The Handmaid’s Tale – Season 5 Episode 2 “Ballet” Recap & Review


Episode 2 of The Handmaid’s Tale Season 5 starts with June unable to sleep. She heads out to the car, picks up her gun and buries it in the back-garden.

Meanwhile, Serena gets a flight back to Gilead, ready for Fred’s funeral. Mark is there to brief her, promising to be by her side the whole time. “Like you were for Fred?” She scathingly retorts. It’s a fair point and Mark’s words ultimately feel hollow.

Still, there are more important matters to attend to right now, and that comes from Fred Waterford’s funeral.

Lawrence and Nick are both there to greet her at the runway, with the former deciding to escort her to the hotel. As for Serena though, she’s more interested in seeing the church picked out for Fred. It’s not a particularly lavish affair, and it’s clear Gilead just want to sweep this under the rug and be done with it.

Gilead’s (and by extension Lawrence’s) intentions here stem from wanting to move Serena out of Gilead as quickly as possible so she can “live her new life.” Serena is not happy, and demands a proper burial and funeral for her husband. She’s sussed out that someone helped June kill Fred and seems to have her sights set on Lawrence.

This isn’t Lawrence’s first rodeo though, and he knows the way of Gilead and snubs Serena, pointing out smugly at the wake that women are not above men in this society so there’s no chance she’d try and sway the council to think otherwise.

Meanwhile, Aunt Lydia continues to groom the new batch of Handmaids, with Janine working alongside her. Lydia tasks Janine with prepping Esther, one of the girls, ready for the Putnam family. She’s not exactly willing, but Janine tells her they need to play by the rules in order to stay alive.

Serena eventually seeks an audience with the men of Gilead and decides they should show the place off to the world. She thinks they should make Fred’s funeral an international event broadcast across the world. It’s unclear whether this is a play to psyche out June or if there’s something more going on here.

Interestingly, Lawrence is all for it. Nick believes it would help make Gilead look merciful too, and that’s just the public image they need right now. I said before about Fred being a martyr and it seems like that’s precisely what his death is going to incite.

It’s also enough to swing the balance of power away from Warren Putnam, thanks to Lawrence’s persuasion. Serena decides to invite Commanders from outside town to try and make this a big event.

As for Nick, he meets Mark in confidence and offers him a chance to see his daughter and work for the state as an inside mole. He’s impressed with how well Nick has managed to fly under the radar so far and clearly sees this as an opportunity to continue that – but with benefits.

News of Serena’s return to Gilead gets back to June. She’s unhappy about her moving back and forth between the two states so easily, and eventually scathingly retorts that Serena should be made a handmaid or put on the wall. June is blinded by rage and speaks to Rita about her experiences. Rita hits back, pointing out she doesn’t want to talk about Serena and admits, shakily, that she too struggled in Gilead. When she walks away, Moira speaks her piece to an enraged June.

That afternoon, June reveals to Luke that Serena knows she killed Fred. She admits to sending her Fred’s severed finger. He’s shocked that June would put their family in danger and is doing nothing to help their cause and get Hannah back. June has not been thinking clearly for a while now and she’s not just grief-stricken, but also blinded to the point of recklessness, by rage. “Nichole needs you here. Your family needs you here.” Luke pleads, trying to get through to June.

Esther eventually decides to kill herself, unwilling to go ahead with this way of life. Some of this stems from an earlier unnerving encounter with Warren Putnam who force-feeds her and appears to do more, given they’re alone in the room and Lydia looks worried. Anyway, Esther tells Janine she hates her and has done this as an act of martyrdom for June.

While June attends a ballet with Luke, Serena begins her walk through the Gilead streets, lined on both sides by men and women out for Fred Waterford’s funeral. The editing here is fantastic, cutting back and forth between Gilead and Canada, with more rapid cuts as the music crescendos. When it’s over, June and Luke kiss out in the streets, but those happy vibes are shattered completely when she notices Fred’s death is streaming across town as breaking news.

It’s on every monitor and even worse, she has a young 12 year old give her a bouquet of flowers. June and Luke are absolutely horrified as they realize who it is. It’s Hannah.

The Episode Review

Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned and now we know the true reason for this grand funeral being aired across the world. It’s a clever move from Serena and a scathing reminder that she still has the psychological edge over June. June may have killed Fred but Serena has Hannah and parading her out in front of the whole world, hand in hand along with that wry smile, is indicative of just how deep this rivalry goes.

It’s taken a while for this season to pick up but it finally looks like the rest of the story is going to kick into high gear and really double down on this rivalry. June’s rage has now grown to unfathomable levels, and right on the edge of her starting to settle back down as well.

While there are still parts of this story that drag on a bit, the ending certainly hints that next week’s episode is going to be a real cracker.

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You Can Read Our Full Season Review For The Handmaid’s Tale Season 5 Here!

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