The Handmaid’s Tale 403 – The Crossing
Warning: Review contains spoilers!
June’s short-lived freedom comes to an end in The Crossing. Taken into custody by Nick she is reunited with Aunt Lydia who is itching for some payback. Lydia’s contempt for June, composed by equal doses of embarrassment and hate is fuelled by the liberated children and the missing Handmaids. Nick realizes that giving up the Handmaids’ location is the only way to keep June alive but refusing to do so leads to her being tortured.
Word of June’s capture reaches a worried Luke. The spy network has been delivering updates on her situation and the outcome looks bleak. An official informs Luke that there will be a trial but that the proceedings and the verdict will be conducted and delivered under the cover of darkness. The reality that June will not receive a fair trial and be condemned to a harsh sentence washes over Luke crushing what little hope he has for her.
The Crossing takes a turn early on and it hinges on June’s brilliance and resolve. Morphing from captive to captor she turns the tables on Aunt Lydia. June dissects Lydia pointing out the hypocrisy of her position and the fact that she has been aiding and abetting the mistreatment of the very Handmaids she claims to care so much for. It’s not the Handmaids that are top of mind for Lydia but the system itself. Turning a blind eye to the horrors of that system, one that condones rape and abuse, Lydia is one of its chief engineers. The Handmaids are assets, not individuals, and June’s scathing takedown of her nemesis shakes Lydia.
The scene’s construction is clever with June sitting on the ground and still soaked from being waterboarded. Lydia is on her feet, but their physical positions betray the dialogue and the shift in the power dynamic playing out in the scene. It is capped when June drops the Aunt and refers to Lydia by her name only. The move puzzles Lydia and when June falsely reveals the Handmaids’ location to put an end to her torture it is evident that she is grasping at straws to survive. Her lies lead to more pain though, but not just for her. A rain slicked rooftop encounter is costly for two Handmaids but their resolve and belief in June reinforces their sacrifice. June could have suffered their fate but, she is too valuable to be killed at this point.
June is broken down even further when Lawrence reveals that her continued resistance would endanger Hannah’s life. When she’s brought before her daughter, it’s painful and forces her to question if what she is doing is worth it. Hannah’s rejection of June brings her to tears and she trades her daughter’s safety for the other Handmaids. June, like Luke and Nick before her had to dig deep maintain their fighting spirit. They stared into the abyss at one time or another in The Crossing and watched all hope fade away.
To think that June would be able to singlehandedly will her way out of captivity would be ridiculous. She gets a helping hand from Nick, first through Lawrence, and then on his own. Nick has been pulling strings behind the scenes to save June. With the fugitive Handmaids rounded up and headed to a breeding colony with June the group makes a break for it at a railway crossing. The results are tragic with Alma, Brianna and the others dying in the process. June and Janine’s escape, despite the loss of the others, offers hope – which will be needed to face the struggles that lie ahead.