The Handmaid's Tale closed out a stellar first season with a thrilling hour of television. Take a deep breath, because if you watched it like we did, you would've somehow made it through the entire episode without breathing once. Yes, The Handmaid's Tale finale basically defies human nature.
The episode began with a slap to the face—literally. Mrs. Waterford (Yvonne Strahovski) gave it to Offred (Elisabeth Moss) for her Jezebel's trips. But thanks to a black market pregnancy test, Mrs. Waterford found out Offred is pregnant. Who's baby is it?
"You think I prayed for this? You think I prayed to bring a baby into this house?" Offred said to Mrs. Waterford. The defiance began.
Mrs. Waterford instructed Commander Waterford (Joseph Fiennes) to leave Offred alone and that the baby was not his. Viewers know how the discretions of Commanders are punished now thanks to what happened to Janine's (Madeline Brewer) former Commander. In case you couldn't watch the scene, it involved surgically removing an arm and it was incredibly gruesome.
Anyway, Mrs. Waterford really meant business and did one of the coldest things possible: She took Offred to a mysterious location with a new driver—seems Nick (Max Minghella) has lost her trust—and locked her in the car. That mysterious location? The home of Hannah, Offred's daughter. There was Mrs. Waterford, casually chatting with Hannah while Offred lost her s—t in the car.
"Listen to me. As long as my baby is safe, so is yours," Mrs. Waterford told her. To that, Offred unleashed a litany of expletives.
Back at home, Offred asked Commander Waterford to protect her daughter and told him the baby was his…but is it?
And wait, there's more: After Moira (Samira Wiley) got the Mayday package to Offred, she took off for the border and made it! She is now safe in Canada with food, healthcare, money, identification and Luke (O.T. Fagbenle)!
Back in Gillead, Offred and the other Handmaid's were summoned by Aunt Lydia (Ann Dowd) to stone Janine to death for endangering the child she had with her Commander (see last episode when she jumped off the bridge). The new Ofglen (the one who replaced Alexis Bledel's character in that Commander's house), refused to participate in the stoning. Then Offred refused. Then everybody else did.
Aunt Lydia sent everybody home. "There will be consequences! Believe me," she said. However, at that moment, the Handmaid's were triumphant. There was hope.
What kind of consequences? That remains to be seen. The season ended with Offred being taken away by the police—but not before Nick told her she'd be fine and to go along with it and Offred told the kitchen Martha about the Mayday package hidden behind the tub: a series of notes from Handmaid's around the country.
Is this the end of Offred? Or the beginning? Regardless, know this: The cast is doing some of the best work of their careers in this show. Maybe now Moss can finally take home an Emmy after all those Mad Men nominations.
The Handmaid's Tale will return for a second season on Hulu in 2018.