Thankfully in this third installment of the second season of The Handmaid's Tale we were spared any of Aunt Lydia's crazed torture scenes but that doesn't mean we got off lightly as the episode took us on the journey of June's nail-biting dash for freedom.
We knew deep down it could never end well. The Handmaid's Tale has been renewed for a third season so we were hardly going to spend the next 23 episodes watching June live happily ever after over in America land there in Canada, but still, as she got closer and closer, we couldn't help but try will her to freedom.
The episode kicked off with a bit of light exercise for June around the old Boston Globe building aka former slaughter house as we learned that she had been hanging around there for two months now and had actually become a bit attached to the place. As we'll see, she was probably best just staying there but sure who wants to watch that.
As June was moved from pillar to the post it was in the flashbacks of this episode that the story really lied as we finally found out a bit more about June's mother (Cherry Jones), a character that is quite important to her in the books but the showrunners felt there wasn't enough time to develop in the first season.
"June's memories of her mother and her activism are very vibrant in the book, so we've been talking about her from day one of season one, and it just didn't seem like enough time to do her justice", showrunner Bruce Miller told THR.
"In season two, we mention her a little bit, but we just don't want to short-shrift her story. It's a story we want to tell - she was one of the most memorable characters."
Our glimpse into June's past shows there was a turbulent but loving dynamic between the mother and daughter with June believing she was secure in her rights as a woman, taking no heed of her mother's belief that all would not end well. "Luke is fine," she says "but come on, this country is going down the fucking tubes. It’s time to get out in the street and fight, not play house."
Her words echo in June's mind as they do all of ours as once more the show can't help but throw shade at our own world and the inequalities we can often accept as normal. June may not have paid attention to her mother at the time but it's clear she holds a powerful influence on her now in her persistent struggle to refuse to accept her circumstances.
The last we know of June's mother is that she went to the colonies so we could assume her death but given that we have now been introduced to some of the characters of that wasteland, including of course Emily and Janine, who knows, maybe mama June could reappear in real time.
We also saw June deal with her own role as a mother and the sense of guilt she felt from knowing she was leaving her daughter behind in her quest to break away. Ultimately she came to the conclusion that no one ever feels their mother is how you imagine a mother should be and that probably works the other way round too.
At times this inner monologue, I hate to admit, sounded a bit cheesy and the clunky reference to Salem in the warehouse was a bit like being whacked on the head with a metaphor. For the first time in this episode I worried just ever so slightly that the show may become weighed down by the fact that it has gone off script from the book.
However, it did serve as a very inward looking episode that gave both June and the viewer time to reflect on all that has happened and attempt to come to terms with it, while this was also echoed with Moira across the border. And just as we felt June had reached that moment of finally having conviction in her actions - the show pulls the rug from under you and June is back in the clutches of Gilead once more.
Dammit, Handmaid's Tale.