The Handmaid’s Tale – Season 3 Episode 1 Recap & Review

Let It Burn

I’m not ashamed to say, The Handmaid’s Tale is in my top 5 list for favourite shows of all time. The masterful use of cinematography, the great dialogue and devastating world-building combine to make this a unique and utterly believable dystopian nightmare. While some lamented the ending to the previous season, I personally didn’t mind it too much; it made sense narratively to have June so passionate about not leaving Hannah behind. You could argue she could have fought the corruption from the sanctuary of Canada but ultimately the seeds of rebellion have to come from within.

The first episode begins with a short monologue, as June reflects on what she’s been through last season before heading to Hannah’s to check on her daughter and make sure she’s okay. Meanwhile Serena returns home and tells Commander Waterford she helped orchestrate the events leading to her child being saved. Her husband backs up, stunned at the news, as Serena walks away after giving Nick a knowing look.

Meanwhile, June herself makes it to the house and sneaks in through the back, seeing Hannah tucked up in bed asleep. After wishing her daughter good night, she’s caught by the guards on-site and brought before the woman whose now posing as Hannah’s mother. June defiantly stands her ground, telling her Hannah is still her daughter before being taken back home to confront the wrath of Commander Waterford. Only, it’s Serena who screams at June instead but the handmaid bites back, telling Serena she now knows what it’s like to have a child ripped from your arms. This leads to Serena sobbing in June’s arms, knowing she’ll probably never seen the child again

Meanwhile Emily races to escape with baby Nichole. Navigating a myriad of forests, spotlights and tumultuous water, she makes it across the border, barely, after scrambling for safety over treacherous waters. After making sure the baby is still breathing, she’s saved by paramedics who take her to the nearest hospital and she basks in the round of applause she receives for undertaking such a perilous journey for the sake of a child. Later on in the episode she informs Luke that June is safe but for now, we cut back to the American household.

Commander Waterford agrees to cover for Serena, telling her she’ll get over her grief and then they can settle back into normality, prompting Serena to snap and burn her bed in rage-stricken grief. As she watches the flames lick up the walls, the house burns completely as June struggles to contain her smug grin, leading everyone to stand outside and watch their home burn down.

While forced to do manual labour as punishment for her crimes, June learns that the baby and Emily made it to safety to Canada before being taken to another house with a new commander. Bracing herself, it turns out the house she’s been relocated to is none other than Joseph Lawrence; the commander responsible for leading the escape attempt. Let the revolution begin.

As an opening episode, The Handmaid’s Tale does well to ease back into its story although there isn’t much in the way of meaningful plot development here. There’s still some nice moments involving June’s monologues and seeing the house burn down is certainly a symbolic way to signify fresh beginnings and rising from the ashes, which I believe was the purpose of that segment. With June and Serena starting to evolve and slowly wind up on the same wave length, it’ll be interesting to see what direction the show takes but for now, there’s enough here to make for an enjoyable and engrossing start to the third season.


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