I am a city girl, through and through. Nature? I don’t know her. You know why? Cause freaky shit happens in isolated places! I need to make sure my neighbors can hear both my embarrassing obsession with Jessie Ware AND my cries for help if something goes bump in the night. Give me civilization, any day.
But also, in the infamous words of Fiona Apple, the world is bullshit. When it comes to justice, its transformation into a bureaucratic labyrinth of half-measures can make the idea of a society a total scam. What’s the whole point of creating law and order, penal codes, constitutions, lengthy discourses on liberty and rights if, at the end of the day, “weak men make the world go ’round”?
Civilization and its limitations are what June is up against in the heart-thumping season finale. Reeling from the possibility of Waterford being set free to live a life of exquisite chocolate and cheese in Geneva, our favorite little bloodthirsty Handmaid is hatching a plan. And what a plan it turns out to be. After these 10 episodes, I feel confident in saying that The Handmaid’s Tale definitely redeemed itself after the season three slog. Getting out of Gilead and showcasing the insurmountable difficulties of recovering from trauma is maybe the best decision the whole production team has made since refusing to properly trim Max Minghella’s signature feature.
It’s why I don’t mind the, uh, EXTENSIVE liberties they have taken regarding international policy and political asylum throughout the whole series. I’ve read the complaints in the comments. There is no way in hell that any country would let June just saunter into Fred’s cell simply because she needs to have a face-to-face talk with him about their past.
How do I know this beyond common sense? ’Cause my dad is a career diplomat who would laugh at every depiction of diplomacy here if he knew what an Elisabeth Moss was. Given that my dad’s pick for Top TV Achievement is The Wonder Years and I had no time to catch him up on all things Gilead, it was hard to ask him to give a professional analysis of all the wrongs in it. However, from what little I could convey, he did give some feedback. First, we are not seeing enough of The Hague. Second, political asylees don’t tend to call their home countries, let alone their politicians, with the frequency I text my BFFs on any given day. There is a host of intermediaries that would need to be involved beyond “the embassy.” Third, what is a recap and is that your job? (We got off topic.)
Yes, it’s all ridiculous. But I honestly don’t care! Because all these liberties have given us engaging plot lines that are way more entertaining than seeing lawyers file motions for 10 episodes. Like June’s conversation with Fred in his cell. Poor, poor Fred. So dumb. He offers June the standard apologies from weak men that rule the world. “I’m sorry YOU were uncomfortable. I get it now that I’m a father a.k.a. I lacked all imagination or empathy to see anyone’s pain before it affected me on a personal level.” “Oh right, your name is June, look at me doing the bare minimum.” We wonder if this is where June will strike, but she is a smart woman. She understands that the justice she seeks cannot be done in the confines of civilization.
Moves are made. The first is to strike a deal with Lawrence, who promises the release of 22 female resistance fighters in exchange for one Sad Sack Fred. Mark agrees to present this to his boss because, as June points out, he can’t argue that Fred is worth more than those twenty-two lives they can save. (What’s the going rate for women? Math makes my brain hurt.) Lawrence, ominous and sharp as ever, bids farewell to June saying, “whatever happens to him before you get him, it won’t be enough.” Ahhhhhhhh, tension.
As Fred steps outside to go to the airport, he is greeted by Mark and a bunch of men from the ICC ready to arrest him. (Dad note: “yeah, once the ICC issues an order of arrest, they can pretty much do it wherever the person of interest is.”) The deal worked. In a first in history, Fred’s defense of “I am a man and I have rights” did not set him free. Instead, he is taken all the way to a bridge connection between the U.S. with Gilead. There he is met first by Lawrence who explains that Fred will be judged by the Foreign Courts Law of Gilead or some nonsense of that matter but before we can even figure out what that is, Eyebrows shows up, with a gang of Eyes ready to do his bidding. It’s really Eyes/ICE because as Nick points out, they have jurisdiction over the border and can therefore do with Fred whatever they want. Gilead—they’re just like us!
The TL;DR version: the whole episode is a journey down the rungs of the justice system. We go from international to national to border to No Man’s Land. To the hyperlocal. Artisanal justice, if you will. Completely handmade.
At first, Fred’s fate felt like it was going to end up being the Most Dramatic Fantasy Suite Date in Bachelor History Ever. Nick stops the Eyes/ICE van in the middle of pitch-as-black woods, where June emerges from the mist. But Nick quickly scurries away after a makeout sesh and June is left alone with Fred who is given a choice: gun or whistle. Poor, dumb Fred. Truly never knowing what is happening right in front of him. He chooses whistle. And June, in this final episode, finally gets what she wants.
- It would have cut the flow of the episode, but I really wish we would have had just one glimpse of whatever Janine and Creepy Teen are doing up in Gilead.
- My only other quibble is that the wilderness scene was too dark! It was giving me Game Of Thrones flashbacks, where I had no idea what was going on in any battle because I AM NOT A CAT AND CANNOT SEE IN THE DARK.
- Fans of the Mark-as-Baby-Daddy-Theory: I’m on your side. That convo he had with Serena where he asks her if she’ll follow Fred to Geneva was all the hint I needed. Yeah, Serena, can you please explain what you mean by “family”?
- Mark is also the winner of this week’s Most Canadian Thing to Happen. Apologizing for his tone after very mildly telling June that ambushing him is unacceptable was a fine example of the country’s national pastime.
- Luke and June are done-zo, right?
- Finally, thank you, thank you for sticking around and reading the recaps. I hope they gave you some insight, some food for thought, but mostly, some levity. I can’t face scary stuff like patriarchal dystopian nightmares without making a joke about it. We all have our coping mechanisms. Until next time.