In the penultimate episode of The Handmaid’s Tale season 5, the American government officially launches the raid of the wife school. Meanwhile, the friction between Serena and Mrs. Wheeler intensifies, and Commander Lawrence enacts a new plan.
Warning: Spoilers beyond this point.
The Home Stretch
The episode begins as Tuello leads June and Luke through a hangar and walks them through the raid of the wife school, where 30 girls would be saved. He introduces them to a military commander named Elijah Vance, who offers reassurance by way of telling them about his daughter, Emma. Tuello tells June and Luke that he’ll be watching it happen live and will keep them updated. However, June wants to be there, and after reminding Tuello this is happening because of her intel, he says he’ll do what he can to make that happen.
It does, and Tuello brings them to the consulate. The scene switches back and forth between June watching the screens and Hannah at her school as she and the other girls get ready for bed. In a small but powerful act, she quietly pulls out a drawing and writes her name. Back at the consulate, something goes wrong and Tuello has June and Luke removed. Minutes later, he tells them that the girls are safe but still at the school. They had wrong intel and Gilead anticipated the attack, taking the planes down. There were no survivors.
F New Bethlehem
Lawrence calls June and offers half-hearted condolences about the raid before immediately expressing “oh well” sentiments and angering June. He still offers her New Bethlehem and Hannah, but if she wants to, she must go public and condemn the raid, which she absolutely won’t do. She’s angry because he knows better, but he claims he’s trying to fix Giliead from within. He attempts to sweeten the offer by telling her she could be closer to Nick. This makes things worse, and June uses Eleanor’s death against him. It mostly works, but Lawrence says that Eleanor would have wanted him to keep helping. June just wants Hannah with her, in Toronto. When Lawrence says that will never happen, June hangs up on him.
June goes to see Tuello and tells him that Lawrence called, and she’s done with him and Gilead; instead, they need to keep fighting. Tuello brings up Nick and tells her about the offer he made that Nick declined. He thinks June could sway him because Nick defecting would make a major impact. Tuello adds that if June used her power, she could make an impact, too. She isn’t ready for that yet, but she agrees for Tuello to set up a meeting with Nick.
June and Nick meet, and both think the other should have accepted their respective offers. June adds that Nick could bring Rose with him, eventually leading to him revealing she’s pregnant. June is speechless (but doesn’t seem too upset), so Nick fills the silence and says that he and Lawrence are making Gilead better. He’s doing whatever it takes to protect his family, just like June, who wants what’s best for both of them. After a softer moment, Nick says they can’t see each other lest Nick get into trouble. He asks June to relay a message to Nichole before telling June he loves her. She reciprocates, and as he leaves, she tells him to be an example for his child.
Not a Handmaid
Mrs. Wheeler has a photographer take photos of Serena and Noah for the fertility center that’s having its opening soon. Serena thinks she and Noah should be there in person, but Mrs. Wheeler isn’t having it. When Serena goes to feed Noah, Mrs. Wheeler is annoyed that Serena isn’t pumping and says she needs to, and Serena agrees. That night, Serena talks to Mr. Wheeler about the opening. She explains how the fertility center was her idea and says he’ll think about it. The answer turns out to be yes, which infuriates Mrs. Wheeler.
At the center, Serena talks with a group of women about Noah. After, Mrs. Wheeler tells Serena to go home and leave Noah with them. Serena wants to nurse before leaving, and one of the Wheelers’ staff leads Serena to an empty back room. After a few moments of indecision, Serena runs out of the emergency exit, flags down a car, and is gone.
An Indecent Proposal
In Gilead, Mrs. Putnam meets with Aunt Lydia and Lawrence at his house. They mention how Mrs. Putnam is now widowed and a single mother and thus can’t live in her current house. As Lawrence is floundering horribly, his point is initially lost until he says that Mrs. Putnam can live with him. As his wife. This is a very bad marriage proposal. Lawrence mentions it can be beneficial to both of them and eventually excuses himself. Mrs. Putnam is shocked, as Lawrence had Commander Putnam killed. Aunt Lydia more eloquently makes a case for it.
Later, a small group of wives, including Rose, and their husbands arrive at Lawrence’s. The wives fawn over Rose while the commanders discuss the raid in another room. One mentions June and needing to get rid of her, and Lawrence mostly dodges the remark. They rejoin the women as the same commander says he’s impressed by Lawrence’s recent actions. And it would seem Mrs. Putnam is now (or soon to be) Mrs. Lawrence.
Tuello leads a candlelight vigil for the fallen American troops as Canadians protest from the street. He invites Emma up to the small memorial set up to lead the Pledge of Allegiance. Emma struggles with it, so June goes to help her, and soon all the Americans are saying it. Moments later, shots are fired. June grabs Emma and hits the ground, dodging a few bullets just before they hit her.