July 17, 2019Tyler Unsell
Heaven is a place on earth. We open with a shot on OfMatthew in the hospital. It is still a wonder that they have any science in Gilead. It’s a pretty great jump cut (jarring). June sits vigil and sings along with the song. She says she hears it…Man she might be cracking a little. Or maybe a lot. She sits on the floor and prays. OfMatthew is just a vessel now as the doctors announce she is braindead but the baby is still alive. That’s the ultimate goal anyway right? Its been 32 days since the shooting. Each day June spends here with her. Its Lydia’s punishment. She see’s some folks dressed in pink through the window. As she quietly sings Heaven is a place on earth.
The wives come in and pray over OfMatthew. June comments they smell like powder and soap. It reminds June of the ritual rape and makes her gag. The rest of the Handmaid’s come to pray and it smells like oranges, and sweat, and pus and bandages because Jeanine is right next to her. She tries to hold Jeanine’s hand but Aunt Lydia ain’t having it. Maybe the Handmaids are turning on her a bit. As the orderlies change her bed sheets she comments the rooms smells antiseptic and that OfMatthew smells like sweet decay. Again we see some people in pink. They seem to be daughters and June is clearly losing it. As four daughters in pink stare at her through the window she wakes up from the nightmare still kneeling in the hospital and attempts to get up but her knees are wrecked. She makes her way up and over to OfMatthew. June is fiddling with the air tube that is keeping her alive. She crushes it a little and alarms go off as she runs quickly back over to cushion. The doctors come in and adjust some stuff and all is back to normal. June says “it has to end”.
Now all the Handmaids are praying and Jeanine’s trying to cover her nasty looking eye. It is startling how the doctors are just trying to keep OfMatthew alive. To the point they refer to the patient as the baby and ignore the mother. OfMatthew starts to have a seizure and June remarks to Aunt Lydia “If you are lucky you might get to see her shit herself”. Lydia is appalled but is so far down the June hate train that she misses the crazy look in her eyes. Lydia says she is an awful person who is heartless. The irony is not lost. Lydia prays for the child. June prays that both of them (mother and baby) will die. Now the doctors are cutting into OfMatthew to introduce a thicker tube to get more fluids into OfMatthew. It’s a garish incision, and they mention they don’t need to worry about the scar and its only done for the baby. June asks to go home and that she doesn’t feel well. Lydia says hell no and that god doesn’t give us more than we can handle. June says….”are you sure” and then fixates on a scalpel that one of the doctors puts in the disposal bin. June wakes up on a cot with a lamp and wanders over to the disposal bin and fishes around in the box for the scalpel only to get stabbed with a needle. She pulls the needle out from under her nail (yikes I do not like that). She finally gets the scalpel out and approaches OfMatthew. She tells OfMatthew she knows she left already. Jeanine shows up. Her eye is infected. She will be spending time in the hospital. Jeanine says she has been praying for OfMatthew. Jeanine also blames herself for the seizures OfMatthew was having. We learn OfMatthews real name is Natalie. I will refer to her as such from now on. It only seems fair. Jeanine forgives Natalie and tells her to get better. June says we can help her and shows her the knife. Jeanine says NO. Jeanine is worried about the baby and claims Natalie as one of ‘us’. June agrees not to do it. Jeanine asks for the scalpel and June says naw. Jeanine calls her selfish. Things are always about June’s problems (I mean it’s her show Jeanine what do you want from her). Jeanine leaves but not without pointing out that June has changed and that she doesn’t like it.
The next morning the doctor is addressing the expectant parents and mentions the babies lungs are not developed enough yet, but they will take care of the baby in the NICU when it comes. We learn the girls in pink are all newly flowered (that is a weird term but one that they used) and are having their first exam. June is thinking about which person in the room she will stab. Serena comes to visit all of them. June asks to speak to her and begs her to come closer (time for some stabby stabby). She then attempts to get up and Serena notices she is “Not well” (no shit Serena). She then takes a swing at Serena and Serena disarms her and comments that she is crazy and that she was supposed to be one of the strong ones. She then tells the doctor what’s going on. The room is a bloody mess. Serena told the doctor that June cut herself. He places the blade back in the bin and offers to stitch June up. While he is stitching her up she mentions he shouldn’t stitch her up if he is going to report her. He is not going to do any harm because of his oath. They then talk about how that oath also covers the mothers. This doctor knew her mother and mentions how much of a firebrand she was. June confesses to plotting to kill everyone. He says he knew that would happen. He asks how long she has been homicidal/suicidal. She says since she realized she won’t see her daughters again. The doctor tells her he is trying to honor Natalie by saving her baby and asks her how will she honor her daughters. That’s some shit. Isn’t that the question all of us as parents ask?
The bells and alarms go off in the middle of the night and Natalie seems to be bleeding out. They take the baby by Cesarean. Its very small (there really should be a trigger warning her for NICU parents, I am one of them). It’s a tough scene but the baby starts to breath on his own. Our doctor informs the other doctors that Natalie won’t last much longer, and they should practice their sutures by closing her up. June has her stuffed packed and is ready to leave. She moves with a limp as one of the girls in pink offers to carry her bag. The girl asks if she was having a baby and June mentions she was just visiting a sick friend. The girl (her name is Rose) says she can have babies now and June asks her if that’s what she really wants and Rose says sure (shrug). As she exits the hospital she spies a whole new crop of girls in pink with their mothers in green. She tells Aunt Lydia that OfMatthew is not dead yet and that she wants to be with her until she is (I bet it has more to do with the pink girls than the sick handmaid).
Aunt Lydia visits Jeanine who is all better from her procedure. Lydia gives her back her eye patch, and they are all smiles. They share a good laugh over how she looks like a pirate now. The HMS babycrazy is about to set sail.
June is sitting near Natalie and talks to her. She apologizes to Natalie for her behavior (Ok first off, she doesn’t really have anything to apologize for. I don’t really know what they are doing with her here). She tells Natalie that her son is beautiful and that he is healthy and will be fine because he is a fighter. June mentions he doesn’t deserve to grow up here that he deserves to be free along with the other children. June is going to start getting babies out of Gilead. She is going to step into the role of the conductor of a new underground railroad. The parallels to the kindertransport feel intentional. If you aren’t familiar with it. Read up it feels like this event may have resonance in seasons to come. If that’s where we are headed I am down for it. However it sure feels like we spent a whole season getting back to the same place we started the season. June sings her Heaven is a place on earth but quickly switches to another song as we fade to black.
Tyler has been the editor in chief of Signal Horizon since its conception. He is also the Director of Monsters 101 at Truman State University a class that pairs horror movie criticism with survival skills to help middle and high school students learn critical thinking. When he is not watching, teaching or thinking about horror he is the Director of Debate and Forensics at a high school in Kansas City, Missouri.