sadness.
With the Dedication concluded, the Handmaids are invited to the Putnams’ home for a reception. June asks Aunt Lydia (Anne Dowd) how she’s feeling on the way there, saying it’s been a big day and wondering if she’s not overdoing it with her injuries. Aunt Lydia brushes her off angrily. Janine (Madeline Brewer) diffuses the situation and says she’s very excited to see baby Angela. Aunt Lydia reminds her she has to “be a good girl” around baby Angela and make her proud.
Serena runs into June at the party and asks if she missed anything so far. June jokes that everyone has been taking Jell-O shots and doing karaoke. She says she didn’t see Serena at the Dedication, and Serena responds that she didn’t want to be a distraction. It’s clear that Serena is nervous about reintegrating herself into the Wives fold. June suggests they might surprise her and help pull her out of her grief.
Serena inquires about whether June regrets staying in Gilead, and she says no, as long as she might get to see her daughter Hannah. Then Commander Waterford walks up and says he’s happy to see Serena. He reaches for her hand, but she says she only came to support Naomi Putnam (Ever Carradine) and walks away.
In Canada, Emily (Alexis Bledel) de-boards a train and climbs a set of stairs to meet her wife, Sylvia (Clea Duvall). She worries Sylvia won’t show, but she does and they embrace. Sylvia takes her to the home she shares with their son, Oliver. When they arrive, Emily looks around and Sylvia tells her she made pasta salad and purchased the dirt-flavored tea Emily likes. Emily replies that she’ll probably stay in a hotel so it’s not awkward and Sylvia jokes that it already is.
Emily asks if Oliver remembers her, and Sylvia takes her to his room where there are several photos of Emily and the three of them as a family. Suddenly, he comes home and bursts through the door. He’s overjoyed to see both of his moms together and tells Emily, “I’m not supposed to hug you until you’re ready.” She responds that they can decide when they’re both ready and he shows her some fossil photos he got from school.
Later that evening, Emily watches as Sylvia readies their son for bed. He sees Emily and asks if she can read him a bedtime story about dinosaurs. She’s very touched and, as he cuddles up next to her, it all becomes too much, and she starts to cry. Precocious beyond his years, he offers to finish reading the book for them. After he falls asleep, Emily gets ready to leave, but then surprisingly accepts a beer and a chance at a convo with Sylvia.
Back at the post-Dedication party, Janine brings Aunt Lydia tea while she rests alone in a corridor. Janine, always the suck-up, tells Aunt Lydia that she prayed very hard for her recovery—all the girls did. But Aunt Lydia says she knows what the girls think of her and that most of them blame her for what happened to Emily.
Meanwhile in the kitchen, the Handmaids complain about Aunt Lydia. Ofmatthew is the only one who says she’s just doing her job. Just as the women are about to tell her how wrong she is, Commander Waterford enters and tells them to go get some deviled eggs from the buffet (which is forbidden). Really, he just wants to speak with June. He tells her that he’s worried about Serena.
June suggests that if he gives her more freedom (behind the scenes, of course) she might come home. He admits he’ll do whatever it takes to get her back. So, June goes to find Serena and tell her the news. Serena is intrigued and thinks about it as she hands June a cigarette. They smoke in silence in the Putnams’ massive indoor pool room.
Later, Serena is quietly trying her best to socialize when Naomi Putnam enters the room with baby Angela. She offers the baby to Serena, who wearily takes her. Janine sees this from across the room and, before June can stop her, asks if she can hold Angela. Pretty much everything Janine is doing is forbidden, but shockingly, Naomi allows her to hold the baby. When Angela begins to cry, Janine gives her back. But instead of continuing her good behavior she decides to ask the Putnams if they would take her back as their Handmaid.
Seeing this, Aunt Lydia blows up and goes into a rage. She beats Janine senselessly in front of everyone until June stops her and the Guardians come and take Janine away. Afterward, Aunt Lydia can’t think of anything to say so she just excuses herself and cries in the other room.
After that, everyone prepares to leave and Ofmatthew tells June that’s what you get (what happened to Janine) when you mess with Gilead. The Handmaids begin to file out and Serena comes up behind June. She tells her that Hannah goes to the school for domestic arts and that she and her classmates play outside after lunch. She even tells June the location of the school so she can see her daughter whenever she likes.
Before either of them can leave, Guardians rush through the front door and say they need to speak to the Waterfords. One of them is holding an iPad that shows a video of a protest. Luke can be seen with baby Nicole in the video and they ask June if that’s her husband. She says yes and then walks out of the room to consider how amazing it is that Luke and Nicole have found each other.
In Canada, Luke and Moira (Samira Wiley) take Nicole to church to have her baptized. They tell the priest that her mother is in Gilead and that Nicole should be absolved of their sins. He performs the ceremony, and just like that Nicole is baptized.
The only question: Will Luke and Moira have to pay for their decision if Gilead tracks them down? We’ll have to wait and see when The Handmaid’s Tale season three, episode five becomes available on Hulu on Wednesday, June 19.