If your reaction after watching The Handmaid's Tale Season 3 Episode 6 was a resounding sigh, you are not alone.
There were so many disheartening moments sprinkled throughout that it's becoming hard to remain hopeful that things will ever change in Gilead.
With our favorite characters either being overpowered or proven not to be who we thought they were or the bad guys getting the upper hand, it's hard not to foresee ultimate defeat on the horizon.
As the episode opens with the Marthas praying for the safe return of Nichole, we see the tremendous impact of the Waterfords' video plea.
On The Handmaid's Tale Season 3 Episode 5, the other handmaids were congratulating June on Nichole's safe relocation to Canada, but now the tide has turned.
Serena's selfish determination to have Nichole returned to her in Gilead instead of letting her go and allowing her the opportunity to live a semblance of a normal life free in Canada is going to cause problems for everyone.
There have been plenty of horrors in Gilead with rape, eye gouging, and vicious beatings, but the state of affairs in D.C. leaves little doubt that it can get worse, much worse.
The contraptions buckled around the mouths of the handmaids are nothing more than a fabric muzzle, ensuring their silence.
If that wasn't bad enough, the revelation thar Commander Winslow's handmaid had three large rings pierced through her lips sealing her mouth shut was enough to make the strongest stomachs turn.
June's response as Commander Winslow's handmaid peeled away the fabric and turned to face her, revealing the deformity inflicted upon her, was more than relatable.
June's desire to have a conversation and possibly gain some insight into the happenings in D.C. quickly faltered as shock painted her features at the sight before her.
With tears prickling her eyes and bile visibly rising in her throat as she tried to stomach the grotesque sight, June realized that her life in Gilead could become even more dangerous.
Even Aunt Lydia, who has inflicted her fair share of torture onto the handmaids, seemed unnerved by the discovery of their sealed mouths. If that doesn't say something about how horrific the treatment is in D.C., then I don't know what will.
Aunt Lydia is such a complicated character to figure out. One moment she is brutal and appears deranged, but then she has moments, like showing affection for Janine, that make her seem almost motherly.
"Household" offered us another glimpse into a softer side of Aunt Lydia, and it's easier to imagine her as a person and not just the persona she embodies as an Aunt under Gilead's rule.
June: Can I ask you, can I ask you a question, Aunt Lydia?
Aunt Lydia: What is it?
June: Do you want us all to be silenced?
Aunt Lydia: No. No, I don't. Ah, this trip has been tiring hasn't it?
Aunt Lydia: It'll be good to be home.
June: It will.
Aunt Lydia: When I get tired I still try to think of the good I can do in God's world. If I can help just one person, one soul, that's enough. I think of you, dear.
As the conversation unfolded after Aunt Lydia was forced to present June with her very own fabric muzzle, June asked if she wanted all of the handmaids to be silenced.
The two women sitting together crying with Aunt Lydia wrapping June in a comforting hug provided a moment of solace in an otherwise depressing episode. Who is Aunt Lydia?
It's becoming evident that her situation is more of someone who has been indoctrinated and is trying to survive in a terrible world versus someone who enjoys their role.
At least, that's my hope.
There are so many bad players throughout Gilead that I find myself grasping at any semblance of good someone reveals with the hope that they can all band together and rise against the true evil.
The good guys need as many allies as they can get if they want to stand a fighting chance at ever getting their freedom back.
Nice girl like you in a place like this.Nick
I suppose it's time to talk about Nick or Commander Blaine. We finally got to see his brief return and got a small dose of hope as his fingers danced with June's behind her back while everyone prepared for the filming of another video plea.
June pleaded with him to do the right thing and divulge information to the Swiss about Gilead in exchange for Nichole to remain safe in Canada. Something went wrong though, and just as quickly as he came, he was gone again, leaving June more confused than ever.
Who are you, Nick? Driver, eye, soldier? Lover, or master manipulator? Nick can't be a bad guy, he just can't. He is the one person in Gilead who has been successfully straddling both sides of the fence.
Nick: Hey. What?
June: The Swiss are gonna act as a neutral party for Nichole. I made a deal with them to keep her in Canada.
Nick: You made a deal with the Swiss?
June: I need you. I need your help.
June: Yes. I... They need information.
Nick: They don't give a shit about us.
June: Nick. Nick.
Nick: They're politicians.
June: I know.
Nick: They have their own agenda.
June: So do I.
Nick: You get in bed with the government and it's not so easy to get out.
June: This is your one chance. This is it. This is your chance to be a father to our daughter. How many of those do you think you're gonna get? Its tomorrow morning.
Nick: Okay. Okay.
June: Thank you.
Nick has helped June on numerous occasions from the very beginning. There was an instant connection between them, and I just can't believe that it was all part of some master plan for him to reach higher ranks in Gilead.
Serena's disclosure that Nick was a soldier instrumental in helping Gilead come to fruition is a kick to the gut for anyone who held Nick in high regard, myself included.
He has been so kind to June and genuinely seemed unsettled at the things he was forced to do just to stay alive. So, the visualization of him being one of the soldiers who ripped mothers away from their children like June was ripped away from Hannah, capturing them to be sent off to whatever disturbing fate awaited them in Gilead, is heartbreaking.
You could see June's agony as Serena boastfully detailed Nick's past. She has fallen in love him; they share a child together. With all of the Hell she has experienced In Gilead to know the one person she believed she could count on was actually part of her demise is heartbreaking.
What did Nick say to the Swiss? What do they know about him that June doesn't? I so badly want Nick to do the right thing for June and their daughter.
He is a commander now; he needs to step up and fight back. Perhaps, he is. He could be fighting under the radar, and we just haven't seen his moves yet. For June's sake, I hope that's the case. She needs him; all of the women in Gilead need someone to fight for them.
For now, I'm holding onto hope that Nick is still trustworthy and an ally versus an adversary. Gilead needs all of the good it can get.
Commander Winslow, who welcomed the Waterfords to D.C., comes off a bit strange, to put it mildly. Christopher Meloni dominates the role.
The Commander and his wife have five or possibly six children, all who appear to be conceived using handmaids. And maybe I'm reading it wrong, but he seemed to be taking an interest in Fred in a more-than-friends manner.
Perhaps, his bending over in front of Fred at the pool table is merely a coincidence, and his lingering shoulder caress just boils down to him being an affectionate person.
I suppose the outcome of Commander Winslow's true intentions will be revealed soon enough, but for now, it was humorous to see someone making Fred uncomfortable. It was a nice change of pace.
Also, when his wife brought up her admiration of Serena's book, we see they're not a household opposed to breaking a few rules. I wonder what that will mean for The Waterfords and their future in D.C.
Serena is determined to be reunited with Nichole, and no matter how June tries to sway her, she's not budging.
June: Good morning, Mrs. Waterford.
Serena: Good morning.
June: Serena. I know you don't want this. Please talk to me.
Serena: We can talk if you like. But you have to understand that seeing her changed everything for me.
June: I know.
Serena: Then what is there to talk about?
June: Because seeing her changed you. It changed you, it didn't change this place. She deserves better. Our girl deserves better. And I know that you know that.
Serena: They seem happy here.
June: Have you seen their handmaid?
As June lingers on the image of Serena smiling and playing with The Winslows' many children, she knows that reason will no longer work with Serena. She has made up her mind.
The two women go head to head in front of the beheaded statue of Abraham Lincoln with June informing Serena just how selfish and "empty" she truly is.
Serena helped create this Hell on earth for one reason, so that she could have a child. She ruined countless lives and is responsible for the death of countless others for her own selfish desire to have a child.
I feel no sympathy for Serena. She is a woman responsible for the downfall of women. I can't wait for the day when she is brought to her knees along with all of the other sadistic individuals in Gilead.
Serena: That's nice. The silence.
June: You could return the favor.
Serena: You know, let's just stop. Please. This is all gonna be over soon. You're gonna get to go back home, and we're gonna stay here. And you and I will finally be free of one another.
June: You will never be free of me. You will never be free of me until both of my children are safe.
Serena: That is my constant prayer for Nichole.
June: I trusted you. To let her have the best life possible. To do the right thing.
Serena: And I trusted you to stay with her.
June: I gave her the name of Nichole. I did that to honor you for getting her out. You will not let her go!
Serena: Because I love her!
June: This isn't love. You can't love! You don't know how! Serena, you built this whole world just so that you can have someone. But it didn't work. You're small. You're cruel. And you're empty. You will always be empty.
Serena: I should have put a ring in your mouth the day that we met.
June: I should have let you burn when I had the chance.
The closeup on Serena viewing her wedding band next to the spot where her pinky finger used to reside was very telling. I believe her anger with Fred has faded, and she has accepted her punishment for rebelling.
She knows that they will have to work together if she wants to see Nichole again, and she will do anything to get what she wants.
The scenes were beautifully directed once again, with the image of the Washington Monument restructured into a cross, the sea of red-dressed handmaids kneeling in front of it.
The large white wings looked like they were an actual part of June's body, and most striking, the close up of the cross in the reflection of June's eye was breathtaking. My hope is that it is a sign of good things to come for June.
Is Nick an ally or an adversary?
Will The Waterfords succeed in bringing Nichole back from Canada?
Will June ever defeat Serena?
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Tonya Myers is a staff writer for TV Fanatic. Follow her on Twitter.