The Handmaid’s Tale Season 3 Episode 12 Recap & Review [LIVE UPDATES]

The Handmaid's Tale

Hulu/YouTube "The Handmaid's Tale" season 3 episodes air Wednesdays at 12 p.m. ET on Hulu.

The Handmaid’s Tale season 3 episode 12, titled “Sacrifice,” airs tonight at 12:00 a.m. ET, 11:00 p.m. CT. The official Hulu description for the episode reads: “Gilead leadership is rocked by losses of their own; Luke and Moira adjust to new arrivals in Canada; A tragedy strikes the Lawrence household.” Read on for a live recap of the newest episode of the show. (WARNING! MAJOR Handmaid’s Tale spoilers ahead, so turn back now if you’re not caught up!)

Tonight’s episode will cover the aftermath of Serena’s decision to betray Fred, who was arrested during last week’s episode of the show. The promo below shows Serena visiting Fred in Canadian jail and begging him to understand why she turned him in. It looks like Serena wasn’t actually arrested, as she can be seen wearing regular street clothes and possibly meeting with Luke and Moira to see Nicole. Luke also visits Fred in prison to confront him about June, while June and Rita work on a plan to get children out of Gilead. The synopsis also promises some tragedy in the Lawrence household, so we expect there to be some fallout from her bloody Jezebel encounter with Commander Winslow.

This article will explore tonight’s episode of The Handmaid’s Tale in detail as we do a live recap while it airs. If you aren’t completely caught up and don’t want anything spoiled for you, this is your OFFICIAL SPOILER WARNING! Turn back now or proceed at your own risk. Otherwise continue reading for details regarding tonight’s episode with LIVE UPDATES throughout the episode’s premiere. Don’t forget to refresh the page every few minutes to keep up with the live spoilers.

We will update this story as soon as the episode airs, so stayed tuned and thanks for reading! The episode airs at 12 p.m. ET on Hulu. In the meantime, catch up on spoilers for tonight’s episode here, and check back soon for live updates on “Sacrifice.” Keep in mind that this article will be written in real time, so please excuse the casual tone and any minor mistakes that might be made initially. I will go back through and edit the article as soon as the episode ends. Enjoy the episode and thanks for reading!


The episode kicks off with June waiting patiently for the Gilead officials to show up at the Lawrence household. She is playing with the gun that Joseph gave her, loading the magazine and cocking it back in preparation.

“First, you hear the van,” she narrates. “Pulling up. Tires on the driveway. Doors closing. Voices. Footsteps. Then, boots on the stairs.” She holds the gun up as someone approaches her room.

It turns out to be Eleanor, who tells June that there are people downstairs talking to Joseph, who claim they just want “coffee and sandwiches.” Eleanor asks her to come downstairs and help Beth serve the visitors.

June walks downstairs and tries to eavesdrop, but an armed man walks into the room. She asks to help Beth, who tells her she deserves a “night off” after the success of her previous night (Beth clearly didn’t know she murdered somebody, but notices the bruises on June’s cheek a moment later). She shows June a basket of baked goods and says that the contents mean that the flight is just a short week away.

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The officials visiting Joseph are clearly talking about Fred, who was arrested last week after he was tricked into passing the Canadian border. They are asking Joseph to intervene for Fred’s case, telling him he can have his high-level clearance back if he does something to help the Waterfords.

Once the visitors leave, Joseph tells June that she’s “off the wall” for now, and that the officials believe Winslow is just missing and captured by the Canadians “like the Waterfords.” Joseph tells her that her previous Commander is now facing trial as a war criminal, which pleasantly surprises June. Joseph then asks her about the plane, and he says it “can’t come soon enough.” He tells June to “cheer up – Fred and Serena are toast and you just got away with murder, not a bad morning.”

The scene cuts over to June walking to the grocery store, where she meets Rita, Serena and Fred’s old Martha. Rita beckons her over to the potato cart, where they talk about how the Eyes came to ask her about what she knew, and how Serena’s was “really nice” when she said goodbye. June isn’t convinced, and believes Serena is “up to something” and says so. Rita then tells June that she wants in on the plan to smuggle children out of Gilead. They grasp hands briefly, and Rita tells June that she’s proud of her.

The next scene shows Fred and Serena meeting in his cell. She tells him not to give the Canadian government anything that they can use against him during his trial. Apparently they were both arrested, but are allowed to see each other before trial. Fred tells Serena that he won’t let anything happen to her, and she tells him to stop worrying about her. She tells him to save himself, that she’ll be fine, and Fred starts to cry, and asks her what she’s done. She tells him she “wants to be with [her] daughter,” and he holds her by the throat and tells her that it’s “always been about her” and that she made a huge mistake. She tells him that she’ll pray for him and leaves the room.

The next scene show June talking to Eleanor, before offering to walk her back to the room where several other wives are praying for Commander Winslow’s safety. The women ask Joseph if there are any leads on Winslow’s wearabouts, and June (kind of smugly) tells Mrs. Winslow that she will pray for his safe return. Mrs. Winslow asks Joseph for help in getting Joseph back, and tells him that she “can’t be a woman alone with six children.” This comment sets Eleanor off, who abruptly jumps in and says that they can “take the children with us. We can save all the children,” and nearly throwing the entire plan under the bus and giving them all away. Luckily Joseph was able to save face, and offered to board the children in their home in response to Eleanor’s outburst.

The scene cuts over to Luke and Moira visiting Fred in jail. Serena is now dressed in regular street clothes and realizes that she’s allowed to leave her hair down instead of being forced to put it in a bun. Mark Tuello walks in and asks her how Fred took the news that she had him arrested; Tuello apologizes to her for what she’s going through, and tells her that she will finally get to see Nicole. He then invites in a woman from social services, and Moira enters the room behind her with Nicole in tow.

Moira is clearly unhappy to see Serena, and immediately corrects Serena about whose daughter Nicole actually is. She apparently has to leave Nicole with Serena for a visit, and makes sure Serena knows that Fred, her husband, raped both Moira and Serena, before calling her a gender traitor and forcibly leaving the room. Once Serena gets a chance to spend some time with Nicole, she tries to comfort the baby and calls her Nicole’s “mama,” but is immediately corrected by the social worker.

The cameras cut back over to Joseph, who is shouting on the phone to somebody as June walks in the room. June tells Joseph that she has to convince them to keep the border open or their plan might be in jeopardy. Eleanor walks in and starts to panic about helping get all of the children out and tries to leave the house to rally the other wives; June loses it and starts shoving her against the wall and telling her that she cannot leave the house and alert everybody to their plan, and forces her to see reason.

Joseph tells Eleanor to “just think about their lives together when [we] are out of Gilead,” and she replies “can we really do that?” before walking away and heading to bed. It’s clear Eleanor is quickly unraveling, and she is incredibly close to revealing their mission to the rest of Gilead, but June and Joseph continue to keep her in line.

The next scene shows Fred talking to Tuello, telling him he manipulated Serena into turning on him. Tuello tells him that nobody can manipulate Serena, and that Luke is there to see him, before letting Luke enter the room. Luke is immediately unhappy with how accommodating Canada has been to Fred, who is a war criminal. He confronts Fred about his role in Gilead, and the two debate how closely their lives were before the war. Luke tells him how he is going to rot in prison knowing that his wife betrayed him, and Fred tells Luke that June isn’t the same person anymore, and that “Gilead changed her. I changed her,” before Luke jumps across the table and punches Fred in the face in response.

The next scene shows June entering Eleanor’s bedroom with a tray of tea. It’s immediately clear that something is wrong. Eleanor’s breathing is shallow and ragged and the woman is covered in vomit. June looks over and sees a bottle of pills tipped over on the side table, and knows Eleanor swallowed a handful to kill herself.

Just as June is running for help, she stops and turns back to Eleanor, considering her options. Does she help save Eleanor and risk the mission being brought to light, or does she let the woman die to keep her from having a fit and revealing their plans? It looks like she chooses the latter, and walks back over to the sweet, mentally unstable woman that she has befriended over the last few episodes and sits at her bedside.

Instead of calling for help, she kisses her on the cheek and walks away. It’s a heartbreaking scene, and shows just how much June has changed during her time in Gilead. She chose to let an innocent woman die instead of finding her help.

While June and the Marthas cut up vegetables for Eleanor’s service a few days later, Joseph brings up a bottle of wine that he was saving for his and Eleanor’s anniversary. He is clearly heartbroken, but tells June that he kept the border open, so their mission is still a “go.” He says that nobody was willing to argue with him because he is in mourning, and June tells him how sorry she is for his loss. The two talk about how both of them “could have checked on her,” how they both blamed themselves (damn June, that’s pretty low) and that they shouldn’t beat themselves up over her death. June even brought herself to tears for Joseph’s sake, telling him she was a “wonderful, kind” woman. (We have a feeling Joseph is going to find out what June did sometime in the near future.)

The funeral is depressing, with several high-ranking Commanders and their wives in attendance. They even let June wear a black cloak and wings for the funeral. She asks Aunt Lydia if she can be excused to speak with Joseph, asks him if he’d like to be alone, and then stands next to Eleanor’s grave with him. They share a long, intense gaze, and it almost appears as if Joseph knows June had something to do with Eleanor’s death, before June stares up at the sky and the episode comes to an end.

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