The Handmaid’s Tale: Episode Five

Now halfway through the season, the episode opens to June reminiscing about Luke as she is forced to hear Janine and Steven having sex just a few beds away. It’s the middle of the night, and outside their camp, the sound of bombs and shooting fills the air. It intrigues June and she goes to take a look, despite Steven’s insistence that it is not safe. But that does not stop her.

The next morning, June is washing clothes with another woman and asks her how long she thinks the food from the train will last. She says she’s unsure, but they aren’t keeping it. Instead, they will gee trading it for weapons, gas and other necessities at a trading post in a museum. June, of course, wants to come along, but the woman tells her that it is Steven’s call. So, June goes to find Steven, and stumbles on him teaching Janine how to shoot a gun. She makes her proposal, but he turns it down. Janine comes to her defense, vouching for her, and that is able to change Steven’s mind.

Switching over to Aunt Lydia, she has been confined to a place that seems like is essentially for those who have been retired from Auntie life. But, Aunt Lydia does not see herself as such, and is determined to stay alert and ready to go back into the field. However, she is told that will not be happening and she will no longer be serving the Handmaids, and that it is time for her to rest. Aunt Lydia doesn’t let this concern her, and returns to the treadmill she was on.

We then see Commander Lawrence testifying in front to he council. He is attempting to make a case that guns alone won’t win the war, and that they need money. To do that, he calls for a cease fire so international aid can go in and help, and seeing that as an act of peace, end sanctions on Gilead. The council doesn’t go for it, including Nick, who gets offended when Lawrence makes a jab at June. Afterwards, Lawrence confronts Nick, telling him he was trying to help June. Nick doesn’t believe that June would be at the front lines, and if she were, he would know. As Commander Lawrence mentions, the Eyes do not see everything, and there is a chance she could be in Chicago. After this conversation, Nick does indeed go searching for information by having to Marthas brought to him to question. One of them confirms that two Handmaids were seen headed into Chicago, and that it could’ve been June.

Returning to June, she and Janine are walking with the group across town to carry out the trade. June attempts to ask Steven for a gun, and he tells he that she will get one only when she earns it. Janine tells her that she needs to let him lead, because he’s been doing it for a while, and she is not in control here. 

As they walk through town, they come across a couple of completely scorched Gilead soldiers—killed by the Night Hawks, a group that try to kill as many soldiers as they can, and don’t care what happens to themselves in the meantime. The group continues to walk and see soldiers coming down the street and hide in an abandoned shop. After they pass by, June gets upset, because she believes that they could’ve killed them. “What kind of resistance are you?” she asks Steven. “The kind that survives,” he replies. 

When they finally make it to the museum, June is eyeing the guns. Janine distracts her as she gets excited over finding a Chicago Cubs baseball cap—Steven is apparently a big baseball fan, and she wants to get it for him. June warns her to be careful with him, that she doesn’t want him to take advantage of her. Janine retorts by saying that it’s consensual and that she likes him. She then turns to the seller and attempts to trade her handmaid cloak for the cap, but the seller says no deal. June, seeing how much this means to Janine, and wanting to make her happy, throws in her cloak as well, and the seller makes the trade.

We then see Aunt Lydia in the most interesting of places—Commander Lawrence’s house. She believes she can be of service to him. And by that, she means, I have blackmail on you and I will keep quiet if you help reinstate me. Commander Lawrence counters that by highlighting that she must have blackmail on all the council members. If she were to spill those secrets to him, he will be able to get his seat back at the table and reinstate her immediately. To that, she agrees, but only if June is given to her if they were to find her. Lawrence makes the deal. That deal is kept, and Aunt Lydia is reinstated with a new group of Handmaids to look after.

Back at the “resistance” compound, June goes to Janine and tells her she wants to find the Night Hawks. Janine wants to stay and have a baby that she can keep. June tells her that she is leaving tomorrow, and that she either comes with her or, in an unnecessary jab, stays and becomes “Of Steven.”

The next day, June is getting directions to where the Night Hawks are staying as she is about to leave. Janine comes out and tells her that she has decided to stay. June, visibly upset to be leaving Janine, tells her, “I need you to take care of yourself, ok?” They embrace, and June turns to leave. But Janine runs after her and gives June the baseball cap. “Something to remember me by,” she says softly. To which June replies, in a manner that tugs at the heartstrings, “How could I ever forget you?” She puts on the cap as she walks away, tears in her eyes. She walks through the eerily empty streets of Chicago, alone. She then hears some noises, and afraid of what is lurking in the emptiness, hides under a car. But, to her surprise, it is Janine! She had followed June because, it turns out, she feels “safer when we’re together. Handmaids always walk in twos, remember?” With that, they continue down the road together.

At council headquarters, Nick goes to tell Commander Lawrence that he was right and that he will back him in his plan for a cease fire. So, in the council meeting, in which Lawrence is now a part of because of what he has on the other members, Nick brings up the cease fire. The other council members agree that they should in fact enact one. However, right before that cease fire, they want to carry out a surge of bombing, and want Nick to be in charge of it. He has no choice but to take on the charge.

In Chicago, June and Janine walk towards the entrance of a checkpoint that has been abandoned, with all the resources left behind. June can tell something isn’t right, and she starts to hear something in the distance. In the sky, coming towards them, are several planes. June yells at Janine to start running as bombs begin to be dropped. But they cannot escape the attack, and get taken down by a blast. Shortly after, June wakes up covered in dirt and rubble. She slowly tries to get up and begins calling for Janine, unable to find her anywhere. Aid workers arrive and begin to search the area for survivors.

One of them comes towards June. It’s Moira. June just looks at her like a deer in the headlights, and the episode comes to a close. Things are just starting to get really interesting, and the second half of the season is surely going to get very exciting.

Isabel Maina

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