The Handmaid's Tale Season 2 Episode 10 Review: The Last Ceremony

at .

After watching The Handmaid's Tale Season 2 Episode 10 it's impossible not to imagine the laws of Gilead being written with much of the same vengeance and malice the Waterfords were feeling when they realized how little control they had over their own lives.

For all the pomp and circumstance that they'd provided for in their ridiculous rules to create life in spite of what God had decided by ensuring some of humanity wouldn't be reproducing, it wasn't up to any of it or them when and how a baby would be born into their family.

And is often the case between the haves and the have-nots, the closer the have-nots got to the haves, the more resentment they felt for not having.

Going Into Labor - The Handmaid's Tale

Gilead was created in the name of God and by way of vengeance for losing the ability to have what others did. 

What those who created the new society were too arrogant to step back and take a moment to think about, to ponder, were whether God's reasons for relieving them of their ability to reproduce were just.

Related: The Handmaid's Tale Season 2 Episode 9 Review: Smart Power

The more often the ruling class have-nots are forced to think with any amount of sanity, if they have to face their barbaric activities, if they grow close to someone who has what they do not, they fall into a pit of despair and darkness that in turn sends them back into their spiral of depravity.

We've been witnessing how easy that can happen all season, or perhaps since the series began. 

Speaking Without Words - The Handmaid's Tale Season 2 Episode 10

It worked out well for June and Nick to fall in love and make love a lot until such a time as June became pregnant. Then Serena found their happiness unpleasant, and she denied the two any pleasure they found while creating "her" child after that.

Why should they have anything she didn't have? Serena Joy didn't have a loving relationship or good sex with Fred, so no matter if it kept June away from her husband or kept the woman from causing problems in the household, Serena Joy would forbid it any longer.

Related: The Handmaid's Tale Season 2 Episode 8 Review: Women's Work

When June stops paying attention to Fred, Fred and Serena team up to marry off Nick. Suddenly the unhappiest couple is in on something together.

Their common bond is found in their passive-aggressive, abusive treatment of their handmaid. They have little else to offer one another.

Janine Arrives - The Handmaid's Tale Season 2 Episode 10

So when Serena Joy found a friend in June and hope in a future that might be a bit different than she originally conceived in Gilead, losing it was like being knocked off her axis. She recalled how easily June could run, taking the baby with her forever.

Having Braxton Hicks instead of actual labor was not only embarrassing, it was a reminder that June still holds all the cards. Serena Joy isn't having the baby, June is having the baby. And every time the Waterfords try to rein in their belief that the child will become theirs, June tosses out the Hannah card.

Related: The Handmaid's Tale Season 2 Episode 7 Review: After

In case they've forgotten, June isn't just having a child for the Waterfords, but already has another out there that she is still interested in seeing. That means that for as long as she lives, June will never stop thinking about the child she's carrying for the Waterfords, either.

For the moments they think they might find a friend in June, and they have both had those moments, they are also stuck with the realization June will always be the baby's mother -- a point struck home only recently when Janine was reunited with her dying baby to bring it back to life miraculously.

Aunt Lydia Steps In - The Handmaid's Tale Season 2 Episode 10

What kind of system have they created in which they have no control? They are in charge, after all. June is nothing but a handmaid.

Handmaids aka mothers, the system will learn, are the foundation of the system. It's not their shitty laws or the embarrassing rituals that hold no weight nor investment among anybody but the people who wrote them.

Related: The Handmaid's Tale Season 2 Episode 6 Review: First Blood

Day by day, those who are struggling to prove to themselves what they've created is worth the paper their laws are printed on are faced with the fact it's worth nothing. And it's turning them from a God loving and abiding group to a group who does outrageous acts in the name of God, which I don't believe was their initial intention.

So Serena Joy pulls Fred's strings as June manipulates both of theirs. They are all one string pull away from snapping. They push and pull and then ask forgiveness.

June: I've already lost a child, and I'm about to be lose another one. It would help if I could be moved to my daughter's district. Please. If it is at all within your power to do that.
Fred: Who are you to tell me what's within my power?
June: I understand that it's unusual. I would never approach her. She would never even see me. I can promise that.
Fred: I've been too lenient with you, too indulgent.
June: What?
Fred: I've spoiled you. Get out [waves his hand]. GET OUT!!!

Fred is the best at it, especially when it comes to June. Whether she has definitely earned a soft spot in his heart or not is hard to read. but when he sends June on her way with Nick, kissing her on the forehead and saying she "deserves this," the phrase later comes back to haunt.

Looking Pleased - The Handmaid's Tale Season 2 Episode 10

Was it a follow-up punishment of the tallest order on top of the "get the baby out the natural way" rape? Was that rape meant to scare the baby out or poke a hole in her cervix? Did they expect June to have an orgasm to loosen the muscle? Fat chance.

Calling it anything but the act of anger and aggression it was didn't even seem to make sense to the Waterfords, whose faces -- while holding down a woman they both would rather call a friend than enemy -- were filled with terror at what they had become. 

Related: The Handmaid's Tale Season 2 Episode 5 Review: Seeds

Associating reuniting with Hannah with rape would be cruel if we didn't know June would lose all four of her limbs for a chance to see her girl again. 

Listening to her daughter wonder why her parents never looked hard enough to find her and then for June to beg her flesh and blood to love her new parents and be safe was torture, but words Hannah will remember always. 

June: I need you to do something for me, OK? Are you listening? Enjoy your life. And love your parents. And you do whatever they tell you, OK? Because I need you to be careful and I need you to keep yourself safe. [to the Martha] Just take care of her for me. Protect her, please.
Martha: I will.
June: Just love her for me.
Martha: I promise.
Hannah: Mommy?
June: Yes, sweetie?
Hannah: Am I ever going to see you again?
June: You know what? I'm gonna try.

So what was it, exactly, that June deserved?

Was it simply the gift of seeing her daughter again after being treated so brutally by the Waterfords for daring to have Braxton Hicks contractions?

Or was it something more for telling Fred the child she bore wasn't his? For taunting Serena Joy? For having what they do not, one living child and another on the way of her blood, something to hold onto in the cold world they created that gives her fight they don't understand, that they want to staunch?

Related: The Handmaid's Tale Season 2 Episode 4 Review: Other Women

If it's the former, then the extra moments spent with Hannah were a precious mistake. Nick getting shot was an error of timing only. June discovering herself left behind a circumstance from which Fred should be able to save her if he still wants the child residing inside her.

If it's the latter, that might be why two men happened back to the house so closely timed to Hannah's departure. Why Fred's choice of words upon June's departure seemed somehow ominous. Maybe nobody is coming back to that house until long after June gives birth to a baby on her own.

We'll soon find out. But if Fred hoped to lose June out there, he should have cleared out the tennis rackets. What crafty, pregnant handmaid wouldn't make those into snowshoes to find her a way to help her child?

Do you think Gilead will crumble as people like the Waterfords lose their minds after the realization they've defied God in every sense of the word? Are they only now realizing they have nothing compared to those they've enslaved and what they've done was for all the wrong reasons? Or will they never understand?

Is Nick dead or only wounded? Will he live to fight another day? Did you expect the baby to be born on this day, or did you see the false labor a mile away?

Was the visit with Hannah a setup to get rid of June, or a genuine attempt at repentance on the part of Commander Waterford?

Hit the comments and share your thoughts.

The Last Ceremony Review

Editor Rating: 4.0 / 5.0
  • 4.0 / 5.0
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
User Rating:

Rating: 4.4 / 5.0 (74 Votes)

Carissa Pavlica is the managing editor and a staff writer for TV Fanatic. She's a member of the Critic's Choice Association, enjoys mentoring writers, cats, and passionately discussing the nuances of television and film. Follow her on Twitter and email her here at TV Fanatic.

Show Comments
Tags: ,

The Handmaid's Tale Season 2 Episode 10 Quotes

Serena Joy: We did it Offred, and this is the will of God and we rejoice and be glad in it.
June: No one knows the things of God.

Wife: Get help!
Emily: Chances are better if I lay on my back afterward.