Fri. Dec 13th, 2019

TV Recap: ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ Episode 10 – “Witness”

After her ordeal in the hospital, June is returned to the Lawrence’s—I guess Lydia had a change of heart regarding transferring June to another house.  She notices the house has been remodeled, per Fred’s decree to make all houses look like the ones he saw in DC—another sign that Fred is enjoying his newfound place in the power structure.

Re-inspired by her new rebellious commitment to get the stolen children of Gilead out, June asks Martha Beth if she can get the Martha network to help. 

On a roll, she also confronts Lawrence again, trying to convince him to do something to help his wife, who now has run out of medication and is suffering from violent mood swings.  She suggests he get a truck and get her out to get her the help she needs.  “You can go with her,” she suggests.  

The handmaids are called to an “inspection,” which turns out to be just a way for Fred to show off his sector’s obedient handmaids to Commander Winslow, who has come to visit.   Winslow recognizes June and goes over to her, asking how she’s finding her time with Lawrence.  She responds that he treats her with respect, which takes Winslow off guard, and seems to make Fred and Serena both wince, but probably for different reasons. 

Back at the house, June takes advantage of Lawrence being gone to go snooping in his study, but Eleanor interrupts her and wants to know what she’s up to.  June tells her the truth, that she’s looking for files on the children that had been taken from handmaids in the district.  Eleanor responds, matter-of-factly, that Joseph keeps those in the basement and says “let’s go!”

Eleanor locates the boxes of files for June and June sits on the floor and looks through them.  She finds her own file, as well as Janine’s and so many others.  Via voiceover, we hear June doing the math:  five years now these mothers have been away from their children.  So much has been missed—milestones, first steps, first words.  She even discovers that some children have died, including Janine’s son, Caleb, who died in a car accident, according to Janine’s file.  June is more determined than ever to get the children out—now. 

June asks Eleanor if she’s ever thought about leaving Gilead.  Eleanor calmly says that if he left Gilead, Mr. Lawrence would be tried as a war criminal.  He would be killed, “and he would deserve it.” 

Meanwhile, Commander Winslow is having a drink with Fred and Serena and the subject of Lawrence and his unconventional household comes up.  Fred says he is concerned that Lawrence is not fulfilling his duties, but Winslow reminds him of how important a figure Lawrence is in Gilead.  That’s old news, Fred insists, reminding him that he’s had four handmaids and none have “produced.”  He also points out his lack of discipline and suggests, “we might want to set an example.”  Waterford reminds Winslow that there are “mechanisms in place to ensure virility.”  That doesn’t sound good.  When even Serena suggests that might be a little extreme, Winslow, who seems to now be on board, says, “if he’s unfit to lead his household, he’s unfit to lead Gilead.”

So Fred, Serena, Commander Winslow and Lydia make an unexpected visit to the Lawrence house.  They call for June to report to the sitting room and, as June makes her way there, she overhears Lydia speaking of “this sacred night” and she knows what’s coming.  She knows she’s been lucky all these months without being subjected to the ceremony, but now even Lawrence can’t escape his duty.  Not willing to accept Lawrence’s word any longer that the ceremony is taking place, they all are there to “bear witness,” even bringing a doctor along, who will examine June to confirm copulation.  This is all so sick.

Lawrence, Eleanor and June go upstairs and, once the bedroom door is closed, Lawrence says they’ll just sit there quietly for 20 minutes, even suggesting a game of canasta to pass the time, but June insists that they have to go through with it.  There’s no way to fool the doctor.  And even when Eleanor, in a panic, says that it’s just she and Joseph who will get in trouble if they don’t go through with it, June reminds her that she and Martha Beth would be put on the wall too, for not reporting the deviation all these months.  There seems to be no way out and it’s too much for any of them to bear, especially Eleanor.  She wails and leaves the room, as June and Lawrence are faced with what they have to do.  June understands that he does not want to do this, but they both literally have no choice. 

When it’s over, Serena checks on Eleanor and the doctor checks on June, confirming a successful ceremony.  As they all are leaving, Fred approaches June, asking if she’s alright.  “Yes,” she says.  “I mean, at least it wasn’t you.”  Bazinga.

After they’ve left, June sits with Lawrence, who is nursing a drink alone in his study, still upset about what just happened.  He puts a sleeve of pills on the table and pushes them over towards June, calling them “a collector’s item.”  We’re unsure if they are birth control pills or morning-after pills, but, either way, June notes to him that the punishment for using contraception in Gilead is being torn apart by dogs.  He nods.  Then she reminds him that this won’t be the last time they’ll be forced to do that and he nods again.  Finally understanding the depth of desperation he finds himself in, Lawrence tells June that he will get her a truck—with the condition that June promises to get Eleanor out safely.  June is thrilled, and suggests he save himself too: “you can get out, too.  You just have to bring them something….something valuable:  kids.  The stolen children of Gilead.”  He pauses, then says, cryptically, “I’d be a hero.”

At Loaves and Fishes, June tells Alma that she’s got a truck that can probably hold about 10, but she needs help because she can’t leave without Hannah.  Janine volunteers, saying she’s brave.  When Janine asks June if she knows anything about her son, June lies to her and tells her his family was transferred to California, and that the “Mom” seems really nice.  Janine is happy, thinking about her son at the beach. 

Serena forces the Nichole issue with Fred, telling him he’s been dragging his feet long enough.  It’s time to do something.  She tells Fred about Mark, and shows Fred the satellite phone.  If Fred will cooperate, Mark will help them get Nichole back, she promises.  So now this is now two commanders who seem on the brink of giving up Gilead’s secrets.  When June returns to the Lawrence house, she finds Beth in the kitchen, looking at a pile of muffins, stunned.  “Muffins mean yes,” she says.  She says she asked anyone if they would help to get the children out, thinking everyone would say no—but they all said yes.   June looks at the mountain of hope in the form of muffins and says, “We’re going to need a bigger boat.”    June finally has her allies.  Let the rebellion begin.

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