The 5 things you may have missed in The Handmaid's Tale season 3, episode 9, Heroic.


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

Thirty-two days on your knees, praying, in a hospital room. Thirty-two days of being forced to watch as doctors torture a woman in order to keep a fetus alive.

Thirty-two days in your own head.

No wonder June went mad.

Mamamia recaps The Handmaid’s Tale season 3, episode 9. Post continues below audio.

This week’s episode of The Handmaid’s Tale was bleak. There was no joy or hope. It was not enjoyable to watch… but somehow it was good. Much better than the past few episodes, anyway.

We watched June lose her mind – literally – but by the end she seemed to have snapped out of it, intent on getting children out of Gilead. Hannah is not enough anymore. She must save others.

(Side note: Elisabeth Moss’ acting in this episode was OUT OF THIS WORLD.)

Next week, June will return to Commander Lawrence’s house (which is the home of the Marthas’ resistance, remember) and presumably set about making that happen. God knows how, she has no plan or means of fulfilling her very lofty goal. But, hopefully this switch means something is going to happen.

I feel like I’ve written that last sentence every week for a while now. This slow slog is tiresome. We need some action.




The Handmaid’s Tale season 3, episode 9, Heroic, took place almost entirely in one room, at a pace a turtle could probably outrun but… ¯\_(ツ)_/¯. Here are a few little details you might have missed:

The doctor might be a commander.

Oh man.

When we first saw the doctor stitch up June’s hand, inquire about her mental health and reminisce about knowing her mother, I thought we had a friend.

On closer inspection, it turns out maybe not:

the handmaid's tale season 3 episode 9
the handmaid's tale season 3 episode 9

That star on his arm looks suspiciously exactly like the star on the side of a commander's black suit. Check out Fred:

the handmaid's tale season 3 episode 9

Commanders are mainly men who brought about or supported the rise of Gilead, so the doctor was probably a big believer at some point, even if he did come across as sympathetic to June. Or maybe that was all part of his plan, because by acting that way he got her to open up... and admit to wanting to kill high-ranking members of the regime (and an unborn child). Oops.

That nurse's look.

Why would the nurse look so tellingly at June after he deposited the scalpel in the disposal bin?

the handmaid's tale season 3 episode 9
"Yes you did see me drop something you could use as a weapon against yourself and others, but that is okay"

It seemed like nothing at first, until we realised it was the WEIRDEST designed disposals box ever. A hole so large someone can stick their whole hand in? Gilead clearly doesn't have a health and safety department because they would be fuming.

By the way, if you did not physically recoil when June got that needle stuck under her finger nail you are not human.

Serena's clothing has changed.

The bummer with burning down your entire house is that you then have to borrow the clothes of others' that:

  1. Do not fit correctly
  2. Make you look ~less important~
the handmaid's tale season 3 episode 9
The face of someone who regrets setting fire to their home because now they need to borrow clothes from their less important friends.

The differing shades of teal the wives wear is based on rank, and since going pyro on her home Serena hasn't had her own dresses.

In Washington, Serena wore the same dark shade as the DC wives, even though they were higher ranked, so we can assume Mrs Winslow or one of her friends gave Serena a few things to wear. Now that she's back her outfit is much lighter. We can guess she's been borrowing from someone in town that is ranked lower than a Waterford, so basically, most wives in Boston.


Also, is it weird that Serena didn't rat June out for attacking her? Was she genuinely concerned or upset at June's mental state? She is so hard to figure out.

Aunt Lydia again proves she's a master manipulator.

I mean, duh. But it's really interesting to witness the real-life manipulation techniques she uses - especially when it comes to Janine, who has a Stockholm Syndrome-type relationship with her.

At first, Aunt Lydia scolds Janine for vanity when she attempts to cover up her (once again) mutilated eye: "Nothing is uglier than vanity," she tells her publicly, in front of all the other handmaids.

Then at the end of the episode, she privately presents her with the eye patch.

the handmaid's tale season 3 episode 9
*sobs uncontrollably*

"Nothing wrong with wanting to look your best," Aunt Lydia says, in one hell of a 180 turn.

Besides how nice it was to see 'space pirate' Janine happy, it was a subtle look at textbook abusive behaviour from Aunt Lydia. When she's alone with one of her 'girls', she is almost... kind and nurturing.

With someone as malleable as Janine, it helps to keep her onside and make her feel 'loved'. Yuck.

The real reason June turned back.

Did June decide to reenter the hospital because she didn't want Natalie to die alone? Maybe.

Did she actually just want to check whether the young girls who'd just walked past her into the hospital were or knew Hannah? Most likely.

Again, how bleak was this episode?

Next week's promo shows the return of Fred (collective "UGH" on 3... 2... 1!) and his friend/boss/possible sexual partner Commander Winslow and it looks like they're going to make Commander Lawrence prove he's uh, attempting to have a child with his handmaid.

Maybe June should stay at the hospital a little longer.

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