Spoilers

The Handmaid’s Tale Season 5 Episode 3 Review: Border

There’s a lot more fighting to come!

June got a little of her mojo back on The Handmaid’s Tale Season 5 Episode 3, and Serena discovered she doesn’t have the pull she thought she had.

The wicked dance between them is simmering and will be the catalyst for wherever the show takes us through its finish.

Every since June left Gilead, she’s been made to feel like her behavior is problematic. Moira has been downright annoying as she blames June for not letting go of the misery she experienced in Gilead.

But that jumbotron stunt lit a little fire under Moira’s ass. She couldn’t stand back and say everything would be OK. Well, for a little while, at least.

It turns out that Moira’s not as acclimated as she’s let on.

June: Nick was there. I can talk to him. I need to talk with him.
Luke: We can’t get in contact with him without Tuello’s office.
Moira: There is a group at the border. Women. Not like official, but, um, I heard they’ve been having some luck getting messages to people inside.
June: What? When the fuck were you going to tell me that?
Moira: I wasn’t going to tell you that because I think they’re basically suicidal. They’re a bunch of fuckin’ traumatized refugees, and they’re the last people you need to be around right now.
June: Well, you don’t get to decide that.
Moira: Fine. I’ll ask them to meet. For Hannah. Just me and you. No men allowed.

She’s still got her finger on the pulse of the border activities, and when June needed to contact Nick, they hit a border Mayday operation run by one of the women June got in trade for Waterford.

Since she’s left Gilead, June has been made to feel problematic, almost unclean, with her desires to upend the Gilead system and free Hannah.

June’s heroic actions are focused almost entirely on that goal, as if pulling focus will set her on an even more dangerous path. It’s a lot easier to want justice for one person than to expect you can make a difference for many.

Lily: I’m one of the women you traded for Waterford.
June: Sorry I didn’t do it sooner.
Lily: I don’t know how you managed it, getting us out. All those kids.
June: I was lucky.
Lily: Women always say that when they’ve done something extraordinary.

Lily wasn’t going to let June downplay her accomplishments. When June gets going, she does good for many, even if she claims her singular focus is Hannah. If that’s what gets her through the day, that’s OK.

From what I’ve gleaned from interviews, The Handmaid’s Tale Season 5 continues this balancing act between them, the intricate dance between not two but four women — June, Serena, Offred, and Mrs. Waterford.

That became a little clearer with “Border.” June cannot just push everything to the side and pretend it didn’t and still affects her so deeply.

By the same token, Serena no longer fits in Gilead, and she’s going to be taking her faith on the road, which is going to be a massive undertaking, and one we’d expect June will be interfering with at every possible chance.

It’s also interesting to watch how other characters in and out of Gilead react to this tete-a-tete between June and Serena.

US envoy Mark wants to see both women free of Gilead, but he’s not sure how to express it or make that desire impactful action.

Nick is torn by his love for June even as he’s newly married to Rose, who he admires.

Commander Lawrence: I have no plans to remarry.
Commander MacKenzie: Well, we’ll have to discuss that later, as well. A single man has no place in leadership.

Commander Lawrence is in as awkward a position as Serena. She’s an unmarried pregnant woman with a huge June Osborne problem that the commanders want to keep as far away from Gilead as possible.

Commander Lawrence is an unmarried man who, as Commander MacKenzie puts it, has no place in leadership without a wife.

Serena thought she could use that to her advantage, but speaking highly of Joseph’s late wife and allowing him to appreciate the life growing inside her didn’t do the trick. They will not be getting married, even if it seems like a way out for both of them.

Serena: Eleanor was quite the presence. The house must feel very empty without her.
Commander Lawrence: It does.
Serena: I always liked her.
Commander Lawrence: I can’t say she felt the same, sorry to say.

Commander Lawrence is still in love with his wife and would rather take his chances than get entangled with Serena. Serena, though, has been banished from Gilead, and that’s got to sting a lot.

Serena was the founding mother of Gilead, if you will, but for all their hoopla about mothers and mothering, the Gilead system doesn’t care much about them other than how they can service leadership.

It’s gross and embarrassing that the grooming she underwent and participated in keeps Serena from seeing how disastrous her creation is for women.

You’re an unusual woman, Serena, and we don’t have the proper infrastructure for unusual women to live within our borders.

Commander Lawrence

She came so close so many times, and I’m sure that this new challenge in life will give her pause, but with all she’s invested in bringing Gilead to life, it’s unlikely she’ll ever fully eradicate those beliefs if she manages to explore life living outside of it as she should.

June isn’t going to make Serena’s new mission any easier. I was sure that when Serena encountered the latest candlelight vigil, she would discover June with her nostrils flared, brightly lighting her face to terrify Serena.

Close enough, as June used an increased wattage to get through to Serena with her message never to touch Hannah again. When it comes to Hannah, Serena isn’t the one June needs to worry about.

With Hanna’s youth disappearing (in Gilead terms, anyway), she’s being groomed to become a commander’s wife. Granted, it’s better than what other women encounter there, but it’s still a life controlled by men and lived in relative misery, creatively, intellectually, and emotionally.

Some women within Gilead’s walls are questioning their ways.

Mrs. Putnam is torn between her duties as a commander’s wife and being grateful for Janine, who gave up her child for her. So much so that Mrs. Putnam promised that if Janine died, Angela would grow up knowing she’s got Janine’s smile and sweet nature.

That says a lot because there aren’t many people in Gilead who are eager to admit that without their handmaids, they’d have no family.

In a stunning surprise, Janine and Esther both survived Esther’s shenanigans, but Aunt Lydia was grappling with the wrath of God for her behavior.

It’s natural for people to believe God is punishing them for their misdeeds, but it’s very intriguing that Aunt Lydia sees that her training may be going above and beyond what’s necessary to get these girls groomed for their lives as handmaids.

First of all, God is the basis for everything in Gilead. He’s not a God I recognize, but if they didn’t believe at their core God requested that they create their society, I think it would crumble.

It’s hard not to wonder if Aunt Lydia’s reaction to Janine’s near-death experience is one of the first stones to drop from that wall, however small. She, Mrs. Putnam, Commander Lawrence, and Nick are all pulling stones from the wall, threatening its very foundation.

You could see the wheels turning in Aunt Lydia’s mind when she saw Janine had awoken. She was both happy and seemed a little frightened that she’d just made a promise to God that she would now have to fulfill. She’s played with God’s will in the past and felt she came up lacking. I wonder what she’ll do now.

How are you viewing this season so far?

Will Serena successfully carry the seeds of her creation outside of Gilead?

Where is America in all of this? Why is Mark a special envoy? Don’t they care that half of their citizens are in this fucked up world, fighting for their lives?

Will June continue to see Serena as her major threat, or will she consider leaving her in Canada to take her wrath and mother’s need to protect her child to the source of her pain with Hannah?

The Handmaid’s Tale sure makes you think.

So, what are you thinking?

Carissa Pavlica is the managing editor and a staff writer and critic for TV Fanatic. She’s a member of the Critic’s Choice Association, enjoys mentoring writers, conversing with cats, and passionately discussing the nuances of television and film with anyone who will listen. Follow her on Twitter and email her here at TV Fanatic.

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