The Handmaid’s Tale – Season 3 Episode 5 Recap & Review

Heading For Canada

For those who know me, The Handmaid’s Tale is one of my favourite shows and its one that I’ve been raving about to many people looking for their next TV show fix. While it won’t be for everyone, given its slow burn tension and aesthetically impressive style, it remains one of the best dystopian worlds shown on TV. Returning for its fifth episode, The Handmaid’s Tale bursts back into life, delivering one of its strongest episodes and boasting a natural blend between the Canada and Gilead stories that feel like they’re starting to bleed into one now, much to the benefit of the show.

We begin with June walking with Ofmatthew as she tries to antagonize her. Brushing off the subtle digs, June returns home where she asks Commander Lawrence whether her husband Luke is in danger but he simply replies that they’re all in danger.

Speaking of which, Serena begins this episode being pulled into a meeting with Waterford and a group of other Commanders. They show her medical records of Nicole and promise to bring her back no matter what. They head to June and ask to see Nicole but June’s skeptical, vehemently declining their request. After some persuasion from Serena, she eventually agrees to the terms. She’s given 2 minutes and, trying to stay emotionless, she phones Luke and tells him to take Nicole to the Toronto Airport for Serena to say goodbye.

After the trying phone conversation, June speaks to Mrs Lawrence who tells her about her mixtapes. This prompts June to head down to the basement where she picks out a tape and begins listening to the music.

Meanwhile, Serena packs her stuff up, including a package given to her to give to Luke, before boarding the plane to Canada. She changes clothes, forced to blend in with everyone else, and heads for the terminal. After a somewhat frosty conversation, she tells Luke that June is protected. She gives him Nicole’s present, holds her illegitimate daughter one last time, and boards the plane home. However, in a duffel bag is a phone and a note reading “If you need me, ring”. As Serena gets back though, she speaks to Commander Waterford and tells her it doesn’t have to be over, hinting that they could potentially get Nicole back.

June is taken by armed guards from the supermarket soon after learning Ofmatthew is pregnant. However, it’s here where we learn the earlier scene involving the tapes happened to be June recording a personal message to Luke. In this, she spills everything to him including her affair with Nick and the journey to survive. It’s emotional stuff and as Luke finishes the tapes, he breaks down and cries. 

However, it turns out Serena has stabbed June in the back and as Aunt Lydia appears, dressing her in new handmaid robes, she carts June onto TV as Commander Waterford and Serena plead with the Canadian government to bring Nicole back, spurring June on to completely snap and look on with murderous intent.

The Handmaid’s Tale delivers another very strong episode, one that weaves a lot of elements together effortlessly.The writing throughout this one boasts a consistently unnerving presence of tension that clings to almost every scene. Seeing Commander Lawrence and his wife listen to the mix tapes together and Serena’s constant inner turmoil are really the only respites from this and really underline just how far-reaching the problems with Gilead run.

The twist at the end of the episode is certainly the big talking point here though and that, in particular, feels like a significant turning point in June’s journey. With Nicole/Holly’s life potentially in danger, it’ll be interesting to see how June reacts to this going forward. Right now though, The Handmaid’s Tale sticks to its guns, delivering a consistently paced episode, and easily the stand out of the season so far. Quite what will happen next is anyone’s guess but for now, The Handmaid’s Tale remains must-watch TV.


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