Are you ready for things to get seriously intense on The Handmaid’s Tale? In Episode 9: The Bridge, we’re turning the dial to 11 on tension.
Hoo boy. The Handmaid’s Tale, up to this point, has been immensely difficult to watch, with a new tragedy lurking around every corner and rampant abuse of all types papering the walls. Episode 9, “The Bridge,” doesn’t dial back any of the gut-wrenching moments, but given that we’re only one episode away from the season finale, things are about to get fast-paced and intense. Buckle up, folks.
Things start calmly enough .. .as calm as they ever are in Gilead, anyway. Janine gives up her baby to the Putnam’s with rightful reluctance, all the while muttering about how “he’s coming for me,” whoever “he” is. She’s bundled up and carted off to her new assignment with the typical ceremonial fanfare, but something seems even more off than usual about the whole event. Janine, formerly “Ofwarren,” becomes “Ofdaniel,” living now with a pair who seem to be very high up in the government — enough to receive a known fertile handmaiden and give her as much of the high life as a handmaiden can get in Gilead.
June, meanwhile, has had just about enough of everything and we’re only a few minutes in. She hints to her partner that she wants to help with Mayday, and while she’s initially brushed off, she is eventually assigned to return to the Jezebels, find someone named Rachel at the bar, and retrieve a package. Her best bet is, apparently, tonight. A tall order, but June agrees and puts on her best ‘Tempt The Commander’ face.
The Handmaid’s Tale — “The Bridge” Episode 109 — Offred embarks on a dangerous mission for the resistance. Janine moves to a new posting. Serena Joy suspects the Commander’s infidelity. Janine (Madeline Brewer), shown. (Photo by: George Kraychyk/Hulu)
She accosts him outside his room and makes with the seduction, which totally works and miraculously they end up at the Jezebels without incident, though with plenty of taunts to Nick after their confrontation in the last episode. But Waterford isn’t playing. He takes her straight up to the room while Nick goes downstairs to the kitchens to sulk and ask probing questions. Whoops, he’s suspicious of June now, too.
Meanwhile, we keep coming back to Serena Joy as she dreams of having a child and deals with the nasty Putnam woman’s constant complaining about her’s. Serena meets Rita the kitchen and, forgoing some calming tea, the two share a drink of liquor together. Rita tells Serena Joy about her son that she lost in the war, conveniently not mentioning what he was fighting for. I love this entire scene because of the completely off-balance way it portrays Serena Joy. She can’t comfort another woman on a loss properly, spouting useless Bible verses instead. She doesn’t even know where the tea is in her own kitchen. She’s essentially become a prop to her husband. Heck, I was reminded again that the two don’t even sleep in the same room … not that I blame her if that was her choice.
I’m lingering back there with Serena because the next scene is very, very difficult. It’s time for Janine to have the ceremony with the Putnams, but as she’s being raped she has a breakdown and tears away, cowering in the corner. At the same time, we see June alternating between agonized looks and faking enjoyment of Waterford during a less ceremonial but equally awful act. He even has the gall to tell her at the end that she can be loud if she wants. “You can be free.” June’s face says more about that than I ever could.
The Handmaid’s Tale — “The Bridge” — Episode 109 — Offred embarks on a dangerous mission for the resistance. Janine moves to a new posting. Serena Joy suspects the Commander’s infidelity. Offred (Elisabeth Moss) and Commander Waterford (Joseph Fiennes), shown. (Photo by: George Kraychyk/Hulu)
It’s time to get down to the bar, but Waterford is onto her…or thinks he is. He infers that the reason she wanted to return so badly was to see Moira, and has had Moira brought to the room. He lets them talk while he showers, but it’s not a happy reunion this time. Moira has given up, it seems, and is prepared to accept her fate while chastising June for trying to fight for something better. June pushes back using the same words (complete with strong language) Moira told her earlier in the series, but it doesn’t seem to have much effect. No package for June. She returns in silence and frustration.
The morning did not bring what either myself or June thought it would. Serena Joy shakes June awake and tells her to dress quickly, then takes her to a bridge where Janine is standing on the side, holding her baby, ready to jump. June has been brought in to talk her down. What the hell do you say to something about to lose literally the only good left in her world to people who certainly don’t deserve that good?
Apparently, you can’t say much. Promises of change, dreams of a better life, understanding what she feels, and quiet words between friends only change Janine’s mind halfway. She hands the baby off to June before jumping off alone. They manage to pull her out of the icy river and take her to the hospital, but there’s no telling what’s next. Even if she recovers, will her known fertility be enough to allow her to escape punishment? Lydia doesn’t offer any answers as she waits by Janine’s bedside, though she does try to fool us once again into thinking she is a nice person. Lydia is just as in league with the evils of Gilead as the men are. Don’t be tricked.
The Handmaid’s Tale — “The Bridge” Episode 109 — Offred embarks on a dangerous mission for the resistance. Janine moves to a new posting. Serena Joy suspects the Commander’s infidelity. (Photo by: George Kraychyk/Hulu)
We’re not done. How are the Putnams doing now that the baby is back? Not super well. Commander Putnam is being carted off because, whoopsy, Janine revealed on the bridge that he’d been having all sorts of weird sex with her outside of the ceremony. While Serena Joy attempts to comfort Mrs. Putnam, the other wife proves that she is not only a crabapple, but also really bad at rocking a baby. She’s also capable of sending Serena Joy on the warpath to Waterford with a reminder that “men don’t change,” after what happened to the first handmaid. Great, now June will be in trouble too.
June has one ultimate triumph at the end of the episode. While picking up meat for the household, the man at the counter also gives her an extra package. Though we don’t get to see what’s inside, there is an appropriately sassy note from Moira. Sounds like June wins after all.
And what about Moira? Oh, no biggy. Moira just stabs her client for the night, steals his car, disguises herself as a driver, and heads … somewhere? Is she going to rescue June? Is her car the car June gets into at the end of the novel? God, I need it to be that car so badly.
What an episode, geez. If I didn’t have to wait a week I certainly couldn’t, but The Handmaid’s Tale will conclude on Hulu on Wednesday, June (heh) 14. Buckle up and get in the car with Moira; it’s going to be a trip.