Saturday, June 30, 2018

The Devil's Standoff (Devil's Revolver #2) by V.S. McGrath

Hettie and her sister are travelling to Mexico, where the demonic revolver, El Diablo, was first created in the hope they can finally destroy it an Hettie can get her life back

But the journey has complicates - crossing the magical wall into Mexico isn’t easy and despite all their efforts, local politics catches them as a General with a full army behind him is less than happy with the magical independence of Villa Del Punta. And the town itself has divisions inside - not least of which with Walker’s family

And then there’s Abbie; the Indigo child with impossible magical powers growing by the day… and she’s picked up some disturbing habits from her captivity with the Kuklos warlock which is only more worrying...

Hattie is the core of his book and her conflicts and personality are what really gives the whole story so much more depth. We’re reminded that Hattie is very young and utterly out of her depth but equally determined to keep on going for the sake of her sister. She has this really powerful sense of fatalism while still clinging to hope. After her experiences she’s almost given up on her own future. She doesn’t have any long term plans, she doesn’t even seem to consider the future - focusing only on her sister’s survival and ignoring herself almost entirely. Yet at the same time she is clinging so desperately to getting rid of the Diablo and getting her missing years back. And I don’t think it’s worry about aging or dying - but the desperate desire for a do-over, a wish that she could go back to where this story began, before the loss of her family, before the revolver, before she killed people.

On top of that she has her sister Abbie, impossibly, terrifyingly powerful, increasingly out of control with more than a few unsavoury habits and a growing sense of almost desperation.

This is the backbone of the book -and pretty necessary as the pacing has an odd moment in the middle. The journey to Mexico and Villa Del Punto has action, magic and fighting. And the end of the book has some grand reveals and a lot of powerful scenes and epicness. But the middle? It’s kind of flabby and meandering without a lot of forward movement. But it does allow a lot of exploration - especially of Hattie; her trying to fit in with the inhabitants of Villa Del Punta, her dealing with her complicated relationship with Walker, trying to look after Abbie. Facing the fact she doesn’t really trust anyone around her. And even her evolving connection with El Diablo.

It also allows for a lot of world building of magic, the relationship between Mexico and the US as well as the local politics of this world’s Mexico as well: which has some interesting twists including magical areas as a vital resource and how this world with magic has created a much more balanced tension between the US and Mexico. In fact, there’s a wall across the Mexican border built by the Mexicans to keep Americans out. I do like to see how our world would differ if magic is introduced to history; how wars and conflicts would be completely different when the power is so changed.

We also get to explore the magic system some more as well as the nature of both the demonic and the angelic.

It’s still kind of flabby in the middle since it basically involves Hattie and Abbie settling into the village, slowly winning over the people’s trust, learning about magic, learning about Walker’s past, his relationship to the sorcerer who created Diablo and, of course, his step brother who rules the town and there’s some tension there. Not a lot happens but it’s ok; it allows the characters to grow and learn especially after all the action of the last book. And the action beginning and ending the book which is full of war, and fighting and magic and guns to definitely make up for a slow middle

I like that Hettie does meet several women in Villa del Punta and generally respects them… while I’m not thrilled by Julia. A clear love interest of Walker’s we get a definite hint of jealousy from Hettie which she handles really well and we have a great point of it being hettie’s issue and not the objectionable fault of Julia. Still the ending does kind of have a sense of vindication for Hettie and demonisation of her.

Friday, June 29, 2018

The Haunted Heist (Southern Ghost Hunter Mysteries #3) by Angie Fox

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Verity's life hasn't been the same since she accidentally trapped her gangster ghost buddy Frankie by dumping his ashes in her rose garden.  Verity seems to keep falling into trouble even though she's working really hard to get her personal business up and running and to figure out her relationship with Ellis.  Verity may love Sugarland, but Sugarland isn't exactly in love with her any longer thanks to the mother of her would be boyfriend Ellis.  Things look like they may finally be taking a turn for the better when Verity is invited to the bank to interview for a job. Unfortunately for Verity, the interview ends when the bank manger is found dead in the vault.  Verity was only trying to get a new client and instead she's now tasked with figuring out who murdered the bank manager with the help of Ellis and of course her faithful ghost friend Frankie. 

As you can tell form the cover, The Haunted Heist is paranormal chick lit. I''m a big believer in light fluffy reading during the summer.  It's the perfect book to take along on a picnic or to relax with at the beach. It is essential that you go into this book and this series with the understanding that it's simply meant to be a bit of entertainment to pass away a lazy afternoon.  

I couldn't help to giggle every time Frankie sought to get Verity to turn to a life of crime to end her money troubles. Even driving with Verity is enough for Frankie to suggest that she change her occupation to get away driver.  Their exchanges are the best in the book, even if at times Frankie becomes irritating when he interrupts Ellis and Verity when they are canoodling. Verity, Frankie and Ellis get into a lot of trouble together and it's hilarious. I particularly loved them entering a ghostly speakeasy and the night ending with a ghostly bar fight with ghostly bullets whizzing through the air. 

Despite the fact that The Haunted Heist is the literary equivalent of cotton candy, the one thing Angie Fox does really well is her interrogation of class. Verity has eighty dollars in her bank account and no job to speak of, so cash is constantly a problem for her.  Fox doesn't shy away from how difficult this makes life for her.  Fox goes into detail about how because of her poverty, Verity has an extremely limited wardrobe and must borrow clothing from her sister.  Even meals don't come easily and Verity's diet consists of cheap things like bananas and protein bars.  To hide her poverty, Verity even goes without a jacket because the only one she could afford in her size at the second hand shop is hideous.  Verity's life isn't about what she likes but what she can scrape together.  I will however say that I love the idea of Verity driving around Sugarland in 1978 avocado green Cadillac. 

Thursday, June 28, 2018

The Frankenstein's Chronicles, Season 2, Episode 3 Seeing the Dead

The plague continues to kill many people, including whole families. We see more utterly poor people dropped into plague pits, unable to afford a consecrated burial and having to invent their own burial tradition.

Moved to pity, Merlot goes to try and offer charity to a woman who has lost so many of her children already - but she’s already plagued and would rather have his help cleaning up. She also begs him to bury her and her remaining children next to each other


There’s also more talk about god abandoning them and we learn more about the evil Dean of Westminster from Spence, Merlot’s new friend/contact/boss. He was an ex-priest. He admits he used to drink - but the reason he was kicked out wasn’t the drink, it was opposing the Dean. He further reveals that the three dead priests (there’s been a third murder) were part of an alliance fighting against the wicked Dean and his terribad plant to sell lots of church land to make himself super super super rich. And now they got murdered. Spence doesn’t think it’s a coincidence

But Merlot goes further - grabbing a map of the area and plotting the people who died - and find that the deaths are clustered very closely together - all on Pyre street. An area which will be worth a lot of money… IF the slums are cleared out. Spence doesn’t believe a man can call down plagues - but Merlot is convinced Lord Hervey could do it with his evil science. Of course he kind of thinks Lord Hervey is behind everything

They go investigating and Merlot realises that the dead all get water from the same well (take a moment to praise John Snow who did this in real life. No, not that John Snow; your history teacher is ashamed of you) - and when he excavates he finds a body in the well, with a sailor tattoo. Clearly put there deliberately to contaminate the water.

While he discovers this Merlot also screams and rants and raves at a crowd of people only he can see - which i think are the ghosts who died. I’m definitely going with ghosts not visions.

Also in town is Mrs. Wild’s Penny exhibition which is, amusingly, presenting a play of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. I think we’re going to see a lot more of Mrs. Wild as she’s already showing compassion, wit, snapping intelligence and insight which makes her interesting in the brief moments she appears.

One of the members of her troupe is Billy Oates - from season 1. He was a criminal who controlled Flora and sorta worked for Lord Hervey and who Merlot got transported. He is now back, after becoming a sailor. Merlot and Billy have a few confrontations (involving punching and knives) since, obviously, their history is not great and Merlot is super obsessed with Lord Hervey - but Billy insists that he is not involved with the man and has no idea where he is. And the fact both he and the corpse became sailors with similar tattoos is coincidence. He does agree to help find where he got the tattoo though

About that latest murder - Nightengale finds the body before the Parish watch and quickly steals it so they can do their own autopsy much to frustration of the evil Dean’s evil minions. This means he gets the actual autopsy -including that the heart was carefully removed by an experienced and capable killer and probably not an escaped lunatic from Bethlem.

He also earns the respect of Sir Peel who is currently on side with anyone who opposes the evil Dean. Especially since the Dean is preventing him creating new cemetaries to help ease the burden of the over-burdened plague cemeteries. Because that would eat into the Dean’s profits. Yes, he’s evil.

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Westworld, Season Two, Episode Ten: Passenger

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Last season, Westworld played with Delores's memories to explore the difference between William and MIB and this season, it's Bernard's turn, thus setting up a conflict between hosts who have two opposing views as to how to deal with the harm that humanity poses to their kind. Throughout season two, we've watched as Delores sought to burn down everything in her path while Bernard seemed to be dealing with the moral implications of the world that he found himself in once he finally came to consciousness. It's clear that going forward, now that Delores and Bernard are finally out and in the real world that the conflict will centre on them. 

I really thought that Westworld was setting us up to have an epic character slaughter Red Wedding style but it seems to me that the writers simply aren't willing to just let people die and have created a backdoor through which people can be brought back. It's a cheap trick that takes away the tension from the story. What's the point of being invested or even worrying for a character if they can be brought back by simple slight of hand? Sure, this tactic could be used in the first season because as we know, the hosts have all died innumerable times but the destruction of the cradle was supposed to mean that death was finally a real world event.  Even Teddy, who died in the penultimate episode after realising that he couldn't be the partner that Delores needed made an appearance in the Sublime. 

What is the Sublime you ask? Well, it's robot heaven. I actually don't have a problem with the existence of the Sublime given that most cultures on earth have some sort of myth regarding the after life as a place of peace and tranquility that we go to when we leave our mortal bodies behind. In the case of Westworld, it was made quite literal because we watched the empty bodies fall over the cliff -- devoid of life-- as the hosts crossed over. What II di find confusing is the fact that this event was witnessed by many people who worked for Delos but there was all that head scratching as to why the Hosts, who were discovered in the Valley, had all seemingly been erased.

Delos sought to map the human brain which was described as "the last analog item in a digital world" and to do so, the company recorded the interactions the guests had with the hosts, with the hosts acting as the control. It's all as horrible as it sounds. When we finally see inside what we learn is that the computers have determined that humans don't actually have free will and basically muddle through the world following whatever moral code has been set up for them. Each human has a defining moment and it's a moment we are cursed to re-live in a perpetual loop. I really see this as a simplistic understanding of human psychology that absolves people of wrong doing and harm that they inflict. James Delos, like William, both have defining moments about their children. For James, it's turning his back on Logan in his son's moment of need and for William, it's murdering his own child.

The Frankenstein's Chronicles: Season 2, Episode 2: Not John Marlott

Merlot continues to have lots of ominous dreams and visions about Lord Hervey, dying, Flora, despair and general awfulness. Especially since father Ambrose his one real friend has been brutally murdered - and despite Nightengale’s attempts at investigation, the Dean of Westminster is being super evil and not letting the police get involved. Instead they want to just evacuate the area because it’s not just got a big murderer but also the plague. The poor people are duly mocking of these instructions because if they had the means to actually leave this squalor, well, they’d leave it already. But they’re poor and we’ve already established the evil church Dean is pretty evil and is also all olde timey and rich (two features which mean he doesn’t give a damn about the poor anyway).

The Parish watch may not be good for anything except annoying Nightengale, being nastily racist (which both shows that he’s evil and also kind of exposes the anachronism of how no-one else seems to be?), getting in the way of the murderer but they manage to be even worse when one of them spills dramatic stories to Boz, our journalist friend who is also a young Charles Dickens, about the killer being a beast and how the body was ripped apart. Boz, surprisingly sensibly for a tabloid journalist, considers this fanciful and absurd and encourages much mocking.

Because even tabloid rags in the 19th century had better journalistic standards than the Daily Mail.

Nightengale is also disturbed that there’s clues to Marlot all over this case with Father Ambrose carrying some of Marlott’s old pictures of his wife and child and it’s generally worrying him. There is an assumption that the escaped inmate from Bethel is just obsessed with John - which doesn’t encourage Nightengale any. Especially since he’s convinced Marlott killed Flora, his betrothed, while insane due to syphilis (which is why Marlot was hanged) and still has a lot of anger and hatred for him.

Marlott scrapes a living in the poor part of town, meeting and exposing a man who seems to have contacts (and is apparently an ex priest so expect Complications). Despite exposing one of the cons he’s running he decides to recruit Marlott as an obviously educated man to do some work for a finders fee - the work involves carting dead bodies from the plague ridden hovels and dropping them into plague pits. We also learn that churchyards are being dug up, the bodies dumped into pits, so the church can then re-sell the land to interr more bodies. In case we missed the not subtle themes here: the poor are leading terribad awful lives and the church is led by super evil people. We have lines like “why has god abandoned us” to really sell it.

We’re also given a quick lesson on how bodies in sealed coffins can explode and nearly have an adorable urchin killed by exploding coffin. Marlott leaps to the rescue and gets several shards of coffin in him. Which isn’t lethal because zombie but he still needs patching up - back to Esther the dressmaker who helps sew him up. She also refuses payment because taking payment for healing is wrong in her eyes. She also offers him super cheap room and board - when he protests the charity she points out there’s a serial killer (well he’s killed 2 priests I think you’re off the menu Esther) roaming about and she’d quite like a man about the house, ‘kay thanks.

While wandering about his business Merlott runs into Nightengale and it’s super dramatic. Nightengale sees Marlott’s scars and finds it hard to believe that he’s not the real Marlott, especially since he clearly knows things. Merlott continues to plead innocence in Flora’s death and points out that becoming a zombie has cured him of syphilis so no more irrationality. He also warns Nightengale that Lord Hervey is out there and really killed Flora and the dead vicars and is going to kill Lady Hervey and is like totally the worst. But Nightengale tells him Lady Hervey is already dead - which is a downer for Merlott because he and she kind of had a thing - and he still wants to re-kill Merlott for Flora’s death. This doesn’t work because a) Merlott is a super strong zombie and b) he tells Nightengale that Flora’s hallucination is behind him

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Preacher, Season 3, Episode 1: Angelville

It’s a new season of Preacher and this is where I sit on my fence with eyes narrowed and arms folded and a general air of “you’ve got something to prove, show”

Because season 1, with all its wacky hijinks and zaniness was extreme fun and I loved it. Season 2 was dull dull dull dull dragging dull angsty dull pointless dulllllll.

Season 3, pick a side.

The side so far seems to be creepy and very very very very atmospheric. I’m intrigued.

So many many years ago we got to see Jesse’s family. They lived in a plantation which rand plantation tours (and had improbably Black visitor) and Grandma Maureen sold spells - including to important people. We see one sober spell apparently for curing alcoholism which doesn’t look bad

Except we also apparently have people who are ragged and desperate trying to run away and asking for “it back” whatever that is. I can only assume something bad like a soul.

We have TC who seems to be a general dogsbody for Grandma, Jody who is huge and strong and tough who is muscle. And we have Chrstine, Maureen’s daughter who hates them all and wants out

Her escape ploy is foiled by Jody who also tells Maureen about a photo she’s hiding - a photo Christine is willing to eat rather than let her mother see it. Which is foiled because Grandma doesn’t play around and is willing to cut her own daughter open to see it  - a picture of Jesse as a child

So, happy families all!

And in the present this is where Jesse and Cassidy bring Tulip. But first they fight because Cassidy is super pissed Jesse didn’t let him turn her into a vampire and generally these two have it out over who loves Tulip more with Cassidy revealing he and Tulip had sex and Jesse then attacking him

Because the body of this woman they both love deeply is right there and they’re going to fight over who she belonged to. Zombie Tulip should eat their brains.

Instead Grandma appears and it’s time for negotiations.

She isn’t especially happy that lil’ Jesse abandoned them and they’ve clear come upon hard times since he left. He begs her for help but it’s always awkward to ask for help off someone who doesn’t have any reason to help and has every reason to hate you.

So Jesse offers “anything”. Which is apparently met by him bleeding onto a cloth for her. I take it as pledge or deal of some kind

Monday, June 25, 2018

The Originals, Season 5, Episode 9: We Have Not Long to Love

For a few brief moments, everyone seems to be happy. Klaus, Hope and Freya are having a super polite breakfast. Isn’t it nice, all the family together and Rebekkah will be back soon and isn’t it nice?

And then Elijah arrives and it all starts falling apart. Hope is super pissed with him still and leaves after magically bending a fork. Klaus has a tantrum with Freya for helping Hope and filling her full of black magic which Freya still holds is the best decision and everyone is just not happy

But Klaus and Freya do have a nice moment where at least Klaus acknowledges that Freya does love and care for Hope - and Freya gives Hope a nifty bracelet of suppressing evil dark magic. While this is a touching, I note that Klaus finds love and understanding for his family when they happen to bring out something useful to him. Ultimately, the core issue of the Original Family is that Klaus treats his siblings as supporting cast

Hope does try to pretend she’s totally ok with all these evil magic bubbling inside her and she’s just destroying cutlery because she has evil voices inside of her. This fiction doesn’t last long as she’s quickly driven to panic and destruction by the evil voices battering in her head - and Freya’s anti-dark magic bracelet catches fire so not an ideal solution here

Well done Hope, you have continued a glorious Mikkaelson tradition of making things worse while trying to make them better

We also have utterly pointless character Declan back in time - and why is he even here? I honestly have no idea why he is here.

He sees Freya and isn’t thrilled that they had a funeral for Hayley without him and wants to know how she died - and she tells him it was a car accident

Which he… doesn’t believe? I don’t get this - it’s such a bizarre denial. He doesn’t believe in car accidents? He’d rather believe everyone he knows is running some kind of bizarre conspiracy over her death. This is a weird form of denial and, perhaps because this show has made no real effort to establish why I should care about Declan or his relationship with Hayley, it just feels bizarre

To make this worse, an angst laden Elijah decides to visit him so he can get even more angsty with the other man who loved Hayley because why not? We can always use more angst it seems. And then Declan realises Elijah is the ex who broke Hayley’s heart so MORE ANGST

Time to make things even worse with Hope turning up and having a dark magic angst moment and being all “you killed my mother!” before belatedly remembering to magically put Declan to sleep so he doesn’t get involved in all the supernatural shenanigans.

Sunday, June 24, 2018

The 100, Season Five, Episode Seven: Acceptable Losses

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I think it's fair to say that The 100, seems to really only have one model of storytelling.  They put the characters into a situation of few resources and then they fight over them until Clarke, leading Skaikru, makes the hard decision and wins the day.  This season, with the prison ship landing on earth after Primefiyah, we once again have the cast of characters fighting over scarce resources, with Charmaine's crew actually serving as the invading force.  This hook may have been okay for the first four season but at this point, it's wearing rather thin. 

The most interesting character this season in not in fact Clarke the suddenly maternal, Octavia the ruthless dictator or even Charmaine, the leader of murderers and rapists but Abby, the drug addicted doctor who seems way over her head.  In the bunker, an addiction like Abby's was clearly a liability because every resource is precious.  Just as on the ARC, doctor's were allowed to only use a specified amount of medicine to treat a patient, and that approach most certainly applied to the bunker. We know that Abby became an addict to deal with the after effects of the tech in her brain.  We also know that fighting an addiction is not easy and that many fail. Abby is now in an impossible position.  Kane sees Abby's continued drug use as a betrayal of their second chance. Kane was after all willing to die in the ring to protect Abby and now she is continuing the same behaviour that put them in jeopardy. 

From Abby's perspective, she's in over her head trying to cure whatever is killing off Charmaine's crew. Charmaine really doesn't care how many pills Abby takes, as long as Abby doesn't overdose and die before she comes up with a solution.  All Charmaine wants is for Abby to be functional. Abby knows that detoxing would set back her work and may be something she wouldn't necessarily survive. Abby is also aware that she and Kane are in a precarious position and her safety, as well as Kane's, is absolutely dependent upon her ability to deliver results. At the end of the day, for Abby, it comes down to being functional, or keeping Kane happy and right now, functional is what counts. I think that it's an fascinating take on addiction and the first interesting thing that The 100 has done for quite some time. 

Kane has gone from a brutal leader aboard the Arc, to someone who is far more thoughtful and some cases sanctimonious. Yes, he is absolutely right that Octavia needs to be over thrown given what we have seen of her leadership, he seems to be right.  It's worth noting however that Kane probably only understands how bad Octavia is because of what he himself is guilty of. I loved that Charmaine called him out on his hypocrisy and reminded Kane that he was part of the leadership that decided to send so-called teenage delinquents to earth even before they knew whether or not earth was survivable. Kane really has no business lecturing anyone about morality or leadership.  I really have started to enjoy Kane and Charmaine sparring because she keeps it 100 all of the time. 

Speaking of Charmaine, people have started to speculate about whether or not she's actually sick because unlike everyone else, she hasn't paid a visit to Abby for a checkup.  Given that at least 75% of Charmaine's people are infected, it's not exactly a leap to make.  It turns out that the reason that Charmaine hasn't been examined is because she is with child.  In normal circumstances, this might complicate events but given that Octavia is absolutely ruthless, pregnant or not, we know that she won't hesitate to kill Charmaine if given a chance. This little patch of land holds the hope for the rebirth of humanity, just as Charmaine's pregnancy stands for the continuation of the human race that is if humanity doesn't mess it up. 

Last season, I was pretty sick of Jasper and his manpain. He quickly became my least favourite character, especially because Monty in particular was so invested in saving him.  It seems that time and distance has made Jasper far more appealing. Right after primefiyah, Clarke found Jasper's suicide note and now that she finally has the time, she's given it to Monty.  Jasper was right when he talked about the cycle of violence and war. In many ways, his commentary reflects my boredom with The 100 this season.  Instead of building a future or finding a way for humanity to thrive, it's just been a series of wars and horrible deeds. Jasper wrote that  humanity didn't deserve to exist and maybe, given what has become of the characters on The 100, he has a point. 

The Handmaid's Tale, Season Two, Episode Ten: The Last Ceremony

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The Handmaid's Tale in written form is troubling and that much more disturbing in the visual format. Almost each episode has been a struggle to watch but this week, it feels as though it's reached a new level of torture. It walks right up the line of gratuitous sexual violence and then moves backward a millimeter. If that were not enough, it feels as though the writers must be psychic to be able to have June temporarily reunited with Hannah in the same week that the Trump administration decided to separate children from their parents. 

The Last Ceremony opens with Emily being forced into the monthly ceremony (read: Gilead's ritualised rape), as June's voice over explains how handmaids disassociate and go someplace else with their minds while the commander rapes them. It's a quiet form of violence because even though Emily isn't physically resisting, you can see from her demeanor and small movements that she wants to be anywhere but there and how revolted she is. As the commander groans and moans, clearly excited and enjoying what he is doing, Emily's silence is powerful and full of muted rage.  Once he climaxes, the Commander moves away and the keels over. The Commander's wife rushes to her husband's side and demands that Emily go and get help but Emily has been conditioned to put fertility above all else and points out that the chances of pregnancy are better if she lies on her back for awhile. The scared and frustrated wife rushes out of the room, leaving Emily alone with her rapist. Emily doesn't miss a beat before kicking the Commander as violently as she can and stomping on his genitals. It's almost cathartic but Emily's vengeance is only possible because the Commander has been incapacitated, though I must admit that I hope that she poisoned him. 

After watching Issac and Eden get their flirt on in the kitchen, it's time for June to go shopping.  As she moves through the market she pauses in pain.  When it happens a second time, Janine notices which begins Gilead's ridiculous birthing ritual. June is rushed back home by ambulance and escorted inside by Nick, as a jealous Eden stands abandoned by the gate. It's a stark reminder of just how alone Eden is and that June, who lives under the most horrible circumstances, at least has some kind of support. 

Serena actually lets down her hair and dons a white dress and prepares to perform a simulacrum of birth. Serena is told how much she deserves this moment and even begins doing the Lamaze breathing as though she is actually feeling a contraction. It's absolutely gross. In the kitchen, Rita is busy organising the food and the placement of the various flower arrangements. In his office, the Commander is surrounded by his colleagues to celebrate the birth of the child.  We meet Commander Horace, recently promoted for the first time as a reward for his wife's pregnancy.  It's worth noting that this is the first time we've seen a Black person rise to prominence in the Gilead and it took the ability to impregnate his own wife to make it possible. Commander Grinnell pulls Fred aside to question if Offred is any fun because he just might be in the market for a new handmaid and as we all know -- as soon as June has given birth -- she will be given the boot from the Waterford household. 

Aunt Lydia breaks up the wives gathering to inform Serena that there's a problem. It turns out that June isn't actually in labour, something the doctor confirms.  Serena demands a c-section but at this point, the doctor believes that it's best to try for a natural delivery. June sits like an earth mother on the bed gently touching her stomach and with a sarcastic smile delivers her apology to Serena. When Aunt Lydia suggests hot sauce to encourage labour, June is quick to question whether or not it would be good for the baby. Serena is absolutely seething at this point and as a parting shot informs June that not only will she be leaving the household, she will be leaving the district.

Leaving the Waterford household and the district means not being able to see the child she is currently carrying but it also means a chance to potentially see Hannah. June knows all to well that whatever she and Serena had managed to build during Fred's hospitalization ended the moment Fred forced her to watch him strap Serena and so her only option is to appeal to Fred for leniency. June's approach is meek at first as she asks if it is possible for her to be placed in Hannah's district when she is moved, promising to stay on the sidelines and not interact with the child. Fred is naturally doubtful that June could maintain this promise and doesn't actively become enraged until June questions whether or not it's in his power to to fulfill her request. Questioning Fred's power is June's misstep because as Fred has shown so forcefully, he is a weak man who only feels powerful when he is controlling and abusing women.  I'm of the firm belief that Fred feels emasculated by just how smart and capable Serena is when given a chance. June moves to leave the room but then turns and delivers a scathing rebuke of the Fred, “I shouldn’t have expected you to understand. You have no idea what it is like to have a child of your own flesh and blood — and you never will.” Fred may control every aspect of her life but no matter what lies he tells himself, that baby will never be his and now it's all out in the open.  It's a moment of triumph for June even though she was denied access to her daughter but as we know, in Gilead, a woman's triumph must be crushed in the cruelest fashion possible.

The next day, Fred seeks out Serena who is in her sad little greenhouse and the two are fit to be tied about June. Once again, rather than dealing with their toxic marriage and the horrible country they have created, these two are content to aim their dissatisfaction and rage at June. Serena's talk about encouraging a natural birth is ominous. 

That night, Nick stands outside smoking a cigarette watching Eden and Issac kiss, clearly not giving a damn. When Eden notices Nick, she pushes away from Issac and goes rushing inside to beg for Nick's forgiveness. Nick is absolutely nonchalant about the whole thing and tells Eden not to worry about. Eden again asks for forgiveness and begins to pray, causing Nick to tell her once again not to worry about. Nick's lack of concern is upsetting for Eden and she points out that what he witnessed was her first kiss. Eden questions why Nick doesn't care and points out that he never touches her. Eden's fear turns to rage and she accuses Nick of loving June but Nick is quick to deny it, adding that touching a handmaid would be suicide.  Eden is left no choice but to accept that Nick simply doesn't love her and she breaks down crying.  Nick doesn't touch Eden but asks her to stop crying, which only leads to her crying more loudly.