Yo, yo, yo. Season 3 of The Handmaid’s Tale is officially here, and if that cliffhanger at the end of season 2 wasn’t enough to keep you invested in the women of Gilead, IDK what would.
From what it looks like in the trailer, this season will hold even more drama for all parties involved. Where is June’s baby? Is Emily okay? What’s going on with Nick? Do we like or hate the Waterfords now? There are literally so many questions to be asked, and we’re here to help with that, with an episode-by-episode breakdown of the craziest moments of the season.
Let’s get to the goods, shall we? Oh, and if it wasn’t obvious already, there are spoilers from the first seven episodes below. If you haven’t watched, GTFO or prepare to have them ruined for ya.
Season 3, Episode 1: “Night”
June did A Bad Thing and went to visit her daughter Hannah instead of getting out of Gilead.
And when she, naturally, got caught doing so, it landed her back at the Waterfords’, where she had to face the repercussions of kidnapping her own daughter. “You’ve killed us all, you realize. When they find out what happened here, we’ll all be on the wall,” Commander Waterford says. Serena, who ended last season making the sacrifice of giving “her daughter” away, is now pissed because June gave Nichole to Ofglen/Ofjoseph/Emily.
FWIW, Nick is pissed at Offred/June because he hatched this whole plan to get her to safety and she dipped on it. Offred is eventually tortured for trying to flee.
Emily actually made it to safety…
And to a place we like to call Canada with the baby. The cliffhanger at the very end of season 2 was resolved with the realization that Offred/June literally couldn’t leave Gilead without her daughter Hannah, so that’s why she didn’t get in the truck. That meant Emily had to carry on with Nichole/Holly without her. They both nearly drowned, but it’s all good.
Serena tried to burn down her own home.
And Offred helped her get out, making sure they both lived. The symbolism of the Scrabble board, the ceremony bed, and the entire Waterford home burning to the ground felt pretty obvious/badass.
Luke and Moira “inherit” June’s baby.
Emily shows up in Canada with the baby, and she gives her to Luke and Moira. Because June kept a picture of Hannah tucked in with Nichole, which meant Luke got a glimpse of his daughter for the first time in literal years. How that picture didn’t get totally destroyed when they both nearly drowned, IDK. TV magic, I guess.
June ends up with a new posting at Commander Lawrence’s house.
Which might mean she gets the same kind of treatment Emily/Ofglen got when she was there (which was relatively good compared to others). TBD.
Season 3, Episode 2: “Mary and Martha”
Aunt Lydia is alive.
The last time we saw Aunt Lydia she was stabbed and shoved down the stairs, so it’s pretty shocking when she rolls up to the Lawrence’s house to check in on June to see how “the ceremony” went. That’s also when you realize Commander Lawrence is, yet again, skipping his ceremonies with his handmaid. PRAISE BE.
June officially joins the Martha’s resistance.
While staying at Commander Lawrence’s house, June realizes the Marthas have a whole resistance situation that they’re running out of the home. As part of a “mission,” she puts on a Martha uniform and goes undercover essentially, seeing the part of town the handmaids aren’t usually allowed to go to.
Things go south, though, when a Martha shows up at the house with a gunshot wound. They rush her into the basement, and she dies pretty much immediately after getting there. Commander Lawrence finds out and gets super pissed at June. June has to bury the body herself in Commander Lawrence’s backyard.
June also realizes Commander Lawrence isn’t as good of a person as she thought he’d be.
Despite the lack of rape and the fact that he helped Emily get to safety (and tried to help June), this episode is when June realizes that Commander Lawrence isn’t actually, like, a good guy. When June is trying to recover from the literal dead-girl situation in his basement, he says, “Women like you are like children, asking for too much, taking whatever you want, damn the consequences,” which is obviously gross. He also makes a joke when Aunt Lydia tasers June at the beginning of the episode.
Here’s him literally yelling at June for asking about his wife:
Emily makes contact with her family.
After being kinda rudely pushed out of Luke and Moira’s place, Emily called her wife to tell her she was safe. This came about, in part, because Luke got mad at Emily for initially not connecting with her family the minute she got to Canada. “He looks at you, he sees June,” Moira explains to Emily after Luke walks away from the confrontation in a huff. It was an awkward moment, but it pushed Emily to reach out to her wife, which is a positive thing.
Season 3, Episode 3: “Useful”
Nick is now one of “the guys,” and he’s getting deployed.
Commander Lawrence is hosting a meeting of the powerful dudes of Gilead at his home. June is summoned into the room to pour the wine, and she’s pretty shocked to find Nick there among the leaders that make Gilead go round. He’s in the big leagues now, so to speak.
Later in the episode, he comes to Lawrence’s house to tell June he’d been promoted to commander. She’s pissed about it, naturally, because he’s not doing anything with his position to help her. That’s when he tells her he’s being deployed to Chicago, which is where Gilead is currently trying to take over. At first she’s like “whatever,” but then they hook up one last time.
June has to pick survivors.
Lawrence tells June they’re going for a drive, and he brings her to a place where women are being held in cages. They’re bound for the Colonies the next day. Lawrence tells June she’s allowed to save five of them to become Marthas. She refuses to choose, so she’s told by not choosing she’s condemning them to death. “I am not responsible for their deaths,” she says to Lawrence. “You are. Gilead is.” He’s not having it, and he insists on her picking.
By the end of the episode, June’s made her choice, and she picks women who she knows will be able to help with the resistance: an engineer, an IT tech, a journalist, a lawyer, and a thief. A totally baller move on her part.
Serena starts to fully unravel.
Serena goes to spend time with her mom, and it’s when you start to see her cracking under the obvious messed-up nature of a marriage in which her husband insists on cutting off her finger for reading a book. She’s trying to tell her mom about it, and she says, “What it was like between us and the things we did,” obviously acknowledging… all the f*cked up sh*t they did. Her mom basically tells her to shut up, saying, “You gave that baby away, and it wasn’t even yours.” Yikes.
June tries to get Serena to resist more.
Serena comes to visit June at the Lawrence’s house, and she’s very obviously not doing well. She asks June if she thinks about Nichole, which, duh. They share a super sweet moment bonding over what they love about Nichole, and Serena finally admits Nichole isn’t actually her daughter. June basically tells her that if they wait for the men of Gilead to fix things…they won’t. “We cannot count on them. They hate us, Serena,” she says. “They are not on our side.”
Serena insists that she’s not that girl anymore. “You’re scared. Use it,” June replies. “Maybe we’re stronger than we think we are.”
Season 3, Episode 4: “God Bless the Child”
Emily reunites with her wife and son.
Which means she gets to see her son Oliver for the first time since he was a baby. Her wife admits, while Emily is standing in her house, that the whole thing is pretty awkward, but then she shows her all the pictures they kept in his room so that he would remember her. When Oliver comes home from school, he and Emily agree to take things slow with their reunion because that’s what’s best for both of them. There’s a super-emotional moment for both Emily and her wife when their son asks Emily to read him a bedtime story. If you watched the scene, you probably cried. No shame!
Aunt Lydia beats the crap out of Janine.
After that weird baptism ceremony/reception thing, the handmaids get to attend a reception at the Putnam’s home. They’re put in a separate room, though, so it’s not like it’s that big of an olive branch. While they’re there, Janine is obviously pumped about seeing Angela again, and Mrs. Putnam even lets her hold the baby. Janine gets a little carried away and says that she wants to be their Handmaid again. “I just want to be with my daughter,” she says. That’s when Aunt Lydia loses it, physically beating her with her cane to the point that June has to throw herself over Janine to intervene. The women in the room are pretty shook by the whole thing.
It’s also a moment where you see Aunt Lydia really come to terms with what she’s done. She walks into a room by herself and breaks down into tears.
June tries to convince Commander Waterford to, essentially, be nicer to his wife.
Serena has been hanging out at her mother’s lately, and while the handmaids are at the reception at the Putnam’s, Fred comes to talk to June. He’s basically like, “Why won’t my wife talk to me?” And she’s like, “Because you cut off her finger, duh.” JK. She doesn’t actually say that. But June tries to give him advice and basically suggests giving Serena more of a voice behind the scenes so she can be happier overall. She never liked knitting sweaters, June tells him.
This leads to a conversation between June and Serena where June tells Serena she made this proposal to Fred. “Wear the dress, pull the strings,” June says.
Later in the episode, Serena tells June where Hannah goes to school. It feels like a fair trade for June telling her husband that she should have more freedom, but it’s a big moment when Serena tells June exactly where she can find her daughter every single day.
Luke is identified as the person who has Nichole.
In one of the very last scenes of the episode, a guard shows June and the Waterfords a clip from the news. It’s Luke holding Nichole. June is asked to identify him, and she does.
As soon as Serena sees her daughter in the video, it’s like a switch flips and she’s suddenly back to the person she was before, with tunnel vision re: her daughter. June’s just happy to see her baby and her husband together and safe.
Season 3, Episode 5: “Unknown Caller”
June calls Luke.
The Waterfords want June to call Luke to set up a meeting so they can see the baby. She gets exactly two minutes to make the call, and obviously, Luke wants to talk about everything other than a potential meeting with the Waterfords. She has to cut him off as he’s trying to tell her how much he loves and thinks about her, which is really hard to watch. He agrees to the meeting, though, after some serious hesitation, but says it can only be Serena. The meeting is set to go down the next day at the Toronto airport.
The meeting goes down.
Serena has to change into civilian clothes before meeting Luke in a public terminal, where she gets to see Nichole. “God bless you,” Serena starts by saying. “F*ck you,” Luke responds. The meeting is tense, TBH, but Luke says he only did it for June.
Serena says she wants “her daughter” to know who she is while trying to give Luke a necklace that she wants Nichole to have, and Luke is not having any of it. “I don’t know what it is that you tell yourself so that you sleep at night, but Nichole is going to know exactly where she came from and how brave her mother was for getting her here. That’s her story. You’re never going to be anything to her.”
“You wanna know what I tell myself?” Serena asks. “That she was my miracle, and I let her go because I wanted a better life for her and so did your wife.” The meeting is abruptly cut off.
Luke listens to the tape.
June secretly recorded a tape for Serena to give Luke, and she decided to be a good person for once and give it to him. The recorded message is super emotional, but June basically discloses to him that Nichole isn’t actually Commander Waterford’s daughter, she’s Nick’s. “It’s not easy to tell you this, because I am ashamed…I need you to know that Nichole, she was born out of love. Her real name is Holly, and her father is a driver named Nick… he helped me to survive.”
She asks him to forgive her because she’s not the woman he remembers, and she tells him he should do what he needs to survive.
The campaign to get Nichole back officially starts.
While at the grocery store, June is taken into a van and brought to a secret location. She’s basically conned into appearing on a national TV program where she and the Waterfords ask Canada to send Nichole back to them.
The meeting between Serena, Nichole, and Luke changed something in Serena. She’s ready to fight to get her daughter back. Pretty much the opposite of what June and co. had hoped for.
Season 3, Episode 6: “Household”
The crew heads to D.C.
They (meaning Mr. and Mrs. Waterford) are on a mission to get Nichole back by appealing to some external powers. To do that, they have to go to D.C., and they drag June with them. The vibe between June and Serena is icy at best. There are a few things about the trip that are shocking, even for Handmaid’s. First, the fact that certain families in the capital (like the Winslows) have many children while families in other places don’t even have one. Second, the handmaids are forced to wear rings in their mouth. That means they literally cannot speak at all.
The Swiss intervene in the fight for Nichole.
While June is being interviewed by the Swiss, she tries to strike a deal with them. Basically, Nick talks to the Swiss, and they leave Nichole in Canada. Nick’s past would mean that he has Gilead-type tea to spill to the Swiss, who are neutral in this case but also interested in getting as much information as they possibly can.
“This is your one chance. This is it. This is your chance to be a father to our daughter,” June says when she tells Nick about the deal. “How many of those do you think you’re going to get?”
The problem, though, is that when it comes to Nick actually talking, he’s not down to do so, which brings me to…
The big Nick twist.
When June asks the Swiss how the meeting went, she essentially gets shut down. “We won’t be able to do business with Mr. Blaine. I don’t think you know who Mr. Blaine is or who he was. Our research indicates he is not to be trusted, the woman says.”
June is shook. That’s when Serena tells June who Nick actually was before he was a driver. “He served Gilead,” she says. “He was a soldier in the crusade. We wouldn’t be here without him. All this time you spent together and he never mentioned anything?”
Basically, Nick is a bad guy, and the man June thought she knew isn’t who she knew at all. Or that’s what the show wants us to believe.
Serena and June have it out.
In the final scene of the episode where they’re filming at the Lincoln Memorial, the two have a legit fight.
“You know, let’s just stop, please,” Serena says to June. “This is all going to be over soon. You’re going to be able to go back home and we’re going to stay here and you and I will finally be free of one another.”
“You will never be free of me,” June says. “You will never be free of me until both my children are safe….I trusted you to let her have the best life possible. To do the right thing.”
Serena argues that she loves Nichole, which is why she’s doing what she’s doing.
“This isn’t love,” June explains. “You can’t love. You don’t know how. Serena you built this whole world just so that you could have someone, but it didn’t work. You’re small. You’re cruel. And you’re empty. You will always be empty”
“I should have put a ring your mouth the day that we met,” Serena says in response.
“I should have let you burn when I had the chance.” June replies. It is…heated, to say the least.
Season 3, Episode 7: “Under His Eye”
Emily confesses her sins.
Once she’s in Canada, Emily ends up being part of Nichole’s case to stay in the country, and during a formal interview, she is confronted with all the “crimes” she committed in Gilead. Remember that time she ran a commander over with a car? And that time she stabbed Aunt Lydia? Thankfully, her wife literally doesn’t care.
The Waterfords contemplate a life in D.C.
Mrs. Winslow shows Serena an abandoned house in D.C. and says she and Fred could have it if they want it. She makes a comment about how they were “Baptists or something” while showing Serena around a home people were obviously ripped from. It’s super freaky. All the family’s photos are still on the wall, the baby’s room is still decorated with the name Phoebe, etc. It’s an important reminder of how absolutely f*cked this whole situation is.
In a separate meeting, Commander Winslow tells Fred that making deals with the Canadians depends on leaving Nichole in the country for leverage, so he encourages Fred to leave her there for the time being so they can keep doing political stuff.
June visits her daughter.
June takes Mrs. Lawrence and sneaks her out of the house for a “walk,” and they end up going to her daughter Hannah’s school. She got intel from Hannah’s Martha that helped her figure out where it is. She tells Mrs. Lawrence that’s why she wants to go, and she agrees. The visit goes poorly, to say the least, and Mrs. Lawrence has a full-on breakdown in Hannah’s school while June runs around the outside trying to get in.
Hannah’s Martha dies.
The handmaids have been tasked with hanging certain people who betray Gilead, and after Hannah’s Martha helped June find her school, she got in trouble and was sentenced to die.
It turns out June’s walking partner was the one who turned her in, which makes June hate her even more, and she literally screams at her in the street. At one point June tries to choke her, and that’s where the episode ends.
Season 3, Episode 8: “Unfit”
June outs Ofmatthew.
During a testimony circle with the handmaids, June outs her walking partner Ofmatthew for not wanted her baby. Not wanting a child is, like, the biggest crime in all of Gilead, and so feeling this way is a huge no-no. Ofmatthew then has to sit in the middle of a circle of handmaids while they point at her and say, “Sinner, sinner, sinner,” over and over again.
We get Aunt Lydia’s backstory.
In a pre-Gilead world, Aunt Lydia is a teacher, and she befriends a single mom who is struggling to take care of her son. After becoming close friends, the mom suggests Aunt Lydia needs to put herself back out there, so she goes on a date. She gets rejected by the guy (her boss, FYI) and then decides to turn the mother in for neglecting her son. Yikes.
Ofmatthew is killed.
While shopping at Loaves and Fishes, Ofmatthew finally loses her sh*t. She starts to beat Janine, then kills a soldier by shattering a jar into his neck. Then, she takes the gun from the soldie’s belt and points it at Aunt Lydia. A soldier kills her before she can kill anyone else, and Aunt Lydia is devastated.
Season 3, Episode 9: “Heroic”
June is held hostage…
Ofmatthew is officially braindead in the hospital, but because her baby is still technically alive, they’re keeping her there until they can successfully deliver the child. June, as a punishment for her role in what happened, has to sit in Ofmatthew’s room on her knees all day every day until that happens. When the episode starts, she’s been sitting there for about a month. She’s definitely… losing it. When she asks Aunt Lydia if she can go home, Aunt Lydia literally laughs at her.
… And she tries to kill Serena.
Serena visits Ofmatthew because having a baby is a community event. June has found a scalpel somewhere in the hospital room, and during a confrontation with Serena, June tries to lunge at her with the scalpel. It doesn’t work, and June ends up bloody and probably in very deep trouble.. Serena actually shows some mercy by telling the doctor June cut herself, instead of the truth that she tried to attack her. It looks like, despite all the’ve been through, Serena still has a soft spot for June.
The doctor is actually kinda chill, and June discovers that he knew her mom in the pre-Gilead days.
Janine gets an eye-patch.
From Aunt Lydia. It’s not all that important to the overall plot, but it’s sweet.
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