Mayday is the 13th episode of the third season of The Handmaid's Tale.

Synopsis[edit | edit source]

June must decide how far she's willing to go. The Waterfords think about a new way forward.

Plot[edit | edit source]

The episode opens with a flashback of June Osborne and other women being herded by Guardians into pens for forced processing after being captured by Gilead forces. She asks a guard to help her find her daughter but he tells her to be quiet. She and the other women are loaded into a container. One of the captive women is Janine, who shouts angrily at the guards, threatening to sue them. June comforts Janine and the two women cling to chains as improvised hand straps.

In the present, June recalls that the guards were ruthless and ponders on where this talent for merciless action came from. While gazing outside a shop, another Handmaid passes June a soap bar in her bag. She surmises that victory goes to the ruthless of heart. June reflects on her plan to bring fifty-two kids to the Lawrence household at dusk. While crossing a busy city street, other Handmaids unobtrusively pass her packages. She resolves to get children to the airport.

June encounters Janine, who passes her a gift. At the bridge, she meets Aunt Lydia, who asks her what that was all about. June says it was just Janine. Lydia wants to check that June has not acquired too many bad habits and tells June that the other girls look up to her. Lydia reminds June that popularity is not a contest but a responsibility and warns her not to endanger the other girls because her next Commander will not tolerate any of her “subversive nonsense.” June promises to reduce her "subversive nonsense" and is allowed to leave.

Back at the Lawrence household, Sienna asks June how many soap bars that Loaves and Fishes gave her. June claims they were on sale. June asks where Beth is and Sienna tells her that Beth is freaking out. Sienna said that Beth told her to take care of the Commander. She also tells June that she was studying to be a radiographer and is not a child. June tells her to stop waiting for somebody to hold her hand.

Commander Lawrence asks Sienna to unwrinkle his jacket but she apologizes that she is busy because "Ofjoseph" needs her help. Lawrence does not object and allows her to enter the basement. When Lawrence remarks that Sienna is prickly, June replies that maybe he has forgotten what a strong woman looks like. Lawrence raises concerns about Beth’s sickness.

Lawrence tells her that he has organized a security staff meeting which should draw security forces out of the neighborhood during the evacuation. Shortly later, Beth enters the kitchen and asks if she can get Commander Lawrence something. Lawrence says he is alright and leaves the kitchen. In the kitchen, the women prepare bread, meat, and water for their flight to Canada.

June also smudges the windows while the Marthas tear up bed sheets and make an improvised lamp. While June is oiling the gate, she sees a frightened young girl, Kiki, with a Martha outside. June leads them inside the house. The other Marthas are upset that Kiki's Martha brought the child before dark. The new Martha, Maggie, asks if it is Mayday and June confirms this is the case.

Meanwhile in Canada, Mark Tuello brings Serena Waterford some coffee. Serena has been allowed to spend time outside of her cell. Mark explains that the prosecutors want to go over her written testimony and that the American intelligence debrief starts next week. Serena asks if she can decline any interviews but Mark responds that she has surrendered that right. Serena agrees to cooperate. Mark offers to push off some of the sessions but she accepts them. Mark says that she traded her rights for her daughter.

Mark tells Serena that she will have permission to leave the facility from next week as part of her reward for cooperating with the International Criminal Court. He leads her back inside and gives her a pass allowing her to travel through Toronto. Serena looks forward to traveling through Toronto without an escort.

Back at the Lawrence household, June cleans Kiki's foot wound, who tells her that she is from Lexington, Massachusetts. June praises Kiki for her bravery. The girl asks if she knows what it is like outside. June says that it was like how things were like before Gilead. Kiki can’t remember what things were like before Gilead.

June tells her that she will be free and that she can wear whatever she wants and that nobody can hurt her for reading or tell her what to think or who to love or what to believe in. She also tells Kiki that she doesn't have to be a wife or mother if she does not want to. When Kiki asks what she will then be, June tells her that she can be herself. The girl asks if God will still love her and June says yes. June asks if Kiki is hungry and passes her a bread roll. Kiki gives a short prayer before eating, taking June's hands in her own.

Maggie panics and says she wants to leave because the plan is taking too long. The other Marthas try to convince her otherwise. Maggie says that her mistress is understanding and kind but Beth points out that she drugged her mistress and that the Eyes will be after them. Maggie wants to tell the truth but the Marthas tell her that she cannot leave. June walks upstairs and retrieves a hidden pistol from under a bed. She forces Maggie to stop at gunpoint, warning that she will shoot her if she tries to run. Maggie lets Kiki go and runs out.

June pursues her and tries to shoot her but the woman escapes into the bush. June finds herself pointing a gun at Kiki's face. Beth pulls Kiki away and asks June what has gotten into her. June reflects on her actions in the living room.

Later, Commander Lawrence returns unexpectedly. He explains that he made a regretful exit but June tells him that he has to be there. Lawrence apologizes and asks how Kiki is. June reassures her that the child will be fine because they will get her out of Gilead. Lawrence wants to evacuate the child to Lexington but June disagrees.

Lawrence tells her that someone spotted a Martha with a child near Lexington who shouldn't have been moving. Lawrence warns here that the district has sent search parties. Lawrence wants to pull the plug on the operation but June is unwilling to allow Kiki to be married off at 14 years. She is determined not to send Kiki back to be raped and maimed in the insane world that he helped build. Lawrence tries to reassure her that Kiki will be safe because her father is a Commander. June disagrees and says that too many have suffered. Lawrence remarks that the universe doesn't have a balance sheet but June begs to differ, admitting that she almost shot Kiki for crying.

June says that this couldn't have been for nothing. Lawrence asks June to return the gun and she places it on the table. She tells Lawrence that he is not in charge and she is. June tells Lawrence to go to his office and find her a map. Lawrence angrily responds that Kiki is still in his house but June implies that this is no longer his house. She looks outside a window before hiding her pistol in her boot.

Meanwhile in Canada, Fred Waterford tells the investigators that decisions about local affairs in Gilead were being determined by majority vote. A female interrogator asks him how many Commanders sit on each council. Fred thinks it is a dozen. When asked about his participation, Fred says that he sat in the council to maintain decorum and to help keep the wolves at bay. The investigators thank Fred for his time.

In private, Fred asks Tuello if he has worked with Liz and Murray before. When he asks if he has any preferences, Fred denies this is the case. Mark thanks Fred for his patience. Fred then tells Mark that he has some information about serious crimes committed by his wife. When Mark points out that he has made an immunity agreement with Serena that she committed her crimes under duress, Fred tells Mark that what Serena did was beyond the laws of Gilead and that of God.

Back at the Lawrence household, June, Beth, and Sienna discuss their travel plans to the airport, which is five miles away. Beth suggests making several trips in Lawrence's car, which is dismissed because the number of Guardian patrols has increased and it's too risky. Sienna suggests walking a few miles along the creek and June takes up the idea. Just then, June hears dogs barking outside and goes out to investigate. She initially sees nothing but then sees two Marthas and a child creeping under a bush. June and the Marthas help to usher the children into the Lawrence household under the cover of darkness.

Rita and another Martha bring a baby to the Lawrence's, with Rita telling June that the other Martha killed the parents because they wouldn’t let them leave. June and the Marthas then check the trail to the airport. They tie white cloths on the branches to mark their path.

Back in Toronto, Serena is cuddling Nichole Osborne when she is confronted by Mark and a female officer. While the female officer takes the child away, Mark tells Serena that he has a warrant from the ICC and the United States of America for her arrest. Mark informs her that she is charged with crimes against humanity, sexual slavery, and rape. Serena protests that it was a state-sanctioned ritual that was covered by the immunity agreement.

Mark counters that this charge was not under duress. While a second officer cuffs Serena, Mark tells Serena that she is charged with getting her driver Nick Blaine to rape June Osborne. Serena protests that Nick's relationship with June was consensual; unfortunately, she makes the mistake of referring to June as "Offred" and Mark, in a markedly colder tone, replies that her actions still constitute rape. He tells the female officer to take her downstairs. Serena pleads with Mark but he ignores her.

Back in Boston, June, the Marthas, and the children continue their journey under the cover of night. June and the Marthas return to the Lawrence household where they find Commander Lawrence reading a story to the children and Marthas in order to comfort and encourage them. June also meets Janine who hugs her and tells her that the authorities have arrested another Martha. They learn that the authorities are searching house to house for the Lexington girl. The women and children file out of the Lawrence household.

Commander Lawrence reminds June of her promise there would be no trouble. June pleads with Lawrence to come with them, saying that Eleanor would have wanted that. Lawrence replies that he is not a big fan of flying. He says that Eleanor would have wanted him to stay and clean up his own mess. June says may God grant him peace and Lawrence also gives her a blessing as well.

The women and the children travel through the path using the white cloths to guide them. Even Janine is participating in the rescue operation. Meanwhile, a line of cars drives along an adjacent highway. The woman and children scurry to avoid the searchlight. They crouch close to the ground as the cars pass.

The group eventually reaches the outskirts of the airport but their situation is complicated by the presence of a Guardian patrol. June tells the Marthas to follow the fence and get a safe place for them to cross. June says she will distract the guards and apologizes to Kiki for the difficulty of their journey. Kiki understands and says that sometimes you have to do the things you have to do. June tells Rita to take care of Kiki and to get the kids on the plane. The Marthas promise and give June a blessing before they part ways.

To distract the guards, they hurl rocks at their vehicles. The guards open fire with their machine guns. This distraction enables the children and the other Marthas to cross the fence into the airport. The women hurl rocks in a second round and dive for safety. Several including Janine are hit. June comforts the wounded Janine, telling her that it will be okay.

June steps out into the beam of a search light. A Guardian tells her to surrender but she flees back into the forest. June is pursued and dodges bullets as she races through the forest. June is hit and falls to the ground. The Guardian finds her and orders her not to move. However, June pulls out her pistol and shoots him down. She points her gun at the Guardian and orders him to tell his comrades that it is all clear. After he has carried out her order, she thanks him before killing him. A wounded June lies on the ground while the plane flies over the forest.

The plane lands at a Canadian airport where Moira, Luke, and Emily are seen volunteering as aid workers for the Refugee Aid Foundation of Canada (RAFC). Moira is the first to greet them and finds the plane crowded with children and Marthas. Overwhelmed, Moira introduces herself and says that she's there to help them. Kiki asks her if she is at the place where she can wear what she wants, to which Moira replies that it is.

Moira guides the new refugees off the plane and wraps the girl in a blanket, asking her what her name is. Before Kiki can answer they hear a voice call the name "Rebecca", which belongs to a fellow volunteer whom is revealed to be "Kiki's" real father, calling his daughter by her pre-Gilead name. Moira watches as a shocked yet overjoyed Rebecca runs into her father's arms and they both break down in tears as they are finally reunited. Meanwhile, Luke tearfully watches the plane for any signs of Hannah, but there are none.

Emily instantly recognizes Rita when she disembarks and introduces herself by her real name, mentioning her former patronymic "Ofglen". The two women embrace with Rita in tears. Rita meets Moira and Luke for the first time, telling Luke about June's plan to rescue the children.

Back in Gilead, six Handmaids including Janine, Alma, and Brianna stumble on the fallen guard and a wounded June at daybreak. June experiences a flashback of herself, her daughter Hannah, and Luke enjoying themselves at a playground. June carries Hannah while Luke reads through his book. Luke then takes a break from his book to chase Hannah. They play in the grass. In the present, the six Handmaids including Janine lift up the wounded June, telling her not to worry. They carry her through the forest on a makeshift stretcher, as June recites the words of Exodus 3:7-8 while slowly closing her eyes.

Trivia[edit | edit source]

  • Commander Lawrence reads Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson to the children fleeing to Canada  (Cultural References/Literary Works).
  • June recites the words of Exodus 3:7-8 while being rescued (Cultural References/Scripture).
  • It is the first time in the storyline that a woman is accused of rape. Emily blamed Mrs. O'Conner for assisting a rape ("Unwomen").
  • Though the plane filled with children and some Marthas departs at midnight for Canada, the six Handmaids rescue June only at dawn.
  • Disabled children in the flashback scene are seen being herded to pens destined for extermination while the others, namely fertile women, are being herded to that for forced processing.
  • Aunt Lydia warns June about her next Commander's behavior.

Quotes[edit | edit source]

Ruthless. I remember thinking they are fucking ruthless.
Where does it come from? This talent for ruthlessness. Seems so easy for them. For these men, for men like these.
That's how they won I suppose.
It isn't about being right or having the people or God on your side. It isn't anything that grandiose. In the end, victory goes to the hardest heart. To the ruthless go the spoils.
Fifty-two kids will be brought to the Lawrence house after sunset.
We will move in darkness. We can hide in the dark at least. We have a chance at least. If there is actually a Martha network. If this all isn't a trap set by the eyes, I will get the children to the airport. The plane leaves at midnight.
Because I am ruthless'

June (in a voice-over) looking retrospectively on her deportation to the Red Center

Notes[edit | edit source]

  • Fred Waterford tells to the investigators that he sat in the council to maintain "decorum". In a flashback of "A Woman's Place", he is seen in a council meeting tasked with decisions to "security" issues.
  • Fred took revenge on Serena by offering the new information to Mark to ensure that she won't get what she wanted. That implied Serena is effectively nothing to Fred now.
  • Rita is finally free from Martha role that she was enslaved to.
  • Moira, Luke and Emily are working as aid workers.
  • Joseph chose to stay in Gilead despite the many risks weighed against him, saying it was what Eleanor would have wanted him to do.
  • Mark does not view Serena as a victim under the duress anymore due to this new information given by the vengeful Fred. Mark, who had been calling Serena by her first name until now, called her "Mrs. Waterford" during her arrest.

Cast[edit | edit source]

Starring[edit | edit source]

Guest Starring[edit | edit source]

Additional Cast[edit | edit source]

Gallery[edit | edit source]

Music[edit | edit source]

Final scene:

Mazzy Star - Into Dust

References[edit source]

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