After two seasons of utter darkness, Season 3 of The Handmaid’s Tale seemed like it was finally changing course. The first five episodes were meant to inspire, but everything changed after June visited D.C. with the Waterfords in Episode 6, and in Handmaid’s Tale Season 3, Episode 7, things take a turn for the worse.
With June reassigned to Commander Lawrence’s house, she was a bit less restricted than she was with the Waterfords. She was even able to assist several Marthas in their Resistance plans. But all of that hope and possibility for a rebellion seem to have been quelled after the introduction of Washington, D.C. and the horrifying practice of veiled Handmaids proved to be a turning point for the show.
In Season 3, Episode 7, titled “Under His Eye,” we start to notice veiled Handmaids in Massachusetts too. It’s unclear if these are transplants from D.C. or evidence that the trend itself is spreading, but either way, the implications are scary. There’s a high chance June and the others could meet a similar fate.
A dramatic trailer for Handmaid’s Tale Season 3 sparked speculation that a scene featuring dozens of Handmaids gathered in D.C. alongside the Lincoln Memorial Reflecting Pool could have been some sort of protest. The first few episodes seemed to set the stage for just such a Handmaid rebellion. With the Marthas being active with Mayday and Chicago holding its own against Gilead’s army, things were looking up.
Though The Handmaid’s Tale has always presented Gilead as nothing but horrible and disturbing, it’s taken an even darker turn as we head into the back half of Season 3. The arrival of veiled Handmaid’s in Massachusetts implies that Gilead’s elite are making plans to tighten their control over their citizens. If June steps out of line there will be severe repercussions. After all, Aunt Lydia made sure she knew that nothing went unpunished in D.C.
Things already seem to be getting worse in Massachusetts. June is forced to attend four public hangings over the course of one week, including one for the Martha who helped find her daughter Hannah. Of course, Gilead has always had cruel punishments, but they seem to be happening more frequently and that’s a cause for concern. With the situation between Gilead and Canada growing more precarious and tense by the day and the shocking twist of Nick’s past as a soldier for Gilead, fans should start preparing for the worst.
It’s disheartening because Season 3 started out with a lot of hope for a better future. June was getting involved with the Resistance and she was working her way towards gaining Lawrence’s support. It was a long shot, sure, but there was some wiggle room there for a couple of episodes. After all, of all the commanders thus far, he was the only one to afford June some leniency. Things have grown progressively worse, however, and the hope for revolution and the dismantling of Gilead’s systems now seems like nothing more than a pipe dream.
The Handmaid’s Tale Season 3 airs Wednesdays on Hulu.