Season 2/Episode 10, The Last Ceremony/Hulu
TW: Sexual Assault/Rape/Child & Parent Separation/Emotional Distress
Spoiler Alert: Before going right in to the season 2 finale of Handmaid’s Tale, I need to state a few things. Every single episode of Handmaid’s Tale is gut-wrenching. This particular episode came with its own trigger warning, and for good reason. Due to my own experiences with sexual assault and the sensitivity for others that comes along with that… I will not spell out certain situations in detail. Of all of the recaps this season, this is by far the hardest for me to write.
One Soweth and Another Reapeth:
If you’ve watched previous episodes of Handmaid’s Tale, then you are well aware of the ceremonies. This episode opens with Emily casting herself aside emotionally during a ceremony. It will be that commander’s last ceremony, as we witness his fall from an apparent heart attack. A shrieking wife runs off to find help while Emily stays on her back to increase the chances [of pregnancy]. I can’t help but to clap for Emily as she stands over her attacker. She delivers a swift kick to his ribs and a well-deserved stomp to his ceremonial jewels.
From there we move to June and many of the other handmaids in the grocery store. Town talk of what happened to Emily is inevitable. Apparently, so are contractions. In the middle of June telling Emily that Moira made it to Canada, she becomes angry at Emily’s melancholy and goes into labor. Once the ambulance takes her home, the last ceremony is on full throttle. Nick is there to escort her inside, while Eden looks on in envy. Serena is in prime Serena mode, praying over June’s belly and telling her about God’s will. The home is taken over with flowers and Marthas, handmaids and towels. Janine is loving and caring and as happy as can be. Aunt Lydia is in her zone.
Fred Waterford is passing out cigars while another commander is asking about how good of a lay Offred is. He’s also taking ego hits as one of the other commanders announces that his wife is pregnant. The wives of the commanders are circled around Serena as she lays on the floor with lit candles, breathing in sympathy with June. Until Aunt Lydia walks in, and Serena’s whole world crumbles. Braxton Hicks.
Serena takes a hit to her ego when she realizes that there is absolutely no chance of the baby being born today. Not only that, June has the most remarkable smirk on her face as she holds her belly and says “I’m sorr,y Mrs Waterford.” What can Serena do? The room is full of people, and she has no control over this situation at all. Serena decides to announce that June will not only be leaving the house; she will be assigned a new district. June’s smirk and sarcasm remains intact.
An Earnest Plea:
June has been making provisions for her baby since the previous episode, when Serena turned on her again. This episode is no different. This time, her plea is for Hannah. June tries to remind Waterford of his humanity, telling him that he will be a father soon. She didn’t even flinch when he reached for her belly this time. June found her window of opportunity and asked him to move her to Hannah’s district…if it is at all within his power. Fred and his god complex rose with a mighty sword, and he began yelling at June. Dude had the nerve to insinuate that she has been spoiled by him. June starts to leave until she remembers that very last button that she has to push with Fred. She marched back to his desk, looked him dead in the eyes and basically was like…
Unfortunately, neither Fred nor Serena Waterford take kindly to having their humility challenged. This is where the episode takes an even more gruesome turn. Fred and Serena live off power. They are nasty little control freaks who seek to help no one but themselves. Serena wants “her” baby now. Fred wants to be back in the saddle. The two pair up to help usher along the baby “naturally.”
The (un)Power Couple: What Serena and Fred choose to do to June is despicable. The opening scene of the episode is a foreshadowing of what is to come. Unlike Emily’s post, Fred nor Serena die after what they do to her. No… instead they look as though they didn’t actually consider it to be rape until it was over. The bastards leave June, who had no time or preparation to disconnect mentally, broken.
While this is happening, Rita and Eden clean up from the festivities. Eden takes out the garbage and finds herself in an episode of Gilead’s Creek with the Eye who’s been giving her the eye since he arrived at this post. She’s 15, brainwashed and horny AF. Eden kisses the Eye and sees Nick noticing the embrace. This child runs to him and falls on her knees, begging for mercy. When Nick is cool with it, she breaks. She wants him to care, to care for her, to love her. Eden wants the fairy tale that she was sold. She accuses Nick of having feelings for June, but he dismisses it. Again, Eden crumbles and realizes that he doesn’t love her. This whole thing…this world that has been created, is shit.
Her Name is Agnes Now:
The next day, Fred Waterford plans a field trip for June to “make up” for… you know. Nick escorts her to an abandoned home, and June is given 10 minutes with her daughter Hannah. When June sees Hannah, she is overcome with emotion. She hugs and kisses her, but Hannah runs to her Martha. “Her name is Agnes now,” the Martha explains. June does what a mommy does best, calms herself and speaks to her child in the now. Hannah asks her if it hurt when June was hit on the head and why she never came to find her… why didn’t June and Luke try harder? June tries to explain, but Hannah tells her that it’s okay. She has new parents now. When the two are finally able to connect emotionally, one of the Eyes says that it’s time to go. They literally snatch Hannah from June and order Nick and June to stay inside. Hannah is screaming and crying, June runs outside to console her. She hugs her daughter. June tells Hannah to be brave, to take her Martha’s hand and to get in the car…. and to go home.
It is a scene that is practically ripped from this week’s headlines. When the car pulls off with Hannah inside, June is left bawling on her knees in the snow. Nick consoles her, but soon rushes her inside the house. Fred had told Nick to make sure that no one saw them and that they were back in 3 hours max. Tires can be heard in the snow and soon two unknown Eyes show up. June hides. Nick is confronted and presumably shot. The Eyes take Nick and his truck. June, nine months pregnant, is left alone in an abandoned house in the middle of nowhere.
This episode of the Handmaid’s Tale leaves its viewers revolted. It shows the evil core of Gilead and parallels the culture of today. We are literally living in a time in which children are being snatched from their parents’ arms and marched into internment camps, or the homes of new/foster parents in the middle of the night. It is a time in which rape culture continues to rear its ugly head.
The Last Ceremony is an all-too-timely episode due to the state of our government in 45’s hands and the way that children are being handled on American soil. This episode of Handmaid’s Tale does what the series does best. It takes the anguish of the historically mistreated people of color in this country and gives it the face of a white woman. Handmaid’s Tale allows its viewers to become disgusted and outraged by what they typically look past and excuse.