‘Handmaid's Tale’: The Woman Behind the Red Center Bombing, Explained

Things just got serious.

by Catie Keck

Just as we thought we’d seen a peace fall over Offred (Elizabeth Moss)’s household, The Handmaid’s Tale has reshuffled the cards on this narrative with a righteous albeit tragic event at the newly minted Red Center — the apparent handiwork of a rogue Handmaid.

With the arrival of Episode 6, the dystopian Hulu series proves the resistance may be preparing to orchestrate an uprising after a long silence. An event at the new Rachel and Leah Center, better known as the Red Center where Handmaids are trained, has significantly reframed the resistance to Gilead and proves the show has fully embraced its story arc beyond the pages of Margaret Atwood’s novel.

Spoilers for Episode 6 of The Handmaid’s Tale follow below.

The event occurs in the last moments of the second season’s sixth episode, aptly titled “First Blood,” at the inaugural dedication of the new Rachel and Leah Center. The event sees Commander Fred Waterford speaking in a room filled with fellow officials in the Republic of Gilead. Handmaids are seen standing nearby in rows on the periphery of the building’s glass walls. As the Commander speaks about the facility, which he says “represents a shared vision to restore a moral world in which we can serve god,” a Handmaid can be seen abandoning her position to enter the building. As her face is revealed to be that of Ofglen, the Handmaid who had her tongue cut out, she lifts up her arm to show she has a bomb.

Ofglen as a character has had an interesting story arc. Sometimes described as “Ofglen 2,” she replaced the original Ofglen (née Emily, played by Alexis Bledel), who was sent to the Colonies. In the first season, she originally embraced her position as a Handmaid, telling Offred, “I’m not going to let you mess this up for me,” presumably because her former life was less privileged. She dramatically changed her tune, though, and was the first to refuse to stone Janine to death in the Season finale. As punishment, she had her tongue cut out. As women in Gilead are not permitted to write, words would seem among the last precious tools afforded to Handmaids. For Ofglen, it appears to have been the final straw.

The implications of such an attack are also grim. That the resistance is interested in fighting with weapons of mass death or injury is a revelation not yet explored by the series. And what of the Commander? The other officials? What of the Handmaids and the Wives they must return to knowing that they will surely be blamed for the heinous act by one of their own?

It is also worth wondering how the attack will affect Offred herself, being a Handmaid with so many connections to the attacker and those targeted. Ofglen was among her “friends” invited by Serena Joy to participate in a luncheon for Offred at the Waterford home. It was her Commander who appeared to be a mark for the bombing, as Ofglen seemingly lunged toward him as she detonated the device. And what of Nick’s possible role in the attack? Surely his new bride (a probable narc if ever there was one), would notice if his behavior changed.

Whatever comes of the event, one thing is certain: The resistance is no longer fucking around.