I didn't hate this one. There were definitely some interesting ideas at play as to how the individual women are each coping with a system that "honors" them for breeding like livestock but doesn't expect them to have normal human feelings or reactions to the results of that breeding. I also spent quite a bit of time being just baffled by how despite segregating them from the rest of the party guests nobody seemed to be keeping track of the handmaids at the afterparty from hell and how much freedom of movement June had to flit around as the only spot of red in a sea of teal dresses and black suits with seemingly no one noticing. It's funny to me that so much of the writing about the show has lamented how much it seems to revel in torture porn or violence against women when it weirdly feels like the show itself has largely backed away from it to the point that as a Vox reviewer remarked, the sense of dread that's previously marked these quieter domestic episodes is almost entirely absent until Lydia snaps and begins wailing on poor Janine. And even then it mostly fizzles out with a bit of tut-tutting from the onlookers who have gleefully sanctioned such cruelty in the past and seemingly no consequences at all for June putting herself in the middle of it and defying Lydia. Maybe that's still coming, but given the direction of the show lately, probably not.
I also don't know what the show is going for in having June voiceover that she doesn't hate good old Commander Fred. Fine, feelings are complicated things and feel what you will. But leave it unsaid for ambiguity's sake because paired with scenes with where she was clearly probing and trying to position both him and Serena into place where she thought they might be useful to her own ends, it doesn't fit. Serena is well placed in their society, but June astutely realizes the powerless beaten down version of Serena she's been dealing with these last episodes isn't likely to be any good to her. June knows her well enough to know that a Serena with a purpose is one who gets shit done.
In the end, it got her information on where Hannah goes to school, but it was almost immediately followed up with Serena remarking that Janine's outburst is why the segregation of the classes of women exists in the first place, a stark reminder that for as awful as this system is proving for all women up to and including Lydia and Serena, they still buy into it more or less. Horrifically, there's almost a terrible sense of logic to what Serena's saying as we see here that the blurring of those boundaries to let her see or briefly hold the child she birthed isn't helping Janine at all. Ofmatthew is worse, revealing that she's had three babies stolen by Gilead as casually as if she's discussing the weather and resolutely clinging to rules of the setup as seemingly to protect herself from feeling anything about it.
They obviously already knew that Luke was the man on the video, but I really wish June hadn't confirmed it for them. This now runs the danger of turning into an international kidnapping thing that looks bad for Canada because good old Commander Fred is still Nichole's legal father of record regardless of what everyone thinks they know about Gilead's handmaid setup. I doubt that occurred to June in her obvious relief to see them okay and together, but I hope Luke has his papers in order and Canada doesn't give any ground.
The Emily scenes were really lovely with all their hesitation and restraint so as not to overwhelm her and I wish we'd gotten more of them. The scene of such a simple thing of trying to read a book to her son after Gilead had taken that too was exquisite.