The 8 things you may have missed in The Handmaid's Tale season 3, episode 12, Sacrifice.


Warning: This article contains MANY spoilers for The Handmaid’s Tale season three, episode 12, Sacrifice. If you’re not caught up yet, bookmark us and come back once you’re ready to properly debrief. Ready? Let’s go!

After a week of pacing back and forth, with clenched fists, muttering “Commander Waterford, you have now crossed into Canada. We are arresting you for war crimes…” under our breath, we finally made it to the penultimate episode of The Handmaid’s Tale season 3.

And there’s a lot going on.

Elizabeth Moss explains June’s decision to leave Eleanor. Post continues after video.

Video via Hulu

To recap:

  • Sweet Eleanor Lawrence nearly gave away the plan multiple times, believed she was a liability and took her own life
  • Rita is an angel
  • Fred Waterford’s ego is immortal and not even discovering his wife got him arrested as a war criminal can make him look long and hard at his life choices
  • Fred and Serena are being held at a Scandi wellness retreat in cells that are nicer than my apartment
  • Luke punched Fred in the face and it was beautiful
  • Moira, a social worker and a crying baby crushed Serena’s soul
the handmaid's tale season 3 episode 12
You can actually pinpoint the second when her heart rips in half!

The episode really cemented that (ugh) Fred is correct: The June Luke knew is gone. Heck, the June from the beginning of season three is gone.

At the start of the season she struggled with the idea of sacrificing the lives of others to save five women, but in this episode she quickly makes the decision to allow Eleanor to die for the sake of 52 children.


It's not an easy decision, but in her mind it's a necessary one and this time, she's far more decisive.

There's the tiny issue of Commander Lawrence only helping her to get his wife to Canada, but... maybe June forgot about that. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

We've still got days to go until we see whether June and the Marthas can pull it off, so in the mean time here's a list of the things you may have missed from season three, episode 12, Sacrifice:

The foreshadowing of Eleanor's death.

In the first scene, June points her gun at her door which is opened by Eleanor.

the handmaid's tale season 3 episode 12
*singing* Junie's got a gun

Then, when June spots Eleanor taking a moment in the hallway, after being in the room with a grieving Olivia Winslow and Naomi Putnam, she's standing next to - actually, sort of leaning against - a piece of furniture that looks very much like a Chinese apoethcary cabinet - which were traditionally used to house various herbs and medicines.

the handmaid's tale season 3 episode 12
the handmaid's tale season 3 episode 12

Finally, as June shakes Eleanor to stop her running out and telling everyone they're planning to get kids out (which would be sentencing the entire household and a heck load of Marthas to the wall), Lawrence tells his wife they can have a life when they're out of Gilead.

"Can we really do that?" she asks, already knowing the answer is no.

Tuello's honeytrap treatment.

The internet was a little worried that Mr Treason and Coconuts was being too nice to Serena. Like, flirty nice.

He has, of course, presented himself as sympathetic to her. He offered her an escape, worked with her to hand over Fred and arranged a visit with Nichole.

But he's a highly skilled, government representative. Possible CIA. Short story: He knows what he's doing.

He's being kind and feeding her ego with the newspapers, asking for her opinions etc., because being nice can go a long way to getting the information you need out of someone, and Serena holds a lot of information about Gilead that could be very useful to the Americans and Canadians.

the handmaid's tale season 3 episode 12
"Here's a book about the country your regime destroyed! Happy reading!"

Speaking of Serena, the camera focused on her finger stump before Tuello came in with newspapers and pizza because the last time Serena read and offered her opinions, Fred chopped off her pinky. Now reading and opinions come with delicious doughy foods.

the handmaid's tale season 3 episode 12
We prefer opinions and pizza.

Serena's clothing.

Gone is the teal wives dress, but she's still sticking with a Gilead colour pallet.

Her grey pants (it must be real nice to chuck on pants after years of skirts and dresses) are the colour of the Echnopeople, the social class of Gilead for ordinary people who didn't play a role in the uprising or commit crimes in the eyes of the regime.

Her pink shirt is the colour young girls wear in Gilead.

It's also the same colour combination she was wearing when she visited Nichole and Luke at the Canadian airport in season three, episode five.


The sniper.

It seemed weird that Serena was allowed to go into Fred's cell and confess that she'd set him up without any sort of security.

But a very close look at the end of the scene shows that there was definitely someone watching, and they were ready to take action if he escalated into further violence.

As Serena leaves the room, there is a blurry black figure behind the window. Once she's gone, the black figure moves and it looks exactly like someone lowering a gun.

the handmaid's tale season 3 episode 12
the handmaid's tale season 3 episode 12

It's hard to show in images, but go to 14.50 to see the movement for yourself!

Luke left his notebook behind.

This really stressed us out.

the handmaid's tale season 3 episode 12
Luke came PREPARED.

When Luke and Moira enter the building to see Serena and Fred, they made a big deal of Luke needing to put his notebook through the security scanner so it seems... important.

Luke's clutching it when he enters Fred's cell and looks around, like, 'they're really going to keep the war criminals in a luxury hotel level jail cell, huh'.

From what Luke says, we can assume it's a list of basically everything he knows about Fred. Who he was before, what crimes he committed, the letters that were smuggled out. It could contain testimony from others who have escaped Gilead about the side they've kept hidden from the world: The abuse and mutilation, the child marriages, the dead babies.

the handmaid's tale season 3 episode 12

Fred's a narcissist and prior to Gilead worked in marketing. He'd 100 per cent read what has been said about him - and if he realises the extent of what he's facing, maybe he'll start spilling on the regime/his wife to a) take them all down with him or b) try and lessen his charges.


The cell's furniture.

Serena's out of her wives clothes... but she can't escape the teal.

the handmaid's tale season 3 episode 12

This could represent how Serena, and women in general, are treated in Gilead: As objects, furniture existing only for others to use.

And the cell's plants.

Fred gets a nice, well-groomed bonsai and Serena gets a weeping juniper.

the handmaid's tale season 3 episode 12
Fred's plant is majestic af.
the handmaid's tale season 3 episode 12
That plant looks sad.

In a show where every detail has a meaning, the difference is too stark to be a coincidence.

What do they represent? Is it that Serena is cracking and Fred, despite being super screwed, is still as arrogant and cocky as ever?

The telling subtitle.

Could Lawrence know June was somehow involved in Eleanor's death?

He seemed confused by June's suggestion that she could've checked on Eleanor and this final look at her at the funeral was... terrifying.

the handmaid's tale season 3 episode 12

It seems even more likely when you find out that for those watching on Hulu in the US, the subtitles in those final moments said "music turns sinister".


Lawrence is a very important piece of the plane plans puzzle, and his main motivation to get out of Gilead is now gone. This could mean trouble for the plan and for June... Who might not be Ofjoseph for much longer.


Only a few more days of pacing, people. We're nearly there.

And for the love of all things holy, THAT PLANE BETTER MAKE IT TO CANADA.

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