The Handmaid’s Tale Season 5 Episode 4: Dear Offred Recap

Episode 4 finds Serena setting up camp in the newly renovated Gilead Information Center, while June (Elisabeth Moss), Moira (Samira Wiley) and Luke (O-T Fagbengle) continue to deal with the fall out from Hannah’s appearance on TV. Aunt Lydia (Ann Dowd) opens a dialogue with Janine (Madeline Brewer) and Joseph (Bradley Whitford) about how she can improve working conditions for the handmaids. Neither is initially receptive to her change of heart.

Recap

June distractedly pushes Nichole in a toddler swing at a public playground while Nichole busies herself with being adorable. June’s reverie is interrupted by a woman (Imogen Haworth) standing in front of them who complements the baby and asks her age (14 months). She turns out to know exactly who she’s speaking with, calling both June and Nichole by name.

As June calmly retrieves Nichole from the swing, the stalker woman tells June about her own lost pregnancies, both boys. She thinks June was lucky to have been in Gilead, apparently giving them credit for Nichole’s healthy birth. She and the other pro-Gilead nuts must not know about Hannah (Jordana Blake)- probably for the best that it stays that way.

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The Handmaid’s Tale Season 5 Episode 3: Border Recap

In episode 6, “Borders”, Moira (Samira Wiley) and June (Elisabeth Moss) visit a rebel camp on the Canadian border with the hope of getting more information about Hannah (Jordana Blake). Serena (Yvonne Strahovski) works to secure her future in Gilead. Hannah’s adoptive parents, the MacKenzies, worry that June is a threat to their family. As Janine (Madeline Brewer) lingers in a coma, Aunt Lydia (Ann Dowd) stays by her bedside the way she once had June sit with Natalie/Ofmatthew (S3Ep9).

Recap

The episode picks up later in the evening after the end of the funeral in episode 2. June sits in her living room, going over the funeral broadcast in her mind and staring at a photo of Hannah from the before times. She asks Luke (OT Fagbenle) what Hannah was wearing, but he can’t remember. Moira, who’s been trying to get through to the refugee center on the phone, was watching at home and remembers the outfit. June asks if she noticed the color. Moira is upset that the broadcast revealed Tuello is in Gilead with Serena. But she recalls Hannah was wearing purple rather than pink, the color little girls wear.

They all look at each other with dread when this ominous sign that Hannah is growing up sinks in. June remembers seeing Nick (Max Minghella) there as well and decides to contact him. Luke reminds her that they have to use Tuello’s (Sam Jaeger) sat phone to do that. Moira tells them she knows of a group of rebels at the border who are able to get messages into Gilead.

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The Handmaid’s Tale Season 5 Episode 2: Ballet Recap

In episode 2, June (Elisabeth Moss) returns to normal life with her family in Toronto while Serena returns to Gilead for Fred’s (Joseph Fiennes) funeral. Both have some difficulty achieving what they want and clash with their allies in the process. At the Red Center, Aunt Lydia (Ann Dowd) prepares the latest crop of handmaids for placement, including Esther (Mckenna Grace) and Janine (Madeline Brewer).

This is a triggering episode for all of the women, whether they’re in Gilead or Canada, no matter their social station. The episode studies how each woman handles the crisis she faces, especially comparing June and Serena (Yvonne Strahovski), now that their positions have reversed. Serena is pregnant, alone and in danger of losing her child and her freedom, as June was at the beginning of S2, while June is married, in a safe place, with a home of her own and among friends, as Serena was for the first 2 seasons. But the threats that Gilead and the war pose to women and to the citizens of the US are always in the background for every character, whether they choose to acknowledge those threats or not.

Recap

As in episode 1, the Everly Brothers get the opening voiceover with All I Have to Do Is Dream, while June lies awake in bed running her reel of Serena memories on a loop. Among Serena’s greatest worst hits are the many times she violently manhandled Offred; the way, as the Wife, she (and Fred) took credit for June’s pregnancy (with Nick’s (Max Minghella) baby); and of course, her worst offenses- when she dangled her access to Hannah in front of June without letting June near her own daughter. Serena abused June/Offred just as much as Fred did, and in some ways the pain she caused was more insidious.

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The Handmaid’s Tale Season 5 Episode 1: Morning Recap

It’s time to return to the world of Gilead for season 5 of Hulu’s The Handmaid’s Tale. When we left June (Elisabeth Moss) at the end of season 4, she and a group of former handmaids had just finished salvaging former Commander Fred Waterford (Joseph Fiennes) in the No Man’s Land between Canada and Gilead, after Mark Tuello (Sam Jaeger) and the US made a deal for a prisoner swap between the US and Gilead, then Nick Blaine (Max Minghella) and Joseph Lawrence (Bradley Whitford) handed off Fred to June after the swap. According to the terms of the deal, Fred was to be disposed of via Gilead’s justice system. According to Gilead’s justice system, the punishment for a rapist is death by salvaging, with the salvagings carried out by the handmaids of the district. Since the Eyes control the border, Nick had the authority to dispense the appropriate form of justice and to turn Fred over to the local handmaids to carry it out.

The terms of the deal with the US were met, 22 Marthas who were part of the resistance were saved and Fred got the ending he deserved according to the system he devised.

May the rest of the Commanders also find the same justice at their ends. Under His eye.

Season 5 picks up moments after season 4 ends. The enormity of what she’s done starts to hit June.

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The Handmaid’s Tale Season 4 Episode 10: The Wilderness Recap

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In episode 10, the final installment of season 4, we follow June as she comes to terms with Fred Waterford’s imminent release from prison. We’ve spent the season watching June try to balance the rage from her experiences in Gilead, the need to fight back and her sense of helplessness over Hannah’s situation with her exhaustion from the fight, her desire to return to ordinary life and her efforts to act like the person her loved ones remember. This episode is the culmination of that struggle, as she makes irrevocable choices about who she is and what she’s willing to do to fight for the world she wants for her daughters.

Recap

We begin with a flashback to a trip to Jezebels back in the season 1 era. June is in her sparkly gold dress and cheap makeup. Fred pulls her out onto the dance floor. Though June smiles as though she’s enjoying herself, her voiceover tells a different story:

“It has to look like love. That’s what he needs. Pretend you like it. Pretend you love it. Pretend you want him. He is your Commander. Make him your whole world. Your sun, your moon and all your stars. Make him believe. Because your motherf—ing life depends on it. Don’t run. Don’t kick. Don’t scream. Don’t bite it off. Don’t… bite.”

She left out “Don’t punch. Don’t hit. Don’t scratch.” I wonder why she didn’t include her arms as weapons. Maybe because she’s so used to Serena holding them down? I fought off a rapist, once upon a time, and I can assure you that I used my arms, legs, wits and everything else available to me, just as she describes. Though it was decades ago, I still feel the potential to fight for my life in my muscles and bones, as if they are always coiled, ready to spring into action if I need to fight again.

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The Handmaid’s Tale Season 4 Episode 9: Progress Recap

Episode 9, Progress, includes several surprise visits which bring both good and bad news. June has an unexpected visit with Nick, where she receives new information on Hannah. Fred receives a visit from Warren Putnam, while Naomi pays a call to Serena. The Putnams congratulate the Waterfords on their forthcoming arrival, then inform them that Gilead is no longer in need of their services. Janine visits Esther in the Red Center to explain the reality of how life works for handmaids.

Mark Tuello’s end of episode visit with June and Luke is expected, but he delivers news that shocks June to her core.

Recap

We begin with June and Luke, apparently the morning after episode 8. It appears that they’re wrung out after staying up all night talking about June’s attempts to rescue Hannah. Luke tries to look hopeful. June apologizes again. He puts the blame where it belongs, on Gilead, not on June. June tells him that Nick said Hannah is safe at home now. Luke corrects her- home is in their house in Toronto, with them. June agrees.

Like June, I was so relieved during the scene on the bridge S4Ep3, The Crossing, that I didn’t question Nick’s wording, but Luke is right. Hannah isn’t safe and she isn’t home. She’s back with the MacKenzies, where she’s okay for the moment, but only for a very few more years. Her time is running out. June knows this from the parades of girls she watched in the hospital in S3Ep9, Heroic and from Mrs Keyes’ and Eden’s experiences (S4Ep1, Pigs and S2Ep12, Postpartum).

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The Handmaid’s Tale Season 2 Episode 4: Other Women Recap

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This week, it’s Aunt Lydia’s turn. June is back under her control at the Red Center, and it’s Lydia’s job to turn willful June into submissive handmaid Offred. Her goal is for Offred and the baby to go back home to the Waterfords, so they can finish the pregnancy in the best environment for the baby. Lydia uses every punitive and manipulative tool at her disposal to break June, and continues once June is back in the Waterford home. Serena Joy and Rita aren’t spared from Lydia’s training either. Lydia is relentless, actively encouraging June toward a mental breakdown and dissociative disorder.

The main themes of this season are motherhood, isolation and loneliness, but other women is another one. Each of the women that we’ve come to know is facing a challenge this season, and they each need to decide who they are as a woman, and how they relate to other women.

Does a woman see herself as an island, only responsible for herself and her own needs? As a sister, mother and daughter, responsible for the well-being of her family? Or as a member of her community, however she defines it- the handmaids, Gilead, the human family?

Janine is doing her best to spread her love for her lost child out to her community, making her world a better place. Emily has tried to live as an emotional island, but Janine is challenging her to rethink that. Serena’s inability to have children has forced her to focus outward, but June’s pregnancy is giving Serena hope that she’ll be able to have a more intimate relationship with a child.

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The Handmaid’s Tale Season 2 Episode 3: Baggage Recap

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In episode 2, Baggage, June reflects on her complicated relationship with her own mother, Holly, as she faces leaving her daughter, Hannah, behind in Gilead when she escapes. June is moved from the Boston Globe offices and makes her way closer to freedom, so the reality of what she’s doing hits her in this episode. In Canada, Moira’s already physically free, but she and the other refugees must grapple with the lingering effects of what Gilead did to them and what it forced them to do.

June jogs through the Boston Globe building on what looks to be a well-traveled route. She’s been hiding there for two months and is still maintaining her shrine to the executed employees, with candles burning in remembrance. The employees must have loved candles. You’d think she’d have run out a long time ago. It’s a freedom of speech miracle.

She remembers her mother saying that women are so adaptable that they can get used to anything, and wonders what she’s gotten used to without realizing it. This mirrors Aunt Lydia’s statements that normal is just whatever you’re used to, and things in Gilead would begin to feel ordinary and normal to the handmaids before long.

Moira also still jogs, but she jogs through the streets of Toronto. Her route takes her past the refugees’ shrine for their lost American loved ones. It’s not so different from June’s shrine, except it’s outside.

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The Handmaid’s Tale Season 2 Episode 2: Unwomen Recap

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Episode 2 is Emily’s episode, the episode of the Unwomen, the gender traitors, the sinners and the resisters. We follow Emily and Janine to the Colonies to get a look at what Gilead is like in another part of the country. And we watch Emily’s back story as a wife, mother and university professor. Emily fights for freedom of expression and sexuality, while June is taken to stay at the former offices of the Boston Globe newspaper, where the entire staff was executed for their part in maintaining the American right to freedom of expression. They each deal with the enormity of the loss of this freedom in their own way.

June rides to freedom, or at least her next hiding place, in the open flatbed of a delivery truck and muses about the meanings of freedom, both symbolic and practical. She wonders whether the Resistance can really get her out, or if the infection that is Gilead is so deep inside her that she’s no longer capable of escaping it.

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The Handmaid’s Tale Season 2 Episode 1: June Recap

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Welcome back to Gilead! Things are still as much fun as ever, as you can see from the photo above. June is on a roller coaster ride this episode, going from punishment for standing up to Aunt Lydia during last season’s finale, to special treatment because she’s pregnant, to barely being tolerated by Serena (so, back to normal), to a sudden chance at escape. As always, June is never sure where any of this is leading, but she’s not the kind of gal to stay home and knit sweaters, so she jumps into every opportunity, feet first.

“Whether this is my end or a new beginning, I have no way of knowing, and so I step up into the darkness within. Or else the light.”

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