Hulu’s The Handmaid’s Tale followed up their cliffhanger episode last week with an exceptionally sad one this week. “After” started off with a funeral that turned out to be for 31 handmaids, victims of Ofglen’s suicide bombing. And although the bombing also killed 25 commanders, including top dog Commander Pryce, Cmdr. Waterford survived the attack, and is on his way to recovery. Unfortunately, the security of the nation can’t wait for Fred to get better, so Cmdr. Cushing takes over Pryce’s job.
In Canada, Moira sits in a government archive room searching through countless photos for evidence that her fiancée Odette is indeed dead. And after getting a good look at the colonies, Emily and Janine are back among their fellow handmaids.
This was a great episode for building the relationship between June and Serena, especially the final scene which shows not only that the pen is mightier than the bomb but also that Serena is the real Waterford to look out for.
The Handmaid’s Tale Season 2, Episode 7: “After” – Collateral Damage
Although Ofglen undoubtedly meant for things to turn out differently, her attack killed six more handmaids than it did commanders. After the funeral, survivors discuss the attack on their way home, and June realizes she never knew Ofglen’s real name.
Security is in full swing after the attack. Eyes have been rooting out traitors and hanging their corpses outside of their homes — jeez, the Sons of Jacob really have a flair for the dramatic! Cmdr. Waterford is slowly recovering from his ordeal, but with him on the bench and Pryce dead everything falls to Cmdr. Cushing. Cushing tightens security heavily. Security checkpoints are increased, and random shootings of civilians are on the rise.
The Handmaid’s Tale Season 2, Episode 7: “After” – Bad News for Nick
Paying a visit to June at the Waterfords’ house, Cushing demands to know who helped June try to escape to Canada. She sticks with her story, she was taken against her will and never saw her captors. Cushing doesn’t believe her, though, and one gets the sense that June will break before he does.
A candid discussion between Serena and June, though, shows that Serena is willing to help. She has no love for Cushing, and wants to protect her family from exposure. Calling Serena by her first name, June suggests that Cushing would have everyone in the Waterford house killed rather than allow a baby to be raised in a house with a traitor.
The Handmaid’s Tale Season 2, Episode 7: “After” – Lots of Paperwork
Using her husband’s position, with Nick’s help, Serena is able to manufacture evidence against Cmdr. Cushing. When he attempts to pay a second visit to the Waterfords, he gets greeted with an arrest warrant, and a black van drives him away. As he gets loaded in, June watches from a second-story window with a grin on her face.
The Handmaid’s Tale Season 2, Episode 7: “After” – Odette’s Demise
This episode provided a lot of fleshing out of Moira’s character, who up until now seemed more like an extension of June. Wanting to know one way or the other if her fiancée is dead, Moira gains access to government archives pertaining to unknown victims of the war with Gilead. Scanning hundreds of books of photos of unidentified victims, Moira eventually comes across a picture of her fiancée.
Flashbacks show Moira carrying a baby to term and giving it up for adoption. On top of getting more opportunities to see how close June and Moira are, viewers also meet Odette, the doctor who helped Moira bring the baby to term and eventually fell in love with her.
The Handmaid’s Tale Season 2, Episode 7: “After” – “My name is whaaat? My name is who? My name is June, not Offred.”
One of my favourite scenes in this episode was the one that showed June, Janine, and Emily’s reunion at the market. This reunion is only possible because of Ofglen’s attack. Because 31 handmaids died, Emily and Janine were taken from the colonies to fill in for their unfortunate sisters.
Emily is visibly shaken after her ordeal that saw her lose one of her favourite parts of her anatomy and then get sent to the colonies to shovel irradiated dirt. After Cushing’s arrest, though, June is all confidence. She tells Emily her name, apologizing for not doing so sooner. June then stops another handmaid and tells her her name. Before long, each handmaid in the market is telling the other handmaids her name. The only indication that this could backfire is a worried look from Nick’s teen wife Eden.
The Handmaid’s Tale Season 2, Episode 7: “After” – “What? No Scrabble?”
My favourite scene, though, occurs later that night. Serena calls June into Fred’s office and presents her with a stack of documents. In a surprise move, rather than slapping or strangling June, Serena asks her to edit the documents, and with June’s click of a pen, reminiscent of Ofglen’s detonator at the end of “First Blood,” one wonders what Serena may have brought down upon herself.