Handmaid’s Tale Episode 10 Finale Explained in Detail


I have not finished watching this episode yet. Decided to do something a little differently this time around, seeing as though it’s the finale and all. Currently about half way through and my mind has been officially blown already. So I’ll write up what I’ve seen already, and then as I watch the rest of the episode I’ll drop in my thoughts as I go.

Episode 10 Finale Overview

The episode kicks off with a jump backwards in time to when June got her earpiece. Which is funny. I had seen the ear tracker over and over again, but it really hadn’t crossed my mind as to what it did. But it makes perfect sense that it was a device to keep the Handmaids from running away. So maybe it’s a tracking beacon? Regardless, we watch, in horror, as June get’s her ear-tag (which just increases the commodity aspect of the Handmaids, right? Bovine ear tags isn’t even a metaphor. It’s literally what is happening.) and feel her pain and chaos as to what is happening to her. Then came my favorite (in a good way) scene in the tire episode, maybe even the entire season.

“It’s their own fault, they should have never given us uniforms if they didn’t want us to be an army.”

Which… I think is the predecessor for the entire season two show. It is the quote that queues up the rest of the entirety of it’s creative run.

Enter a Really MAD Serena

We’ve seem some really intense tantrums out of Serena in this past season. I think she is the single most discussed character in this entire show. Even more so than June. She is so confusing in every way. She helped establish the republic. Helped write the laws. Heck, it was her idea for the entire ceremony with the Handmaids. She is a headjob of epic proportions. But episode 10 took Serena to a totally new level of insanity. So much so, I think she could be my favorite acting job in a TV show ever. (Ok, ok, I don’t really want to discuss that assertion. You get my point. She lit this episode up – so far anyway, again, only half way through.)

When she found out about Offred’s and the Commander’s trips out she just completely lost it. Apparently Offred left makeup on her dress? Anyway, Serena stormed into the room and cracked Offred into next year. It was an epic punch. And I think June may have cracked her head on the door too? Anyway, she then forced Offred to take a pregnancy

Serena hits offred.

And in the book, this is where Serena calls on the Eye to come and get her. And she wonders whether or not these Eye folks will be the friendly, May Day Resistance Eye guys or the bad ones. And then she disappears. The people writing down Offred’s story conjecture that she made it to safety at least long enough to write the story down. But other than that we know nothing. But in this show, we get a serious curve ball when Serena throws a black market pregnancy test at her. And the positive test response is decidedly a different turn of events from the book. DECIDEDLY.

The Nick, Luke, June Triangle

One of my favorite things about Les Misérables musical was the love triangle betwen Eponine, Cosette, and Marius. This is a very similar tragic type situation. It isn’t June’s fault, this whole Commander ceremony thing. And even Nick isn’t her fault. But we can all agree that it wasn’t all clean and cauterized for for June. Not by a long shot. Which makes the possibility of a season 2 so interesting. The characters aren’t bound by the book anymore, and now the real fireworks will be set to pop. We have Nick and June and their potential child. And we have in the other corner Luke, June, and Hannah. All kinds of potential there.

God Knows What’s In Your Heart

June’s being pregnant opens up a whole new layer of empowerment for her. And Serena knows it. No one can touch Offred while she’s pregnant. She’s completely untouchable… like in the Al Cappone sense of the phrase. Which brings about a fairly intense conversation between Offred and Serena. (Though nothing like what is about to come.) “You think I prayed for this?” “God knows what’s in your heart.”

Which is then quickly followed up by an intense conversation between Serena and the Commander about what he had been up to with Offred. And that he needed to cut it out. Oh, and by the way, Offred is pregnant. And it isn’t his. Because, “you are weak, and God won’t pass on your weakness.” Dang. This girl is hardcore.

Cut to Moira making it across the line to Canada. Yay! Moira!

The Insanity Is Just Beginning

One of the most well done, and dramatically intense scenes I’ve ever watched on television dropped bombs on us next. Serena tells Offred they are going on a drive. And when they arrive, Serena goes in, brings Hannah out onto the porch, and chats with her in full view of Offred.

In the book, Serena showed Offred a photo. This was decidedly more dramatic and intense. And kudos to the writers and especially to Elisabeth Moss for her acting during this scene specifically. Because if someone did that to me, I’d be dialed in exactly where Elisabeth played it. Insane. And when Serena got back in the car, the vitriol and hate poured out on her from June was brilliant. Personally don’t think I’ve ever heard any more foul mouthed explosion ever, that’s for sure. It was a double barrel shotgun blast of hate. Which, I have to admit, was pretty much deserved.

Serena – “If my baby stays safe… yours will be safe also.”

The note I wrote down after watching that scene was: “Wow I’ve never seen anything like it.”

All Caught Up…

So now you are where I was when I stopped and decided to write as I watch the ending. I’ll try and publish snippets throughout the evening. Man this has been a fantastic episode so far. Can’t wait to see how the season ends. Alright, have I mentioned to you all that I’m heading to Haiti this weekend to meet two little guys that my family is adopting? Life is a little crazy right now. I really do want to soak in these last 30 minutes or whatever of this episode and marinade in it. So with that in mind, let’s keep moving forward. Hitting play.

Punitive Damages

One of the interesting aspects of this show is just how ardent many of the Gilead folks are. Sure, there are those that aren’t. But look at Serena specifically. She is all in. So much so that I really think she is the real founder and creator of this new nation state. Without women that believe this is the best thing for the world, this doesn’t happen. This world. This chaos. This real evil. Which, reminds me of Nazi Germany. They believed that lie of the Aryan Race eugenic program. So insidiously evil through and through. But that too required fullon believes to make it happen.

And so Commander Putnam stands in judgement of his peers. I can’t remember, he was charged mainly for embezzlement, no? But he was also sleeping with his Handmaid too, correct? Oh that’s right, while on the bridge Ofdaniel told everyone  And it comes out that Putnam’s wife came to the judgement board and asked that they throw the book at him. Oh, and they do. Minutes later, in one of the gorier scenes ever filmed for television, the cut his arm off. I’m sure we’ll see him back, sans arm, in season 2, for sure.

But the thing the really was interesting for me, was how our Fred tried to get the guy off. How he isn’t a true believer in this new experiment. How he is using it for power and for abuse. I mean, that’s not shocking to me. It’s just interesting that the reason that Commander Waterford is all in is because he loves the power of it. The control he has over his wife. The ability to dominate those seen as sinful, and small. Hitting play again.

Daddy Issues

After that appalling scene with Serena showing off Hannah to a locked up June, she heads in to find Nick. He isn’t around. And so she goes to talk to the Commander. Offred asks the Commander to protect her daughter. But Serena would never hurt a child! Oh, you do not know her sir. You don’t know her at all. Comes the response.

“Is it mine?
“Of course”
“You do that so well.”

What?!? What does she do so well? Well, lie of course. Because Serena had already told him that he was weak, and God was not going to be spreading his weakness.

What’s in the Package?

Oh! Fun. Offred is going to open up the package. Pause pause pause. What could be in the package? Intel. Intel on the state of the union inside of Gilead. Or. Better yet? Bomb parts! Fuses and pyrotechnic pieces… of some sort. What else could it be? Communications from a mole in the leadership of Gilead. Nah, not poignant enough. What would be more powerful? Emotionally charged? Thinking. Thinking. Screw it. Hitting play.

LETTERS! Oh wow. That’s a good play.

Ok, back again… Hard to find undivided attention these days apparently. But I do love how this episode is starting to feel like a preview montage for season 2. Look! I’m not the only story here to be told! Maybe they shift narrators next season? And we see Offred’s story collide with theirs? Maybe it’s Luke? Or heck, Ofdaniel? Or anyone one of the stories there lying on the floor.

Alright playing it again! hahaha. Oooh. Commander Waterford is apologizing to Serena? Is that because he saw Commander Putnam lose an arm – and his attitude and perspective matched his own perfectly? Cruel punishments seem to solicit extraordinary apologies from the most sadistic of people. “We’ll be bringing a new life into this world…” “Yes… she will.” Brilliant comeback.

What the Three Bells Toll

Apparently there will be another particicution today. But the question is… who will it be? The Commander? Putnam? No, he’s been punished already. Ooooh. Putnam’s wife?

Oh no no no. Ofdaniel. Wow. This doesn’t bode well. (Very interesting how they have twisted the book ever so subtly and ended up with this.)

Fascinating. Ok. So Ofdaniel is being executed for her threatening a child. Which, appears to be a capital offense. Which, makes sense in a world that can’t have children. Children would be the most protected resource imaginable. But to have the Handmaids do it, instead of just using the Eye to string her up? Seems extraordinarily naive. Presumptuous? Anyway. Offred drops the mic and her rock… and says, Peace Out!

And then the Eye comes for Offred. “I am in disgrace. The opposite of grace.” Black van arrives, and Nick tells her to just go with them. We have re-merged the streams with the book at the ending. This is exactly how the book ends. But it wasn’t for refusing to execute the prisoner (she did that with great gusto, there was only one in the book that I remember.) it was for going to Jezebel’s with the Commander, for not yielding a child, for pissing off Serena.

Episode Thoughts And Season 2 Predictions

So it is interesting how different, and yet, how similar the book was to the show. This was a decidedly better experience than the movie that was made a few years ago. Like a full factor better. This show is on par with Taboo for the darkness and despair, and Westworld for its dystopian mindjob-ness.

The book alluded to a Mayday organization, but we really didn’t get much there. And while we saw nothing but a single operation that they asked Offred to accomplish for them, it was still a monumental part of the show. Also, Luke, and Moira? Totally new threads that weren’t touched on in the book – well, the Canada part I mean. Luke was presumed dead. So, that added some very good pathos and future potential to the story. Interesting really.

As I mentioned during my watching, I really think that the letters, the package of letters that Offred opened, will be the crux of Season 2.  I think it could flip into multiple narrators. Multiple stories. Many different threads that all weave into a single tapestry. Totally think that we will have one thread that is inside Mayday. But what do you think? Where do you see this show going? More Luke? Does he become the head of Mayday? Is he already? More women brought into the story? Does the scope and the scale go bigger? Smaller? Pretty excited to see where this story is going to go. Definitely one of my favorite seasons of television. Fantastic.

Interested in reading all of my Handmaiden’s Tale episode recaps so far? You got it – I will update them here as I write them:
Episode 1 – Offred
Episode 2 – Birth Day
Episode 3 – Late
Episode 4 – Nolite Te Bastardes Carborundorum
Episode 5 – Faithful
Episode 6 – A Woman’s Place
Episode 7 – The Other Side
Episode 8 – Jezebels
Episode 9 – The Bridge
Episode 10 – Night