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Witness is the 10th episode of the third season of The Handmaid's Tale.

SynopsisEdit

June must deal with a devious ploy on the part of Commander Waterford.

PlotEdit

June returns to Lawrence home from the hospital still hobbling, and Aunt Lydia advises her to take a nap, adding they’re home just in time for this month’s Ceremony. The books and art at the Lawrence home are gone from most of the rooms, as a response to some new regulations Commander Waterford has put forth since returning from Washington, DC.

In the kitchen, Beth is surrounded by baskets of scones. Since “Scones mean no,” as June learns, the Marthas' network won’t be able to get any more black market mood-stabilizing medicine for Mrs. Lawrence, who is getting worse. Though impressed, Beth deems June's plan to move children out of "this deadly hellscape" as a suicide mission.

Upstairs, Eleanor and Joseph argue loudly. She kicks him out of her room and he retreats to his study; June follows him and notices that most of the books have been stuffed here before urging him to "get a truck, get her out, and get her the help that she needs". In a voice-over, June realizes he’s scared and sees his fear as a "great motivator".

At Loaves and Fishes, Alma denies June’s request for help. Some chimes then sound for "another" inspection, as Alma confirms. Aunt Lydia gathers all the handmaids to welcome “our very special visitors”, High Commander Winslow who is accompanied by the Waterfords. Fred shares some weird small talk with June raising the idea of arranging her transfer to D.C. to which June reminds him that his "wife is here". Meanwhile, Winslow is irked that Janine is wearing a non-regulation eyepatch and that none of the women are wearing the mouth rings and veils that the D.C. handmaids do. Fred notes that they’re rolling it out slowly.

At home, Commander Lawrence is out to a meeting. June sneaks into his office and starts poking around in his files. As she is caught by Eleanor, she confesses to be looking for her "friends' children". Eleanor leads her to the basement where Joseph keeps the Red Center dossiers. Downstairs, June sits on the ground and starts poring through several boxes of the handmaids' files. She eventually finds her own. When she suggests Eleanor leaving Gilead along with her husband, she declines pointing out that Joseph as a war criminal would be jailed - or killed - as soon as he crosses the border, admitting "he would deserve it". She leaves June alone with the files. June learns that Janine’s son, Caleb, died four years earlier in a car accident, remarking that it’s been five years since she and the other handmaids were detained.

Meanwhile, Fred convinces Winslow that Gilead needs to “set an example” with June’s commander, who’s had four handmaids and no children, which might indicate a lack of discipline, and being "unfit to lead his household" would prove him "unfit to lead Gilead." They decide to attend the Ceremony at the Lawrence house that evening.

Beth beckons a surprised June to the sitting room where Winslow and the Waterfords have gathered. June recalls they used to send "bearing witnesses" in the first months of Gilead when some households resisted the Ceremony. After some Bible verses, Joseph, Eleanor and June go upstairs to the bedroom.

Joseph suggests to wait for a while and then simply go back downstairs, but June reminds him that a doctor would check her afterwards, which puts Eleanor in rage. June points out they "do have" to do something. Eleanor is sent in an adjacent room. June coaches her commander to "treat it like a job and see it from the outside, as a transaction." Afterwards, Joseph goes down to his study without a word to their guests. The doctor checks June out, and Aunt Lydia announces that it’s been “a successful ceremony.”

Serena later accuses her husband of getting "distracted" while they haven't made any progress on bringing Nichole home for months. She pulls out the satellite phone Mark Tuello slipped her in Toronto, making clear they could get their daughter back in exchange for some "cooperation".

After everyone’s left, Lawrence passes June a packet of birth-control pills. He then promises to get her a truck to get his wife out of Gilead. June suggests him to come along bringing some stolen children of Gilead with them, which makes Mr. Lawrence consider to become a hero.

The next day at Loaves and Fishes, June brings Alma news of her son, who is five and lives in Amherst with a Commander and his family. She adds that her truck will fit 10 people, but she’s not going to be one of them since she won’t leave without Hannah. Janine also offers to help and asks about Caleb. June lies that his family was transferred to California. Janine is comforted by the idea of her son playing on the beach.


Muffins mean yes  (The Marthas' Network)

When she returns home, June finds the kitchen covered with muffin baskets. Since muffins mean yes, the Martha network will help June get kids out of Gilead. June realizes she’s going to need a "bigger boat".

Trivia Edit

  • The episode documents the first time Commander Lawrence leaves home for a meeting. Commanders normally visit him (see Useful).
  • Hannah and Alma's son were taken at the same time (the mothers were detained together in the Red Center). Alma's son was then only a few months old. (Children in Gilead)

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