'The Handmaid's Tale': Accidental Enemies Will Define the Rest of Season 3
June and Serena Joy have had an antagonistic relationship since the very beginning of The Handmaid’s Tale, and that relationship has developed from enemies to frenemies and back again over the course of three seasons. While Episode 10, “Witness,” has set in motion June’s plan to get as many children out of Gilead as possible, Serena proposed a conflicting arrangement that would bring Nichole back to her. After a tenuous alliance early on this season, these two have become accidental enemies, and their opposing schemes will have a lasting impact on the rest of Season 3 and beyond.
After June’s trip to Washington, D.C. with the Waterfords in Episode 6, the Handmaid and Serena Joy’s fragile relationship seemed to fracture to the point of no return.
Sure, they were never friends to begin with and Serena’s treatment of June was pretty atrocious in Season 1. After the birth of Nichole, however, the two found some common ground in their shared motherhood and, surprisingly, built a unique bond that only Gilead’s systemic oppression could have fostered.
Unsurprisingly, that alliance didn’t last very long.
Something shifted after Serena went to see Nichole in Canada during Episode 5 and she has been fighting to get her back ever since. For a few episodes in Season 3, Serena and June’s goals — to have their children returned to them — paralleled one another, though they obviously stemmed from very different mindsets. Still, June did try to convince Serena that it wasn’t safe for Nichole to come back to Gilead, but she was met with stubborn resistance.
This all came to a boiling point in Episode 10 when June’s plans altered to not just include saving Hannah, but getting many of Gilead’s children to safety.
Meanwhile, Serena’s goals have remained the same and have even escalated to include the possibility of reaching out to Mark Tuello (who last appeared in Episode 5). The exiled U.S. government representative has offered Serena an out on multiple occasions in return for her cooperation to weaken Gilead, but Serena’s remained steadfast. That might change if there’s a chance to negotiate the return of Nichole.
Both of these plans have the potential to derail Fred Waterford’s attempts to get world governments to recognize Gilead as a sovereign state.
Against all odds, June and Serena’s opposing strategies actually converge to become one and the same.
Desperate to get Nichole back, Serena tries convincing Fred to reach out to Tuello. While Fred would be tried as a war criminal, Serena petitions to offer up Gilead’s children in exchange for Nichole. June also wants to smuggle children to Canada (though not as a decoy in a larger plot).
On the surface, both of their plans seem to cancel each other out, but they might actually wind up being brief allies once more. However, once June figures out the reasons behind Serena’s change of heart, the end of Season 3 might culminate in a major confrontation between the two women that is sure to throw any goodwill left between them out the window.
The Handmaid’s Tale Season 3 airs Wednesdays on Hulu.