The Handmaid’s Tale season 1 finale recap: ‘Night’


The Handmaid’s Tale’s season finale has perhaps the best musical choice of the entire season, and sets up the second season well.

After quite a stellar season of The Handmaid’s Tale, things have come to a (temporary) end. Let’s get right to the recap:

The season finale of The Handmaid’s Tale opens on yet another flashback. It’s June’s first arrival at the Red Center. Of course, Aunt Lydia has insults before she gives out instructions. In voiceover, June explains that no one thought it would last. Flashback June gets a shock, then has to apologize to Aunt Lydia for not keeping her eyes low or clasping her hands.

Next, in a dimly-lit room, more Aunts hold her down as Lydia puts the red implant in June’s ear to mark her as a Handmaid.

Back in the present, Offred’s voiceover dubs the Handmaids an army because of their uniforms. She hides her special package from Moira in the bathroom and walks out to a hard slap from Serena Joy, who throws the dress from Jezebels at her.

It gets worse: Serena Joy then forces her to take a pregnancy test in front of her. Once Offred does, she leaves the room and kneels, praying. Still in the bathroom, Offred bleeds from the slap.

The test has a little plus sign on it, and Serena Joy makes all the right noises. Offred does not.

That night, Waterford walks into his study, with Serena Joy sitting there with Scrabble ready to go. Then she says that she knows about what he’s been doing with Offred, and he needs to stop doing that nonsense. He argues back that it’s her fault. That’s when Serena Joy drops the pregnancy news…

"Serena Joy: “It isn’t yours. You’re weak, and God would never let you pass on that weakness. You can’t father a child because you’re not worthy.”"

Then she scatters the Scrabble tiles on the floor and walks out.

The next morning, Rita also knows that Offred’s pregnant and is pulling out all the stops she can. In walks Nick after Rita leaves. Offred relays the two big developments to him, including the pregnancy. Nick then places his hand on her stomach, rather reverently, and she covers his hand with hers. Serena Joy sees them sharing the moment, and Nick sees that she sees.

Serena Joy then takes Offred out for what she dubs a “long drive.”

Out in the middle of nowhere, a somewhat-bundled-up Moira finds a farm, and in an outbuilding is a car with an Ontario license plate. Stunned, she lays back on the ground and starts to laugh, because she’s made it to Canada.

In the car, the only sounds are the engine and the clacking of Serena Joy’s knitting needles. Offred asks where they are, but Serena Joy doesn’t bother to answer. She gets out of the car, goes into a building, and comes out with a little girl dressed in pink: Hannah.

But Offred can’t get out, even though she bangs on the window and begs. When Serena Joy gets back in the car, she promises that Hannah will be fine … as long as her baby is, too.

And Offred’s sadness turns to rage:

"“What is wrong with you? What is wrong with you? How can you do this? You’re deranged.”"

But all Serena Joy says, despite all the curse words thrown at her, is that getting upset isn’t healthy. Offred sinks down into despair.

Before the other Commanders, Commander Putnam (Janine’s Commander) admits that he did a bad thing. They send him out, and Waterford asks for a voice vote. Another Commander shoots that down, saying that Mrs. Putnam has already come to advocate for something far harsher than a slap on the wrist.

The next shot is of Warren Putnam in a sterile white hospital room. The doctors make incisions in his left forearm, and then break out a saw to cut his hand off (but at least they took his wedding ring off first).

At night, Offred knocks on Nick’s door. When there’s no answer, she heads back into the house and into the study, where Waterford is working. After shutting the door, she asks him to protect Hannah from Serena Joy. He makes a token defense of his wife, and when Offred doesn’t accept it, he changes the subject to the pregnancy.

"Waterford: “Is it mine?”Offred: “Of course.”Waterford: “You do that so well.”"

Later that night, she goes into the bathroom and opens the package to find a collection of notes and papers. They’re letters from Handmaids, written on whatever pieces of paper their authors could find.

In Canada, Moira has arrived at a refugee center. She gets a kit: money, insurance, a phone, and clothes. Her expression makes it clear she’s overwhelmed.

Waterford walks into the nursery, where Serena Joy is setting up a bassinet. He attempts to say he’s sorry. When she doesn’t accept it, he changes tack to talk about the baby and says:

"“We’ll be a family.”"

Still in the bathroom, Offred wakes up to three bells. In voiceover, she explains it’s time for a Salvaging, then starts to clean up the letters.

This time, men bring wheelbarrows full of stones to the Salvaging. Aunt Lydia’s speech talks about hurting children before she gets them in formation. Each Handmaid takes a stone.

They bring Janine, now out of her coma, into the middle of the circle, and chain her.

"Janine: “Not too hard, okay?”"

Ofglen protests, and a Guardian hits her in the face with his gun, before two of them drag her away. (Did we really need the slow-motion, though?) Aunt Lydia blows her whistle. No one throws their stones. Offred steps forward, and though guns are aimed at her, she doesn’t move. Aunt Lydia walks down off the stage. Right in front of her face, Offred drops her rock.

"Offred: “I’m sorry, Aunt Lydia.”"

(That’s some nice flashback payoff.)

The rest of the Handmaids do the same, all saying they’re sorry as they do. Aunt Lydia sends them home with a threat. Offred does not look concerned about it, and instead walks away after picking up her bonnet, with all the other Handmaids following suit.

Offred leads her parade of Handmaids down the street to Nina Simone’s “Feeling Good”, all bold and brassy. Eventually, only Offred’s left.

Back in Canada, Moira has a visitor: Luke, who was alerted because he had her on his list of family. He gives her a hug as she sobs.

Alone again in her bedroom, Offred muses on how she feels “serene” even though she knows something’s coming. A black van pulls up nearby.

Nick walks in first, saying that she needs to have some faith in him and to go with the Guardians. Offred gives Rita one last hug (and the location of the letters, which she goes and finds. Rita might not be in Handmaid uniform, but she didn’t look like she was about to turn the letters in, either). Serena Joy asks to be told what’s happening. She gets nothing. Waterford also gets nothing other than an assurance that what’s happening “is in order.”

In voiceover, Offred notes that she isn’t sure what’s happening, but she gets in the back of the van.

Next: 5 things we want in Supergirl season 3

That’s how the first season of The Handmaid’s Tale ends.