Useful is the third episode of the third season of The Handmaid's Tale.


June navigates a challenging meeting. Serena Joy attempts to recuperate. Lawrence teaches June a hard lesson about the difficult decisions he makes as a Commander.


June, Alma, and Janine stand on a street corner, peering up at the corpses hanging from the street lights above her. Though not expecting Cora up there, June decides (in a voice-over) to search for "allies with power" to "survive this".

Back at the house, Beth and the new Martha, Sienna, are preparing for a big meeting: All of the Commanders come to Lawrence's home, since he refuses to attend meetings. Beth and June whisper about the dwindling flow of information, likely due to recent roundups among the Marthas.

When the Commanders start to arrive, Fred Waterford and June have a brief conversation in the dining room. She wonders how Serena is doing, and he says she’ll be OK. Then she asks what he knows about Lawrence. He calls him “an interesting man” and a “visionary” who helped bring Gilead into being, but admits he’s always been hard to read. When she presses him for more, Fred says, “He does not like to be bored.”

"Women can be useful"
 (Relationships/Joseph and June)

​When June enters the study, which is now full of commanders, she is surprised to see Nick sitting among them. The men are discussing a "shipment" of females from Chicago bound for the Colonies . As a discussion about the difference in gender abilities comes up, Lawrence mocks June's former profession as book editor and then commands her to fetch Charles Darwin’s "The Descent of Man" from his bookshelf. She retrieves the book in question and kneels to give it to him, and he dismisses her, remarking "Women *can* be useful".

Serena is staying at the house of her mother Pamela, along with Rita, who makes a leather cover for her mistress’ hand giving the appearance that she still has all her fingers. She encourages Serena to "get through this, by His hand", to which she replies “What’s left of it”. Serena joins her mother’s prayer circle and cries as they beseech God to bring Nichole home.

At night, we see Fred practicing a monologue on an escort at "Jezebel's", delivering an impassioned speech about how he used to revel in little glimpses of Serena when they were first married, and how if he loses her, he loses everything. The escort asks if he'd like to practice it again.

June visits Lawrence in his study where he's poring over some files "full of women". He starts quizzing her on whether she’s good at making friends, influencing people, and “intimacy”, getting closer to her face only to ask if this "really worked on Fred" and how the Waterfords could not notice how "transactional" she is. He then explains he helped Emily because she was smart and could be "useful" to the world while he sees June as "useless" since she never tried to "help anyone", bringing up some details from her past. June replies if he hadn’t created the system that made Gilead possible, none of them would be in the situation they’re in now, which makes him "far worse than ‘useless'".

Lawrence then announces they are going to take a drive and brings June to a warehouse where hundreds of women are being held in cages. They are bound for the Colonies or execution the next day, but he hands her the binder and tells her she can save five, who will become Marthas. As she will not choose, he tells her she is condemning all of them to death. June says that it is actually men like him and Gilead who are responsible for their deaths. Lawrence answers that it is a “technical distinction” that won’t matter to the women in question. June returns to the car and cries.

In her mother's house, Serena wants to tell her mother about her marriage to Fred, but the older woman won’t hear it. She calls her daughter a “spoiled little girl” for wanting things always to go her way while knowing her place is to be at Fred's side. Deeming Serena's tears as "self-pity", she states “You gave that baby away, and it wasn’t even yours.”

Nick reappears at Commander Lawrence’s home. He wants to say goodbye since, as a new Commander, he is being deployed to the front in Chicago. Annoyed, June simply says “bye” and lets him leave the room in silence. However, after a quick change of heart, she follows Nick to draw him back into the room and locks the door behind them.

The next day, as June eats, Sienna tells her that she has a visitor. June comes down to find Serena in the Lawrences’ parlor. June asks her how she is and instead of answering, Serena asks her if she thinks about their daughter. June says that she think about her "every minute". Serena wants to know how to stop. June urges her to think about all the women who have had their children taken away from them. She adds that they have to help each other as they cannot count on men, because they hate them. June finishes by telling Serena that maybe they are stronger than they think.

Later, Lawrence comes upon June sitting with the files from the night before, handing him her five selections. She walks into the kitchen and announces to Beth that they’ll have five new, hand-picked Marthas for the resistance: an engineer, an IT tech, a journalist, a lawyer, and a thief.

In a voice-over, June talks to her missing mother Holly Maddox: “You wanted a women’s culture. It wasn’t what you meant, but it exists.” And addressing the men of Gilead: “We’re coming for you. Just wait.”


The works in the bookshelf that Lawrence wrote have titles like Problematic Populism: Upheaval During the Fertility Crisis and the Long-term Effects on American Prosperity and The Religious Genealogy of Western Economics.



Guest Starring Edit

Additional Cast Edit

  • David Cotton as Guardian
  • Sugenja Sri as Sienna
  • Dylan Trowbridge as Daniel
  • Heather Clark as Mel
  • Melanie Phillipson as Clara
  • Cait Alexander as Jezebel





References Edit

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