‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ Season 3, Episode 9 Recap: Worse Than Solitary Confinement
*Warning: Spoiler alert*
Last week on The Handmaid’s Tale we explored Aunt Lydia’s (Ann Dowd) backstory and watched Ofmathew (Ashleigh LaThrop) lose it.
Now, we’ll see what happens when a pregnant handmaid is killed (or is she?) and learn if Aunt Lydia really plans to move June (Elisabeth Moss) from her posting at the Lawrence household.
Episode nine opens on June in the hospital holding vigil while Ofmathew, who’s shockingly still alive, lies in a hospital bed. As June explains, Ofmathew is braindead, but the doctors are focusing on keeping her baby alive. She muses that the baby is all that really mattered anyway. She kneels and prays for her walking partner because Aunt Lydia insists and sometimes the other Handmaids join. Day in and day out, she waits for Ofmathew’s baby to arrive.
Later, when June tries to stand, her knees are bloodied and raw from all the praying. She finally gets up and feels compelled to try and suffocate Ofmathew. She squeezes the breathing tube and listens as Ofmathew’s heart rate accelerates. She rushes back to her spot at the foot of the bed before the nurses come in to make sure everything is OK.
The next day, Aunt Lydia and the rest of the Handmaids join June at the hospital. Janine (Madeline Brewer) keeps her hair in her face to try and mask the infected wound that Ofmathew made of her right eye. Aunt Lydia orders her to pull herself together and Janine says she’s embarrassed by her eye. June tells her it’s not that bad. Then, suddenly, Ofmathew begins to have seizures and Aunt Lydia orders the Handmaids to get out, except for June.
Once Ofmathew is stable again, June asks Aunt Lydia if she can go home. Aunt Lydia responds, saying that she can only go home when Ofmathew does. It’s clear June isn’t quite well in the head, but Aunt Lydia ignores the look in her eye and says that God never gives you more than you can handle.
That evening, June breaks into the box where the nurses dispose of needles and tries to find something to kill Ofmathew with. Just as she’s about to put a razor blade to Ofmathew’s throat, Janine comes in to say hello. Janine admits she hasn’t really been praying for Ofmathew and wants to tell her she forgives her. June decides to let her in on her plan, but Janine insists that June can’t kill Ofmathew and the baby because “she’s one of us.” June begrudgingly agrees, but something in her face makes it seem like she’s not so sure. Janine asks for the razor blade, but June won’t give it to her. “When did you become so selfish?” Janine demands before she tells June that’s she’s different now and she doesn’t like it.
The next day, Ofmathew’s Commander and his wife come to visit. The doctor updates them on the baby’s development and they watch as young girls, just a bit older than Hannah (Jordana Blake), walk by. The doctor says they’re there to be examined so it can be determined if they’ll be able to carry children in the future.
June watches as they converse and holds her razor blade behind her back. She tries to decide who she’ll try and kill first, but then Serena (Yvonne Strahovski) walks in and June knows she found her target. Before Serena, the Wife and the Commander walk out, June asks to speak with her. “Come closer. It’s a secret,” she says. When she tries to stand and has trouble, Serena knows she’s not well. Then, June slices Serena’s arm with the weapon, but Serena is able to disarm her. “You’re out of your mind. You were supposed to be one of the strong ones,” Serena says before walking out. It’s official: June has lost her sanity.
Serena tells the doctor that June cut herself (for June’s sake, she doesn’t mention she was also harmed) and he comes in to survey the damage. “Ouch, you need stitches,” he says and invites her to come sit so he can fix her up. She tells the doctor that he’s torturing Ofmathew, but he says the baby is his patient, not her. She goes on to say her mother was a doctor and she always treated her patients, “the women,” with care. As it turns out, the doctor knows her mother (or at least says he does to make her feel better). “Now I know why you took a swipe at Mrs. Waterford,” he jokes.
She appreciates his kindness and tells him, “You should know I was going to kill Serena and her [Ofmathew] and you, too.” He says he expected this would happen and inquires how long she’s had suicidal thoughts. She says they’re homicidal, but he points out that any one of the things she listed would send her to the wall. She admits she’s felt helpless since she realized she’ll never see her daughters again.
Later that night, Ofmathew requires an emergency C-section. June watches as they successfully pull a tiny baby boy from her body. Once he finishes, the doctor says Ofmathew won’t last much longer.
With the baby’s arrival finally here, June gathers her belongings and starts walking out of the hospital. A young girl named Rose helps her with her suitcase and tells June that she’s in the hospital because she just underwent some tests to tell if she’s fertile. The results were positive, and she says she can’t wait to have children once she’s married. June asks if that’s what she wants and she hesitates, but then says yes, of course.
Finally, June walks out of the hospital and meets Aunt Lydia out front. She says Ofmathew is still alive and surprisingly decides she wants to stay with her until the end. Aunt Lydia is relieved that June has come to her senses and heads into the hospital to bring Janine a new eye patch. Janine jokes that she looks like a “space pirate.”
Meanwhile, June sits with Ofmathew and apologizes for being so harsh toward her. June says Ofmathew’s baby boy is beautiful and she admits that she wants to try and get him out of Gilead. In fact, she wants to try and get as many children out as she can “because Gilead should know how this feels. It’s their turn to hurt.”
The question remains: How will June get these children out? With only three episodes left in the season, we sure hope we find out. The Handmaid’s Tale returns with episode ten on Wednesday, July 24, on Hulu.