Heroic is the 9th episode of the third season of The Handmaid's Tale.

Synopsis[edit | edit source]

Confined in a hospital, June’s sanity begins to fray. An encounter with Serena Joy forces June to reassess her recent actions.

Plot[edit | edit source]

Ofmatthew's excessive blood loss means that she is brain dead and kept on life support to finish her pregnancy. An increasingly deranged June is kept in her hospital room, constantly kneeling on the hard floor as a means of punishment by Aunt Lydia for orchestrating the shunning and humiliation of Natalie by the other handmaids. June says in voiceover that she's been forced to stay in Natalie's room for just over a month.

Throughout Natalie's pregnancy, she is visited by Aunt Lydia and the other Handmaids in her district, who pray for safe delivery of Natalie's unborn child. During one of the prayer sessions, Brianna tries to hold June's hand but is struck by Aunt Lydia.

In addition, Mrs. Calhoun brings Wives along with her to pray for Natalie's unborn child. As time passes, June asks Aunt Lydia if she can return to the Lawrences but Lydia reminds her that she has to serve her punishment for causing Natalie's condition; she will only be released when her "walking partner" is released from the hospital.

As June's sanity slips, she is compelled to kill Natalie twice. During the first attempt, she attempts to twist Natalie's oxygen pipe but gives up the attempt when it triggers an alarm. During the second time, June is confronted by Janine, who has been sent to the hospital due to her infected eye socket. Disgusted by June's perceived selfishness and nihilism, she convinces June that Natalie is "one of us" because she is a Handmaid.

Later, June attempts to stab Serena Waterford with a scalpel she had stolen from the medical waste disposal box. She's able to slash Serena on her arm but Serena fights back, taking the scalpel from her, slashing June's palm. Serena alerts Dr. Yates telling him that June cut herself.

June is initially afraid of Dr. Yates but he outwardly buys Serena's story that June cut herself in despair. While stitching her wounds, Yates expresses sympathy for her, privately praising her for taking on Serena. June confides that her mother once worked as a doctor who delivered babies. She tells Yates that his Hippocratic Oath binds him to the safety of his patient and that keeping both Natalie and her child alive is torture for them both. Yates confides that his patient is Natalie's baby but explains that he is saving the babies in order to honor their mothers.

Natalie has frequent seizures, but doctors manage to treat them. Natalie hemorrhages excessively while she is pre-term, and a premature son is delivered via cesarean section and is quickly taken to the NICU. Doctors note that Natalie will not survive much longer. June is allowed to return to the Lawrences.

When she is leaving, she meets Rose, a young girl, who offers to carry her suitcase. She accepts and Rose asks if June had a baby. June says no, she is just visiting a sick friend. Rose tells June she reached menarche and was brought to the hospital for an exam, which means she will marry and have children in a few years. June asks Rose if she wants to have children. Rose nervously replies in the affirmative before being called away by her mother.

Janine's new eyepatch
 See also: Relationships to Aunt Lydia

Outside the hospital, June sees a double line consisting of wives and daughters entering the hospital and asks Aunt Lydia's permission to stay by Natalie's side before she dies. Lydia finds the request to be generous and selfless and allows her to return back to Natalie's room. Aunt Lydia also shows a softer side when she gifts Janine an eye patch to help conceal her disfigurement.

June apologizes to Natalie for her bad treatment, saying that she had "lost her way" in a world where they took everything away. She tells the brain-dead Natalie that her newborn son is beautiful and is a fighter. To honor Natalie, she vows to get out as many children from Gilead as she can, including Hannah, and vows to put and end to the hostile and autocratic republic entirely.

Notes[edit | edit source]

Serena reports a self-harm instead of an attack on her. This may suggest she wants to protect June from further repercussions.

Cast[edit | edit source]

Starring[edit | edit source]

Guest Starring[edit | edit source]

Additional Cast[edit | edit source]

Music[edit | edit source]

  • "Heaven is a Place On Earth" by Belinda Carlisle


References[edit | edit source]

  1. Name given in episode transcript

References[edit source]

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