Episode 4 of The Handmaid’s Tale Season 5 starts with June in the park with Nichole. Unfortunately, one of Selena’s followers shows up and immediately berates her, claiming she doesn’t deserve to have the child. June is supported by Luke for her actions as she snaps, attending therapy together.
Meanwhile, Mark releases Serena from custody of the US government, rejecting his claim to reconsider. She’ll officially be restricted to Gilead now and even has her own driver in Mr Shaw too. Mark warns her to be careful and sees her off.
Mark shows up to see June and the others. He’s there to give the official word that Serena has been released from custody and that she’ll be part of Gilead, with an embassy (called a “Cultural center”) to represent Gilead’s values and way of life built right there in Canada. The images of Serena at the funeral were very successful across the word.
June and Luke are both livid, determined to oust Serena and this infection of Gilead that’s spreading beyond their borders. While Luke is determined to get the whole city involved, June is surprisingly calm. That night, she heads out and digs up her handgun but it’s frozen and the chambers don’t seem to be budging. However, she does notice Serena watching out of her window and stares her down.
June is understandably angry, while Serena is rattled by her appearance. When June heads home, Luke goes over the different scenarios and exactly what would play out if she actually kills Serena. As you might have guessed, none of these predictions are likely to end particularly well.
Back in the hospital, Lydia attempts to helps Janine but the latter is not happy. She points out how the girls are corrupted by Lydia, not helped like she believes.
June receives a letter from Serena, reading “Offred” and inviting her along to the opening of the Gilead center. This is, of course, all a ploy to rile up June. And it works.
June is angry and decides the only way out is to make sure everyone is Gilead “is put in the ground.” Moira is quick to follow her and point out that they need to play by the rules. “She’s not worth losing your family over.” Moira pleads. As for June, she’s concerned that this could be the new norm for her, which obviously frightens the woman.
Luke shows up at the Gilead Center to see Serena. He has 15 different violations for the building that could get them shut down… and he’s also happy for June to kill her. The alternative here is to get Hannah back. But of course, that final point is completely off the table. Instead, Serena uses Luke’s emotions against him, questioning why he didn’t come save June while she was in Gilead all that time.
Lydia shows up to see Commander Lawrence and suggests a reform for the girls. In this new world order, Lydia would be in charge of all the girls herself, and Commanders with their wives would show up once a month when it’s time for the ceremony.
Lawrence outright rejects that idea though and tells her that no reform will be coming. So instead, Lydia heads back to help out Janine. In the car, Lydia apologizes and asks for help with the girls. She wants Janine to watch over them and feed back when they’re struggling. She’s determined to turn over a new leaf with more compassion.
Meanwhile, a commotion outside the Gilead Center ensues. The two groups end up coming to blows, prompting June to hold a gun up to one of the guys who smacks Moira. Luke thankfully stops June from firing but as they head round the back, they step right into Serena’s path. June hesitates, deciding not to shoot her enemy, and for now Serena is in the clear. Because of course she is.
Luke manages to get the building shut down, while he and June bond over the idea of killing Serena. As a result, the pair end up on the same wavelength, finally, and passionately make love.
The Episode Review
As we fast approach the halfway point of this season, it’s becoming increasingly clear that Serena is a master manipulator when it comes to messing with June. Her note to June is very clearly a ploy to get her to lash out and further the Gilead cause.
The story has been pretty slow so far, and as I said in last week’s recap, the best part of this story actually happens to be Lydia, who appears to be turning a new leaf. This part of the story is starting to lead up to the events in Margaret Atwood’s sequel, The Testaments, which shifts the focus across to her. Given we have one more season before that’s adapted, it makes sense for the creators to begin that character arc early.
With Luke now full of the same rage that June has too, everything looks set to spiral into a messy second half of this dystopian drama. Will Serena meet her reckoning? We’ll have to wait and see.