It feels like an eternity since we’ve had new episodes of The Handmaid’s Tale, and, well, it’s been almost a year and a half so that’s basically the same thing! But after such a long wait, we’ve finally been rewarded, because season 5 is officially here and so much has happened already. Season 4 left us off with the kinda brutal (and by that I mean VERY brutal) murder of Fred Waterford, and it seems like season 5 took that energy and just ran with it because these first few episodes were nothing short of a dramatic, chaotic, vengeful mess.
Whether you have already watched the new episodes and need a debrief of everything you just witnessed or are simply looking to get your hands on some spoilers to prep yourself before taking the episodes in, here are the most jaw-dropping moments from season 5 so far.
Season 5, Episode 1: “Morning”
Fred is still dead!!
Praise be! June makes it back home after literally tearing Fred apart at the end of last season, but before she can even wash the blood off herself, she hops back in the car heading off to god knows where, freaking the sh*t out of Luke and Moira. Turns out, she went to join the other ex-Handmaids who helped kill Fred for some pancakes and, uh, sharing of guns? Things get heated as the other women say they want to get revenge on their Gileadean abusers, but June doesn’t seem to want to be a part of it.
Umm, Nick is now married??!
So it turns out that Nick has a new wife, ’cause as you might recall, his first one didn’t last very long (RIP, Eden!). What’s even more surprising is that his wife seems to know about June and is totally okay with Nick helping her.
Serena gets rushed away to safety.
After it’s discovered that Freddie boy is no more, Serena is put in handcuffs and hurried off to a safe house. And in the midst of this, she’s bluntly told that her husband has been killed. At the safe house, Serena-sympathizer Mark Tuello tells her exactly what happened to Fred, including the fact that his ring finger had been cut off and mailed to her. As gross as that is, it makes it very clear to Serena that June, not Gilead, is responsible for his murder.
Emily has gone back to Gilead.
June heads over to Emily’s house to see her but the only person there is Emily’s wife, Sylvia, who drops the MAJOR bomb that Emily has voluntarily gone back to Gilead to fight and to possibly try to find her mortal enemy Aunt Lydia. Iiiiinteresting.
June (finally) tries to come clean.
After trying to literally come clean by scrubbing off all the blood she’d been smearing around town all morning, June heads on down to a Toronto police station to turn herself in for Fred’s murder. But since the murder happened in No Man’s Land, which isn’t technically part of Canada, it’s of no concern to Canadian police and June is free to go (apart from having to pay a fine for putting a human finger in the mail).
Fred’s body is shredded.
And not in a good way. Serena goes to the morgue to see her husband and he straight-up looks like he was attacked by a rabid bear. This is also where she learns that June isn’t going to get in any trouble for it and will remain a free woman, which clearly terrifies her.
Serena’s support is growing in Canada.
As she comes out of the morgue, there’s a surprisingly large candlelit vigil there to support Serena. The Canadians in it are just throwing out “praise be” and “under His eye,” totally naive to the actual monstrosities of the Gilead they’re supporting. This is also where Serena reveals she’ll be leaving Canada to give Fred a proper funeral in Gilead.
Season 5, Episode 2: “Ballet”
June wants to kill Serena.
Like, really badly. After lying awake in bed, thinking about all the traumatic, abusive BS Serena has put her through, June goes and buries her gun in the yard for safekeeping. Then, later, when Rita is over at her house, June can’t stop talking about all the horrendous stuff Serena did to Rita. After that, she tells Luke about sending the finger to Serena and he tells her she needs to stop obsessing over Serena so that she can be there for her family.
Serena makes her grand return to Gilead.
Arriving in a private jet, Serena struts her way off the plane as if she’s the damn queen of Gilead. But she quickly learns that the funeral Gilead has in mind for Fred is, er, a lot less spectacular than what she wanted. Seems they’re not big fans of Fred either.
Aunt Lydia is back on her BS.
She’s rounded up her “girls” and brings them to Fred’s wake to show off to Commanders in need of a Handmaid. Oh, and she’s already planning on placing Esther with Commander Putnam and leaves her alone with him in his office, where things get, um, extremely creepy.
Serena gets Fred an over-the-top funeral featuring Hannah.
Framing it as a way to connect with the outside world and bring them into Gilead, Serena pitches the Commanders on the idea of giving Fred a grand funeral and airing it on TV. They eventually get on board, and what ensues is the most wild, performative funeral you’ve ever seen. Serena is in what looks like an all-black wedding ’fit, veil and all, and she’s accompanied by a procession of Commanders, Handmaids, and a group of young girls that includes June and Luke’s daughter Hannah.
The girls are all in a purple color we’ve never seen before (intrigue!), and Hannah just so happens to be chosen to give Serena a bouquet of flowers and Serena, in return, kisses her on the forehead. Knowing that June will see this (which she does, on the massive screens in Yonge-Dundas Square), it’s clearly an attempt to get back at June and make her feel some pain.
A murder-suicide by poisoned chocolate.
Young, scared, and angry Esther is not about to get sent away to the Putnams, so what does she do? Poison some chocolate truffles, of course. She gives one to Janine (who she blames for helping to arrange the Putnam situation) and takes one herself. They both fall to the floor and cough up a disgusting amount of blood that it doesn’t look like there’s any coming back from.
Season 5, Episode 3: “Border”
June and Moira head to the border.
June needs some answers about what the purple color that Hannah was wearing means, so Moira takes her to meet with a group of women at the border who have been able to send messages into Gilead. There, she learns that Mayday is a) real and b) made it to Canada.
Nick and his wife met just a few months ago.
Her name is Rose and they met attending a gala in D.C. Nick seems to genuinely like her, even though his feelings with June are still, um, complicated. He also asks Tuello to not tell June about Rose so that he can can be the one to do it himself.
Janine and Esther are still alive?!?
Somehow, even after all that poison eating and blood coughing, the two ladies are still alive (although I’m sure Aunt Lydia slapping an unconscious Esther across the face didn’t help??). Lydia vowed to God to change her ways if Janine was spared, buuuttttt we’ll believe it when we see it.
Serena wants to marry Lawrence?
Lawrence announces he has no plans to remarry, but Serena reminds the commander that an unmarried man in Gilead won’t go far. And then seems to insinuate that they should get married as a strategic move. IN FACT, she later tells Tuello that she plans to stay in Gilead and won’t be unmarried for much longer. (Oh, and she said that right after she kissed Tuello on the cheek with more sexual tension than she ever had with Fred.) But as it turns out, Lawrence is not on board and they won't be getting hitched.
The Plums are child brides in training.
So, um, apparently the purple color is given to the daughters of high-ranking families when they’re sent to a new wife-training school. Nick tells June that it means that “they’re ready” for marriage. Hannah is only 12, so that’s just a touch sickening.
JK, Serena is actually going back to Toronto.
Gilead wants to expand its influence and thinks having “a capable, impressive woman” like Serena singing Gilead’s praises would look good. So off she goes, back on the plane to head north of the border where she’s once again met with a candlelit vigil (*insert extreme eye-roll here*).
June ambushes Serena.
Just as she’s feeling like she’s living her best life having been greeted at the airport by all those supporters, Serena’s car gets blocked on the road by none other than June, who bangs on the window and in a terrifying voice and tells Serena to never touch her daughter again.
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