'The Handmaid's Tale 3' episode 9, 'Heroic', addresses June's change in behavior and why she reacted to Ofmatthew the way she did
This article contains spoilers for 'The Handmaid's Tale' season 3 episode 9, 'Heroic'
'The Handmaid's Tale' season 3 episode 9, 'Heroic', drags for far too long to conclude that June is not as strong as we think she is. She is mentally exhausted, at a point in her life where there is no hope of meeting either of her daughters and that has resulted in her callous behavior.
Her condition is further aggravated after Ofmatthew gets shot by the police because Aunt Lydia has made it clear that June can leave the sterile surroundings of the hospital only when her walking partner leaves. Until then, she is forced to stay on her knees, praying for the well-being, not of the wounded handmaid, but of the baby.
As she stays isolated from human contact and witnesses everything the doctors do to keep Gilead's miracle - the baby - alive, every little detail about the room comes into focus and adds to the pressure she has been feeling. All she wants at that point is to get as far away as possible from the monotony of the sterile hospital room and she is ready to kill Ofmatthew to make that happen.
When Janine, who is in the hospital to treat her eye, chances upon her with a scalpel in hand, the conversation is reflective of everything we have been wanting to ask June. What really happened to her? When did she become so selfish?
Throughout this conversation, we see a desperation in June we haven't seen before. She seems hopeless and is ready to do anything with no thought about consequences. While Janine does stop her from acting on the thought of killing Ofmatthew for her own good, she is not able to take the scalpel away from June.
This results in June holding on to her scalpel and plotting murder in her head. Who should it be? Should she kill the doctor who has been slicing away at parts of Ofmatthew's body for the good of the baby and seems to have no conscience or should she slit the vein of Commander Matthew and his wife who are visiting their handmaid?
We then see Serena enter and June begins to plot her death. It is during these scenes that we know for certain June is unhinged. There is no logic behind her planning, at least not to that point and she has no thoughts about taking an active part in the resistance.
Chicago was the last thing on her mind, but all this while, we were led to believe she will lead the fight. That is when we get to delve into the psyche of the woman who has so far put her children before anything else in Gilead.
The one thing that kept her going was her children and now, the fact that she may never see either of the kids again is enough to break June apart. While it did initially look like June was turning homicidal, it came to light towards the end of the episode that all June was trying to do was find a way out. Even if it meant to end her life.
This dawns on June herself after her conversation with the doctor who agrees to stitch her wound up. A wound she suffered while trying to slit Serena. This conversation is enlightening mainly because we see two very different people argue about different facets of having a conscience as a doctor. This also shows there is hope for June yet, but only if she pulls herself together.
Episode 10 of 'The Handmaid's Tale' season 3 will air Wednesday, July 24 on Hulu.