Episode 6 of The Handmaid’s Tale Season 5 starts with June and Luke captured. Luke is rattled while June remains composed, trying to find out exactly who these people are. Wherever they’re being detained, it seems to be within No Man’s Land.
Meanwhile, Serena’s ultrasound goes ahead… but she’s not taken to the hospital. The Wheeler’s have sorted out so she won’t be leaving the house. She’s also matched up with this Doctor, Alan, reinforcing that Gilead intend to swallow her back into the system.
As for Lydia, she heads to the hospital and learns that Esther is actually 3 weeks pregnant. She’s still handcuffed to the bed but is recovering from her suicide attempt. 3 weeks back was Fred Waterford’s funeral too and, of course, the awkward moment with Commander Warren Putnam. Esther is adamant she didn’t act flirtatiously, pointing out that Putnam raped her. This also explains why she tried to commit suicide as well.
Lydia is shocked and apologizes but Esther shrugs that off, pointing out that all the Commanders do this and it’s nothing new. Esther is hysterical when Lydia tries touching her and eventually tells Lydia to leave.
Lydia brings this news to Joseph Lawrence, who points out that he violated Esther. Lawrence is nonchalant to the news, claiming that no sin has been committed. “One day, there will be justice.” Lydia rasps. “Watch it Lydia, forgetting yourself.” Joseph Lawrence bites back.
It would seem that Gilead is starting to unravel from the inside out, with the handmaids disillusioned and Lydia seeing the true horror of this place. As for Serena, well it’s hard to feel sorry for her, she threw herself willingly back into the system, but at the same time no one deserves to be treated like a caged animal.
Lawrence does bring his concerns to Warren though, who tauntingly tells him that the plans he had for New Bethlehem are dead. Lawrence questions Warren’s rape, indirectly of course, but Warren simply sees it as a “pleasure” he’s welcome to.
Mr Wheeler requests to see Serena that night in confidence. He breaks the news that his team have June Osbourne. They’ve been positioned in No Man’s land and he promises that she doesn’t need to worry about them anymore. Ezra is being sent to “deal with her there.” He doesn’t directly say it, but he’s basically going to have her killed. Serena wants to go too and bear witness to her death.
Luke is taken out of his cell and beaten in front of June. He’s eventually thrown back inside, broken and bloodied. June is livid and questions just what they’re doing, but of course we know what they’re doing. They don’t listen and walk away.
Eventually, Luke and June are separated and thrown into separate cars. It’s a tough watch, given the pair have just managed to get back together again and rekindled what they lost.
News of Warren Putnam’s rape does the rounds at Gilead, with everyone casting constant glances at the couple during breakfast. However, armed guards show up and take Warren away by armed guards. He’s dropped on his knees outside, where Joseph Lawrence and Nick Blaine stand waiting for him. It turns out the high criminal court of Gilead have found him guilty of rape. Specifically, rape of unassigned property.
Of course, as it happened a day before she was properly assigned, justice must be carried out. And it is. Warren is shot in the head and killed.
Warren Putnam is strung up on the wall, with Lydia bringing the Handmaids there to see his dead body. “This was justice.” Lydia says. Eventually the women are taken back, with Janine pointing out she wished she was there to see it happen.
Meanwhile, June Osbourne is taken out from the bus she’s been chained to and finds herself face to face with Serena. June’s bonds are cut and she’s forced down onto her knees. Serena demands Ezra hand over the gun she can shoot June. Before she does, June prays for her children to live a life of peace. Serena signs it off with an “amen” before shooting Ezra in the chest. “Get in the car!” She screams at June, letting her go. As for Serena, she gets in the backseat and forces her to drive.
I think Serena has finally realized she’s a prisoner of Gilead and has decided to try and leave on her own accord. Unfortunately, the way this comes about is a bit contrived. I’m not quite sure why Ezra would hand the gun over to Serena, and why there’s no security detail there either. Given how well guarded Serena has been up until now, it seems a bit odd that they wouldn’t have stationed a number of security personnel but there we go.
Beyond that contrivance, we see Lydia’s transformation take place, bit by bit, and surprisingly justice is actually carried out with Warren Putnam killed. That’s probably the more surprising incident in this season, with Lawrence given an excuse to kill off the Commander, who was more of a rival to him than anything else.
Overall though, this was a much improved chapter, with a lot more tension and intrigue than we’ve seen from previous chapters. It’s not perfect, and there are parts of this that could easily be condensed or tightened, but the second half of this season is really building for an exciting finish.