‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ Season 3 Premiere Recap: Burn Baby Burn

*Warning: Spoilers ahead*

In the season two finale of The Handmaid’s Tale, Ofred (Elisabeth Moss) got the chance to escape and she let it slip through her hands. In the season three premiere, we find out if she made the right decision to stay behind for Hannah (Jordana Blake) or if she just lost her only chance at freedom. 

Read on for a full recap of the season three premiere of The Handmaid’s Tale.

ofred peering in a window handmaids tale
Elly Dassas/Hulu

We open on Ofred just after she’s handed Emily (Alexis Bledel) her newborn daughter, Nicole, to smuggle her into Canada. With nothing left to do, she begins to walk back to Gilead proper to find her other daughter, Hannah. Soon, she comes upon Commander Lawrence (Bradley Whitford). He tells her she made a mistake by not getting in the car with Emily but agrees to take her to Commander McKenzie’s house to try and snatch Hannah away because he likes her spunk.

Meanwhile, back at the Waterfords’ house, Nick (Max Minghella) is still holding Commander Waterford (Joseph Fiennes) captive in Ofred’s room. Serena arrives and pushes past Nick, but instead of commanding him to let her husband go, she simply says that she allowed Ofred to run away because it was best for her child. He’s stunned. Eventually, Nick lets Commander Waterford go and surprisingly suffers no consequences. 

Ofred arrives at the McKenzie household with a mission. She ignores the family Martha’s surprised cry and walks into Hannah’s bedroom. The Guardians arrive shortly thereafter, but Ofred takes advantage of this rare opportunity to see her daughter. Hannah is asleep, so Ofred just tells her how much she loves her and ties a red string around her wrist to remember her by.

She walks out of the room and the Guardians seize her. But before they carry her out, Mrs. McKenzie speaks to her. She says Ofred needs to stop doing this for Hannah’s sake. The little girl had nightmares after they met at the summer house. Recognizing she’s doing more harm than good, Ofred simply asks Mrs. McKenzie what Hannah, now named Agnes, is like. She responds, saying, “She’s a happy, blessed child. She’s thriving.” She continues on to say that Hannah loves to sew but isn’t very good at it. She enjoys cooking (like her father Luke!) and really wants a dog (even though she’s allergic). She finishes by telling Ofred she must stop traumatizing Hannah.  

nick handmaids tale
Elly Dassas/Hulu

With that, Ofred is returned home to Commander Waterford and Serena. Serena is utterly devastated that Offred left Nicole with Emily, a murderer. Ofred continues to tell Serena that Nicole is in good hands and consoles her. She promises the baby will be safe and Commander Waterford sends her to her room with Nick escorting her. As they ascend the stairs, Nick tells her that she’s stupid for having let so many people risk their lives to get her out of Gilead only to return. He says she’s going to die here, and she responds that she knows she will.  

Meanwhile Emily is trying to cross the border with Nicole. Helicopters circle above them and there’s a large river they need to cross in order to get to Canada. Emily wraps up Nicole and begins to walk across. It’s going well until they’re swept under the current. After several long moments they reemerge, but Nicole isn’t breathing. Emily tries to resuscitate her and just when it seems that hope is lost, Nicole begins to cry. Then, a man approaches and offers them asylum in Canada.

commander waterford handmaids tale
Elly Dassas/Hulu

Back in Gilead, Commander Waterford approaches Serena and tells her that he plans to tell the other commanders that Ofjoseph (Emily) went on a rampage. First, she tried to kill Aunt Lydia (Anne Dowd), and then she came to the Waterford home to kidnap Nicole. (Well, one of those things is true.) He’ll say that Serena and Ofred tried to stop her, but they couldn’t. He says it’s the only way they can all avoid being hanged on the wall. Commander Waterford then apologies and admits that he pushed Serena too hard, so hard that she began to act irrationally (ugh), but he’ll fix it.

ofred sitting on the side of the road handmaids tale
Elly Dassas/Hulu

After he leaves, Serena gets dressed meticulously. Then, in a sudden act of desperation and grief, she uses the alcohol she’s been cleaning her severed finger with to light their marital bed on fire. Upstairs, Ofred notices smoke and finds Serena in her room. She gently beckons for her to follow her and takes her hand. They leave the room as it’s engulfed in flames.

In Canada, Emily is led into the hospital where people stare at her as she walks barefoot in her handmaid’s uniform. A doctor approaches her and tells her she’s safe now. Then, people begin to clap for her and the sacrifice she made to find safety.

ofred in handmaid van
Elly Dassas/Hulu

In Gilead, things are less safe than usual. The Waterfords’ home is completely burned down, but everyone is OK. Ofred is taken to the Red School to be punished (evidently, they assumed the fire was her fault). She’s made to scrub the floor on her hands and knees while other Handmaids are repeatedly marched through wearing dirty boots. While she works, a woman comes to drop off a bucket of water for her and tells her Emily and Nicole arrived in Canada safely. 

ofred cleaning the red school handmaids tale
Elly Dassas/Hulu

At the same time, Moira (Samira Wiley) and Luke (O.T. Fagbenle) are rushing to the post office to open some sort of package. Luke receives the envelope after they wait in line and is stunned to find a picture of Hannah. He marvels at how big she is. Little does he know, there’s an even bigger surprise waiting for him. Emily is suddenly right behind him and asks if his name is Luke. She tells him that June (Ofred’s real name) saved her life and introduces him to Nicole. He’s amazed.

ofred meeting commander lawerence handmaids tale
Elly Dassas/Hulu

Emily isn’t alone in finding greener pastures. Although Ofred’s prospects are much bleaker, she’s eventually told that she can leave the Red Keep and continue on to her new posting. She waits in a dark house to meet her new Commander and is surprised that she recognizes his voice. It’s Commander Lawrence. He jokingly asks her if she’ll be any trouble and she smirks, saying no sir. Maybe things won’t be so bad for Ofred this season after all.

The first three episodes of The Handmaid’s Tale are now available on Hulu, so continue on to episode two to find out. 


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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.