The Handmaid’s Tale season 3 episode 13, titled “Mayday,” airs tonight at 12:00 a.m. ET, 11:00 p.m. CT. The official Hulu description for the episode reads: “June must think about how far she’s willing to go. Serena Joy and Commander Waterford think about a new way forward.” Read on for a live recap of the season 3 finale of the show. (WARNING! MAJOR Handmaid’s Tale SPOILERS ahead, so turn back now if you’re not caught up!)
Tonight’s episode will finally see Operation Mayday put into motion, something fans have been waiting for since the first season. The promo below show’s June taking control of the operation, even telling Commander Lawrence that he is “no longer in charge, I am,” while she rallies up the Marthas who are helping her smuggle children out of Gilead. Her determination to see the mission through to the end is clear, despite whatever dangers she might face in the process. The promo also sees some armed guards chasing June through the woods, so it looks like she definitely does find herself in trouble at one point during tonight’s finale.
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 “Mayday.” You can also read a detailed recap of last week’s episode here, if you need a refresher. Be sure to check out this author’s page from time to time throughout Tuesday and Wednesday (August 13 and 14, 2019) for more Handmaid’s Tale coverage, including season 3 reviews and ratings, unanswered questions, any death recaps, information on season 4, and much more (some of which will be posted on Wednesday).
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 loud alarms and a shot of June in regular clothes, her hair down, and standing in a dirty, dark building. She’s watching several children with Down syndrome walk through a room accompanied by some older women while guards are screaming at them to keep moving. Women are crying and the guards are being violent, shoving them forward and yelling at them to keep moving. It appears to be a flashback. The women are being pushed through a huge warehouse and loaded on to a truck. June is surrounded by dozens of other terrified women and begs a man to tell her what’s happening as the women around her scream for help. She tells him “they took [her] daughter,” and asks him to tell her what’s going on. He tells her to be quiet and shoves her on a truck. Jeanine is forced into the truck behind her while she screams that she is going to sue them all. It looks like June is remembering when she was first captured, as they were herded onto a truck to the Red Center.
The scene then flashes forward to the present time as June is thinking about how ruthless the men were who took her and thousands of other women and children and forced them into sexual servitude in the early days of Gilead.
“52 kids will be brought to the Lawrence house after sunset,” she thinks. “We will move in darkness. We can hide in the dark at least. We have a chance, at least.” However, she considers the fact that her plan might be a trap set by the Eyes, although she also considers herself “ruthless” enough to make the plan work.
As she is walking back to the Lawrence home, she runs into Aunt Lydia, who warns her not to drag any of the other girls (who she says “look up to her”) into anything she might be planning. It feels like foreshadowing, like Aunt Lydia knows something is up, but that remains to be seen.
She talks with Lawrence about what is going to happen that night before Beth comes in. Apparently Beth has been throwing up because she is nervous about the plan, but she looks like she is determined to carry it out all the same. The two begin wrapping food in strips of clothing and filling bottles of water to pack for the children. They tear up sheets and prepare the house for Mayday, packing bags and backpacks; Beth sets a lamp in the window, which is covered in a red cloth (resembling the iconic handmaid dress). The lamp looks like a sign to tell the other Marthas that the plan to smuggle children out of Gilead is still moving forward.
As she is preparing the house, June notices a Martha standing with a little girl outside the house, although it’s still light out. She rushes the two in the house, where Beth confronts the woman about why she is “moving before dark.” The Martha asks if what they are doing is officially Mayday, and June answers yes.
The scene cuts over to Serena in Canada, who is discussing her testimony about Gilead with Mark Tuello. Tuello looks like he is trying to prepare her for court, and he tells her that she “surrendered her rights” when she decided to testify. She disagrees and says that she “traded her rights for her daughter,” although she was clearly given immunity for her decision to turn Fred in. Tuello gives her a badge that allows her to leave the facility as a gift for her cooperation. He tells her she is allowed to explore the city and find a place to live, and she responds “out in the world without an escort?” to which he responds “I’m sure you’ll find one.” Are they flirting?!
June is helping bandage up the little girl that showed up at the house early, who asks her what it’s going to be like when they get out, because she has only known life in Gilead. June tells her that she’ll be “free” and that she can wear whatever she wants, that “nobody will hurt her or tell her what to think, or who to love, or what to believe in.” It is a sweet scene that appears to reaffirm June’s determination to help the children escape.
“You don’t have to be a wife or a mother if you don’t want to,” she tells the little girl, who asks who she will be after she leaves Gilead. June responds “you will be you,” and that God will still love her, not matter what. June gives the little girl some food before she grabs June’s hands and says a prayer. The scene is cut short as the Martha who brought the little girl suddenly starts to freak out and runs in, telling June and Beth that she changed her mind, that her mistress will forgive her and that she can’t do this. She tries to leave with the little girl.
June grabs a gun and points it at the scared Martha, whose name is Maggie. She threatens Maggie and tells her that if she tries to run, she will shoot her. “I swear to God I will,” she tells her. June grabs the little girl and Maggie takes off running, but June chases after her. Just as she is about to pull the trigger, the little girl runs in, and June faces her with the gun still drawn and points it right in her face. It is a tense moment, with June actually considering pulling the trigger on a crying little girl, before Beth walks in and pulls her away (you can see a clip of this scene later on in this article below).
The next scene shows June staring at the gun, which is lying on the table. Lawrence walks in and asks June how the girl is, who responds “She’s fine, she’s going to be fine. Because we’re going to get her out of here.” Lawrence tells her she should get the little girl back to Lexington, not to Canada, because an armed Eye saw Maggie running away from the house. He says that there are road blocks being set up and guards out searching because they know something is going on. He tells her he is “pulling the plug” and that the girl has to go home, and June refuses.
“Why, so she can be married off at 14? No. I am not sending her back so she can get raped and maimed in this insane world that you helped build,” she tells Lawrence. He tries to assure her that the girl is a Commander’s daughter, and that she will be fine, and June says “so she’s not going to get her clit cut off if she falls in love?” She refuses to bring the girl back and starts flipping the gun around in her hand.
She starts to break down to Lawrence about almost shooting the little girl earlier, and then tells him that “this can’t have been for nothing.” Lawrence tries to tell her that he’s “made his decision,” and holds his hand out for the gun, before June grabs it and stands up to face him. “It’s not your decision,” she says. “You are not in charge. I am. So go to your office and find me a fucking map [to the airport], thank you.” He tries to protest that she is still in his house and that she can’t make demands, and she says “you really think this is still your house?”
I’m not sure if it was a great idea for her to treat Lawrence that way, considering he still has some serious pull in Gilead, but either way, she walks to the window and puts the gun in her boot before the scene cuts over to Fred, who is talking to some Canadian officials about Gilead.
Fred is going over his duties and position in Gilead when Tuello enters the room. The two talk about some “uncomfortable information” that Fred wants to report about his wife. Tuello tells Fred that she has been forgiven for her crimes because she was “under duress” while in Gilead, and Fred assures Tuello that what Serena did was “far beyond the laws of Gilead, and the laws of God.” You can see a clip of the scene below in an Israeli trailer released earlier this week.
Back in Gilead, June, Beth and the other Martha are discussing how they will transport the children to the airport when a dog starts barking and June goes outside to investigate. She hears a twig snap and looks over to see some Marthas and children hiding in the woods waiting for her. Although there are sirens everywhere and trucks passing the house with spotlights, she sneaks them into the house and continues to direct the children, a few Marthas and a handful of Handmaids where to go. Rita shows up and she, June and Beth head out into the woods on a path that they chose to take to get to the airport; they mark the trees with ripped sheets along the way so they can find their way through later with the children.
Jumping back up to Canada, Serena is having another supervised visit with Nicole when Tuello and a group of Canadian police find her. Tuello has them arrest Serena for “crimes against humanity, sexual servitude and the rape of June Osborne.” As Serena is protesting on the grounds of immunity, Tuello tells her that she wasn’t being arrested for what she did with Fred, but for forcing June and Nick to have sex so that she could have a child. He arrests her for rape and takes Nicole away from her, so obviously Fred got his own revenge on his “traitor” wife (again, check out the trailer above for a clip).
After Serena’s arrest scene, the cameras hop back over to June and the rest of the group, who show back up to Lawrence’s house after marking their path through the woods. They walk into the house, where Lawrence is sweetly reading a book to a crowd of children that is much, much bigger than the 52 kids they were expecting.
While June is watching Lawrence read to the children, Jeanine shows up and tells them that there are Guardians everywhere outside, and that they know something is up. She says they found Maggie (the Martha who fled earlier), and that there are sending Eyes from house to house to check everything out. June makes the decision that they need to leave now, so the Marthas start quietly leading the children out of the house and through the woods. As she is leaving, June has a somewhat emotional conversation with Lawrence and asks him to come with them, and says that Eleanor would have wanted him to escape. He says he is going to stay and “clean up [his] own mess,” and June says “may God grant you peace Joseph.” He replies “and you, June Osborne.” I doubt that’s the end of Joseph Lawrence’s story line, so will likely see him again during season 4, unless they execute him.
June and the rest of the group begin their perilous journey through the dark forest. With plenty of intense, closeup shots of June’s face, the group silently makes their way through the woods while armed vehicles drive around. Just as they are passing close to a road, several cars drive past with a spotlight. They all crouch down and it looks like they are in the clear for the time being. They made it to the airport!
Just as they are starting to feel relief at safely making it through the woods, a police car pulls up to the airport fence and starts searching the woods where they are hiding. June orders Rita to take the group along the fence to the airport while she distracts the police. It appears she is going to sacrifice herself (in a sense) to make sure the rest of the group can escape without being noticed. She sends the little girl she was spending time with earlier to Rita, tells her to take care of the girl, and shares a heartbreaking goodbye with her old friend.
Crying, June turns around to distract the guards while the group heads toward the airport. She sneaks back through the woods and just as she is about to catch the attention of an Eye smoking a cigarette, Jeanine and a group of Marthas come back to help her while Rita takes the children to the airport. They all start throwing rocks at the guards to distract them while the children file past.
The guards start opening fire blindly into the woods, but the women don’t stop. Some of the Marthas are hit with bullets, but Rita and the kids aren’t noticed as they sneak toward the airport, so the Marthas and June keep attacking. They duck back down to avoid more gunfire; June comforts Jeanine as they lie on the ground, kisses her head, and stands up.
June starts running through the woods with a guard on her tail. He starts firing as she runs, and he eventually hits with a bullet before she drops to the ground. As he is about to flip her over to check for a pulse, she pulls Lawrence’s gun out of her boot and shoots him. She stands up and demands that he tells the rest of the Eyes that the woods are all clear. He does and she shoots him in the face anyway, and gets splattered in blood.
June is definitely injured and lays back down on the ground. As she is looking up, she sees a plane fly overhead, so it appears Rita and the children were able to escape. Despite being shot and injured, she breaks down crying in relief and watches the plane fly away.
The next seen shows us a plane pulling into an airport in Canada. Moira and Emily are among those who are preparing to help the refugees. Moira is astonished at the amount of children on the plane when she boards and tells everybody that they are safe and that she is there to help them. The little girl that June was talking to earlier asks Moira if “this is the place where I can wear what I want?” and they start to disembark the plane. It’s a pretty beautiful scene, and oddly hopeful for Handmaid’s Tale standards. The same little girl is reunited with her dad and Luke starts to tear up while looking for Hannah.
Rita breaks down crying when she gets of the plane and is reunited with Emily, who remembers her as Ofglen. They two grasp hands and hug. The entire scene is incredibly emotional, especially considering Hannah never got off the plane, which Luke definitely noticed. However, Rita spots Luke and informs him that June was the one who made this all happen and cries in his arms.
The final scene cuts back to June who is lying next to the guard she shot and remembering a moment with Luke and Hannah in a park, months before the war. Luke is chasing their daughter around, and the family is going down a slide together, rolling around in the grass and playing tag. It’s a sweet memory.
As June is remembering her family, a group of Handmaids (including Jeanine), finds June in the woods and rescues her. They lift her up and carry her away on a red cloak, while June remembers a Bible quote – “And the Lord said I have seen my people in bondage and I have heard their cries. I know their sorrows and I am come to deliver them from the hand of evil men and to lead my people out of that sorrowful place, to a land flowing with milk and honey.” The scene then fades to the end credits, and the season 3 finale comes to a close.