Elisabeth Moss in "The Handmaid's Tale," Season 2, Episode 3

George Kraychyk

Airing on Hulu, the third episode of the second season of "The Handmaid’s Tale" continues to deliver. While last week viewers saw Emily and Janine reunite in the colonies (with a ruthless Alexis Bledel forever putting the ghost of Rory Gilmore to bed), this week it’s time to catch up with Moira, June’s best friend, who miraculously made it to Canada and reunited with June’s husband Luke. 

 

Samira Wiley in "The Handmaid's Tale," Season 2, Episode 3

 

While Moira seems to be getting on with lifeshe’s increasingly buried under the emotional baggage of others: Luke pinned to the news, their hostile roommate hiding in bed and the trauma of those she helps in the center piling on top of her. 

 

“It gets easier,she tells one refugee. But as viewers clearly see,it seems she’s lying to herself, and him.   

 

While Season Two of the show has headed beyond the narrative confines of Margaret Atwood’s dystopian novel, this episode revisits one of the richest relationships described in Atwood’s bookby introducing June’s activist mother, (played by actress Cherry Jones).

In Season One, June’s mother is only referenced in passing by Whitfordthe man who tried to get June’s family across the border. He told June he owes her mother, a thin allusion to her moperforming illegal medical operations —something the audience knows clearly doesn’t fly in Gilead.

In Season Two, like all good mother/daughter relationships, theirsis complex, and the flashbacks, starting with June being taken to a women’s s rally as a child, are increasingly typified by hermotherscolding her for taking her rights for granted. 

“It’s time to get out on the street and fight, not play house, she tells June before her marriage to Luke.  

“I sacrificed for you, and it pisses me off that you’re just settling.

Holed up alone in TheBoston Globe warehouse and experiencing a different kind of captivity, June has plenty of time to consider whether her mother might've been right. Eventually she switches off old reruns of Friends and begins to scour the reporters’ notes and interviews, trying to understand how Gilead happened. 

While the third episode doesn’t keep the brutal pace of the first two, there’s a moment where June decides it’s time to stop leaving her fate in the hands of others, and finally take a chance at masterminding her own freedom — and after an episode stuck mostly in the past, the audienceisrewarded with a clear idea of what to expect for June’s future