Sacrifice is the 12th episode of the third season of The Handmaid's Tale.


A major change rocks the entire Lawrence household. Luke and Moira adjust to new arrivals in Canada.


The episode opens with June Osborne looking out a window and fiddling with her pistol. She hears a van approaching and parking. As she hears boots walking up the stairs, June raises her gun. However, it turns out to be Eleanor Lawrence, who tells her that there are several men with Joseph. Eleanor tells June that Beth will need help to serve coffee and sandwiches to the men downstairs. She advises June to leave her gun upstairs.

June walks slowly down the stairs, approaching an armed Guardian who greets her "Blessed Day." Beth gives June a day off because of her actions the previous night, telling her she is "fucking fantastic." She tells June that Billy has agreed to help and has arranged a flight a week from today. She passes June a basket of muffins. Sienna tells June that the Commanders are talking about launching an attack. June volunteers to bring tea and coffee out to the Commanders to find out what is going on.

When she enters the living room, she finds Commanders Putnam and Calhoun talking with Joseph about the capture of Commander Waterford. While the Canadians are holding him, Putnam believes that the Americans are behind it. Another Commander proposes sending troops to the border. The Commanders want Joseph to talk the council out of going to war with Canada, describing him as a voice of restraint. Joseph responds that he has been stripped off his high-level clearance. Putnam responds that it is just politics and claims it can be restored.

Calhoun has spent the whole night at the hospital with his son. Commander Putnam asks how the child is doing. Calhoun replies that he is tough. Joseph thanks the Commanders for the briefing and says he has to mull. The Commanders depart.

After the Commanders have left, Joseph tells June that she is lucky to be off the Wall. He explains that they believe High Commander Winslow is only missing and there is speculation that he has been kidnapped by the Americans. June learns that the Waterfords are in American custody in Toronto. Joseph explains that they went on a rogue mission to get their baby back but were ambushed. June asks if they are in prison and learns that they are facing trial as war criminals. Joseph thinks that they failed because they did not bring 52 kids with them. June tells Lawrence that the plane will come in a week and he replies that it could not come sooner. He tells June to cheer up because the Waterfords are in custody and that June just got away with murder.

In private, June laughs with joy as she contemplates the recent turn of events. Later, June walks in the rain with an umbrella. She visits the Loaves and Fishes where she tells Alma that the flight is happening in a week from today. They line up beside the meat section, which is almost empty. June tells Alma that they will bring the kids to the Lawrence house after dark and he will bring them to the plane. When June asks if she can trust her Martha, Alma replies that she is a "bitch" but can still help with the plot. June reassures Alma that she will always be her son's mother.

After picking up her meat, June meets up with Rita at the carrot section. Rita is also involved in the plan to evacuate the children. Rita and June are pleased that the Waterfords have been captured by the Canadians. She tells June that the Eyes came to speak with her but that she told them that Serena Waterford was overjoyed before she left. June explains that she is only nice when she is planning something. Rita says she can help bring a child and asks June if this is her idea. She praises June for being a boss and tells her that she is proud of her.

In Canada, Fred is locked in a furnished cell which has a large one-way mirror disguised as a window. Serena visits her husband and the two embrace each other passionately. Serena claims that she did not say anything to them and tells Fred not to give any information. Serena says that she fears extradition. Fred vows not to let anything happen to his wife. Serena tells Fred to stop worrying about her and to save himself. Fred reassures her that he will be fine.

Fred’s mood soon changes and he asks her what she has done. Serena replies that she wanted to see her daughter and asks her husband to understand him. Fred responds that it has always been about her. When Serena says that Nichole needs her, Fred replies that he pities the child that has her as her mother. He holds her by the neck and Serena replies that she will break from him. She pushes his hands away and leaves the cell.

Back at the Lawrence household, June finds Eleanor breathing heavily by a cupboard. She says she should go back because Joseph would want her to. Eleanor thanks June for being kind to her. The two enter the living room where Joseph is hosting Olivia Winslow and Naomi Putnam. Joseph leads them in prayer over Winslow, who is officially believed to be missing. Olivia is afraid for her children.

June says that she will pray for Commander Winslow's safe return. Olivia expresses frustration that the other Commanders are more preoccupied with blowing things up then finding her husband. Olivia begs Joseph to get George back because she fears that her six children will be taken away if her husband is not found. Eleanor almost tells Olivia about June's plan to liberate children from Gilead but Joseph clarifies that they will take the Winslow children in if George is not found. Olivia thanks Eleanor. Olivia adds that the Eyes questioned them about Fred and Serena and expresses relief that people know where they are.

Meanwhile in Toronto, Moira, Luke, and Nichole visit the prison. A guard tells them to put their bags and jackets through an X-ray scanner. The guard tells Moira to put the stroller through the scanner. Moira grumpily complies and holds Nichole. After clearing through security, they enter a lobby.

Elsewhere, Serena styles her hair and dons modern clothes. She is visited by Mark Tuello, who tells her that she is only detained until they finish the process with the Commander. He asks how he took it. Serena replies that he is her husband. Mark tells Serena that Nichole is here and introduces a social worker to them. She then lets the social worker know where supplies are for the baby, and Serena adds that Nichole will be fine with her. Moira soon arrives with Nicole and introduces herself as a friend of June.

Disgusted at Serena, Moira asks Serena who does she think she really is, adding that new clothes doesn't make her any different, and is still the woman who held June down while Fred raped her. She also reveals that Fred raped her too while she was working at Jezebel's. Before Mark takes her out of the room, Moira concludes by saying she's sinned a lot, but Serena is the gender traitor. Serena cuddles Nichole, who at first cries but settles down. When Serena identifies herself as the baby’s mother, the social worker tells her not to do so because it will confuse the child.

Back in Boston, June finds Joseph arguing with another Commander in the phone against waging war on Canada. He also is opposed to closing the border because it will have a negative effect on trade. Joseph slams the phone and dismisses the other Commander as an idiot. When he sees June, he remarks that he should put a bell around her neck. June asks if he is facing trouble and he tells her about his frustration with more hawkish elements of Gilead’s elite.

June replies that it doesn't work like that and that he has to make the flight look legitimate because the plane is on a weekly schedule. June tells Joseph to convince the other Commanders not to close the border with Canada.

Eleanor tells Joseph that she is going to visit another household to get a boy named David out. June reassures Eleanor that she has other people looking after that. Eleanor wants to tell the parents of the blonde girl living down the street about their plans but June tells her that she is not going to tell her parents because she does not know where the MacKenzies are. June reminds Eleanor that she has to keep their operation a secret and shakes her.

Joseph tells June that it's enough. Eleanor apologizes for not thinking and June accepts her apology. Joseph tries to comfort Eleanor by telling her to think about their lives once they have left Gilead. Eleanor asks can they really do that before walking away. Joseph sends Eleanor upstairs to take a rest.

Later, Fred speaks to Mark, blaming him for exploiting Serena’s obsession with Nichole for political theater. Mark responds that Serena is too smart to be manipulated and tells him that he knows that. Mark tells Fred to consider it an opportunity to help them understand Gilead. Fred is uncooperative.

Mark tells Fred that Luke has requested a meeting and tells Fred that it is his call. Fred consents to the meeting. Mark introduces Luke to Fred and leaves the men alone with a guard watching. Fred offers Luke some tea, telling him that the Canadians have been accommodating. Luke tells Fred that he knows what he has done and adds that they both came from good families with first class education and were men of faith.

Luke condemns Fred for destroying lives. Fred counters that he has saved lives. He asks Luke what he did when their values were uprooted and their birth rate was plummeting. He tells Luke that he stood by and let it happen. Luke replies that Fred will rot in this jail knowing that his wife betrayed him. Fred then turns the topic to his wife June, claiming that she has wasted away all those years waiting for Luke to come back to her. Luke insists his wife is still loyal to him. Fred counters that June is not the same person that he knew anymore and that Gilead has changed her. He adds that he has changed her. Luke lunges for Fred and hits him in the face but is restrained by the Canadian corrections officer. As Luke is dragged out, he insists he is not done.

Back at the Lawrence household, June brings refreshments to Eleanor in bed but finds that she has overdosed on her medicine. June tries to wake Eleanor and considers calling for help. However, she pauses and instead decides not to call for help; believing that Eleanor is a liability to her plan. June waits in silence and sits beside the stricken Eleanor, waiting as she breathes her final breath. June kisses Eleanor on the head and spends some time with her. She then quietly exits the room and leaves the refreshments outside the door.

June quietly returns to her bed where she lies down until morning. When day comes, the Marthas find that Eleanor has passed away in her bed. June lies on her bed.

In Toronto, Serena has been sleeping on her couch. Mark brings her some pizza from Toronto as a treat despite it being contraband. He also brings her several magazines and a newspaper. Serena thanks Mark for the hospitality.

Back at the Lawrence household, June helps the Marthas in the kitchen prepare a meal. Joseph arrives and gives June two of the late Eleanor's wine bottles, which she had hidden in the basement. After the Marthas exit the kitchen, Joseph tells June that he was saving the wine bottles for his and Eleanor’s anniversary. June tells Joseph that Luke left some bottles of Pinot overnight in the car. The glass bottles shattered in the ice and the wine was wasted.

Joseph tells June that he managed to keep the border with Canada open. He says that he managed to convince the Council because they did not want to argue with a man in mourning. June expresses her condolences for Eleanor’s passing. Joseph describes his wife as fragile and blames himself for her death. June tells Joseph not to blame himself and lies that she could have checked on her. June also tells him that Eleanor was a very kind woman, which he agrees.

June, who is dressed in black, and Aunt Lydia join the wives including Naomi Putnam at Eleanor's funeral. Joseph and the other Commanders are also present. Joseph officiates over the funeral and asks for the Lord to forgive her sins, show her mercy, and welcome her to the gates of Heaven. Another Commander begs for forgiveness because they did not ease her pain and save her troubled soul. June watches solemnly over the funeral.

After the Commanders and their Wives disperse, June convinces Aunt Lydia to let her spend time with Joseph. She asks if he would rather be alone. Joseph allows her to stand beside him and the two reflect over the grave of Eleanor.

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