‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ Recap: The Biggest Takeaways From Season 5, Episode 8 “Motherland”


This week on The Handmaid’s Tale, June is primarily focused on getting Hannah back as Commander Lawrence reveals the basics of his New Bethlehem plan. Meanwhile, Serena faces a major decision with the Wheelers and Noah.

Warning: Spoilers beyond this point.

Chance of Reunion

June, Luke, and Moira scrub graffiti off the sidewalk from Canadians who want Americans to “go home.” After being heckled some more, Luke thinks they could leave Canada. Cue Lawrence calling June. They meet up and June is anxious for news on Hannah. Instead, Lawrence waxes on about the success of Gilead and how it allows them to ease up. June thinks he can get Hannah out, but he tells her about New Bethlehem and how he can get Hannah there. June seems ready to say yes but wants to know how she’d stay safe. Lawrence says that Nick is on board and tells June to think about it.

But what is New Bethlehem? A bit earlier, Lawrence and Nick show the other commanders. It’s a settlement within Gilead’s borders that would allow those who left to return with full amnesty and more freedoms. The other commanders are wary about the message it sends, but Lawrence thinks it will help boost Gilead’s image, something Putnam didn’t do, and Lawrence plans to talk with families in Toronto. Eventually, the other commanders are a bit more willing to consider.

Back in Toronto, June has told Luke about the offer. He is extremely opposed to the idea, but June tries to use the Hannah argument. It doesn’t work, as Luke believes Lawrence cannot be trusted. June explains all the ways Lawrence has helped in the past, but to no avail. Luke would rather get Hannah out than go back in. When June gets more frustrated, Luke thinks her emotions are clouding her judgment and he just wants to protect her. June doesn’t need it, but Hannah does.

The next morning, Tuello arrives and tells them that Lawrence has been talking with others. He thinks that if June agrees then others will follow. He doesn’t want her to, as it undermines America, but June doesn’t care; she only wants Hannah. She asks for info that Tuello won’t give, except that the American government is planning some sort of military action. He wants June to trust him, but June points out that he’s offering nothing while Lawrence is offering Hannah.

Sophie Giraud/Hulu

To Baby or Not to Baby

Meanwhile with Serena, she’s at the detention center and we learn it’s been a month since the previous episode. Mrs. Wheeler goes to collect breast milk for Noah, as the Wheelers are fostering him. Serena makes something resembling an apology before asking about Noah, talking as if she’ll get him back. Mrs. Wheeler doesn’t think it’d be such a good idea. He’s brought chaos that would set Serena back, including how the cry it out method isn’t working. At this, Serena disagrees with the method which causes a small argument about her “mental toughness.” Mrs. Wheeler ends the conversation by reminding Serena that she’s the one locked up. When Lawrence goes to see Serena, he tells her she will go back to the Wheelers’ and reminds Serena that they have legal status; if she wants to be with Noah, this her only option.

Junes visits Serena next. Serena says she needs an advocate or a lawyer and is surprised when June says no; she took June saving her life as forgiveness. Serena doesn’t know how she’s supposed to live with the Wheelers. June balks at the irony Serena ignores but humors her anyway. She tells Serena to act like a handmaid but plot her revenge the entire time. When June leaves, Serena asks what June would do. June says she would go back because that’s the only way to help the baby.

So, Serena goes back. She apologizes for what happened and thanks the Wheelers for allowing her to nurse Noah. Mrs. Wheeler emphasizes that’s all Serena will be doing while the rest of the motherhood duties will fall on Mrs. Wheeler. Serena is dismissed. When she hears Noah crying, she rushes upstairs to see him and feed him.

A Step in the Right Direction

June goes to see Lawrence, who wants to know how he can get Luke on board. June mentions they don’t have any solid proof of life on Hannah. She also wants Lawrence to stop Hannah from becoming a child bride. But he can’t promise that. June gets angry and reminds him about the pain he’s caused. He knows and would take it back if he could; he just wanted to save humanity. He adds that New Bethlehem his way to fix things and 5-10 years down the road, Gilead could be better. He just needs June’s help to do it.

Sophie Giraud/Hulu

Later, June gets a package. It’s a disc with video footage of Hannah at the wife school. June is desperate to go get her, but Luke remains paranoid and not on board. He’s afraid June won’t return, so she tells him they can all go. Luke doesn’t want to, so June is fully willing to go alone. She’s wracked with guilt for abandoning Hannah and needs to get her out. When Moira watches the video, she thinks there could be metadata that could give them Hannah’s location. They show Tuello who seems cautiously optimistic and says the American government will do what they can to find Hannah and keep June in Canada.

Days later, someone calls but it’s Rita asking for news that hasn’t come yet. June gets antsy and heads to the corner store. While she’s shopping, Tuello calls her and says they found Hannah and have a plan to rescue her. June runs home to tell Luke and Moira, revealing that said plan is a raid. As the episode ends, we see Hannah look up at the sky, followed by the sound of planes.

Another Tempting Offer

A bit earlier in the episode, Lawrence is back in New Bethlehem with Nick talking about some of his plans for reforms moving forward. Nick asks about June, and Lawrence is confident that she and Nichole will end up in New Bethlehem. He shows Nick a house where he and Rose could live and adds that he’ll need someone he trusts there. Lawrence also uses the kids argument, saying that New Bethlehem would be a chance for Nick to be with both his kids, as well as Rose AND June. Nick doesn’t respond but seems to be thinking it over.

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.

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

Leave a Reply


Related articles

‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ Recap: The Biggest Takeaways From Season 5, Episode 10 “Safe”

In the season 5 finale of The Handmaid’s Tale, June finds herself in even greater danger and limited...

‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ Recap: The Biggest Takeaways From Season 5, Episode 9 “Allegiance”

In the penultimate episode of The Handmaid’s Tale season 5, the American government officially launches the raid of...

‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ Recap: The Biggest Takeaways From Season 5, Episode 7 “No Man’s Land”

This week on The Handmaid’s Tale, Serena is finally having her baby. The circumstances are less than ideal,...

‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ Recap: The Biggest Takeaways From Season 5, Episode 6 “Together”

This week on The Handmaid’s Tale, we learn what happened to June and Luke after they were abducted...