Holly is the eleventh episode of the second season of The Handmaid's Tale.


Offred faces a grueling challenge as she recalls her life as a mother. Serena Joy and the Commander deal with the fallout of their actions towards Offred.


Offred has been left behind at the abandoned mansion after Commander Waterford grants her a brief meeting with her daughter, Hannah. She is standing outside in the cold, staring at the drive to the road. As she turns around, she sees a detached garage. She tries to open the side door, but can't. She looks in the garage door windows, and sees a car. She tries to open the garage door, but can't. She looks up, and sees a wolf watching her.

As she carefully returns to the house, she apologizes in her narration for the broken structure of this story, "like a body caught in crossfire or pulled apart by force." Inside, she begins looking through drawers. She discovers an office. There are hunting trophies (taxidermy) on the walls. Behind the desk, where there is a photo of Hannah and her placement mother with a caught fish, and on the desk there is a picture drawn by a child, presumably Hannah. It is of the house, Hannah, and her placement parents. She remembers a day she left Hannah at school and how Hannah didn't want to let her go after "last hugs."

In the office, she finds keys to the garage. She goes to the garage and finds a well-preserved veteran car. She starts the car, tunes the radio and hears Radio Free America announce the news that US Capital in Anchorage has received aid from two countries; that the UK has imposed more sanctions on Gilead, and that the UK is planning to raise the limit on American refugees relocating from Canada. The announcer then says, "the next tune is to remind everyone who is listening, American patriot or Gilead traitor, we are still here. Stars and Stripes forever, baby." This makes June smile, and gives her hope. Bruce Springsteen's 'Hungry Heart' begins to play. The lyrics are a comfort to June as she strokes her stomach.

June gets out of the car and goes back into the house. She gathers up an escape bag with food, first aid, and blankets. She puts that in the car and goes back upstairs and grabs the Commander's heavy coat. In front of his armoire, she looks at her pregnant profile in the full-length mirror. She remembers when she was very pregnant with Hannah, and was getting ready for a book release party with Luke, with many sweet interactions between the expectant parents. Her memory ends as she hears a vehicle approaching.

Serena Joy and the Commander Fred arrive looking for Offred. When they enter, Fred calls out to Commander MacKenzie and his wife, the owners of the empty house, but gets no answer. Fred says that they should go home and make a plan. Serena refuses to leave without "her baby". She runs upstairs, and notices the clothing armoires have been uncovered. She sees Offred's cloak and head cover, and runs downstairs to show it to Fred.

Serena and Fred argue over Offred. Serena blames him for Nick and Offred running off together. He says Nick would not be that disloyal, and that he let Offred see her daughter, which he believes would have made her grateful. Serena tells him he is stupid and that they hate him, which is why Offred keeps running away from him. Fred blames Serena's constant cruelty to Offred for her escape attempts. Serena tells him he raped Offred last night and he points out that was her idea, and says that he did it "to fix her mess." Serena in her anger says that Nick is the father of Offred's baby, and he should have expected them to run after seeing Hannah. She asks Fred if he expected to Offred to return after this visit and thank him. She calls him an idiot and he calls her a bitch.

Serena says they can't explain it away or even report it, especially having a handmaid run away twice, and how they will think that they are part of the Resistance. She says the authorities will hang them on the wall, and he comments it would be his bad luck to be next to her. She chastises him for making jokes.

In an upper level of the home, Offred tries to hide and finds an open box of ammunition on a storage chest. Inside, she finds a shotgun and loads it.

Downstairs, Serena quietly confesses she gave up everything for "the cause," and all she wanted in return was a child. Fred pins her against the wall, telling her she demanded a baby. She cries that he has left her with nothing.

At the same time, Offred has quietly opened a window in the breezeway, and has aimed the gun at them. Serena cries that she will never hold her baby, and Fred consoles her. Offred hears the entire conversation. Serena pushes Fred away, and Offred gasps as her target moves out of her sight.

Fred continues to console her, telling her they can't have gotten far and he will call local security. He urges her to leave, and they move outside. Offred relaxes as they drive away.

Offred continues to decompress from the event, and has an intense contraction. She flashes back to when she went to visit the birthing center that her mother worked for. June wants to have her baby in a hospital with "doctors, nurses and lots of drugs." Her mother tells her that she is stronger than she thinks. June answers that she probably will not be there for the birth because of her work. Her mother insists that she will be there although June has her doubts that mother will be there.

In the present, Offred returns to the garage where she tries to open the garage door with the electronic controls (which have no power) and then manually, but can't. She climbs into the car and tries to drive through the door but it doesn't budge since she can't gain enough momentum to break through. She goes outside and tries to dig out but slips and falls. As she lies there she realizes that her water has just broke, and weeps. She looks up to see a black wolf watching her, which focuses her attention. She gets up and goes back inside the house.

She prepares a birthing area in front of a lit fire. She lies in front of it and thinks of when she gave birth to Hannah. In a flashback, June is progressing through labor with Luke and Moira. She asks Moira if her mom has called and Moira says she'll text her again. When Offred wakes up, she sees a puddle of blood has formed beneath her. She sits up, and reassures her baby (and herself), that it is going to be okay.

Offred goes back outside with the shotgun and has another intense labor pain, falling to her knees. The hears a sound, and the wolf again watches her. She fires two shots into the air hoping to catch anyone's attention. She looks the direction of the animal, and it is gone. She reloads and shoots again. She goes back inside, removes her clothes, and starts the delivery process on her knees in front of the fire. She remembers her birthing process with Luke and Moira, and then Aunt Lydia's coaching when Janine gave birth to baby Angela. Offred finally gives birth to her baby. As she talks to her new baby, she remembers holding newborn Hannah, when her mother arrives right after the birth due to a delayed plane. She introduces Hannah to her grandmother, Holly. In the present time, she whispers to the new baby that her name is Holly. She tells her that she has a big sister whom she will one day meet. In Offred's narration, she tells Holly that that she wants her to hear this (her) story, and that she will hear Holly's if she ever gets the chance, when they meet or if she escapes, be it in the future or in heaven. She tells Holly she believes in her and her future.

As they're lying there, a car drives up outside. June whispers, "We did it, Holly."

Outside, someone exits the vehicle.









  • Hungry Heart by Bruce Springsteen

References Edit

Community content is available under CC-BY-SA unless otherwise noted.