The Handmaid's Tale: Unknown Caller
June 19, 2019 9:40 AM - Season 3, Episode 5 - Subscribe

June and Serena grapple with a new revelation about Nichole, leading to an incident that will have far-reaching ramifications.
posted by roolya_boolya (12 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
The performances on this show are amazing and remarkable and really do so much to make me ignore how thin and preposterous all of this is. O-T Fagbenle and Yvonne Strahovski sold the hell out of that airport scene even though it really made no sense in any way, shape or form. (Why did Luke agree to it? Why was Serena allowed to go by herself? THEY LET JUNE CALL HER HUSBAND! And all the other questions.)

Elisabeth Moss continues to do her thing and she's still great, but wow, yeah, her seething at the end was kind of ... comical, honestly. And as far as music cues go ... "Sunday Bloody Sunday" was ... yeah. (I think I'm just going to assume that all the songs are off Commander Lawrence's mixtapes now. It would explain so much.)

I'm still not ready to quit this show because, like I said, the performances are just that good and it's certainly a beautifully composed show. And I'm kind of curious to what other ridiculous weirdness this show descends into. There's a good chance I'll be love-hate watching this by the end of the season. I kind of already am.
posted by darksong at 4:35 PM on June 19, 2019 [4 favorites]

Can someone ELI5 the last 10 minutes of this for me? I get everything up to and including Sad Confessional Walkman.

Also, how is that not Amanda Plummer as Mrs Lawrence
posted by fluttering hellfire at 8:22 PM on June 19, 2019

This episode made no sense to me. But if I understand what the action was, Serena is three times a monster and a spoiled brat at that. Like Fred said; he thought what she wanted was for Nicole to get away. So she begs one selfish little visit that accomplishes nothing. And now there's an international media campaign to try to get her back, to frame it as a kidnapping? Surely everyone outside knows exactly what Gilead is about. Having the Handmaid there in the frame of the international video release seems particularly appalling.

I guess I don't buy Serena as acting out of some powerful maternal instinct. I know the whole premise of Gilead society is to give the wives the illusion they are mothers. And the show has asked us to accept that Serena sees Nicole as her natural daughter with all the emotional attachment and irrational love that implies. I just don't buy it's possible. Particularly with June right alongside, being so strong and rational while bearing immeasurable grief.
posted by Nelson at 9:05 AM on June 21, 2019 [2 favorites]

Elisabeth Moss continues to do her thing and she's still great, but wow, yeah, her seething at the end was kind of ... comical, honestly.

I thought it was powerful and that she can always carry off these long face shots seething with emotion is a testament to her skills as an actress. But they are relying on it a big too much.

I really savored the "fuck you" etc. that Mrs. Lawrence got at the airport - finally some of that pushback right in a Gilead authority's face felt satisfying. Yes the airport scene was silly but also very satisfying and DRAMA! so I give it a pass.

Damn I really wanted Mrs. Lawrence to take the offer to escape to Canada but of course that's not gonna happen.

I'm still strangely into this show - they've done a lot of world-building and I'm sort of invested in it at this point. I'm also very curious where it's going to go off-book.

"Bite me."
posted by joseph conrad is fully awesome at 9:36 AM on June 21, 2019 [1 favorite]

I guess I don't buy Serena as acting out of some powerful maternal instinct.

I do. I remember last season when they showed the flashback of Serena finding out she's sterile. And Serena hated June when she lived there, suspecting that Fred was falling for her. So she endured all of it because she wanted a baby very badly. And loved her as her own to the degree of giving her away knowing that Gilead is not the place for that baby to grow up. It was both selfless and selfish,because she wouldn't do that for Hannah or anyone else's babies.

You might not like Serena as a person but I find her motivations very believable.
posted by numaner at 2:31 PM on June 21, 2019 [1 favorite]

That's exactly why I don't buy her reversal after her visit. Serena told Fred that it was finally over; I can't believe she'd genuinely want to bring Holly/Nichole back. At any rate, Tuello, the U.S. official who escorts Serena, must have listened to June's mixtape and knows that the baby has no relation to Fred. Even Fred knows that, which makes it strange for him to press the custody issue.

This is weird plotting, but honestly, as the show is happening, it never bothers me. It's filmed and performed so beautifully, I don't mind.

I really liked Ofmatthew's quiet misery in the grocery store as she confesses that she's pregnant again. Even the true believers get tired of serving.
posted by gladly at 6:56 PM on June 21, 2019

Theory: Serena is trying to provoke an international incident that will give Gilead a pretext for military action, betting that Gilead will lose any ensuing conflict with Canada and its anti-theocratic allies and their long national nightmare will finally end.
posted by Flannery Culp at 7:15 PM on June 21, 2019 [2 favorites]

I don't understand why June isn't on the wall for proven collusion with Canada against Gilead. I thought that's why she slid down the wall in despair at the end of the previous episode.

Serena getting to actually meet Luke and the baby in a public place and relatively unsupervised seemed completely out of step. I spent the entire episode yelling IT'S A TRAP! IT'S A TRAP! and it turns out that it's...not? And the handmaid and the wife's wishes are all respected? What? What was this for?
posted by desuetude at 10:54 PM on June 21, 2019 [3 favorites]

I thought that the Waterfords concocted a story to blame Emily for kidnapping the baby to spare the household. Finding out that the baby ended up with Luke meant that Luke was in danger from Gilead now.

Luke determined the conditions of the visit with the U.S. rep and the Canadian officials at the Toronto airport. The Gilead forces weren't allowed off the tarmac, so Gilead couldn't really do anything off their soil.

The entire scenario is pretty far-fetched, but I can at least see how it worked.
posted by gladly at 4:15 PM on June 22, 2019

This season is turning out to be SO LAME, yet I will still watch, just less avidly. I haven’t had to google street view my preferred rural Minnesota border crossing after an episode to decompress yet.
posted by Maarika at 6:45 AM on June 23, 2019 [2 favorites]

Ugh, my preferred border crossing was the Poplar Street Bridge, red state into blue state, but ugh they were battling Chicago in this episode. Oh well, that reality is about to happen anyway once IL legalizes recreational.
posted by fluttering hellfire at 3:11 PM on June 23, 2019

I was suspecting that the airport meeting was a trap too, but when the Tuello stopped the Gilead guard from joining her, and they both seemed very perplexed, it was clear to me that they had an ulterior motive that just got screwed up by the guard having to stay with the plane. Later he gave Serena a suspicious look when she was emotional and taking out the sheet with the number from her purse. So he's either there to make sure she's actually not going to defect, or to carry out another plan that maybe we'll find out later.

I think once they ran their options for what to do about the "kidnapping", what was always on the table was using June for the propaganda. Which meant no imprisonment, torture, and definitely keeping her alive. For all we know Lawrence agreed to take her in as a sort of "faux freedom", to keep her in control while she thinks she isn't until they are ready with that video set up. And when it was clear Luke wouldn't do more than letting Serena meet with Nichole/Holly, they gave the go ahead to start that video, hence June's getting carted off soon afterwards.
posted by numaner at 1:52 PM on June 24, 2019 [1 favorite]

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