Before you get all excited, no, Rory’s not back, and we don’t actually know what her punishment was for the casual, murderous joyride she took the other day.
What we do know now is some of Lady Beardface’s backstory, hooray! Our favorite character (gag) gets a little more fleshed out. Surprisingly, rounding her out does not make her any more sympathetic; if anything, it makes us like her less.
But I digress.
We learn quickly that Offred had three orgasms with Nick, which, you go, you saucy little minx, claim back your body, but also be careful because that’s a huge no-no. We also learn that there are visiting dignitaries coming to crash this dismal misogynist party, so all of the handmaids are out scrubbing the blood off of the giant wall overlooking the river. You know, the one where they hang the gays and priests?
One-Eyed Batshit Janine is being her usual charming batshit self, smearing her hand through the freaking blood and remarking with a big grin that it’s ‘like painting!’ Offred returns her smile with all of the patience of someone who’s been dealing with crazies for a long while, and agrees when One-Eyed Batshit Janine says the wall looks ‘kinda weird without the dead bodies.’ I’d tell One-Eyed Batshit Janine to chill but she’s been through enough.
As for the dignitaries, it turns out they’re from Mexico and will be hanging out with the Beardfaces that evening working on a trade deal. Offred is feeling sassy that night, and after Lady Beardface looks her over and deems her ‘fine’ for the ambassador, Offred flippantly responds that ‘red is her color.’ Offred, it seems, is off the rails. Sensing this, Lady Beardface tells Offred not to disappoint her.
Determined to apparently do just that, Offred engages in some risky flirtation with Nick, telling him she wore her handmaid outfit ‘just for him’. His retort is that he doesn’t want her to wear anything for him, and they clandestinely graze knuckles. I guess Nick is gunning for death-by-handmaid-beatings, just like that guy from episode one.
Nick and Offred are pretty sly, though.
There’s even more fun than taboo flirting to be had inside the study, where the Mexican ambassador – a lady!!!! – asks Offred if she chose to be a handmaid, in the roomful of Offred’s captors/rapist/tormentors. Offred obviously says yes. Then the Mexican lady asks if Offred is happy which, I mean, c’mon. Just look at her hat. No one who wears that ridiculous hat can be happy. But Offred wisely says she’s “found happiness” which we can only assume is in those pruning-shears-to-Lady-Beardface’s-neck fantasies. Or Nick’s penis. I don’t know.
In other news, Lady Beardface apparently wrote a book before turning into turquoise-clad sycophant, and led a rally that started a riot. (That’s a pretty legit resume filler; all I have is this blog.) The Mexican ambassador asks her about this book and whether she envisioned a society where women can’t read it, or anything else. Lady Beardface gives some bland non-answer, and after the meeting, Commander Beardface unfairly blames her for it being tense. Maybe he’ll make it up to her with a magazine?
Flashbacks this episode tell us that Lady Beardface used to be a force in this ‘movement,’ one of the minds that helped bring ‘traditional family values’ back into the forefront of society. We also see her slowly get boxed out of the movement due to her possession of a vagina, and her gradual acceptance of this new lifestyle. I’d feel sorry for her if it wasn’t a big ole case of YOU DID THIS TO YOURSELF.
Meanwhile, Nick comes to fetch Offred because that’s what people do with Offred, telling her that Cmdr. Beardface wants to see her in his study. Offred’s response to this is to make out with Nick in the hallway so yes, apparently they do both want Nick to get kicked to death in a circle of murderous handmaids.
After this illicit snogfest, Offred spends the next chunk of time in Beardface’s office listening to his small-phallus whining about how the Mexican ambassador ‘looked at them like they were freaks’. Apparently Offred is a crappy audience since Beardface kicks her out. She responds by saying she wants to stay, he tells her to kiss him like she means it, and she apparently does not convince him that she’s into him through the kiss. None of us can blame her. He kicks her out.
And then there’s a party.
It’s a swanky one and the handmaids are all there, jazzed to go, especially One-Eyed Batshit Janine who is a treasure. Of course, Lady Beardface is here to ruin everyone’s fun, and tells Auntie Thunderc*nt to ‘remove the damaged ones.’ Which means – you guessed it – One-Eyed Batshit Janine’s one-eyed status means she can’t go. She understandably has a small breakdown – “I want to go to the party, I didn’t do anything wrong!” – and all of our hearts collectively break, though Auntie Thunderc*nt softens the blow by offering her an entire tray of desserts. What a kind agent of Satan.
The handmaids get two long banquet halls at the front of the ballroom and Lady Beardface gives a speech thanking the handmaids and ‘honoring’ them blah blah blah she is gross. I get the feeling this speech was off-script, since Cmdr. Beardface looks all tight-mouthed and unhappy, but who knows. In the middle of this speech, one of the handmaids tell Offred that the ‘trade’ Cmdr. Beardface is working on with Mexico isn’t for oranges, but handmaids. Handmaids have now become a tradeable commodity. Offred looks sort of like she wants to puke, and this intensifies as Lady Beardface invites all of the handmaid-made babies in to parade around the room with their fake moms while their biological moms watch and pretend like they’re not dying inside.
The episode closes with Offred slowly coming unraveled, first barging into Nick’s quarters to say she regrets lying to the Mexican ambassador and saying everything’s fine, and telling him that her name is June, not Offred. She then runs into the Mexican ambassador back at the house and breaks, telling the woman that they’re all raped and beaten and basically held as sub-human breeding stock – and shock of shocks, the Mexican woman doesn’t give a crap. She’s a terrible example of #girlshelpinggirls.
Before Offred can walk off, however, the ambassador’s assistant stops her and tells her info that makes her understandably blanch: her husband, Luke, is alive. And he will bring a message to him from Offred. Offred, her mind reeling, stares blankly at the notebook and pen in her hands, and the credits roll.