‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ Recap: The Biggest Takeaways From Season 5, Episode 3 “Border”

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This week on The Handmaid’s Tale, June and Moira enlist the help of some other women to try and gain more intel on Hannah. Meanwhile in Gilead, Janine and Esther are now hospitalized, and Serena seems to have another card up her sleeve.

Warning: Spoilers beyond this point.


June and Luke are back home, and June is fixated on the color of Hannah’s clothes (purple). Neither she nor Moira knows what it means, though. June thinks Nick will, but Luke isn’t sure they can get in touch with him. So, Moira mentions a group of women at the border who can get messages in and out of Gilead. The two go meet with one, Lily, who can help. She was also one of the women freed from Gilead during the prisoner exchange.

Lily brings June and Moira to an outpost where they can call Nick. Since they’re using sat phones, it’s going to take some time. Inside a cabin are photos of people saved and lost across the wall, leading the conversation into Mayday. Lily explains the operation is outposts, families, and individuals who wanted to help. June is surprised, as she thought she and the others had made it up.

Life Support

Aunt Lydia is at the hospital, where she first goes to see a currently comatose Esther, and her rage briefly takes over. Then, she goes to visit Janine. This time, she breaks down and pleads with her god not to punish Janine for the mistakes Aunt Lydia has made. Later, Mrs. Putnam arrives with Angela. Aunt Lydia thinks that since Janine once helped Angela, then Angela can do the same. And it seems to work when Janine eventually wakes up and shows signs of improvement.

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Worst Dinner Ever

Elsewhere in Gilead, Serena has dinner at Lawrence’s house, where the MacKenzies (sans “Agnes”) are also present. Commander MacKenzie knows what happened with Fred, though Lawrence has led them to believe it was the Americans’ doing. Nick and his wife, Rose, arrive shortly after. As dinner is underway, the group talks about the success of the funeral, which Lawrence uses as a segue into business. Commander MacKenzie shuts him down quickly (but politely). Things get a little dicey when Lawrence’s marital status comes into play, and Commander MacKenzie tells him a single man has no place in leadership. He then turns the conversation to June and what to do with her. Lawrence gives little away, but Nick and Serena look visibly uncomfortable.

Afterward, Nick and Tuello talk about June and their potential deal, but Nick declines for the time being. Meanwhile, Serena and Lawrence talk about Eleanor, then Fred. Serena thinks it’s a good thing Fred isn’t around to raise the baby, leading into how Commander MacKenzie was right about an unmarried man and that marriage brings power. She seems to be suggesting exactly what we’re all thinking, but the conversation shifts when the baby begins to kick.

Serena and Tuello arrive back at the hotel. Serena reveals that she plans to stay in Gilead, but Tuello doesn’t think it’s a good idea, especially as she’s unmarried. Though she’s still grieving Fred (or so she claims), Serena implies that she won’t be unmarried for long.

Serena’s New Job

The next day before a council meeting, Lawrence wonders if Serena has expectations for him, but she denies it. The meeting begins, and Commander MacKenzie wants to make Serena an ambassador of sorts, which also means she will be going back to Toronto. She isn’t fully on board until Lawrence says something. After demanding a staff, a budget, and protection, Serena seems to agree.

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The Return

June gets in touch with Nick. He assures her that Hannah is safe, then tells her that purple means Hannah is going to school where she will be trained to be a wife. However, there are no plans for her beyond that. June asks him to transfer to Hannah’s district to keep an eye on her, but he can’t. He tells June about Rose, and June, in turn, tells him about Nichole. He urges her to stay safe, and before hanging up, June echoes his sentiment from last season, telling him to try and be happy.

The next day, June is at a loss. Moira offers reassurance before gathering their stuff. Lily comes in and tells June that Serena is back. Elsewhere in Toronto, Serena is driven to her second detention center (still with a group of supporters). However, the path gets blocked by another car. While hers is unmoving, June appears at her window, telling Serena to never touch her daughter again. Serena tells the driver to back up and drive off as June watches them and Serena is shaken.

New episodes of The Handmaid’s Tale release every Wednesday. Find our season 5 review here and keep up with the rest of our coverage 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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