The Handmaid’s Tale Recap: A Desperate Breakup, A Deadly Mistake

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If you watched The Handmaid’s Tale from the beginning and let yourself still hope Hannah’s planned reunion with her parents in this week’s episode, a) you’re in good company, and b) we really should have known better, right?

At least the tension-filled hour goes potentially well for one person: Serena Joy Waterford, who enjoys a way out and a friendly nanny and takes a break for freedom.

Read on for highlights from “Allegiance” directed by Bradley Whitford. (And click here for our conversation with Whitford about this week’s episode.)

OPERATION: GET HANNAH | Prior to the rescue mission, Mark Tuello escorts June and Luke to an airplane hangar and briefs them on what will happen. Hannah is in a school in Colorado Springs, Colorado; that evening, three planes will fly over Gilead, literally under the radar, and paratroopers will land and pick up the girl. “They’ll kill anyone who gets in their way,” Tuello assures June and Luke, just before he introduces them to the commander leading the mission. June calmly warns him that the girls will be terrified, and he promises her that he understands: he has a young girl, a well. “My plan is to take your daughter home and come home with mine,” he said confidently. Although families are generally not allowed to watch the mission live stream, June demands that Tuello let her and Luke stay in the control room while everything unfolds, as a thank you for providing the information that made the move possible. He yields.

Just before everything is set in motion, we catch a glimpse of Hannah and her fellow Wife School friends getting ready for bed. When she’s sure the aunt taking care of it isn’t looking, Hannah pulls out a picture book. it looks like it’s drawn on the last pages. Surreptitiously, she signs her name in capitals – I guess because that’s all she learned before she was kidnapped in Gilead, where women are forbidden to read or write. Ah, banana! June would be so proud!

the-handmaids-tale-recap-season-5-episode-9-Unfortunately, this is the last joy for a while. Back at base, as June and Luke watch, the plane icons on the map suddenly turn red and stop transmitting information. Hannah’s people are hustled down the hall, where a crushed Tuello later finds them to tell them that the girls are safe, though they are still in school, and the information was wrong: Gilead anticipated the mission and shot down the three planes as soon as they crossed the border and there were no survivors. June and Luke are drained.

“ELEANOR HATED YOU” | The next morning, June uses the burner to call Commander Lawrence, who apologizes but explains that the attack was justified, as “they invaded my country”. Once again, he dangles New Bethlehem, but adds that he’s going to need her to go public and say the mission was a “senseless act of aggression” by the United States. She angrily refuses. “I can’t make Gilead look like the victim here, Joseph. It’s a fucking evil country! she’s crying. He says he’s trying to fix it from the inside and he’s doing what he can to honor a promise made to his deceased wife.And that?brakes our June out of his mind.

“Eleanor HATES you,” she growls into the phone. “She couldn’t bear to see you. After pointing out how ashamed the late Mrs. Lawrence was of Joseph, June makes sure Joseph is crystal clear on one thing: “I watched her die…and I didn’t do anything. NOTHING.” He admits he suspected it, but still — he cries, his speech is interrupted. affecting him. “But Eleanor would still like me to help you with Hannah,” he said. June resorts to crying and begging that he hand over Hannah so she can live with June and Luke in Canada. “That’ll never happen,” he says, so she tells him out loud what he can do with himself, then throws the phone away and starts destroying the garden at the side of the house in her fury. Luke comes out and wraps his arms around her, repeating that everything will be fine, as June says in a broken voice, “Let me go. Please let me go.”

The call cements a fact: “I’m so sick of this son of a bitch,” June tells Tuello re: Lawrence. He wonders if she’s done with Nick too; she is surprised to learn that he refused immunity in exchange for being America’s inside man at Gilead. But the offer is still on the table, so if June wants to “use your power,” Tuello says, that would be a great way to do it. She thinks for a minute, then asks him to arrange a meeting with Nichole’s father.

the-handmaids-tale-recap-season-5-episode-9COMMANDERS PERFORMING MOVEMENTS | You know how bittersweet all of Nick and June’s dates are? Well this one, which takes place in the middle of nowhere, is EXTRA like that. He says he would have liked her to agree to move to New Bethlehem. She is taken aback by the news that Rose is pregnant. “Gilead is changing. There is progress under Lawrence. We are improving it,” he says. ” ‘We ?’ she replies, incredulous. They realize that it’s going to be even more difficult to see each other now, they exchange “I love you”, then he leaves without kissing her. “Hey Nick? she says as he turns to leave. “Kids look up to their dads, you know? Set an example.” After he leaves, she exhales and cries a little.

Back in Gilead, while some wives are gathering for what I think is Rose’s baby shower, the men are gathering in the office. They compliment each other on China, Russia and North Korea’s affinity for Gilead and its tactics, then Commander MacKenzie brings up June and notes that it’s time to “fix this”… which will become important later.

the-handmaids-tale-recap-season-5-episode-9-Oh, and when Lawrence puts his hand on Naomi’s shoulder at the end? He is not what passes for cheeky in Gilead: they are engaged! As we see earlier in the hour, Aunt Lydia oversees a proposal for the two crazy children – and even though Lawrence has literally had her ex-husband killed in front of her, Naomi is so fearful of being sent to the colonies that she accepts – although she really chooses? — to become the new Mrs. Joseph Lawrence. For what it’s worth, neither side seems excited about it.

SHOTS FIRE! | Back in Canada, Tuello reads the names of the dead at a vigil for the victims of the failed mission. But it’s hard to hear it over the anti-refugee protesters who rang the rally. The mission commander’s granddaughter steps forward to recite the oath of allegiance; when she falters, June steps in to help her. They are almost at the end of the oath when someone shoots them. We watch in slow motion as June dives down on the girl to protect her, the bullets ripping through the flag hanging behind them.

WATCH HER GO! | Meanwhile, at the Wheelers’ home, Agnes oversees a photoshoot of Serena and Noah but closes the new mother’s request to attend the opening of the fertility center with the baby in tow. When Serena claims that Gilead commanders sent her to Toronto as an ambassador for the fledgling country, Alanis replies that she and her husband don’t answer to commanders. Interesting – and scary – to think about the potential for rogue factions, right?

Mrs. Wheeler truly revels in her power as she asks Serena to pump instead of breastfeed Noah when it’s time for him to eat, then she calls the baby “my smart boy”. You almost see the thought process as Serena almost punches her, then remembers what June said about her revenge, then nods. And that night, she approaches Ryan Wheeler in her office to introduce her presence at the opening of the center, a decision that works.

The next morning, however, Alanis is so livid that she slaps Serena twice in front of their horrified nanny. “Keep away from my husband”, threatens the young woman. “Who do you think you are?” Serena finished playing nice. “I am Mrs. Frederick Waterford,” she said softly but chillingly. “To me,” Alanis retorts, “you’re just a whore.” Then they all get in the car because I’m sure it’s a super fun ride.

Serena, with Noah in her arms, holds court at center until the Wheelers decide enough is enough and it’s time for her to go home. She is disappointed but asks to breastfeed her son first, and since there is no bottle in the baby bag, they reluctantly agree. So the nanny—who you probably realize is the real heroine of this interlude—brings Serena to a side room, puts the bag back on, and gives the mommy some privacy…to walk out the way. exit door. She literally jumps into traffic, stopping a woman and asking her to “Please help me save my son.” The reader accepts and off we go!

Now it’s your turn. What did you think of the episode? And are you ready for the final next week? Sound off in the comments!

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