We've spent a lot of time getting to know Serena through flashbacks this season. We've learned that as an architect of the Gilead, Serena worked alongside Fred in the hope of bringing about the very same revolution that has trapped her inside the home with her knitting needles. Not only is Serena trapped, she's been isolated, and unable to form any friendships with the other wives of high ranking officers because the women are actually in competition with each other. Because of the extreme misogyny of the Gilead, Serena has released all of her anger at her situation on the supposed fallen woman in her household - June.
With Fred incapacitated because of the bombing and Cushing out of the way, that leaves Serena to run a significant part of the Gilead with June's help. The two work side by side in the office with a steady report building between them. They certainly aren't friends but they have become coworkers after a fashion. Serena writes and June edits, both committing a crime in the eyes of the Gilead. June even goes as far as to tell Serena that she's a good writer when she offers editing suggestions. With a pen in hand, the women have started a quiet revolution. June cannot help but notice how happy Serena seems now that she has become a fallen woman like herself but Serena sees herself as just being the helpmate that God ordained women to be, certain that she will be forgiven for her transgressions. For her part, Serena does admit that she hates knitting and actually, who can blame her? It sounds like torture to be forced to spend hours knitting to pass the time. The unspoken thought is that not only will Fred forgive her, he will thank her and perhaps even desire her again because she will have reminded him of just how capable she is.
It all comes to an end when Serena announces that Fred will be returning home, eliciting the most dry, "praise be", I think that June has ever uttered. June is not pleased to be forced to line up alongside Eden and Rita to welcome the commander home. The commander limps in, clearly still feeling the effects of his ordeal and is greeted with a handkerchief from Eden and promise by Rita that she has prepared his favourite foods for supper. Fred pauses to take note that June is looking healthy. Serena escorts Fred to his study, smiling as she tells him about the work she has prepared for him, as well as a draft of a speech for his trip to Canada. Fred thanks for Serena for the risks that she took for him and explains that the burden never should have fallen on her shoulders, before escorting Serena to the door and firmly closing it in her face. And just like that, Fred has reasserted his power and tyranny over the women of the household.
When June returns to her room, she finds a music box and a white rose which are clearly a gift from Serena. Though no one is in the room, June says, "it was nice working with you too."
Having been forced back into the wife role, Serena decides to visit with the Putnams because baby Angela is deathly ill. Before leaving, Serena does confide in June, promising to update her when she has more information. Rita sends June off to do the shopping to replace some items that Eden borrowed which she doesn't expect to be returned. From Rita's acerbic comments, it seems like Eden is working away on Rita's patience with her attempts to be a good wife to Nick.
June makes her way to the store and runs into Janine who greets were with, "may the force be with you", as a response to June's "Blessed is the fruit". It highlights the absolutely ridiculousness of the Gilead's standard greetings. As they go through their shopping, an excited Janine reveals how happy she is to be here and that at this new assignment, she doesn't have to give blowjobs and only has to do the ceremony. When Emily hears this, she's quick to comment that there's nothing good about being raped and makes it clear that the only good thing to happen in the Gilead is when the bomb went off. As a parting shot, Emily declares that anyone who helps the Gilead is evil and should burn in hell. June now believes that Emily knows what she has been up to with Serena and questions what she should have done. June doesn't get to think long because an alarm goes off as an ambulance drives by. The handmaids get on their knees and begin to pray because the ambulance means that a child is in danger. One of the handmaid's let slip that it's Angela who is sick causing instant panic in Janine.
June walks a freaking out Janine down the street. Janine is desperate to see her baby and June calls her stupid but does promise to tell her whatever information that she learns. A guard tries to intervene between the two women and June raises her hand saying that she's got this. I cannot imagine June making the decision to speak a man, in particular a guard in this fashion before her partnership with Serena. As June tries to calm Janine, once again a guard tries to come between the women and June again asserts her ability to deal with Janine and demand time. June again promises to do what she can before Janine is dragged off by a guard and June is forced to continue her journey home.
An excited Eden has decided to spruce up the home she shares with Nick who naturally seems disinterested in her attempts to be a good stepford wife. Eden explains that her favourite colour is yellow and asks what Nick's is and he barely answers. Nick however does take the time to explain that with the commander back he will be even busier than he was, before walking out and leaving a dejected Eden behind.
That night as June is listening to her music box, Serena enters the room and is pleased to see that she discovered the gift. Showing just how much their relationship has changed, Serena reveals that she is there to get some advice from June. It turns out that there's nothing that can be done for Angela; however, the Gilead does have the top neonatal surgeon in the country. The problem is that the surgeon is a woman and June advises Serena that she would do whatever she had to, to protect her child.
Serena considers June's response and decides to go and see Fred. It's a marker of how much has changed that she now has to knock on the door of the room she once controlled. Serena explains just how sick baby Angela is and brings up the doctor. Fred first question is to ask who the doctor is, using a male pronoun, forcing Serena to reveal that the doctor is a woman and a Martha. Fred is adamant that nothing can be done then and says that Serena is to pray for baby Angela. Given that the Gilead was supposedly a reaction to the fertility crises, Fred's failure to act when told of a sick child affirms that the true mission was really about subjugating women.
Serena however is not to be denied and she forges Fred's signature to get the Martha a temporary transfer to the hospital. With June in tow, the two women head off to the hospital. June takes her chance to pitch Serena on allowing Janine to be brought to the hospital in case it's her last chance to see the baby. When they arrive at the hospital, despite being initially resistant, Serena asks the Putnams about Janine seeing Angela. Unsurprisingly, Mrs. Putnam is against it and she is quick to call Janine a slut, forcing Serena to point out that they would not even have a baby if it wasn't for her. It's Mr. Putnam who makes the decision to allow Janine to be brought to the hospital.
The Martha is brought in and is completely confused as to why she is there. She's ushered into a changing room as the Gilead doctor goes on about how excited he is to see her, that they've met once before and that she trained his mentor. Serena is quick to cut the conversation short and encourage the Doctor to relay to the Martha what is going on. In the change room the Martha removes her clothing and dons clothing that she must have worn in her previous life as Dr. Hodgson. Doctor Hodgson's hands shake as just for a moment she prepares to do what she trained years to do. When Dr.Hodgson leaves the change room, it's Serena who hands her a stethoscope. Dr. Hodgson may have been unsure when she first got there but she's back in her element the minute she walks into the room where Angela is being treated and she begins issuing orders for tests.