Under the Eye: “Sacrifice”

I knew June was laughing. Maybe it was on the inside at first. June (Elisabeth Moss) is laughing because Gilead was so distracted with the arrest of Fred and Serena that Commander Refrigerator Humper’s (Christopher Meloni) “disappearance” was put on the back-burner. I laughed with June when I realized that Gilead is not America, and never would be. Gilead is not America. Gilead is what we fight every day. It’s strange. I’ve had to fight the “true believers” who think that Gilead represents an analog of our beloved red, white, and blue. They don’t know any better, I have to tell myself. They’re misled by forces greater than themselves: the Gods of War, the Media. So June bursts out laughing after Lawrence (Bradley Whitford) informs her Fred and Serena have been taken into custody.

Serena warns Fred not to say anything incriminating, and again Fred is not terribly bright. Looking as though he is doing some complex fraction-adding, Fred finally figures out that Serena has orchestrated his arrest. In lieu of suspense, you know your show is in trouble when the viewers have figured out everything before the characters. We’re praying for Commander Refrigerator Humper, by God’s grace. Maybe it’s the thin line of cynicism that crosses Bradley Whitford’s face, but I don’t buy that he’s a Bible-thumper in any way. Winslow’s widow tells Lawrence she can’t take care of six children on her own. I mean, she’s got a ton of help. More help than anyone could ever deserve. Does God know the Commander had rape fantasies, or that he might’ve been homosexual?

June, being the pragmatic sociopath, barely stifles laughter during their prayers. She looks like a girl with a secret! Moira and Luke (with baby Nichole) have to go through a procedure (involving five different shots of Luke breaking down the stroller) to visit Serena, who is being detained in a nice room and interrogated by our flirty American operative, Tuello. We get an incredible one-on-one with Moira, the baby, and Serena. Why would they leave the baby alone with a woman who is not her mother? It’s like a reverse form of Stockholm Syndrome. There is no reason to give in to Serena’s demands. It is good to see Moira, and I understand and agree with her, and when she calls Serena the “gender-traitor,” I applaud. The obvious “safe spaces” Social Worker assigned to supervise the meeting irritates me.

Nichole does not approve of Serena. “Stranger anxiety,” she tells her, and then she proceeds to micro-manage and police her visit with Nichole. June spies on Lawrence shouting into his phone. “Do you not understand the concept of unintended consequen–“ It started with Serena’s book, remember? Gilead wants to close the borders, launch nuclear warheads, whatever. Lawrence is trying to talk them out of starting World War III. I thought we already had World War III. This would be World War IV by my count. One extremely wrong and unwise Presidential candidate once said, “You can’t change people’s hearts.” She was right about that, but then a broken clock is right twice a day as well. Unfortunately, because Eleanor (Julie Dretzin) takes June’s plan to heart, she has made it her mission to rescue more children, but she’s a bit of a chatty-Cathy about it, so June has to bring her back to reality.

In Canada, Luke comes in to lecture Fred on his evil ways. What was that I said about a broken clock? Fred tries to make Luke feel rotten about his wife. Luke punches Fred. Good for him. It is here that the sad story of Eleanor Lawrence comes to an end. Where Eden’s arc from the previous season aroused very little interest in me partly because the character was so shallow, I did feel for the stubbornly righteous Ofmatthew and the misled Eleanor. Ofmatthew was a true believer. Eleanor was mentally unstable. Both were victims of Gilead. It seems Eleanor took an overdose of something, I don’t know what—maybe pills. I thought Gilead’s resources were running dry (low on everything) and she was relying on witch-herbs to keep her leveled.

I don’t know why, but June plays it funky. It’s like she wanted to kill Eleanor, to silence her, or let her die in some fashion. I refuse to believe she wasn’t supervised. Why let her die inside of a nightmare, rather than give her hope? There is no nightmare more horrifying than the nightmare we create for ourselves. For a moment there, I thought Moss was going to do some acting, but we don’t have time for that. We don’t have time to unravel and strip down a character. Instead, we gaze down on June’s horrific smile. Lawrence’s world has crashed down on him. I can’t even begin to imagine the personal hell he had pre-heated for himself.

“Here it comes, here comes the night
Here it comes, hell in the night
Here it comes, here comes the night
When we all fall down

When we walk into silence
When we shadow the sun
When we surrender to violence
Then the damage is done
Put away that gun”*

*Joe Elliot/Rick Savage/Phil Collen/Steve Clark/Mutt Lange. “The Gods of War.” 1987. Hysteria. Phonogram Inc./Mercury Records Inc., 1987

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