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


Episode 3 of The Handmaid’s Tale Season 5 starts with June trying to come to terms with the shocking reveal of Hannah appearing on the news. Moira heads over and together, they discuss what the purple colour she was wearing signifies.

There’s a group of women at the border, unofficially, and Moira suggests they use them to send a message inside Gilead. These traumatized refugees are the last people June should be meeting but the two women head along all the same, determined to do what’s right for Hannah.

June meets their contact, Lily, with a message to send on to a Commander. She’s actually one of the women June traded for Fred Waterford so she’s happy to do this for June. Lily leads Moira and June out to the woods, right on the edge of No Man’s Land. The women are distrustful, and June hesitates over an upside down American flag outside a cabin. Inside, they have a pin-up board of people they’ve saved… and another for those they’ve lost.

The women here also sneak arsenic to Commanders as a way of sabotaging them. “One hell of a way to go.” They say, as June smirks. “Good.”

Meanwhile, Serena and Mark show up to see Lawrence, but the latter is forced to sit outside for now. Inside, Serena notices Nick is now a Commander and he shows up with his wife Rose. He hands over a gift for Serena’s unborn child but there’s a lot of tension in the room.

At dinner, the attention turn to June Osbourne. They decide to try and cut her out, calling her a cancer and a plague on Gilead. As a result of this tightening of security, Nick gets cold feet and decides not to join up with Mark after all.

Serena decides to stay in Gilead. She doesn’t want to be in Canada and believes she’s found her home in Gilead. Mark is incredulous to the whole affair and eventually tells her staying is not safe, especially as an unmarried woman. Mark leaves, defeated, just as a messenger confirms that Serena is to attend a meeting with the council in the near future.

Aunt Lydia shows up at the hospital to oversee Esther, who actually happens to still be alive. Her suicide attempt was unsuccessful but in her subdued state, Lydia slaps her across the face, clearly feeling betrayed.

Janine is also in hospital too, but Lydia drops on her knees by her bedside and promises to turn things around with the Lord, seeing this as revenge for her past actions. She pleads with God to let Janine survive this. Funnily enough, Mrs Putnam shows up with Angela to check up on Janine too, in a really nice moment.

So what does the purple colour Hannah was wearing actually mean? Well, it turns out she’s being groomed to be a wife and the McKenzies are sending her to “Wife school.” June learns all of this from Nick, who manages to call her. He also breaks the news that he has a wife now. Nick makes June promise to stay safe and admits they won’t be able to talk again for a while.

Serena’s meeting with the council goes ahead too, but before she enters, Lawrence is there and apologizes. As he takes his seat with the other members of the council, Serena’s future has been decided. She’s going to lend her influence as an unofficial global ambassador for Gilead. They won’t be making a place for her in Gilead, they’re forcing her out to Canada. She’s basically exiled, but is given provisions to help her – including protection and her own staff.

As Serena approaches the bridge leading out of Gilead, June suddenly appears at her window like something out of a slasher. “Never touch my daughter again.” She rasps. Serena has her driver turn the car around, as things are left on a precarious knife edge.

The Episode Review

The Handmaid’s Tale has always been good with its cliffhanger endings and this chapter is no exception. Seeing June show up right at the end, I genuinely thought Serena was going to be kidnapped and taken away. Alas, that hasn’t happened but it’s clear that Fred’s death has caused ripples across Gilead and beyond.

Serena has essentially been exiled from Gilead, but the irony that this oppressive regime is using the voice of a woman to push their “diplomatic message” forward is a new form of sick irony.

Meanwhile, Aunt Lydia’s character development across these five seasons has been fantastic and a definite highlight. We know she truly cares about her girls but at the same time, is also bound by the Lord and Gilead’s rules. Seeing her praying for Janine and willing to sacrifice herself in order to do so is certainly a surprising way to reinforce this.

This episode does help to push the story along and just like the first few seasons, the main crux of the drama here stems from trying to get Hannah out of Gilead. But we know she’s a girl of the system now and was afraid of June before so why would now be any different? We’ll have to wait and see as everything is left on a precarious knife edge.

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


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