June really believed she and Serena were finally allies at the start of The Handmaid’s Tale Season 3. But she thought wrong, and any good will between June and the Waterfords might be over forever. In Episode 5, “Unknown Caller,” Serena begged June to call Luke and arrange a meeting to see Nichole. June acquiesced (though she didn’t have much of a choice in the matter), in exchange for a favor from her captor. However, June’s efforts seemed to backfire and Serena’s actions at the end of the episode prove that June shouldn’t trust her for in Season 3, Episode 6 and for the rest of the season.
Serena and June had seemingly come to an agreement about the welfare of baby Nichole. With all the instability and oppression of Gilead, the infant was better off being raised in Canada. Perhaps it was because June understood Serena’s pain or because she’d shared information about June’s first daughter Hannah’s whereabouts at the end of Episode 4, “God Bless the Child.” Whatever the reason, June had come to believe there was a shred of decency left within Serena. Whoops.
But all the talk of a “better life” for her daughter flew right out the window at the end of Handmaid’s Tale Season 3, Episode 5 when Serena and Fred appeared on-air to request that Canada’s government support them in their endeavor to bring Nichole back to Gilead. June was surprised because she’d assumed she and Serena were finally on the same page with regards to what was best for Nichole. But it looks like Serena had a change of heart and, unsurprisingly, didn’t tell June about their new plan.
June has been pushing the boundaries of her oppression since the beginning of Season 3. What, if anything, could she do and get away with without punishment? A lot, it turns out. Ever since becoming Commander Lawrence’s Handmaid, June has been putting plans in motion and has attempted to sway Serena into believing that Gilead isn’t the answer. She’s even gone out of her way to persuade Fred to give Serena more power. After all, if Serena had some say in government decisions, then surely June could eventually convince her that Gilead should be dismantled, right?
The thing is, June never should have trusted Serena to begin with. Snakes might shed their skin, but they’re still snakes. That might sound harsh, but considering Serena is the woman who wrote “A Woman’s Place” and at least part of Gilead’s creation relied on her text, it’s not much of a stretch to see her as pure evil.
Unlike Commander Lawrence, though, Serena’s had three seasons to convince June and the audience that she could change and see the error of her ways. Now that she’s gone behind June’s back to get Nichole back to Gilead, June should reconsider her efforts to see the good in Serena and keep her at arm’s length instead of trying to find common ground.
Ever since becoming the Waterford’s Handmaid, Serena has mistreated June at every turn. It was ultimately Serena’s idea for Fred to rape June to trigger her labor at the end of Season 2 and it was also her decision to lock June in her room for weeks in Season 1 after realizing she wasn’t pregnant.
This isn’t to say Serena hasn’t had her moments of decency — especially after Nichole’s birth. She and June were briefly acting like co-parents and it was assumed their relationship had shifted.
However, it’s clear now more than ever that Serena will always look out for herself first and foremost. If that potentially means implicating Luke or Emily as Nichole’s kidnappers, then so be it. Hopefully, June realizes that the only person who has her best interests at heart is herself and will act accordingly for the remainder of Season 3.
The Handmaid’s Tale Season 3 airs Wednesdays on Hulu.