The Handmaid's Tale Season 3 Episode 4 Review: God Bless the Child

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Serena's broken heart and the focus on Holly Nicole during a communal baptismal ceremony are grave concerns during The Handmaid's Tale Season 3 Episode 4.

While June continues to appeal to the side of Serena she got to know when Fred was away during The Handmaid's Tale Season 2, that was before the birth of the baby, and June may not be playing her cards correctly.

But the Commander's wife is still playing her hand too close to the vest to determine who will win when all the cards are out on the table.

A Conflicted Woman - The Handmaid's Tale Season 3 Episode 4

There is a juxtaposition of baptisms during the hour that highlights the difference between being governed by God and having faith in Him.

June has been uniquely faithful despite the atrocities Gilead has thrust upon the women left in society who can bear children.

A Beautiful Memory - The Handmaid's Tale Season 3 Episode 4

That was evident on The Handmaid's Tale Season 2 Episode 2. When she discovered mementos of lives abruptly snuffed as the chaos on the way to the creation of Gilead began, she created a memorial and prayed to God in their memories.

June has always put others before herself, and she once thought it was a trait she shared with Serena, if only during the brief time the two spent caring for the same daughter.

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June has to find others who think of the bigger picture first so that the fight can grow beyond the ranks of handmaids and Marthas and have a chance of breaking Gilead.

Gilead leadership has confused caring for the collective good with ensuring the planet is always populated by humans. Their faith-driven initiative screws over the very women who have been trusted by God to bring women into the world.

Blessing the Child - The Handmaid's Tale Season 3 Episode 4

Religion works within a written doctrine used to promote the process for its own gain -- at least in Gilead. The "system" Serena helped to establish tramps on those who haven't been struck barren by assuming God knew the barren were the right people to raise the children of the fruitful.

Serena: That's not the way the party should have ended. Poor Naomi.
June: Poor Naomi?
Serena: It is terrible, of course, for the both of them, and that is exactly why the system is designed to prevent this kind of thing from happening.
June: I'm sorry, Mrs. Waterford; they're probably waiting for me.
Serena: A young girl of Hannah's age, a daughter of a Commander, would most likely attend a school for domestic arts. The one in her district is in Brookline by the reservoir. The girls play outside after lunch. Perhaps you'll find a way to see her.

It was established that June and Luke loved their daughter and had faith in God when they baptized Hannah. It was never going to be their intention to raise their children without God, but none of that matters to the founders of Gilead.

They have a specific notion in mind about God's plan, and it includes them at the helm. They seem incapable of understanding that it's entirely possible God knew the future wasn't good in their hands which is why they stopped them from reproducing.

The truly faithful who persevere despite their adversities are the ones who will eventually win the kingdom of God.

And in case you're wondering who that might be, take a look at Luke and Moira going to great lengths to ensure Holly Nicole is baptized just as Luke and June did with Hannah.

Aunt Lydia Scoots on By - The Handmaid's Tale Season 3 Episode 4

June's mother once tried to stop June from marrying Luke, and she tried again to stop their baptism of Hannah. Holly hated the patriarchy, and she couldn't understand why June would even want to baptize a child with all of the molestation going on in the church.

That's what makes June one of the faithful. She doesn't let others tell her what is best for her child or herself in the eyes of God.

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Interestingly, most handmaids and Marthas have little problem with faith, but a lot of problems with whatever form of religion Gilead is attempting to serve. 

And still, the governing bodies of Gilead believe they know more about God's plan than everyone else to the point they subjugate the fruitful for the barren.

Hark! What Goes There? - The Handmaid's Tale Season 3 Episode 4

I know those words make it sound like I'm delivering my own sermon on the mount, but it's the easiest way to talk about what has happened in the former United States on The Handmaid's Tale.

Canada isn't governing by God but is still with God and their society cares for all, nurturing those who can still reproduce. The round of applause for Emily as she walked through the hospital said a lot.

Taking all of this into consideration, June is still trying to appeal to the Serena she got to know on The Handmaid's Tale Season 2 Episode 8 as she and Serena worked together to keep Gilead thriving in Fred's absence.

Fred: I don't think she's satisfied planting flowers and knitting sweaters.
June: I'm not sure she ever was, sir. So, do you think you could be open to ... change? Could you maybe give her a real voice? Behind the scenes, of course.
Fred: Well, if that would ... fix things.

She's even attempting to manipulate Fred to give Serena the breathing room she needs so that Serena will be more apt to help with the cause.

Fred Contemplates - The Handmaid's Tale Season 3 Episode 4

The problem with that is she still doesn't know where Serena stands on any of the issues June's trying to address.

As June and Fred both acknowledged, Serena can be stubborn. They know she longed for that baby, but which of them knows her well enough to know what she's thinking now?

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Is June right in her assessment from The Handmaid's Tale Season 3 Episode 3 that they're both tougher than they realize, or does Serena's desire to cradle a baby in her barren arms outweigh any desire to free women.

After all, where will that get her? At least now Serena has an opportunity to have another child. Would the same be true if she helped to tear asunder Gilead? That seems unlikely.

The Sun Room - The Handmaid's Tale Season 3 Episode 4

When they first spoke, Serena asked June if she was sorry she stayed. June feels there's hope for her and Hannah as long as she stays in Gilead. Serena muttered that the same isn't true for her and Nicole.

But then Serena drops her pretense to talk with June in the sunroom, and the two women share a cigarette lounging as if they're on the same page.

When she drops her guard like that, it gives June the idea she can trust Serena and that there will be some chance she'll come around again to try to help the cause.

But June has had two children already, and she has gone to the ends of the earth trying to protect them. If Nicole is all that Serena is holding onto at the moment, June might have a better chance of trusting Fred to help her than Serena.

Aunt Lydia Talks with Janine - The Handmaid's Tale Season 3 Episode 4

At the same time that Serena seems to be crawling back into her Gilead shell, Naomi Putnam has become a more gracious person.

Janine: Can I hold her?
Commander Putnam: I think that's enough.
Mrs. Putnam: Wait. The Lord is gracious and righteous. Our God is full of compassion.

Janine still desperately wants to be a part of her daughter's life. And while Naomi failed to thank Janine for Angela's survival during her sickness but did thank June for her help talking Janine off of the bridge, Naomi still seems to look more favorably on Janine as a result of having Angela.

She's one of the lucky ones. Naomi got her baby. Serena, on the other hand, lost her chance when she took June's advice to seek a better life for Holly Nicole.

That stings Serena to the point she can't even hold Angela.

When it's the Putnams who look on at Aunt Lydia like she's lost her mind after stepping in with Janine, you know the tide has turned just a little bit.

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As wrecked as Aunt Lydia is as a result of finally feeling the heat of the top brass of Gilead, maybe she'll start to pull of siding with the resistance.

Aunt Lydia: I know what the girls think of me. And they [gestures to the other guests] blame me for Emily. I should have never saved her from the colonies.
Janine: I'm glad you saved me.
Aunt Lydia: Me too.

Serena had her moment to reconsider when Fred pulled her up for speaking on his behalf and trying to gather the ladies in her desire to request something as horrifying as allowing her and her fellow wives the ability to read so they can impart God's word to their children.

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It always comes down to a man's decision changing the comfortable, hopeful course of a woman's life that gets a woman within Gildead to crack.

Calling anything in Gilead hopeful is a stretch to be sure, but the women on the higher end of the pecking order have a lot more to lose than those who struggle as handmaids and Marthas. Being an Aunt teeters in the middle, but she still has a long way to fall if they permanently lose favor with her.

Cries from Another World - The Handmaid's Tale Season 3 Episode 4

All of the hope that Serena offered by way of sharing a cigarette and Hannah's possible location could be at risk. The Guardians found Holly Nicole in the arms of Luke. 

Today, we are grateful for God for these beautiful children, but we must never forget the innocent child that was stolen from us. A daughter of Gilead taken by evil, by an unrepentant sinner. Let us hold that blessed child in our prayers, and may the Lord protect her and keep her safe. Amen.

Preacher

The baptism brought the loss of a child of Gilead into focus. They've been looking for Hannah, and Gilead is intent on reuniting her with her family.

With her heavy heart, you could see the gleam in Serena's eye as she held that tablet watching the daughter she considers to be her own. And since Nicole is in Luke's arms as Holly, that possibly pulls June and Serena even further apart.

What does it mean for Luke and Moira as guardians of a "kidnapped" child of Gilead? Fred and Serena are never going to own up to what they know about Serena's complicity. They'll be murdered metaphorically if not in reality, but the latter is a real possibility.

A Free Emily - The Handmaid's Tale Season 3 Episode 4

Until we find out, we can rest assured that life in Canada is a welcome place for the displaced Gileadans.

Emily got up the nerve to meet with Sylvia and reunite with her son. While I appreciated that Emily's reconnection with Oliver was emotional and very hard for her to do, that every scene she shared during this episode focused on that seemed unfortunate.

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Kids are a lot more resilient than their adult counterparts. Being a mother to Oliver is going to be a lot easier than finding common ground with Sylvia again.

After all, only one of the two women suffered at the hands of a terrible oppressor. Emily will be extremely vulnerable while Sylvia might feel guilty that she made it to freedom, somehow allowing her wife to suffer. 

I'm looking forward to exploring more of their dynamic outside of Oliver, even if Oliver is part of the hope for the future about with The Handmaid's Tale is written.

How do you think Serena is going to react to the video of Nicole? What is her next course of action?

Will Fred abide by his promise to June to offer more freedom to his wife behind the scenes, and how will that affect what she does about Nicole?

Will Luke face any blowback for harboring a kidnapped child even at the same time Canada warmly embraces those seeking asylum?

What do you think the next step will be for Emily and Sylvia now that they've engaged Oliver in Emily's return?

What does the future hold for Aunt Lydia?

Did you miss the story taking place at Commander Lawrence's place? 

What did you think of the slightly softer side of the Putnams and Janine's offer to give them another child?

Hit the comments and share your thoughts!

God Bless the Child Review

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Carissa Pavlica is the managing editor and a staff writer for TV Fanatic. She's a member of the Broadcast Television Journalists Association (BTJA), enjoys mentoring writers, wine, and passionately discussing the nuances of television. Follow her on Twitter and email her here at TV Fanatic.

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The Handmaid's Tale Season 3 Episode 4 Quotes

Girls! Our most blessed handmaids have given us God's children. They have earned the best view.

Aunt Lydia

We come together in peace to celebrate the babies born in our district. We dedicate ourselves and our children to God. It takes a village -- and machine guns. Who among them can be persuaded? Who can be turned, ignited to burn this shit place to the ground?

June [in her head]