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

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Past experiences stay with you forever.

The regret June felt at the way Luke's previous marriage ended came into play on The Handmaid's Tale Season 2 Episode 4. While it's not a part of the #metoo discussion, it does reference the differences in the way men and women have been seen in love and relationships for as long as I can remember.

And you guys, I can remember a long time. That doesn't even count toward the historical accounts I've read. Put that all together, and I can attest there aren't any times of which I'm aware in which men were ever to blame first for the end of a marriage and made to feel guilty about it.

Back to Reality

That was the focal point of "Other Women." There have always been other women, haven't there? 

In Gilead, their entire society is built around the other woman. Except now it's to the point any sane woman would be plotting against that monstrous society led by men because women don't have to put up with one other woman, but one at every turn of her head.

There is another woman in the kitchen for the wives who love to cook. There is one to give birth for the mothers and Jezebels for the passionate wives. There are even Aunts to ensure discipline of the handmaids, so the wives don't have to get to scruffed up.

Related: The Handmaid's Tale Season 2 Episode 3 Review: Baggage

Then look at the handmaids who see wives take their babies and the Marthas helping to raise them. There is always another woman lurking to do something a woman already in the room yearns to do but is not allowed to do because of a man. 

It's so agitating that being back in the world of Commanders and the overwhelming number of Praise Bes dribbling out of the lips of Gileadeans that it was enough to drive this sane woman halfway crazy herself.

The Old Bar and Chain Routine - The Handmaid's Tale Season 2 Episode 4

Aunt Lydia is confounding. There are times smacking her face seems like the only reasonable solution to anything she says, but then you realize she could be doing what's best for everyone by following the path of least resistance. 

Aunt Lydia: I see you've eaten well, Offred. Third day in a row.
June: [A harsh grimace on her face] It's June. You know my fucking name.

Aunt Lydia was at June's side from the moment June got back to Gilead. She cared for her in the warehouse of a room where June was chained and subjected to death soon after the baby was born. She also brokered a deal with the Waterfords for Offred to move back into the house.

By pounding into June's head that she's bad and Offred is good, Aunt Lydia believed she could take the tarnish off of the handmaid she knew and keep the Waterford family together.

Renewed: The Handmaid's Tale Renewed for Season 3 at Hulu

We eventually learn the Commander gave Serena Joy the option of having June return to the house, but that was nothing but a ruse. He needs his house in order if he wants to gain a position allowing him access to Canada so he can lead an envoy there to try to talk sense into them.

The bigger wigs than Fred don't like allowing a Commander with a house out of order representing them -- even when they're all drinking and praying while shooting skeet. As you do.

A Strange Ceremony - The Handmaid's Tale Season 2 Episode 4

June was trying hard to keep herself intact after arriving at the Waterfords'. It wasn't easy. In fact, she didn't last but a few days. Like a crab, June may be gone again for a while, disappearing inside a protective shell she created for herself with the help of Aunt Lydia.

By trying to instill into June that she's bad and Offred is good, I think Aunt Lydia might be trying to protect June's original identity. That could be wrong, but can you imagine if June tried to be in that stifling and oppressive environment as herself?

This isn't easy for her. Don't think this it's easy for me, either. I am doing my best. You are a fallen woman. I am trying to give you the best chance you can have.

Aunt Lydia

While at the baby shower, watching Serena Joy receive gifts and during the binding ritual, all June could do was think of the last time she was the third wheel in someone's marriage. She met Luke when he was a married man.

Some women like to blame the other woman for a marriage ending. Annie was one of those women. It made sense to Annie that if only June pushed Luke away, in time, Luke would find his way back to her.

Always the Other Woman - The Handmaid's Tale Season 2 Episode 4

No matter what Luke said about their marriage being over for him before he met June or his love for June being stronger than anything he ever felt for Annie, societal pressures have always assured us the other woman is to blame. 

June couldn't shake that guilt, and it began seeping over into her day-to-day behavior with the Waterfords and Aunt Lydia. The more often Aunt Lydia told her June was bad and Offred was good, the more June's frame of reference accepted it.

[to herself] I would like to be without shame. I would like to be shameless. I would like to be ignorant for then I would not know how ignorant I was.


There was shame and blame coming at June from all directions. Another handmaid lost her tongue for standing up for Janine, and the Mayday organization no longer helps handmaids, Alma told June, but the first wasn't her fault.

Aunt Lydia showed her what happened to the family from The Handmaid's Tale Season 2 Episode 3. Omar was hanging on the wall before them. His wife would atone for her mistakes by being a handmaid, and Adam would never see his parents again. June killed them.

Related: The Handmaid's Tale Season 2 Premiere Review: June and the Unwomen

June forced her way into their lives and her decisions sealed their path for them and their future. But Offred is clean of that guilt. Offred didn't do anything to that family. 

The icing on the cake was Serena Joy's entry to her room to fondle June's belly and talk to June's baby, telling her womb mama loves you. 

Hearing and seeing so much in such a short time can take its toll on anyone. After everything June has been through in the last year, her only option was retreat.

The Comfort of the Closet - The Handmaid's Tale Season 2 Episode 4

The comfort of her closet was only a reminder that she was no good.

[to herself] I have done something wrong, something so huge I can't even see it, something that's drowning me. I am inadequate, and stupid, without worth. I might as well be dead. Please God, let Hannah forget me. Let me forget me.


Through a ritual chant of "my fault," June slipped through the cracks and Offred ascended again. 

She may only be around for the afternoon. She may be around until the baby is born and gone. The human brain can protect itself when it knows the possibility of the point of no return is near. June needed a rest.

Offred is going to take over for a while. Martha saw the change immediately, but Nick tried to talk to the shell of June as she walked by. She didn't praise be, thank God, but she did note absently, "We've been sent good weather."

Hey, when all else fails, you always talk about the weather, right? 

Honestly, I wouldn't mind getting to see the inner workings of a "normal" home in Gilead these days (if there is one). If June can disappear and Offred can play nice, let's get to know the real Serena Joy. Will she continue smoking in the baby's room? How annoying will Fred get without a sex-on-demand handmaid?

It's also a good time to revisit the colonies and Canada. We have much to worry about when it comes to Emily and Moira. They don't have the opportunity for a break.

Other Women Review

Editor Rating: 4.75 / 5.0
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Rating: 4.8 / 5.0 (11 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.

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The Handmaid's Tale Season 2 Episode 4 Quotes

The Waterfords have kindly agreed to a trial run, as it were, and if you're a very, very good girl, you might even be invited to stay. You see, June will be chained in this room until she gives birth, and then June will be executed. Offred has an opportunity. It will be better for the baby.

Aunt Lydia

Aunt Lydia: I see you've eaten well, Offred. Third day in a row.
June: [A harsh grimace on her face] It's June. You know my fucking name.