The Handmaid’s Tale Season 3 Episode 12 ‘Sacrifice’ Recap and Review
Now it begins. June stares out the attic window. She is playing with a gun and clip. She cocks the gun. She hears a van outside. She hears noises. Some folks are here, and I am pretty sure they are not friendly. Boots on the stairs. She points her gun at the door. The door opens and its Mrs. Lawrence. She looks disheveled (when doesn’t she). She tells June that there are men downstairs, and they want coffee and sandwiches. It seems the tension has been broken. June is needed to help prepare the coffee and sandwiches. She heads downstairs and tries to overhear the conversation but an armed guard stands there. He looks menacing in a Jason Statham kind of way. The Martha tells her Billy is in for the rescue mission and that they leave a week from today. That seems like a REALLY LONG TIME FROM NOW. The men seem to be discussing the arrest of the Waterford’s.
Everyone has come to beg Joseph’s forgiveness and to ask advice. Now that the other commanders are gone they need advice on what to do and where to head. Joseph is back at the center of attention and you can tell he likes it. He excuses everyone and tells June the Tea. The Waterford’s were stupid and have been arrested. He tells her it won’t happen to him because he is bringing children, and they swap details of the escape plan. I DO NOT TRUST HIM AT ALL (sorry for yelling but things are getting intense). He leaves, and she laughs and prays as she sits back in one of the chairs.
Courtesy of HuluLater she walks outside as it rains, a red umbrella protecting him. She enters the stark supermarket. She passes on news of the escape to other handmaids. Her handmaid in crime is concerned about her son. She tells her to use the Martha network to get a hold of the correct kid and to bring him the night of the escape. June now sees the Waterford’s Martha. They swap gossip while looking at carrots. Spying and carrots go together like peas and carrots. The Martha wants in on the deal. Lots of people are blowing smoke up June’s ass which doesn’t seem real helpful and will probably lead to bad shit later. Fred stands in a cell. Serena comes in, and he hugs her in desperation. They kiss, and he asks her if they did anything to her. She tells him that he needs to keep his mouth shut and to stop worrying about her. She recognizes the danger he is in. Fred finally figures out all of this was her doing. Oh man, he is furious. She offers to pray for him but its clear she picked the child over him (who wouldn’t, he sucks…for real though).
June is back at the Lawrence’s and finds Mrs. Lawrence breaking down in the corner. June asks what is going on and Lawrence tells her that she had to leave but needs to go back in the parlor. June takes her back into the room. Mrs. Winslow is there, and they are praying for Commander Winslow. Mrs. Winslow is scared her kids will be taken from her. Mrs. Lawrence pipes up and says “we can take them with us”. (OHHH SHIT…RED ALERT). Joseph covers for her and says sure they can come stay with us. It was a good cover but who knows if it did its job.
Moira and Luke are going through security and having a difficult time with it. Glad to see metal detectors are still a pain in the ass for folks with kids in the near future. She jokes about it and Luke is not having it. They are bickering as they make their way through. They are going with Nichole to see Serena.
Serena is meeting with the CIA agent, and she seems a little perturbed she is being detained still. He tells her that Nichole is here to visit. Moira brings Nichole in. Moira tells Serena that she is June’s friend and that Nichole is June’s daughter. She tells Serena that Fred raped June and Moira both. Moira gets it. Serena is still awful. Serena picks Nichole up and the baby starts to cry. She tries to tell Nichole that she is her mother but the social worker reminds her she cannot use terms like that because it will confuse the baby.
Joseph is talking to someone very forcefully on the phone. He is trying to convince someone not to close the borders or to go to war. June listens, and he wants her to move the escape up. Mrs. Lawrence is trying to leave and tell all the families about getting their kids out. She is going full crazy and June returns fire and yells at her and slams her against the door frame. Its not a great look but Mrs. Lawrence backs down. It sure doesn’t feel fully resolved though. Mrs. Lawrence is becoming despondent and really lacks hope. I feel like I know where this is headed.
Courtesy of HuluFred is back in his posh cell. He is blaming the CIA operative for poisoning Serena. The CIA is trying to flip him by getting him to talk about Gilead. He says no and the CIA operative says Luke is there for a discussion (uhmmmm does anyone think this is going to end well????). Fred says bring him in. Luke comes in and Fred plays host. Fred is playing up how nice his cell is. It really is better than my house and most apartments I would imagine. Luke tells him he has destroyed lives. Fred now is going full zealot. He tells Luke that he has saved lives by creating Gilead and returning faith and children to the world. Luke tells him that maybe true, but he will rot in that cell knowing his wife betrayed him. Fred sows some doubt of his own by asking if Luke really thinks June will come back to him as the same person. I don’t condone violence but I would like to see Luke beat the shit out of him (Oh heyyyy he did, kind of). Luke hits him and a guard takes him away. I bet that one punch felt Fantastic.
June walks into Mrs. Lawrence’s room, and she can hear her breathing is really ragged. Eleanor has taken a shit ton of pills and is clearly struggling to breath. June freaks out and goes to get help only to stop. She is trying to make some internal calculations here and I don’t think letting her die is the smart move or the ethical one. She hears footsteps and waits. After the footsteps go away she sits by the struggling Eleanor. Its starting to rain and June kisses her on the cheek. This is clearly the sacrifice the episode’s title hints at. She leaves the room and sets the tray on the ground as she was instructed to do. She clearly had affection for her but I just don’t think this move makes any kind of sense. I mean sure Eleanor might have gone rogue but if they can keep her in the house for a few more days than she would have been fine. The sun rises and June listens to the aftermath. Eleanor has clearly died.
Serena is staring at her wedding ring. She is sleeping on a chair and it looks really uncomfortable. The CIA agent brings her a pizza. He is building a report with her. He brings her a newspaper and wants to know her opinion. I think that seems the most effective way to manage her. She wants to have a voice. Even if that voice is totally fucked sometimes.
Marthas gather and are preparing food at the Lawrences. Joseph tells the Marthas to get the rest of the wine and it leaves him alone with June. They are preparing for her service. They swap wine stories about their significant others. He tells her he kept the border open. He was able to use his grief to get what he wanted. June says she is very sorry. He blames himself. June says its everyone’s fault (mostly hers though right?). June says she was very kind. He agrees. Its an emotionally weird moment. I think both characters are struggling with how to play it.
Courtesy of HuluOutside a big line of wives are standing. June covered in black stands at the back. They are attending Eleanor’s service. This moment is really quiet and powerful. Bradley Whitford is an absolute gem on this show and really shines in this episode unlike Godzilla: King of the Monsters where he was given NOTHING. After the service June asks Aunt Lydia if she can go talk to Joseph. She gives her permission. She asks him if he would rather be alone. He does not reply, and she stands next to him and mirrors the way he is holding his hands. He notices the gesture. They stare at one another. June is upset. Joseph is upset. I can’t tell if they are sharing a moment or if he hates her. We see a close up of her eyes at the end. The whole episode is very strange, bordering on the weird. I liked it. Its subtle but tonally a lot different from the rest of the season.
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.