The Handmaid’s Tale: “Useful” and “God Bless the Child”

Commander Lawrence offers June a Sophian Choice, June uses her position to subvert Gilead, Emily reunites with her family, Luke and Moira have Nichole baptized, and Aunt Lydia grows increasingly unhinged.

Is Aunt Lydia crying because she feels shame that she lost control? Or because she knows she will lose what power she has? The elite and privileged classes of a society might accept the brutality and injustice that benefit them– but God help the person who forces them to see these things.


Cast and Crew

Director: Amma Asante
Writers: Yahlin Chang, Bruce Miller
Inspired by the novel by Margaret Atwood
“Useful” features a brief monologue by June taken almost verbatim from the source novel.

Elisabeth Moss as June Osborn / Ofjoseph
Samira Wiley as Moira
O-T Fagbenle as Luke
Alexis Bledel as Emily
Bradley Whitford as Commander Joseph Lawrence
Julie Dretzin as Eleanor Lawrence
Yvonne Strahovski as Serena Joy Waterford
Joseph Fiennes as Commander Fred Waterford
Mick Minghella as Nick
Ashleigh LaThrop as Ofmatthew
Ann Dowd as Aunt Lydia
Madeline Brewer as Janine / Ofhoward
Robert Curtis Brown as Andrew Pryce
Cherry Jones as Holly Maddox
Clea DuVall as Sylvia
Stephen Kunken as Warren Putnam
Ever Carradine as Naomi Putnam
Amanda Brugelas Rita
Tattiawna Jones as Lillie Fuller
Nina Kiri as Alma
Jenessa Grant as Dolores
Kristen Gutoskie as Beth
Laila Robins as Pamela Joy
Jonathan Watton as Mathew Calhoun
David Cotton as Guardian
Sugenja Sri as Sienna
Dylan Trowbridge as Daniel
Tom Barnett as Commander Logan
William Poulin as Cambridge Priest
Angela Vint as Leah
Paula Boudreau as Grace Williams
Charlie Zeltzer as Oliver
Kevin Whalen as Toronto Priest


“Useful”– June navigates the territory with the deranged Commander Lawrence and tries to use her position to her advantage.

“God Bless the Child”– an upper-class party gets just, like, totally ruined by the reminder that they live in a brutal slave state.

High Point

The episode features some excellent acting, particular in the scenes where Alexis Bledel as Emily reunites with her loved ones. Madeline Brewer continues to be mystifyingly but credibly disturbed as Janine.

Low Point

I understand that Commander Lawrence is disturbed, and people do things we cannot quite grasp. His character has not quite cohered for me. I cannot tell if we truly have a character yet, or if his motivations reflect what the writers need to have happen.

The Scores:

Originality: 2/6

Effects: 5/6

Acting: 6/6

Story: 5/6

Emotional Response: 5/6

Production: 6/6

Overall: 5/6 “God Bless the Child” reminds us that religion and its accompanying rituals, freely chosen, can be meaningful and helpful to people, and underscores the point with potent Christian music. Yet it never loses sight of the dangers presented by fanaticism and theocracy– and inherent in all belief.

In total, the third and fourth episodes of the third season receive 34/42