Postpartum is the twelfth episode of the second season of The Handmaid's Tale.

Synopsis[edit | edit source]

After June has recovered, she is kept at the Red Center to have her breasts pumped, but is brought back to the Waterford household to induce lactation when she doesn't produce enough breast milk. Meanwhile, Nick returns to duty and Eden chooses to escape with her lover, Isaac.

Plot[edit | edit source]

Serena Waterford is seen bathing Holly (whom Serena has named "Nichole"). Back at the Red Center, June is seen using a breast pump when Aunt Lydia arrives. She commends June on surviving and giving birth on her own. Aunt Elizabeth mentions that June has pumped less milk than yesterday. Aunt Lydia says she knows this already. Apparently, Serena Joy wants the milk. Aunt Lydia tells June that other families have made offers for her to be in their households, and she holds out a basket of muffins that one of the households has sent as a gift. June believes she deserves a whole cake, to which Aunt Lydia says that "prideful girls don't get anything". June takes one of the muffins, and seeing that it's bran, is "overjoyed".

Commander Waterford is seen setting up his new office, talking with Commander Grinnel and (apparently) Commander Horace who are also in the room, when Nick walks in. Fred tells the other Commanders a short cover-story version of what happened to Nick and June in the previous two episodes (cover story being "there was a misunderstanding with some overzealous Guardians, but Nick protected the child"). Commander Waterford tells him opportunities are going to open up for Nick and Nick says he appreciates that. Nick hangs up a picture on the wall and it's of Serena, Fred, and the new baby.

Eden is seen holding the baby. Rita walks in with a bottle and Serena takes the baby to feed her. Rita tells Serena that they are running low on breast milk because June is having trouble producing. Serena says that they can't have that. Aunt Lydia leads June to meet with the Commander and Nick who have brought Nichole. June refuses to see the baby but Aunt Lydia tells her that it'll help her produce more milk -- a true statement since June's breasts begin to leak at that moment. Fred turns to leave by June who offers to nurse Nichole. Fred refuses but Aunt Lydia convinces him to take her back to the house so that she can pump there. She returns with Fred, upsetting Serena. She says that "Offred" is still forbidden any "contact" with the baby and that she pumps in her room.

Emily is being led by Aunt Lydia to Commander Lawrence's house. He turns out to be different than the other commanders. He has a Martha, Cora, with only one eye. His house is littered with books and artifacts. Emily is caught looking at a book by the Commander. He asks her what the penalty is for being caught reading and she says a finger. He tells her it used to be the entire hand, back in the "good old days."

June is using the breast pump when she hears Nichole gurgling. She walks downstairs with the milk and runs into Eden in the kitchen. Eden asks her if she agrees that a baby should be raised by two people who love each other. June tells her that she thinks they should grab love wherever they can. The next day, Nick is looking for Eden but can't find her. Nick tells her that their baby is so beautiful and that he wishes he could hold her. June says she wishes she could too, and tells him that she wants to name her Holly after her mother. Nick tells her it sounds right. He suggests to June that they could run away together and get a fresh start.

Fred walks in telling him that Isaac never showed up for his shift that morning. Nick puts two and two together and realizes that Issac and Eden must've run off together. Serena is dealing with a crying Nichole. She tries to breastfeed her but of course it fails. June is in the kitchen helping clean the kitchen when Rita is called by Serena. June takes the chance to smell some of Nichole's clothes. Fred walks in and asks her why Eden would run away. June says she doesn't know and he asks where she was hiding when they went searching for her in the house. She says the attic and he says that she was avoiding going home with him. June tells him that she wanted to spend more time with Hannah and he asks how was her reunion. June says she was surprised to see her. Fred says that he was glad he made it happen for her. She thanks him and he asks if that's all the thanks he gets. She offers to play Scrabble with him, saying they hadn't played in a long time and that it would be fun to do so.

Emily is getting ready for bed when Commander Lawrence's wife arrives, and warns her that he is responsible for the murderous Colonies. Lawrence comes to take her away but she tells him that she hates him. He locks her back in her room and tells Emily to come with him. She follows him into his study where he serves her a glass of beer. He asks her about her past but she tells him that God has called her to a higher purpose. He says that she doesn't believe that. He asks if she has a wife and a son and she says yes. He says that she must miss them.

Rita wakes June up the next morning and tells her that the Eyes have apprehended Isaac and Eden. Nick tries to convince Eden to lie on the stand during her testimony but she won't. She asks him to forgive her but he asks her to forgive him because he wasn't kind to her. Eden and Isaac are led by Guardians to a local swimming pool, chained to heavy weights and accused of "infidelity in violation of Exodus 20:14". They order them to repent but the two of them refuse and Eden instead recites only half of 1 Corinthians 13:4-8 (see Quotes below) before they are pushed into the pool and the both of them drown and die. Eden's mother and sister are devastated, while June and Serena watch tearfully.

June goes downstairs and finds Nick sitting at the table. She tries to offer comfort but he just gets up and walks away.

As June is going back upstairs, she spots Serena in the baby's room. She asks Serena if she's okay, as she was obviously affected emotionally by Eden's execution. Serena doesn't reply directly, but tears fall down her cheek, and she quotes a bible verse from Isaiah. The baby starts to cry, and June offers to get a bottle for her. Serena stops her and places the baby in June's arms. The baby calms down as a smiling June nurses her while Serena watches.

Trivia[edit | edit source]

Quotes[edit | edit source]

"The Lord said... When thou passeth through the waters, I shall be with thee. And through the river, they shall not overflow thee. When thou walkest through the fire, thou shall not be burned. Neither shall the flame kindle upon thee." —Some of Eden's last words as farewell to Nick

Isaiah 43:2  (Cultural References/Scripture)
"Love is patient. Love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, / It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking," —Eden's last words.

Abbreviated version of 1 Corinthians 13 verses 4-5 that is interrupted by Eden being pushed into the pool.  (Cultural References/Scripture)
"But thus says The Lord, "Even the captives of the mighty shall be taken away, and the prey of the terrible be delivered; for I will contend with he that contends with you, and I will save your children."" —Serena Waterford to June and the baby.

Modified version of New King James Version (NKJV) of Isaiah 49:25 (Cultural References/Scripture)

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