‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ Recap: Season 4, Episode 5 “Chicago”

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In this week’s episode, Janine begins to settle into the camp in Chicago, but June is itching to jump into action. Meanwhile, Lawrence and Nick continue their plan to find June, and both have a few tricks up their sleeves. Read on to find out what happened in “Chicago.”

The episode begins as June flashes back to her and Luke having sex, returning to the present time where she can hear Janine and Steven doing the same. Shortly after, they hear gunfire and explosions. June gets up to go investigate. When she finds a window, she sees a city on fire.

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June washes the handmaid cloaks, observing everyone around her. She sees a woman sorting food and asks about it. The woman tells her it’s getting traded for other supplies, and June expresses interest in helping, but the woman says that’s Steven’s call. June goes to find him and spots him teaching Janine how to shoot a gun. She tells him she wants to go to the trade, but he says no. Janine vouches for June, and Steven, reluctantly, changes his mind, so long as June understands she needs to listen to him.

At a center for the aunts, Aunt Lydia, looking much better than when we last saw her, walks on a treadmill watching a few other aunts work with new handmaids from the window. Aunt Ruth goes over to her to discuss her recovery. Aunt Lydia is ready to be reinstated, but Aunt Ruth tells her the handmaids are no longer her concern; Aunt Lydia doesn’t see it that way. Aunt Ruth sternly reminds Aunt Lydia she needs to rest, not giving any indication she’ll be reinstated soon. After Aunt Ruth leaves, a now agitated Aunt Lydia returns to her workout.

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Lawrence speaks to the council (which includes Nick), and they ask him if the escaped handmaids have been recaptured. He says they haven’t and moves on, suggesting a temporary ceasefire in some areas so that Gilead can receive international aid and a small boost to their economy. The council, however, doesn’t agree, thinking Lawrence just wants to help terrorists. Nick interjects with a line of support, but once the council puts it to a vote, they all – Nick included – vote against Lawrence’s proposal. On their way out, Lawrence tells Nick he’s trying to help find June, but Nick isn’t convinced June is at the border.

June, Janine, Steven, and a few others leave for the trading center. June asks when she’ll get her own gun, and Steven says she will when she earns it. June falls back to walk with Janine, annoyed. They spot a couple of dead soldiers, burned to death thanks to a group called the Nighthawks. Another group member who went ahead signals for them to take cover, and they duck into a destroyed pizzeria, just barely avoiding being spotted by soldiers. June tries to signal to Steven to shoot them, but he won’t. When they’re in the clear, she asks why, and he tells her it’s not worth it.

When the group arrives at the trading center, June begins setting up their table. Janine goes to talk with her but gets excited when she spots a Cubs hat she wants to get for Steven. This prompts a look of disapproval from June, who says she doesn’t want him to take advantage of Janine, and Janine tries to emphasize he’s not. She tries to trade one of the handmaids’ cloaks for the hat with no success. Seeing her disappointment, June offers a second one. Thrilled, Janine gets the hat and thinks this could help June get on Steven’s good side.

Aunt Lydia goes to talk with Lawrence. She reveals that she has witnesses who can confirm he was involved in Commander Winslow’s disappearance, as well as testify to his abuse of power and working in cahoots with June. However, if Lawrence reinstates her, she won’t share any of this info. Lawrence asks her about information she has on another commander, but she refuses to say anything. He agrees to reinstate her if she helps him reclaim his seat on the council. They finally reach an agreement when Aunt Lydia adds that she’ll help if June is returned to her to be punished.

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June and Janine talk, and June shares that she wants to find the Nighthawks. Janine, however, wants to stay, mentioning how both of them can be mothers again. June hits back by telling Janine she sounds like Aunt Lydia, and Janine says the same about June. The argument turns to Steven, with June not at all on board about his and Janine’s relationship, but Janine fires back using Brianna and Alma. June ends the argument by saying that Janine can come with her or stay, but regardless of her decision, June’s going.

Nick meets with two marthas, assuring them he’s not there for business, he’s there to gain intel on June’s whereabouts. One martha is vehemently opposed to helping June in any capacity, reminding Nick that almost everyone who’s helped her has ended up on the Wall. He says he cares about her and just wants info. The first martha says he’s better off without her, but the second one tells him about two handmaids that were spotted in Chicago.

As June prepares to leave the group, Janine finds her and says that she’s going to stay. They begin to say their farewells, June attempting not to show much emotion. Before she heads out, Janine gives her the Cubs hat as something to remember her by. They hug, and June reminds Janine to take care of herself before leaving.

Aunt Lydia has finally been reinstated and is now part of the group working with the new handmaids. She is clearly in her element as she tells the handmaids about the men who will try to corrupt them and that she will always be there for them. She also reminds them of their bond with each other.

June walks through the eerily quiet city. She hears noises behind her but can’t see the source. She takes cover under a car, and a person walks to where she is. It’s Janine, who decided to go after all, because she feels safe with June.

“Handmaids always walk in twos, remember?”

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Lawrence and Nick head to a council meeting, where Lawrence has been reinstated. Nick tells Lawrence that he will help him after all because he does think June is in Chicago now. When they reach the meeting, Nick wants to revisit the ceasefire, and to his surprise, the others agree on a 24-hour ceasefire … but there’s a catch: just before the deadline is up, Nick will coordinate a bombing of the city. He tries to push back, bringing up potential civilian and soldier casualties, but to no avail.  

June and Janine continue walking and reach the soldiers’ base, sans soldiers. Janine finds food and excitedly tells June. But June senses that something is off. She spots two planes that are far away but closing in quick and realizes too late that they need to run. The bombs drop, and June and Janine are caught in the explosion.

June begins to stir and sits up, calling out for Janine. She begins to walk towards where she thinks she spotted Janine, continuing to call her name. Instead, June notices another person walking towards her through the rubble. Moira.

Episode 6 of The Handmaid’s Tale will release next Wednesday on Hulu. Find our recaps for episodes 1-4 here.

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By Julia
Julia is a writer/editor/content assistant for Nerds who joined the team in 2019.
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