It feels like an eternity since we’ve had new episodes of The Handmaid’s Tale, and, well, it’s been almost a year and a half so that’s basically the same thing! But after such a long wait, we’ve finally been rewarded, because season 5 is officially here and so much has happened already. Season 4 left us off with the kinda brutal (and by that I mean VERY brutal) murder of Fred Waterford, and it seems like season 5 took that energy and just ran with it because these first few episodes were nothing short of a dramatic, chaotic, vengeful mess.
Whether you have already watched the new episodes and need a debrief of everything you just witnessed or you’re simply looking to get your hands on some spoilers to prep yourself before taking the episodes in, here are the most jaw-dropping moments from season 5 so far.
Season 5, Episode 1: “Morning”
Fred is still dead!!
Praise be! June makes it back home after literally tearing Fred apart at the end of last season, but before she can even wash the blood off herself, she hops back in the car heading off to god knows where, freaking the sh*t out of Luke and Moira. Turns out, she went to join the other ex-Handmaids who helped kill Fred for some pancakes and, uh, sharing of guns? Things get heated as the other women say they want to get revenge on their Gileadean abusers, but June doesn’t seem to want to be a part of it.
Umm, Nick is now married??!
So it turns out that Nick has a new wife, ’cause as you might recall, his first one didn’t last very long (RIP, Eden!). What’s even more surprising is that his wife seems to know about June and is totally okay with Nick helping her.
Serena gets rushed away to safety.
After it’s discovered that Freddie boy is no more, Serena is put in handcuffs and hurried off to a safe house. And in the midst of this, she’s bluntly told that her husband has been killed. At the safe house, Serena-sympathizer Mark Tuello tells her exactly what happened to Fred, including the fact that his ring finger had been cut off and mailed to her. As gross as that is, it makes it very clear to Serena that June, not Gilead, is responsible for his murder.
Emily has gone back to Gilead.
June heads over to Emily’s house to see her but the only person there is Emily’s wife, Sylvia, who drops the MAJOR bomb that Emily has voluntarily gone back to Gilead to fight and to possibly try to find her mortal enemy Aunt Lydia. Iiiiinteresting.
June (finally) tries to come clean.
After trying to literally come clean by scrubbing off all the blood she’d been smearing around town all morning, June heads on down to a Toronto police station to turn herself in for Fred’s murder. But since the murder happened in No Man’s Land, which isn’t technically part of Canada, it’s of no concern to Canadian police and June is free to go (apart from having to pay a fine for putting a human finger in the mail).
Fred’s body is shredded.
And not in a good way. Serena goes to the morgue to see her husband and he straight-up looks like he was attacked by a rabid bear. This is also where she learns that June isn’t going to get in any trouble for it and will remain a free woman, which clearly terrifies her.
Serena’s support is growing in Canada.
As she comes out of the morgue, there’s a surprisingly large candlelit vigil there to support Serena. The Canadians in it are just throwing out “praise be” and “under His eye,” totally naive to the actual monstrosities of the Gilead they’re supporting. This is also where Serena reveals she’ll be leaving Canada to give Fred a proper funeral in Gilead.
Season 5, Episode 2: “Ballet”
June wants to kill Serena.
Like, really badly. After lying awake in bed, thinking about all the traumatic, abusive BS Serena has put her through, June goes and buries her gun in the yard for safekeeping. Then, later, when Rita is over at her house, June can’t stop talking about all the horrendous stuff Serena did to Rita. After that, she tells Luke about sending the finger to Serena and he tells her she needs to stop obsessing over Serena so that she can be there for her family.
Serena makes her grand return to Gilead.
Arriving in a private jet, Serena struts her way off the plane as if she’s the damn queen of Gilead. But she quickly learns that the funeral Gilead has in mind for Fred is, er, a lot less spectacular than what she wanted. Seems they’re not big fans of Fred either.
Aunt Lydia is back on her BS.
She’s rounded up her “girls” and brings them to Fred’s wake to show off to Commanders in need of a Handmaid. Oh, and she’s already planning on placing Esther with Commander Putnam and leaves her alone with him in his office, where things get, um, extremely creepy.
Serena gets Fred an over-the-top funeral featuring Hannah.
Framing it as a way to connect with the outside world and bring them into Gilead, Serena pitches the Commanders on the idea of giving Fred a grand funeral and airing it on TV. They eventually get on board, and what ensues is the most wild, performative funeral you’ve ever seen. Serena is in what looks like an all-black wedding ’fit, veil and all, and she’s accompanied by a procession of Commanders, Handmaids, and a group of young girls that includes June and Luke’s daughter Hannah.
The girls are all in a purple color we’ve never seen before (intrigue!), and Hannah just so happens to be chosen to give Serena a bouquet of flowers and Serena, in return, kisses her on the forehead. Knowing that June will see this (which she does, on the massive screens in Yonge-Dundas Square), it’s clearly an attempt to get back at June and make her feel some pain.
A murder-suicide by poisoned chocolate.
Young, scared, and angry Esther is not about to get sent away to the Putnams, so what does she do? Poison some chocolate truffles, of course. She gives one to Janine (who she blames for helping to arrange the Putnam situation) and takes one herself. They both fall to the floor and cough up a disgusting amount of blood that it doesn’t look like there’s any coming back from.
Season 5, Episode 3: “Border”
June and Moira head to the border.
June needs some answers about what the purple color that Hannah was wearing means, so Moira takes her to meet with a group of women at the border who have been able to send messages into Gilead. There, she learns that Mayday is (a) real and (b) made it to Canada.
Nick and his wife met just a few months ago.
Her name is Rose and they met attending a gala in D.C. Nick seems to genuinely like her, even though his feelings for June are still, um, complicated. He also asks Tuello to not tell June about Rose so that he can be the one to do it himself.
Janine and Esther are still alive?!?
Somehow, even after all that poison eating and blood coughing, the two ladies are still alive (although I’m sure Aunt Lydia slapping an unconscious Esther across the face didn’t help??). Lydia vowed to God to change her ways if Janine was spared, buuut we’ll believe it when we see it.
Serena wants to marry Lawrence?
Lawrence announces he has no plans to remarry, but Serena reminds the Commander that an unmarried man in Gilead won’t go far. And then seems to insinuate that they should get married as a strategic move. IN FACT, she later tells Tuello that she plans to stay in Gilead and won’t be unmarried for much longer. (Oh, and she said that right after she kissed Tuello on the cheek with more sexual tension than she ever had with Fred.) But as it turns out, Lawrence is not on board and they won’t be getting hitched.
The Plums are child brides in training.
So, um, apparently, the purple color is given to the daughters of high-ranking families when they’re sent to a new wife-training school. Nick tells June that it means that “they’re ready” for marriage. Hannah is only 12, so that’s just a touch sickening.
JK, Serena is actually going back to Toronto.
Gilead wants to expand its influence and thinks having “a capable, impressive woman” like Serena singing Gilead’s praises would look good. So off she goes, back on the plane to head north of the border where she’s once again met with a candlelit vigil (*insert extreme eye roll here*).
June ambushes Serena.
Just as she’s feeling like she’s living her best life having been greeted at the airport by all those supporters, Serena’s car gets blocked on the road by none other than June, who bangs on the window and in a terrifying voice tells Serena to never touch her daughter again.
Season 5, Episode 4: “Dear Offred”
Serena is a “free” woman.
And by that I mean she’s finally, officially released from police custody and now shacking up at the Gilead-owned property in Toronto so that she can tell everyone how ~amazing~ Gilead is.
June takes her gun on a road trip.
June, (rightfully) pissed off that Serena is out and about, packs up her handgun and heads to Serena’s new home. The two have an intense staring contest through the window, scaring Serena.
Lydia proposes a new Handmaid system.
After getting a dressing-down from Janine that really seems to strike a chord, Aunt Lydia goes to Lawrence to propose a new Handmaid system where the women stay at the Red Center, not in Commanders’ homes. Aaaand he immediately shoots it down. SHOCKING!
Serena sends a f*cked-up letter to June.
Not only does she invite June to the opening of the Gilead Information Center, but she addresses the envelope to Offred, which is a level of maniacal behavior that I almost have to admire? It pisses off Luke enough to go see Serena in person, but Serena being Serena, she manages to manipulate the situation into making Luke not feel like a man because he left his family behind in Gilead.
June could have killed Serena…but doesn’t.
June, armed with her gun, comes face-to-face with Serena outside the Gilead Center, and although she puts her hand on her gun, she ultimately lets Serena get away. Later, June tells Luke she can’t promise she’ll hold back next time…and then they have some steamy hot sex. I guess potential murder really gets some people going?
Luke gets the Gilead Center shut down.
Who knew building codes could be so powerful? ’Cause turns out, they were enough to put an end to the center before it even got going. Blessed be the construction violations.
Serena has a new home.
After the incident at the Gilead Center, Serena goes to stay with the Wheelers, a well-to-do, Gilead-obsessed couple. And the wife is, um, creepily obsessed with Serena’s pregnancy.
Season 5, Episode 5: “Fairytale”
A mob of Canadians want the Americans gone.
Tensions are rising between the Canadians and Americans. On their way to meet with a Guardian who’s coming to the border with intel about the Wife Schools, June, Luke, and Moira come across a group of protestors who aren’t too happy about all the Americans who have come into the country.
June and Luke head into No Man’s Land.
The Guardian isn’t able to make it the entire way to them, so Luke says he’s going in to find him—and June, looking proud of how brave Luke is being, says she’s going with him. Once they find the Guardian, he leads them to a hideout and gives them the lowdown on the Wife Schools. Turns out, the girls there are treated like princesses while they’re taught to run a household. Buuut he also says they’re moved through the school quickly and then married off, and that includes 12-year-olds like Hannah. He also gives Luke and June a USB with all the info they have on the school.
Serena meets with her fangirls and gets a brilliant idea.
A group of ladies comes to the Wheeler house to meet with Serena and marvel at her pregnancy. And it seems all of those women touching her stomach gave her an idea because afterward, while on a call with Commanders Lawrence and Putnam, she says they should open a fertility center if they really want Gilead to appeal to people on the outside.
Serena didn’t want a Handmaid at first.
In a couple of flashback scenes, we get some interesting context around how Serena eventually came to have June posted to her home. Turns out, she didn’t even want to consider using a Handmaid and seemed to find the whole idea to be pretty uncomfy. Cut to the next flashback scene and she is meeting with Aunt Lydia to select a Handmaid and handpicks June.
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Lawrence has a plan to get Americans back in Gilead.
The details aren’t entirely clear, but he’s got a plan called New Bethlehem that, according to Commander Putnam, would have them “welcome back” traitors and forgive them. But Lawrence knows that if they keep their borders up, then Gilead will die. Seems kinda sus but also intriguing?
Serena realizes she’s trapped.
While trying to go speak to a well-wisher outside the house, Serena’s bodyguard Ezra tells her that Mr. Wheeler informed him not to open the gate. And it seems Ezra is listening to the man of the house over Serena. Shocker! When she tells Mr. Wheeler she wants to get back to the center to start working on the fertility clinic, he basically tells her she won’t be leaving the house because she’s pregnant. And when she asks for a cellphone, he shuts that right down. Is Serena finally getting a taste of her own medicine??
The helpful Guardian gets blown up.
On their way back toward the border, the Guardian steps on a land mine, blowing off one of his legs. Luke and June start to help him but ultimately have to leave because the blast draws the attention of some guards and leads to them getting chased down.
June gets caught AGAIN.
Insert massive eye roll here. But this time, it’s with Luke…so that’s different at least? Sadly, the duo weren’t able to run away fast enough and get surrounded by trucks and men with flashlights who grab them and haul them off.
Season 5, Episode 6: “Together”
The people who abducted June and Luke aren’t from Gilead.
They may not be Gilead soldiers but they sure seem to know enough about it, asking June who she’s “of” because they spotted her ear tag. They get thrown into separate cages and Luke tries to make a break for it but immediately gets tackled and beat up.
Serena’s confinement keeps on going…and gets worse.
The Wheelers set up an entire birthing suite in their house so that Serena never actually has to leave the property. Even her gynecologist (who creepily asks her on a date immediately after finishing examining her??) tells her to stay at home and rest more. Mrs. Wheeler loses it when Serena says she doesn’t want to date her gyno and that she might not even get married any time soon, and she sends Serena to her room. Serena breaks down crying and I’ve gotta say, the lack of power is a weird look on her.
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Umm so, Esther’s pregnant.
So that creepy visit with Commander Putnam? Turns out a lot more happened than just eating chocolates. OF COURSE Aunt Lydia asks Esther if she did anything to encourage getting raped (*screams internally*) but ultimately she seems to be on Esther’s side. She even reports the rape to Commander Lawrence, telling him Putnam needs to be punished. Lydia may have turned a blind eye to all of Gilead’s horrors, but she seems to be acknowledging them (slowly) now and I’m here for it. But frankly, it’s going to take a lot more than this for her to redeem herself.
Turns out the people who captured June and Luke work for Mr. Wheeler.
He brings Serena into his office to say his team in No Man’s Land caught June and Luke, and he’s sending Ezra down there to “deal with her.” Serena asks to go to witness June’s death herself, which, after some protest, he finally agrees to. In an interesting scene as she’s leaving the house to go, Serena is wearing a red-ish brown coat while Mrs. Wheeler is decked out in full Gilead wife teal.
Commander Putnam gets his.
While he’s eating breakfast with his wife, Putnam gets hauled out of a restaurant and thrown to his knees. Nick and Lawrence are waiting outside to tell him he’s been found guilty of “sins of the flesh,” aka raping Esther. Nick pulls out his gun and shoots Putnam point blank in the head. His body gets strung up on the wall and Lydia brings her girls to see it to show them that justice was served.
Aaaand Nick is having a baby.
We find out that Rose is pregnant and we really don’t get any other deets about it, but I guess Nicole is going to get a little half brother or sister?
JK, Serena didn’t actually want to watch June get killed.
She asks Ezra if she can be the one to do the deed and when he gives Serena the gun, she uses it to shoot him (on his bulletproof vest, so he’s not dead but he gets knocked down and winded) and then forces June to get in the car and drive her away. She seems kinda frazzled and doesn’t exactly look like she has a plan, so how this plays out should be preeeetty interesting.
Season 5, Episode 7: No Man’s Land
Serena goes into labor.
As if taking June hostage wasn’t chaotic enough, Serena starts having contractions in the backseat of the car. And even though June has a chance to make a run for it, she goes back to (begrudgingly) see what’s up with Serena. June tries to take Serena to a hospital but she desperately doesn’t want to be found by the Wheelers. She even later tells June she can’t go back there because she feels like she’s their handmaid.
June and Serena seemed almost…friendly (??) at first.
In a flashback to when June was a new handmaid for the Waterfords, she and Serena attend a birth at another wife’s house and they make eye contact across the room, with Serena making a face and smiling at how over-the-top the whole ceremony is. Considering how much hatred there is between the two, this was a shockingly pleasant moment, almost like in another world they could have possibly been friends??
Serena has her baby in a barn.
How very biblical for her! And even though there were moments when the idea of killing Serena in her vulnerable state seem to cross June’s mind, she coaches her through it (well, she does leave out of frustration at one point but eventually goes back to help). The baby’s a boy and Serena names him Noah (even more biblical!).
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We find out why June didn’t kill Serena.
When Serena asks June why she didn’t kill her outside of the Gilead center when she very well could have (she had a gun, remember!) June just says, with tears in her eyes, that she didn’t want to. This is one complicated relationship, y’all!
June finally convinces Serena to go to a hospital.
After panicking about the Wheelers, and even suggesting that June take Noah for her and Luke to raise (so that he can be a better person than his parents were, obvs), June somehow still manages to take the higher road and tells Serena she’s going to help save her. She convinces her to leave the barn and takes her to a hospital.
Luke makes it back to Canada!!!
It’s not entirely explained how he got out of captivity, but Luke shows up at the hospital and tells June that he got the USB with the info on the wife schools to Tuello, who’s now starting an investigation.
Aaaaaand Luke quickly effs June’s plan up.
He calls Canadian Immigration and they show up at the hospital to detain Serena for her illegal border crossing and lack of immigration status. Turns out the detention facility she’s going to doesn’t allow infants, so she’s going to be separated from her new baby for who knows how long. As Luke put it, now she knows what it feels like, and I couldn’t agree more.
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