'The Handmaid's Tale 3' episode 12: Serena's rocky journey towards redemption and June's revenge-fueled transformation

June's motive behind her latest plan - freeing 52 children from Gilead - is not born out of justice, but vengeance. She wants to punish Gilead by taking what matters most to them - the lost children - to make sure they understand the pain of going through something they've inflicted upon others.

'The Handmaid's Tale 3' episode 12: Serena's rocky journey towards redemption and June's revenge-fueled transformation
ADVERTISEMENT

This article contains spoilers for 'The Handmaid's Tale' season 3 episode 12: 'Sacrifice'

'The Handmaid's Tale', over the twelve episodes of season 3, has essentially captured how Serena Joy (Yvonne Strahovski) and June Osborne (Elisabeth Moss) traveled in their respective paths towards protecting what was most important to them. For Serena, it was always Nichole and it continues to be.

For June, it is her one reason to stay alive in Gilead -- to make Hannah proud, even if she cannot save her eldest daughter from the clutches of the Mckenzies. In episode 12, titled 'Sacrifice', we in a way see the culmination of both of their journeys. 

Take the scene of Serena and Moira (Samira Wiley) in the holding cell in Canada for example. It is clear Serena would do anything for a chance to live with her daughter Nichole and June had come to that conclusion. In fact, that realization was what pushed June to name the baby Nichole -- a name Serena wanted -- instead of Holly in season 2.

ADVERTISEMENT

However, this is not something Moira knows or can even understand. According to her, Serena is the same woman who would hold June down to have her husband rape June and this was something she was not forced to do but intended to do.

The conversation between Moira, who was once raped by Fred Waterford (Joseph Fiennes), shows how Serena will never live down her days as his wife. It's also become clear Serena cannot be a part of Nichole's life the way she wishes with Moira and Luke Bankole (O. T. Fagbenle) in the way.

While it did seem like Serena was set on course for redemption, we wonder if Moira and Luke's stance on Nichole being with Serena will change her again and push her back to the days when she was a manipulative woman whose only goal was to get a handmaid pregnant. 

A still of Serena Joy from 'The Handmaid's Tale' season 3, episode 12. (Source: Hulu)

ADVERTISEMENT

Speaking of June, her journey in many ways is something of a sane woman turning towards the methods she once hated, caught in the clutches of Gilead, for the sake of the greater good. This transition was something hinted at from the beginning of the third season and it was particularly clear when we saw June gang up against Ofmatthew (Ashleigh LaThrop) when she snitched on June and Martha Frances.

We became aware of the fact that this June is not the same woman we saw struggle with Gilead's regime. She became a part of the system, solely to fight it and punish it for everything it took away from her. 

June's motive behind her latest plan - freeing 52 children from Gilead - is not born out of justice, but vengeance. June wants to punish Gilead by taking what matters most to them - the lost children of Gilead - to make sure they understand the pain of going through something they have inflicted upon others over the years.

After Commander George Winslow's (Christopher Meloni) disappearance (technically death that was a result of self-defense, but something the other commanders are unaware of) and Commander Waterford's capture by the Canadian government, talks of closing the border between Canada and Gilead ensues. The only way to stop this is by using Commander Joseph Lawrence (Bradley Whitford), but his wife Eleanor (Julie Dretzin) might ruin her plans with her mental instability. She did almost spill details about June's plans to Olivia Winslow and Mrs. Putnam. 

ADVERTISEMENT

June Osborne in 'The Handmaid's Tale' season 3, episode 12. (Source: Hulu)

So, when Eleanor popped a lot of pills and was breathing heavily -- a cause of drug overdose -- instead of hollering for the Commander, she sits by and watches Eleanor's life slip through. She made this sacrifice in the name of the greater good, but this only shows how far she has come from the woman she once was.

She made this sacrifice, as the episode title suggests, to ensure safe passage for 52 children, but this doesn't negate the fact that the transformed June is someone her loved ones may no longer recognize. Interestingly, the reference to June's changed persona is made by none other than Commander Waterford who meets June's husband Luke in Canada.

He explains how June has changed in Gilead and tells Luke he changed June. It is true that June's time as Fred's handmaid was the beginning of her traveling into the darker path.

ADVERTISEMENT

Commander Fred Waterford in 'The Handmaid's Tale' season 3, episode 12. (Source: Hulu)

He is, however, not the only reason she turned out the way she did. When Fred refers to June betraying Luke, this is not news to him because June had explained everything about Nick to Luke through a tape.

So while there is no sense of feeling betrayed from Luke, there is pent up anger in him towards the Waterfords that bursts out and results in him punching Fred. It was truly satisfying to see Fred, betrayed by his wife, get what he deserved, but does that mean he will stay down?

We will have to wait and see how his fate shapes up in the finale of 'The Handmaid's Tale' season 3 which will air Wednesday, August 14, on Hulu.

ADVERTISEMENT

Share this article: 'The Handmaid's Tale 3' episode 12: Serena's rocky journey towards redemption and June's revenge-fueled transformation