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The Handmaid’s Tale Season 5 Episode 5 Review: ‘Fairytale’

The Handmaid’s Tale Season 5 Episode 5 review

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The Handmaid’s Tale just aired Season 5 Episode 5, “Fairytale,” and there’s a lot to process. Serena’s storyline, and the brief flashbacks into how Gilead was created, were perhaps the most compelling. June and Luke’s story was interesting but slow until a pivotal moment when everything changed.

It’s hard to pinpoint just who would get the MVPs for this latest episode. O-T Fagenble delivered another great performance (and song!) Seeing Yvonne Strahovski play through so many emotions as Serena slowly realizes the predicament she’s in was also compelling. But I also have to give a shout-out to Owen Painter, who played Jaden. He may have had a short role, but he made a meaningful impact. 

This is a review for The Handmaid’s Tale Season 5 Episode 5, “Fairytale,” so there will be spoilers. If you don’t want to miss a single review, sign up for our e-mail list and choose “The Handmaid’s Tale.” 

Jaden Was an Enigma Until the Very End 

The Handmaid’s Tale Season 5 Episode 5
The Handmaid’s Tale Season 5 Episode 5 (Hulu)

Owen Painter was phenomenal in his brief role as Jaden. He played the character so perfectly, I never knew throughout the episode whether Luke and June should trust him or fear him. In the beginning he seemed especially sketch. He insisted they had to go back to a secret location with him to get the information he had on the wives’ school (which had strong implications for Hannah’s future.) But in the end, there was no reason for them to go with him, since all he had was a USB drive. He could have easily carried that with him! 

Honestly, I don’t think Luke and June should have gone with him. He was violating protocol, and there was no good reason to go on that trek. In fact, even after knowing how it all ended, I’m still not sure why he insisted on meeting them at the old bowling alley. 

There were just so many signs screaming that something was off. For someone who had no memory of life pre-Gilead, he definitely seemed too “pure,” as June put it. He somehow had access to beer (perhaps the people from Mayday brought it to him?) And he was unconcerned about anyone hearing him yelling out and playing music at the bowling alley. 

Of course, the way things ended for him made it clear that he wasn’t a double agent of any sort. It seemed like that, the way their pursuers just happened to be near where he was taking him. But while he was dying, he insisted that June and Luke run. That alone showed that he was a good guy. 

The entire scene at the bowling alley was tense and it felt like things would “blow up” at any minute. Instead, it was later, and I was taken completely by surprise. (To the point of even yelling at the screen.) 

Serena’s Flashbacks to Gilead’s Creation Were Fascinating & Disturbing

The Handmaid’s Tale Season 5 Episode 5
The Handmaid’s Tale Season 5 Episode 5 (Hulu)

While I was frustrated with many of June and Luke’s decisions in this episode, it was Serena’s storyline that was the most compelling. The flashbacks of Gilead’s creation were especially interesting. Serena has definitely changed a lot. 

In fact, it was revealed that Serena didn’t even want a Handmaid at first. And then we saw her looking through Aunt Lydia’s photos, and it felt like she was shopping for a car. Each time she’d pick up a file, Lydia would explain why that Handmaid was perfect. In the end, Serena chose not to pick the woman that Fred had been drawn to, which said a lot. 

And in case you were wondering, this was not the moment that Serena picked June. No, if you recall, she had a Handmaid before June who killed herself. This was the moment when Serena picked that Handmaid. 

All those flashbacks painted the perfect picture of Serena being caught in her own trap. Now she’s being turned into a Handmaid herself and losing her rights. She’s not allowed to leave the property or go to the Gilead Center, which is being remade into a fertility center. And just like she made June take vitamins and such when she was pregnant, now she’s being forced to do the same. Quite a bit of karma playing out here. 

Now I Want to Know About New Bethlehem

The Handmaid’s Tale Season 5 Episode 5
The Handmaid’s Tale Season 5 Episode 5 (Hulu)

Commander Lawrence wasn’t in the episode for very long, but when he was it was quite intriguing. Apparently he is trying to create a “New Bethlehem” project that Putnam is absolutely positive will never get approved. It sounds like some type of “media-friendly” form of Gilead, but I’m not really sure what it entails. It wouldn’t be surprising if it ends up being tied to the fertility clinic idea, since Bethlehem is where Jesus was born in the Bible. 

Who Took June & Luke? 

The Handmaid’s Tale Season 5 Episode 5 (Hulu)
The Handmaid’s Tale Season 5 Episode 5 (Hulu)

really hope that June and Luke aren’t about to be thrown back to Gilead. During this episode, I thought they were in No Man’s Land rather than in Gilead itself, but quite a few other viewers think they were actually in Gilead. 

Either way, it looks like they were either caught by Gilead soldiers or Gilead sympathizers. And no matter who it is, they’re about to be separated again. I’m really not sure that I want to watch more episodes of June being tortured. 

My guess is that it was Gilead sympathizers who took them, not Gilead itself. Remember when they showed someone hung? June commented, “Gilead doesn’t use words,” which hinted that the people who caught them at the end aren’t Gilead. 

Also, Jaden mentioned something about “rebels” installing land mines. And it looked like they weren’t in typical Eye uniforms or using typical Gilead military vehicles. Instead, they seemed to be wearing tactical gear. I’m going to guess that perhaps these are Canadians who sympathize with Gilead. Perhaps they’re associated with the Wheelers, who seem to have a lot of influence. 

My only complaint about this episode (besides how it ended) is that Moira really deserves more screentime and a better storyline. She shouldn’t be relegated to being Nichole’s babysitter, even if that is a fulfilling role. I feel like Moira’s been sidelined this season, and I hope that changes. 

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    Stephanie Dwilson started Post Apocalyptic Media with her husband Derek. She's a licensed attorney and has a master's in science and technology journalism. You can reach her at [email protected].

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