Chicago has never been front and center in The Handmaid’s Tale’s storyline, but as the only United States stronghold left in Gilead, the midwestern city may prove to be the resistance’s last hope. Details are scarce with regards to what’s really happening on the ground, but the war against Gilead is raging in the Windy City. Various characters have dropped hints before, but in Season 3, it seems like Chicago’s battle against Gilead has only intensified. With the rising references to the city and June’s involvement with the resistance, Chicago may play a key role in the dismantling of Gilead towards the end of this season.
At the end of Season 3, Episode 4, “God Bless the Child,” protesters in Canada, including June’s husband, Luke, stood in solidarity with Chicago and in support of the destruction of Gilead. This clearly puts Luke on their radar, especially now that it’s been confirmed he has June’s daughter Nichole (the Waterfords have publicly claimed she was kidnapped).
It’s scary to think what Gilead could do now that they know Nichole’s whereabouts and who has her, but the scene was more striking because of the protest.
First mentioned in Season 1 as the location where rebel forces were fighting against Gilead, Chicago continues to remain a source of conflict against the tyrannical Christian nation.
In Season 3, Episode 2, “Mary and Martha,” June’s new shopping partner, the pious Ofmatthew, mentioned the war and seemed convinced Gilead would win. After all, the new country managed to overtake Washington D.C. (which we’ll see in Episode 5) and has seemed unstoppable ever since. However, Nick confirming his deployment to the front at the end of Season 3, Episode 3, “Useful,” means Chicago remains a formidable opponent in this war.
Why else would they send in more commanders to the front?
There’s only sparse information to go on in terms of what Chicago in The Handmaid’s Tale actually looks like and how the city could lead to Gilead’s unraveling. The city’s unwillingness to surrender after all this time is important, and if they’ve staged a rebellion for this long, then there must be a lot of people involved.
Now that June is a Handmaid in Commander Lawrence’s home, she’s more privy to conversations about the war, which will further help in her support of the resistance. The many women shown at the end of “Useful” were kidnapped from Chicago and slated for execution, but Commander Lawrence told June to choose five who would become Marthas. These women could provide June and the rebel Marthas with more information about what’s happening in Chicago and even help them plan something similar.
We know that the number of troops in Chicago continues to grow. That means more people will be fighting in the resistance, more rebel Handmaids might emerge, and Gilead’s deployment of commanders to the front means they’re no longer as confident about their odds of winning. Chicago is clearly gaining ground and even has the support of the American refugees in Canada (and presumably Canadians as well).
Chicago’s sudden reemergence might prove to be a turning point for the series, and it could give the resistance an advantage. Could the troops in Chicago fan out and take back some of the land Gilead stole? It’s possible. The biggest takeaway is that Chicago remains important in Season 3 of The Handmaid’s Tale, and their fight is gaining more support, more involvement, and more airtime. All of this could prove detrimental to Gilead and be key to its ultimate destruction.
The Handmaid’s Tale Season 3 airs Wednesdays on Hulu.