Episode 5 of The Handmaid’s Tale Season 4 begins with June listening to Janine having sex with the leader of this rebel group. Almost mercilessly, gunshots suddenly rain down outside. The sky crackles to life with strobed flashes. And June readies herself to get to work.
She wants to keep busy and that includes being put to work. Only, that’s up to Stevens as he’s the head honcho around here. It’s ironic really, given June has just left the male-dominated world to be confronted with another oppressive male regime. Thanks to Janine’s influence though, he agrees to let June tag along.
Meanwhile, Aunt Lydia finds herself conflicted over June’s words several episodes ago. Believing she’s failed the girls – and desperate to right her wrongs – she looks over the new recruits. Aunt Ruth arrives and tells her she needs to rest though, given the girls aren’t her concern anymore.
Elsewhere in Gilead, Lawrence speaks before the council and wonders whether they can provide aid as a way of easing the pain inflicted on others. They’re having none of it though, and intend to keep ruling with an iron fist.
It’s an archaic and barbaric way of ruling but then again that describes Gilead down to a tee. Lawrence’s plan is actually to try and help June, believing the ceasefire could help her mission in Chicago. He keeps this to himself of course, but the notion is rejected unanimously.
At Lawrence’s house, Lydia shows up to talk. She mentions Commander Winslow’s death and his collaboration with June. Blackmailing him, Lydia wants to be reinstated as an Aunt. Interestingly, Lawrence wants his seat back at the council – and believes Lydia may have the means to help him do it.
Given how much dirt she’s uncovered on the other councilmen, this could be a win/win situation for them both. There’s a catch though; Lydia wants June in her care so she can discipline her. Lawrence shrugs, “I can live with that.”
In Chicago’s war-torn streets, June and the others hide out in a café from soldiers. She’s not happy, especially when she realizes this “resistance” aren’t exactly resisting anything. With nothing to go back to in Boston, and June desperate to find these rebel hawks, Janine and her come to blows again.
June doesn’t want to see Janine get hurt while Janine is just trying to gain some semblance of a normal life in the midst of all this. June gives her an ultimatum, deciding to leave in the morning with or without her.
Meanwhile, Nick meets with a few Marthas and discusses June’s mission. Through his intel, he learns that June is in Chicago. Speaking of which, a decision is made and June continues on alone. Given the journey they’ve both had, it’s a pretty emotional moment. At least to begin with anyway. Janine eventually decides to tag along and reminds her that Handmaids always walk in twos.
Aunt Lydia gets her wish and is put back in charge of the Handmaids, who circle around Lydia while she tells them all they’ll never be alone again.
Lawrence meanwhile, finds himself back on the council alongside Nick, where they’ve done a complete 180 and now have a 24 hour stand-down and ceasefire in Chicago After this, they’re going to bomb all insurgent areas… and Nick is in charge of coordinating that.
Back in Chicago, June and Janine show up at the rebel base and realize something is wrong. Two planes fly overhead and bomb the area, bathing the pair in a cloud of thick, black smoke. When June awakens, she finds herself lying on the ground alone. Janine is gone, and everything is dizzy.
A figure approaches out the gloomy smoke-filled air. Feet crunching on the cracked ground, it’s finally revealed to be a face from the past. It’s Moira!
The Episode Review
The Handmaid’s Tale returns with a solid episode that sets the tone for the rest of the season to come. If there’s one thing this season has had in abundance it’s shocks. This episode is no exception, and the bombings in Chicago are every bit as shocking as one may expect.
On top of that, the show also includes some good characterization for both June and Janine, who have been through so much up until this point. The ending is absolutely horrifying too, with the assumption that Janine has been killed in the ensuing blast. Whether she has or not, remains to be seen.
The ending with Moira showing up though is quite the surprise, and it definitely sets the scene for an exciting episode to come next week.
There has always been a tendency with The Handmaid’s Tale to put June through the wringer constantly, with capture/torture/escape dynamics repeatedly ad-infinitum. However, this season seems to have upped the ante a little and now there’s some real tension and weight behind what’s happening. It also looks like June may be finally free too. But at what cost?
We’ll have to wait and see but this is one cliffhanger that’ll leave you dying to find out what happens next!