‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ Season 3, Episode 6 Recap: A Whole New Level of Terror

*Warning: Spoilers ahead*

In season three, episode five of The Handmaid’s Tale, June was forced into an impossible situation, so Serena (Yvonne Strahovski) could see baby Nicole one last time. After she followed through with her end of the deal, Serena decided she wanted Nicole back. Now, the Waterfords will stop at nothing to bring Nicole home—no matter the diplomatic cost. 

Let’s see how high the stakes get in episode six. 

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We open on a group of Marthas praying for baby Nicole’s return. June passes by them and says she hopes their prayers go unanswered or that Serena comes to her senses…or that she and Commander Waterford (Joseph Fiennes) get hit by a truck.

Back at Commander Lawrence’s house, June unpacks groceries. The Commander (Bradley Whitford) comes in and tells her to pack her bags. She’s going on a trip to Washington, D.C., with the Waterfords for a week of prayer that they hope will pressure the Canadians into giving Nicole back.

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She rides the train there with Aunt Lydia (Anne Dowd) who says she’s “pumped” to be in the capital. She tells June to go to her spot (a literal red dot for Handmaids) and wait for the Waterfords. When they arrive, the Commander is in good spirits. He and Serena walk ahead and Rita (Amanda Brugel) tells June she’s missed her.

Later, they arrive at High Commander Winslow’s (Christopher Meloni ) house and strategize together for the week ahead. Commander Winslow’s wife, Olivia (Elizabeth Reaser) comes in with their horde of six children. The Waterfords, Rita and June are shocked at how many they have, but say nothing.

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Afterward, Commander Waterford comes into Serena’s room and preps her on all the activities that they have planned for the following day. They hope to put pressure on the Canadians with a new video. She tells him she needs to get some rest and he leaves a wedding ring for her to wear so that things appear normal in their relationship. Before she goes to bed, she looks at an ink pressing of baby Nicole’s feet.

Meanwhile, June is staying in the household Handmaid’s room. When the Winslow Handmaid enters her room, June tries to carry on a conversation with her. When she’s not responsive, June looks at her and realizes that her mouth has been wired shut. 

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The next morning, June joins the Waterfords for their propaganda video. She’s accompanied by a dozen other handmaids who are all tasked with praying for baby Nicole’s return. As they set up the shot, Nick (Max Minghella) surprises them all with a visit. He says Commander Winslow sent him. June is happy to see him and when he stands in for Commander Waterford for a camera test, he and June hold hands. Then, they film the video, which will be broadcast everywhere.

Later, June tries to talk to Serena and says she knows this isn’t really what Serena wants. Serena tells her that seeing Nicole changed everything for her, so there’s really nothing to talk about. June reminds her that Nicole deserves better. Commander Waterford comes in and says Canada has agreed to ask the Swiss to conduct an interview with the whole Waterford family. The Commander tells June to put on a clean dress so they can make a good impression.

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The next day, the Swiss ask to speak with June alone. Serena tells her not to be stupid and try anything funny. In the room, she tells them she wants Nicole to remain in Canada and that Commander Waterford isn’t her father. The Swiss say they learned that from the audio tape she sent Luke. They tell her the situation is complicated (duh), because Canada is eager to avoid conflict. They also say that the more information they get from her, the more they can do to stop Gilead. She insists she can get a Commander (Nick) to talk to them if they can guarantee Nicole stays in Canada. They make a deal.

Afterward, Commander Winslow and Commander Waterford play pool. Commander Winslow says he’s impressed by how Waterford is handling the Nicole situation and that they might have a place for him in Washington. Waterford is elated, but then the Commander rests his hand on his shoulder for a long while—is he a gender traitor? 

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That evening, Nick visits June in front of the Winslow home. They kiss and hug and then June tells Nick that she made a deal with the Swiss. He tells her no at first but she convinces him that this is his chance to be a father to their daughter. He agrees to the meeting.

Whatever happens in that meeting doesn’t go as planned because the Swiss are suggesting the discussions about Nicole’s return continue. Commander Waterford goes to gather the Swiss diplomat’s coat after she comes to tell him the news, and since they’re alone, June asks her what’s going on. The diplomat says they can’t trust Nick’s intel because he’s not what he seems. So, later June asks Serena what Nick did before he was a driver and learns that he was a crusader who fought for Gilead. The oppressive regime wouldn’t exist without him. 

Later, Aunt Lydia helps June get ready for the next taping. She gives her the muzzle Handmaids are forced to wear in the capital.

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They both cry and June asks Aunt Lydia if she wants all Handmaids to be silenced. She says no. She goes on to say that the thing that keeps her going when she gets caught up in how terrible this world is, is that she might be able to do some good and help people. She thinks of June as a woman she could help. Then, they put on the muzzle together.

Later, June arrives at the now destroyed Lincoln Memorial. She considers how far things have devolved. Serena approaches her and suggests they drop all the passive aggressiveness. She says soon June will return home and she and Fred will stay in the capital. “We’ll finally be free of each other,” she says. But June disagrees. She says Serena will never be free of her until both of her children are safe. They trade insults and Serena tells June she should have put a ring in her mouth the day they met (the device Handmaids’ mouths are shut with). June tells her she should have let her burn when she had the chance.

Serena leaves and June hugs the destroyed memorial. She puts her muzzle back on and walks down toward the thousands of Handmaids gathered around the former Reflecting Pool in prayer. Commander Waterford begins his sermon and waits for June to kneel. When she finally does, all of the Handmaids follow her lead.

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We close on a shot of the reflection of a huge cross in June’s eye and we’re left to wonder what more evil the Waterfords will do now that they have more power. And will the Swiss really suggest Canada return baby Nicole? We’ll see when The Handmaid’s Tale season three, episode seven hits Hulu next Wednesday, July 3.


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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.