‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ Season 3, Episode 8: Nobody Likes a Crybaby
*Warning: Spoilers ahead*
Last week on The Handmaid’s Tale, June (Elisabeth Moss) set about plotting her escape from Gilead with Hannah (Jordana Blake). Sadly, she saw it all slip away when Ofmathew (Ashleigh LaThrop) told Aunt Lydia (Ann Dowd) the Martha June was conspiring with had put Hannah at risk. The Martha was hanged for her crimes against Gilead, and June decided to make Ofmathew pay.
We learn the true cost of Ofmathew’s actions in season three, episode eight of The Handmaid’s Tale.
We open on the Handmaids all gathered at a birthing ceremony, singing, “Breathe, breathe, breathe.” While June watches, she thinks of Hannah’s Martha. She loved Hannah and now she’s gone. Because of this, June and the rest of the Handmaids have turned their frustration to Ofmathew, aka the reason she was killed. They spit in her water and blame things on her. It’s so noticeable that Aunt Lydia (Ann Dowd) says to June, “Tell your friends to cool it.” She pretends not to know what Aunt Lydia means.
After it becomes clear the pregnant Handmaid isn’t fully in labor, June and the rest of the Handmaids are taken to a basketball court. They’re situated in a circle around June and forced to point their fingers at her and blame her for the Martha’s death. June is not amused and agrees that it’s her fault. It’s not landing on June in the serious way Aunt Lydia wants. So, Aunt Lydia changes tactics and says that Agnes (aka Hannah) is now suffering without the Martha’s love because of June. While Aunt Lydia drones on, June says she has something else to testify (i.e.: confess). June explains that Ofmathew doesn’t want her baby. Ofmathew is brought to the middle of the circle where she’s shamed for being a “sinner” and a “crybaby.”
This whole scene makes Aunt Lydia think back to her life before Gilead. She was an elementary schoolteacher who was benevolent and bright.
When a mother named Noel fails to pick her son Ryan up from Lydia’s classroom until 6 p.m., she suggests the Noel and Ryan come over for dinner. While the boy eats, Noel tells Lydia about the jerks at the restaurant where she works. When Lydia suggests she gets another job, Noel asks if she has a significant other. Aunt Lydia said she was married once but it didn’t work out.
Aunt Lydia ends up befriending Noel and Ryan, even inviting them over for Christmas. But when Noel gives her makeup so that she can go out and find someone special, Lydia takes offense. Ultimately, she allows Noel to apply makeup and puts her new beauty skills to use.
On New Year’s Eve, Lydia uses her new makeup and gets ready to go out with a fellow educator she seems to like. During their date, we learn she used to practice family law and her karaoke singing voice isn’t great.
Afterward, they go back to her place. Lydia is hungry for human touch. But just as they’re about to get it on, her date pulls away (his wife passed a couple of years ago). Lydia is completely gutted and throws him back in the friendzone out of embarrassment. When he leaves, she gets so upset that she smashes her medicine cabinet mirror.
Some time later, Aunt Lydia talks to some social workers (or Gilead Guardians before their rise to power?) at the school about how Noel is an unfit mother. She wants an emergency removal of Ryan from Noel’s custody. Noel finds out what’s happening and is furious. She screams at Lydia for ruining her life. The educator who used to admire Lydia walks away in disgust. Her transition from kindly schoolteacher to Gilead puppet is officially complete.
Back in present-day Gilead, following the public shaming, June returns to Commander Lawrence’s (Bradley Whitford) home and asks him for intel on Hannah. He says he doesn’t know anything and sends her to her room. She passes the time until the birth mobile arrives to once again take her to the birthing ceremony. The baby is stillborn and the Handmaids gather around to console the mother. June, however, goes to look at the deceased child.
When June gets home, Commander Lawrence comes to her room and asks her to spend some time with his wife the following day. “You’re good with her. You’re good for her,” he explains. She retorts that the world he created is destroying his wife and he’s allowing it to happen.
Meanwhile, Aunt Lydia and the other Aunts go through the available handmaids and the families who want them. They match them and talk about the bad apples (June) and the bad trees (the Lawrences).
The following day, Ofmathew and June head to the store. While Aunt Lydia talks to June about getting her out of the Lawrence household, Ofmathew becomes unhinged in the background.
Ofmathew holds a large can of seafood to her face then suddenly, violently begins pummeling Janine (Madeline Brewer) with it. Next, she kills a guard and steals his gun. She points it around then settles on June, whose eyes flicker to Aunt Lydia.
Ofmathew trains the gun on Aunt Lydia, but before she can shoot, a Guardian fires a shot that kills her. She’s dragged away while Aunt Lydia screams, “No!”
In a society where child-bearing women are considered sacred commodities, what happens when a pregnant woman is murdered? Guess we’ll find out when The Handmaid’s Tale season three, episode nine hits Hulu on July 17.