The Handmaid’s Tale just aired Season 5 Episode 6, “Together,” and once again ended with a cliffhanger that left me eager to see what happens next. I never think the show can top its cliffhangers, but somehow it always manages to do so.
The MVPs for each episode are getting harder and harder to pick. Once again, O-T Fagenble delivered an authentic portrayal of a heartbroken Luke, struggling to keep it together while everything’s falling apart. Yvonne Strahovski’s portrayal of Serena’s pivotal decision was fascinating to watch. And Bradley Whitford killed it as an enigmatic Commander Lawrence, whose next move and motivations I can never quite predict.
But perhaps it’s the writers who get the MPV award this week. With so many plot twists, I really had no idea where the story was going from one moment to the next.
This is a review for The Handmaid’s Tale Season 5 Episode 6, “Together,” 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.”
Luke & June Had a Long Goodbye
I’ll be the first to say that Luke and June’s scenes this episode were just a bit too long. The slowness of their scenes provided a nice contrast to some of the pivotal, more action-packed moments that took place in between. But while their moments together were necessary, and the two actors really shined in portraying their heartbreak, I still feel like these parts of the episode were just a bit long-winded.
I was never quite sure if it was Gilead Eyes or Gilead sympathizers who caught June and Luke in no-man’s land. But in the end, it didn’t really seem to matter. They were catching people with the express intent of sending them back to Gilead.
Luke was released, apparently because he was “legally” in Canada. At least, that’s what I imagine happened to Luke. But June was set on a bus going straight back to Gilead, and that was a future on the show that I just couldn’t stomach.
I’m so glad that’s not what actually happened.
Lawrence & Nick Are Amassing A Lot of Power
Commander Lawrence and Nick have amassed a lot more power than I had realized. Once Esther admitted to Aunt Lydia that Commander Putnam had raped her, Putnam’s time was quickly coming to an end.
It was interesting to see Lawrence pretend to Aunt Lydia that it didn’t matter. He’s obviously playing on her, trying to force her to see the reality that is Gilead.
But Putnam has been a thorn in Lawrence’s side, fighting back against his idea of a New Bethlehem, and this was the perfect chance to get rid of him.
Somehow, Lawrence and Nick arranged a late-night tribunal that found Putnam guilty, and Nick was given the freedom to execute him in broad daylight.
These men are not to be trifled with.
As for Nick’s wife Rose’s reaction in the next scene, I was a little taken aback by that. She’s worried “about the kind of person this makes you.” Nick assures her he’s only working to ensure a better world for their child to grow up in. (BIG revelation – Rose is pregnant!)
Most telling to me in that scene is the way they shoot the end of their conversation. The two are sitting on opposite ends of the couch, and Nick never makes an attempt to lean over and touch her in any way, not even to assure her. So it seems that while they are allies and confidantes, they aren’t in love. It’s a stark contrast to the scenes we saw in this episode between Luke and June.
Serena Changed Loyalty Again, as the Subjugation of Gilead Slowly Overtook Her Life
Serena is an interesting character study this season. She seems all over the map, but in the end I think it’s simply a struggle to survive.
Part of her believes deeply in the Gilead that she started, but part of her also knows that it’s gone very, very wrong. But in the end, she’s out to save herself because it’s always Serena who comes first.
She was willing to side with Tuello until she realized that he sold out Fred, and felt scared that he might sell her out too. Wanting to do whatever she could to save herself from June, she decided to try to make amends with Gilead. This was foolish, though. Gilead views her and Fred as traitors. She even made a desperate attempt at wooing Commander Lawrence, subtly suggesting they might marry. (She knows that he would not subjugate her like the other men of Gilead would.) But after all she put him through, there was no way he was going to help her out.
This left Serena with few choices. Kicked out of Gilead, she’s now under the clutches of the Wheelers, with little autonomy. Even Mr. Wheeler’s news about June isn’t enough to make her want to stay in that situation.
The creepy obstetrician was pretty much the last straw for her. I think she knew that in the end, she wouldn’t have much of a choice about marrying him or not marrying him. With these Gilead sympathizers, she wouldn’t have any independence to call her own.
It’s interesting to see Serena go through all of this and find herself with just a bit of sympathy for June again. Of course, we all know Serena, and we know this can change on a dime. She sees June as her only ticket out — which means she is truly desperate now.
That final scene with June and Serena was harrowing and fascinating. June was delivered to Serena so she could watch her die, and then go quietly back to living in subjugation with the Wheelers.
Instead, she took the opportunity to run. She killed the guard (who now sides with the Wheelers rather than her) and ordered June to escape with her. It looks like she’s about to go into labor, and is going to have to rely on June to live.
That’s a risky gamble, considering how much June wants to kill her. And I honestly have no idea how it’s going to pan out.
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