The Handmaid’s Tale S5E3: “Border” — June Is On a Mission

Mark and Serena stand facing each other
(Photo by: Sophie Giraud/Hulu)

The following contains spoilers to The Handmaid’s Tale S5E3, “Border”

The Handmaid’s Tale S5E3 (“Border”) has a more intense vibe to it than the first two episodes of Season 5. There is more prolonged tension and less immediate action. The pace has continued at a rate of knots and we now find ourselves in the midst of Hannah’s parents desperately trying to fight for her return.

June (Elisabeth Moss) is enraged by Serena’s (Yvonne Strahovski) use of Hannah (Jordana Blake) in her husband’s funeral, and Luke (O.T Fagbenle) is beginning to feel fired up like June. Hannah was taken from them right back at the beginning of Gilead, and June has seen her just a few brief times since. Not only do they miss her very much, but no doubt they are also alarmed by how settled she must be in her new life now.

It is in this episode that they realise that Hannah was wearing purple at Fred’s funeral because she is about to begin school… or a version of school that will prepare her to be a wife. June seems horrified about the idea of her daughter becoming part of the Gilead system as a wife, and yet the only real alternative for her would be to be a handmaid, which would surely be much worse.

June stared determindly. Her hair is wavy
June, The Handmaid’s Tale (Photo by: Sophie Giraud/Hulu)

Meanwhile, Serena attempts to return to Gilead, but upon realising that she isn’t wanted she returns to Canada with Mark (Sam Jaeger) after all. He seems confused but had warned her that Gilead was not the best place for her.

These two characters first met in Season 2, and even then Mark was trying to persuade Serena to leave Gilead and use her talent for writing to expose them instead. What he failed then and now to account for was her unwavering dedication and belief in Gilead and all that it encompasses. Whilst women in Gilead are heavily victimised and abused, Serena herself is not a victim but is instead an advocate of these means.

Mark has continued to play a much more important role in Season 5, and in this episode he attempts to connect with Nick once again. Although we know that Nick is on ‘our’ side, he seems reluctant to co-operate due to the amount of eyes on him. When he said something similar to June whilst explaining that he would not be able to speak to her again for a while, she understood exactly what he meant. Mark, on the other hand, is not yet familiar enough with the workings of Gilead to understand all of the nuances in the interpersonal and intersocietal interactions between characters.

We are also introduced to another character who I am sure is going to be very important; she is part of Mayday. Moira (Samira Wiley) tells June about a group of women near the border who operate in secret and are able to get messages in and out of Gilead. It is here that June goes to get hold of Nick, and it is here that they learn Mayday is not only in operation still but that it has always existed in a much wider capacity than they had realised before. Their primary contact tells June that she was part of Mayday too, and that it was her fight and work that got many of the women, including herself, out of Gilead in the first place.

Janine (Madeline Brewer) is in a coma at the beginning of S5E3, but thankfully she survives her poisoning. However, she wakes up more bitter towards Lydia (Ann Dowd) than ever. Lydia seems to have had, in some ways, a change of heart. She wants to protect her girls and keep them closer to her so that they cannot be abused in their postings (any more than they will continue to be at the ‘ceremonies’, which of course will continue), and begs God for Janine’s survival. She soon returns to herself though when Janine defends Ester (McKenna Grace) despite what she has done, and we are once again reminded what a pure heart Janine has, but Lydia does not.

This episode ends with June slamming herself against Serena’s car door after finding out that she was flying back into Canada to a private airport. Serena is clearly very shaken by this encounter, and is scared of June; June does not attempt to hurt her in this scene, but the threat is very clear.

While not necessarily as forward an episode of The Handmaid’s Tale as the previous two, “Border” has set us up for quite a few explosions in the future.

Written by Anna Green

Politics graduate based in the UK. I'm passionate about writing so I can usually be found buried in ink and paper. Proud writer for 25YL!

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