Warning: This article contains spoilers and graphic images.
The most recent episode of The Handmaid's Tale saw the Waterfords head to Washington as they attempted to negotiate the return of June's baby and grapple with a much harsher side of Gilead. The episode has an underlying theme of silencing women - which is shockingly shown in the latest mutilation of the Handmaids.
'Household' takes June (Elisabeth Moss), Aunt Lydia (Ann Dowd), and the Waterfords (Yvonne Strahovski, Joseph Fiennes) on a road trip out of Boston and into the Gileadean capital of Washington D.C. While many things have changed in Washington, including the segregation of escalators, the Washington Monument is now a Cross and the designated Handmaid 'Waiting Areas', there's one noticeable difference that many viewers found hard to stomach.
The Handmaids in Washington all have gags over their mouths, which are sewn into their lips with metal hoops. This is not the first time we've seen gags used as a literal showing of women being silenced. Emily (Alexis Bledel) had a gag on during her trial so she couldn’t speak in her own defence, and June and the other handmaids were forced to wear them when facing a mass hanging.
Many viewers couldn't handle the extreme image, with many claiming it makes no sense to the plot line. Handmaids are needed for their sole ability to bear children, but with this gag, they are unable to eat solids, brush their teeth, sneeze or yawn - and are at extreme risk of infection.