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

SynopsisEdit

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.

PlotEdit

Serena Waterford is seen bathing Holly (Serena calls the baby Nichole). June is seen using a breast pump when Aunt Lydia arrives. She commends June on her surviving and giving birth on her own. Aunt Elizabeth mentions that June's milk is less 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, seeing that it's a bran one.

Commander Waterford is seen setting up his 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" baby Holly). 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 drying up. 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. It's true because no sooner does she say this that her breasts start to leak. Fred turns to leave by June who offers to nurse Nichole. Fred says no but Aunt Lydia convinces him to take her back to the house so that she can pump there. She returns with Fred but this upsets Serena. She says that "Offred" has no "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 Lawrence. He asks her what the penalty is for being caught reading and she says a finger. He tells her it used to be a hand.

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 me 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 this morning. Nick puts two and two together and realizes that they must've run off together. Serena is dealing with a crying Nichole. She gets the idea to try and breastfeed her but of course it doesn't work. 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. She tells her that he is responsible for the 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 they brought Isaac and Eden back. Nick tries to convince Eden to lie on the stand 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 to a local swimming pool, and chained on the diving tower standing accused of infidelity. They order them to repent but the two of them refuse and Eden instead recites part of 1 Corinthians 13 (see Quotes below). They are pushed into the pool and the both of them drown. 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 tear(s) 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.

TriviaEdit

The book that Emily is caught looking at is Maus, a graphic novel by Art Spiegelman.  (Cultural References/Literary Works).

Serena quotes (to June) a variation of New King James Version (NKJV) of Isaiah 49:25 which is about prisoners escaping a tyrant. (Cultural References/Scripture)

QuotesEdit

"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 water.  (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)

AppearancesEdit

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