One of the major complaints about 'The Handmaid's Tale' has always been that it takes far, far too long for anything to actually happen.
So much of this season has been about piling on June's misery, stripping away whatever kind of semblance of hope she had, and just emotionally savaging her at every turn. Episodes like 'Unknown Caller' and 'Heroic' have time and time again made it clear that nothing is coming to save her, and it's only a matter of time before Gilead rubs her out once and for all.
That's why 'Liars' is such a thrilling episode, in that we finally see some forward momentum that was teased up in last week's episode begin to take shape. For example, the episode opens with Eleanor Lawrence pointing a gun at Commander Lawrence's head, ready to shoot him for the crimes he's committed. Calmly, soothingly, June talks her out of it and freely admits that she'd like nothing more than to see him dead too - but that she needs him now, and their suffering has to mean something.
That in itself has to be a commentary on the season itself, hell the whole series - it has to mean something, otherwise it's just endless misery. From there, June has to meet with the leaders of the underground resistance - all of them Marthas - who are indignant about her plans to get 52 children out of Gilead. In a tense scene, June's plans are confronted with the reality that A) it's nuts and B) it's one of several plans underway that could potentially be derailed by her.
What's fascinating about this is that although the Marthas aren't going to stand in her way, they're not going to help her either - meaning that June is, for lack of a better phrase, a rebel without a cause. She's not tied into some larger scheme, she's simply trying to work out the math, in her own words. Indeed, none of them seem to care too much about her. One of the Marthas angrily refers to her plan as her jumping "onto a train that was already moving and you think you’re Che fucking Guevara."
Throughout 'Liars', what we're beginning to see is the wall closing in on Gilead - at long last. When June goes to the Jezebels' hotel to meet with the black market dealer, she's found by Commander Winslow and, because it's the Jezebels' hotel, decides he's going to rape her. That the scene ends not in a way you'd expect - with June gleefully beating his head after repeatedly stabbing him - is one of the most satisfying moments in the season. Why? Not because he's getting what he so rightfully deserves, but because something is finally happening. It's not just another cycle of misery and bleakness in a show that's literally filled with them.
Likewise, when Commander Waterford and Serena drive out to meet the American representative, and they stop off at the farm house, there's a sense of movement in things. Serena now seems to be aware, at least keeping it to herself, that Gilead can't continue and that it's a lie that's coming to an end, hence the episode title, 'Liars'. Even though she remarks to her husband that the Americans think them "as weak as they are", the words sound hollow coming out of her. All of this, of course, comes before we see her driving a soft-top through an empty road with a smile on her face.
When the two of them eventually meet the American representative, we get another satisfying moment in the season - when the two are captured by the Canadian military and Commander Waterford is now, at long last, going to face the consequences of his war crimes, while Serena is hauled off in another direction.
The episodes ends with the hopeful lines of Kate Bush's 'Cloudbusting', singing sweetly about how something good is going to happen, even if they can't hide from the government - all while Commander Lawrence puts the same gun in June's hands and tells her they're coming for them.
Whatever happens now, June may finally be ready for them.