The Handmaid's Tale: 10 Most Gut-Wrenching Moments From Gilead

The third season of The Handmaid’s Tale launched on June 5th, and the questions of what will happen to June and the other characters in Gilead are pressing. The show has already had a lot of disturbing and gut-wrenching moments that make viewers cry and cringe.

While the books by Margaret Atwood are full of many of these horrifying moments, the television show has included even more as it goes beyond the content of the book.

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As we all brace ourselves for the third season, we’ve put together a collection of the 10 most gut-wrenching moments from the series so far.

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In season one, we see what happens when a Handmaid is able to carry a pregnancy to term and give birth. This is supposed to be their entire purpose in life, and yet the entire process is just as terrifying. The Handmaids are treated like second-class citizens again as the Wives are treated like they are the ones giving birth.

The Wife of the Handmaid also participates in a fake birthing ritual which takes away from what the Handmaid herself is going through. Then, once Janine has her child, the child is taken away as it’s not really considered her child.


Handmaids Tale - Serena and Fred

The Ceremony in the television series is basically the same as it was detailed in the book. This isn’t one specific scene, as this entire ritual is just horrible. There is no way around the fact that this ceremony is a violation of the Handmaids.

Even if they might seem to be consenting, they really have no choice in being a Handmaid, so meaningfully consent is not possible. The way The Ceremony is set up is so cold, disturbing, and cruel that it’s hard to watch every time it happens.


As is usually the case with the privileged in society, the Commanders don’t actually follow their own rules. The Commanders themselves are able to get around the laws of Gilead.

When Fred takes June to this underground area, June sees that the Commanders are enjoying alcohol, cigarettes, and sex with former Handmaids and other women that are now stuck as prostitutes for the Commanders. These women have absolutely no say in the matter, so it’s extremely disturbing to see this happening.


Elisabeth Moss as Offred/June in The Handmaid's Tale

In season two, we see June finally escape the household of Fred and Serena. This entire section of that season is tense and stressful, and just when June is about to escape to Canada for good, she is caught.

While viewers might have expected this to happen, it was nevertheless quite horrifying. You can really feel for June as she is brought back to her life of torture and servitude. Sadly, the misery was set to continue for the Handmaid.


Handmaids Tale - Fred and Serena Waterford

While The Ceremony is also devastating, the way this scene happens is especially disgusting and reveals even more clearly Serena and Fred's awfulness.

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When Serena wants to induce June’s labor, she comes up with the idea to have Fred physically take advantage of her. Serena is just as much a participant in this horrible scene as Fred, and it was so hard to watch. Both of these characters are extremely cruel and this scene shows that on the next level.


Alexis Bledel in The Handmaid's Tale

In Gilead, there is no role for a woman that is a good one. Even the Wives deal with a high level of oppression, although they do have some power and privilege. After Emily and Janine are sent to the Colonies to work to death, they are brought back as Handmaids after the attack on the Commanders that also kills Handmaids.

This was disturbing to see them back in this situation even though life in the Colonies was just as awful in different ways. This scene just shows there are very few ways to escape for these women.


the handmaids tale offred

The Handmaid’s Tale book was written in 1985, and a lot of things have happened in the world since then. When Hulu made the television show, they updated the setting to a more modern one. This gave them the opportunity to include modern events and issues that weren’t in the books.

One disturbing scene that reflects the current cultural climate is season one's protest scene, which leads to the protesters being shot. This kind of thing happens in the world today, so it was especially hard to watch.


Serena is an extremely problematic character. At times, you feel bad for her as she is a victim in this society, too. But, on the other hand, she’s also an abuser, and she herself has been instrumental in setting up this society.

RELATED: The Handmaid’s Tale: Why June Made the Right Choice

The scene when Fred beats her with a belt after Serena seeks the help of a doctor for their baby is extremely disturbing. It’s also very telling that Fred is only willing to bend the rules when it benefits himself.


Alexis Bledel as Oflgen/Emily in The Handmaid's Tale

The Handmaid’s Tale television series focuses even more on what Gilead does to people who are LGBT. Everything about Emily’s past is extremely disturbing, including the fact she had to watch her partner be hanged.

Then, after this horrific event, she is genitally mutilated in a way that will keep her from feeling sexual pleasure. This is done to attempt to keep her from being gay. Given that LGBT people still deal with oppression in many societies, this was such a gut-wrenching moment to watch.


At the end of season two, June has the chance to escape to Canada. Instead, she gives her daughter to Emily to take care of, but she herself decides to stay in Gilead. Why? Who knows.

This was a choice that many people weren’t happy about and felt like the show just did this in order to create more drama for season three. Regardless of how you feel about this moment, it was definitely a hard one to watch.

NEXT: Margaret Atwood Confirms She’s Writing A Sequel To The Handmaid’s Tale

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