Who died on tonight’s episode of The Handmaid’s Tale? Season 3 episode 12, titled “Sacrifice,” featured a prominent, shocking and incredibly heartbreaking death, so fans might be wondering who it was that died during the penultimate episode this morning.
WARNING: This article will explore tonight’s episode of The Handmaid’s Tale in detail as we cover which character/s were killed on the show. If you aren’t completely caught up and don’t want anything spoiled for you, this is your MAJOR SPOILER ALERT! Turn back now or proceed at your own risk.
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,” so we already knew assumed there would be one major death during tonight’s episode based solely on the synopsis. So who died during “Sacrifice?”
Eleanor Lawrence sadly died on tonight’s episode of the show, and although her death was somewhat expected (as her mental state was quickly deteriorating over the last few episodes), it was heartbreaking and tragic nonetheless. The sweet wife of Joseph Lawrence swallowed a bottle of pills and overdosed in her sleep.
It wasn’t necessarily the fact that Eleanor died that was hard to watch during tonight’s episode; it was the circumstances surrounding it, and the fact that she could have been saved, had somebody stepped in and called for help, that made the episode so difficult to watch. Unfortunately, June, who walked in as Eleanor was dying, decided against saving the sweet, broken woman, and chose instead to let her die, in order to keep her plan to help smuggle children out of the country from being revealed.
Here’s what happened during tonight’s episode: Earlier in the episode, June entered a room where several Commander’s wives were praying for Commander Winslow’s safe return. His wife begged Joseph to find a way to bring him home, and made a comment that she “can’t be a woman alone with six children,” which sparked a quick reaction from Eleanor, who replied “we can take the children with us. We can save all the children.” Obviously, Eleanor nearly gave away their plan to smuggle the children out of Gilead, which put their mission at risk.
Although the wives didn’t appear to pick up on her comment, later on in the episode, Eleanor once again had a lapse of judgement and tried to leave the house to speak with other wives in the neighborhood about helping smuggle children out of Gilead. June desperately tried to stop Eleanor by throwing her against a wall and forcing her to stay in the house. Eleanor looked like she snapped out of her mental breakdown and even admitted to Joseph that she wasn’t thinking clearly, before excusing herself to get some rest. To help her calm down, Joseph tried to tell Eleanor to “just think about [their] lives together” when they are finally out of Gilead, to which she replied “can we really do that?” before walking away.
A short time later, June walks upstairs to Eleanor’s bedroom with a tray of tea and enters the room. She quickly realizes something is wrong when Eleanor doesn’t respond, and notices that her breathing is ragged and uneven. As she turns to leave the room to get help, June stops dead in her tracks and hesitates, before turning back around and quietly walking back to Eleanor. She kisses her on the cheek and lets her die, instead of calling for help.
The scene is intense and incredibly emotional; not only did Eleanor just commit suicide, June let her go through with it, instead of getting her the help she needed. Fans could argue that Eleanor was mentally unstable and suffering, and that June did her a favor by letting her go, but the way she went about it appeared more like June was trying to save her own ass rather than help ease the pain of a suffering friend. She was worried Eleanor was going to expose their mission and decided to take matters into her own hands when the opportunity presented itself.
As mentioned above, the scene, and June’s decision, was heartbreaking to watch unfold, and really emphasized just how much June really has changed during her time in Gilead (as Fred threw in Luke’s face earlier). She is no longer the woman she was when she was first captured and trying to survive; she is a hardened, changed woman, who will go to some significant means to protect herself, her loved ones, and her mission.
For a full recap of the episode, click on the link below. Otherwise tune in next Wednesday at 12 a.m. ET (Tuesday at 11 p.m. CT, 9 p.m. PT) to catch the season 3 finale episode of The Handmaid’s Tale on Hulu.