Rejoice, resistance fighters: the third season of THE HANDMAID’S TALE is now available on Blu-ray and DVD. Hulu’s smash-hit dystopian horror series, based upon Margaret Atwood’s critically acclaimed novel of the same name, first premiered during the beginning of one of the most tumultuous and infuriating periods in recent American history: Donald Trump’s first year as President. In an era where a man with decades of abuse allegations, who was (and still is) openly and enthusiastically bigoted, and who bragged about sexually assaulting women could be elected President of the United States, THE HANDMAID’S TALE became something more than fiction.
For some, it served as an inspiration for action, a rallying cry, a dire warning of what could very well be our future. Activist groups across the world have even donned the signature red handmaid’s robes and white bonnets during protests against the many inhumane abortion restrictions that many countries, and certain states, have. And also during the confirmation hearing of Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh, who was first (publicly) accused of sexual assault by Dr. Christine Blasey Ford, and then later by Deborah Ramirez and Julie Swetnick.
But for the next few minutes or so, let’s take a break from dwelling on our dystopian present and recap the previous season of THE HANDMAID’S TALE. Here are some of the highlights of Season Three:
- Emily (played by Alexis Bledel) miraculously makes it across the border into Canada with June’s baby Nichole in her arms. She is granted asylum, is able to access non-misogynistic healthcare…and is reunited with her long-lost wife Sylvia (played by Clea DuVall, naturally) and their son Oliver. But now that she’s safely out of Gilead, she’s forced to confront the intense trauma she’s endured.
- Serena (played by Yvonne Strahovski) grapples with her decision to allow June and Emily to smuggle Nichole out of Gilead—she still feels like Nichole is her daughter, but also knows, deep down, that she is most certainly not that girl’s mother by any stretch of the imagination. She also continues to have severe trouble in her marriage.
- Serena has two suicide attempts, and both are as dramatic as she is, darling. The first attempt is by fire: Serena, using the same rubbing alcohol she used to disinfect her amputated finger as an accelerant, lights her bed aflame. It’s actually a beautiful scene, both thematically and aesthetically. In this action, she destroys the bed that she and Fred share as husband and wife—and as co-conspirators and co-rapists. Of course, striking that match doesn’t just destroy the bed; it burns down the whole house of horrors.
- Her other suicide attempt involves her walking into the sea. She changes her mind tries to reconcile with Fred—on the surface at least.
- June (played by Elisabeth Moss) attempts more than once to rescue her first daughter, Hannah, without success. She clashes with her walking partner-slash-spy Ofmatthew, who is devoted to the Gilead regime. Ofmatthew reports the Martha, Frances, who tries to help June reunite with Hannah. Frances is executed via particicution; June successfully turns the rest of the handmaids in their circle against Ofmatthew and reveals that the latter is not happy about her current pregnancy. Due to the sharp pain of social isolation and ostracization, Ofmatthew steals a gun and attempts to shoot Aunt Lydia, only to be gunned down by a Guardian. She is declared brain-dead and is put on life support, essentially becoming nothing more than a human incubator.
- We get a glimpse of Washington, DC—it’s even grimmer than Gilead-era Boston. DC is controlled by High Commander George Winslow, who is played by Christopher Meloni. If you grew up watching him on Law and Order: SVU, his new role as a serial rapist is a particularly uncomfortable experience.
- June is reassigned to Commander Lawrence (played by Bradley Whitford, who, like Elisabeth Moss, is a West Wing alumnus). Despite the fact that he is considered one of the architects of Gileadian society, Lawrence is so not into it. Remember at the end of Season Two when he helped Emily escape?
- We finally get Aunt Lydia’s backstory. Spoiler alert: she was always a religious asshole with more internalized misogyny than, well, every single Republican woman in our pre-Gilead country.
- June develops and executes her latest act of resistance with the network of Marthas and handmaids: the successful evacuation of a plane-full of children from Gilead into Canada.
There are a lot of other important plot points that occurred this season. If you totally forgot what happened and have canceled your Hulu account for whatever reason, fear not! You can buy a copy of THE HANDMAID’S TALE now and enjoy the third season again!