The Handmaid’s Tale S5E5: “Fairytale” — Payback for Serena?

Serena stands by a window with her hands to her back
(Photo by: Sophie Giraud/Hulu)

The following contains spoilers for The Handmaid’s Tale S5E5, “Fairytale”

What an episode—June (Elisabeth Moss) is going back over the border, Luke (O-T Fagbenle) is going with her, Serena (Yvonne Strahovski) is becoming increasingly restricted in a world of her own making… Let’s unpack that.

After meeting the members of Mayday at the Canadian border, June realises that it is possible to infiltrate no man’s land, and Gilead, without being detected (providing you don’t get caught during your crossing). Of course, being June, she could not leave this opportunity alone. So, taking Moira (Samira Wiley) and Luke, she goes to meet the Mayday group, who have told her that they can get information about schools like the one Hannah (Jordana Blake) is attending from one of their contacts over the border. Naturally, they are very interested in this and see it as a vital duty to discover more about what Hannah’s life is like now. They are concerned about what they might learn but they know that any knowledge they can acquire might help them later.

Moira seems uncharacteristically fearful about their quest, perhaps concerned that this will cause disruption to their already turbulent lives, or that it will undo any healing she herself has been undergoing. Nevertheless, she allows June to do her thing.

Luke, on the other hand, is becoming more and more fired up and is willing to go with her. June seems thrilled by his insistence as he says, “I’m going across”. This change in attitude is surprising because Luke has always insisted that the most important thing is for June to readjust and come to terms with her new life. He did not want her to return to Gilead and he did not always like how fierce and vengeful she had become.

Luke is wearing a beanie and dark jacket. He is stood outside, frowning
(Photo by: Sophie Giraud/Hulu)

Something changed in him in Episode 4—the two were connected again and their mutual love of their daughter, Hannah, was bringing them back to one another. June seems proud of him, and Moira, although more apprehensive, appreciates the couple. She later explains that they never give up on each other, when asked what their deal is by a mayday fighter. She knows them better than anyone and sees the unwavering mutual respect between them.

Once the couple have crossed the border into No Man’s land, Moira waits for them. Despite her previous willingness to be involved, Moira took risks out of necessity, and now recognises that she is lucky to have the life she does now and that she is vital to Nichole, should anything happen to June and Luke.

Moira seems to be getting along well with one of the Mayday activists and it is refreshing to see her laughing and smiling and enjoying the companionship of someone new. Because of her stoic and unwavering support for June and Luke, she sometimes seems to lose sight of her own life and identity. I hope that this friendship, or maybe more, develops further and is not poisoned by the dangers of Gilead.

Things are going less than swimmingly for Serena Joy. Trapped in the Gilead home of a wife and her husband, Serena is being controlled by the couple under the euphemism that the numerous restrictions they are putting her under are “best for her baby”. It is clear that she is unhappy with this new arrangement, but she recognises that there is nothing she can do about it; she has aleady exhausted her options in the state of Gilead and has decisively told the Canadian government she does not wish to be in Canada.

Serena is becoming increasingly frustrated and out of control. This is very satisfying, considering it was her who built this system in the first place. What will be interesting is seeing if there is a point at which she begins to rebel.

Unfortunately, on their return to Canada, June and Luke are apprehended. This is made even more devastating by their proximity to safety when it happens. I felt uneasy during their entire time over the border. They bowl and dance in the company of Jaeden, their contact, and as they do so the music and the atmosphere was making me feel increasingly uneasy.

The mood was created well with dark lighting and music that filled the air defiantly and disconcertingly in order to create the tensions that then erupted in the stark headlights of the enemy vehicles. The music is forgotten and replaced with the harsh shouts of the captors voices, and the memory of Jaeden being torn up in an explosive trap. Quite the ending to an episode.

June has survived captivity and violent abuse before, but it will be interesting to see how she behaves now that Luke is there with her.

It will be interesting to see how far Luke will go if he is pushed, and how he will behave toward June if she becomes reckless or violent.

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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