We’re quickly approaching the Season 5 finale of The Handmaid’s Tale, and Season 5 Episode 8 established some very important plot points along the way. This was an action-packed episode that included some plot twists I definitely wasn’t expecting.
This is a review for The Handmaid’s Tale Season 5 Episode 8, “Motherland,” 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.”
The Plan for New Bethlehem Is Finally Revealed
When the episode began, Luke, Moira, and June were in their home, trying to go back to normal as much as they possibly can after everything that’s happened. But immigration protesters have been camping outside, trying to make all Gilead refugees leave Canada.
It creates an interesting segue to New Bethlehem, Lawrence’s pet project. Some commanders are worried it will weaken Gilead, but Lawrence believes the opposite. He wants to open the doors for refugees to return to this island without penalty, and live in a freer form of society.
“A modernized, strategically liberalized island, where Gilead refugees can come home with amnesty,” he explains. The idea is to lure them there with a fulfilled promise of reuniting them with their families. He thinks it’s the only way Gilead will ever truly replace the idea of the U.S. in people’s minds.
We’re given a deeper look into Lawrence’s mind later, as he admits that things got out of hand with Gilead. He wanted to create a new economy that would save humanity, and used the rabid passion of religious zealots to accomplish it. But things got out of control and now we have Gilead. So he did save humanity (birth rates are coming back), but at a huge cost. Now he’s trying to find a way to fix that.
His storyline is so compelling and believable. I don’t think Lawrence is hiding his motivations when he shares these thoughts. I think these are his true motivations.
Lawrence later presents his idea to June. She’s an important key for both the U.S. and Gilead. If she leaves, more refugees will follow her and leave the U.S. too. Lawrence and Tuello both know that. And Lawrence is trying to tempt June over with promises of freedom and a reunion with Hannah.
But I agree ith Luke’s take on the whole thing, to a degree. Yes, like June said, I think Lawrence can be trusted. But I don’t think Gilead can be trusted. Who’s to say he won’t get assassinated or die of old age? He can’t guarantee his promises will be kept. And young girls are still being married off, which is awful. The idea that Lawrence or June would think bringing Nichole into this would ever be a good idea just makes me want to bang my head against a wall!
The good news is that Nick saw through the whole thing. He paid lip service to Lawrence when he talked about Nick having June and his wife in New Bethlehem. Nick doesn’t want any of that.
Serena Struggles But Finally Decides to Return to the Wheelers
It’s interesting to see how Serena’s life is mirroring June’s. She’s struggling to find some way to get Noah back without having to return to the Wheelers. But she quickly realizes that she has no legal footing and no one to help her. (Why isn’t Tuello visiting Serena at all? Is she no longer any use to him?)
In an interesting moment, she tries to get June to help her, thinking they have a bond now. But the way she abused June isn’t easily forgotten. And June is finally getting her revenge.
June reminds Serena that they aren’t friends and she isn’t going to help her. Instead, Serena needs to do what June did — hide her feelings for the sake of reuniting with her child, while quietly planning her escape and revenge.
Is it the right advice? I’m thinking probably not, because as we’ve learned from June, she’s more help to her kids in Canada where she’s free than under Gilead’s control. But I believe June gave that advice to Serena genuinely, while also enjoying seeing how Serena is suffering. (And who wouldn’t enjoy that in her place?!)
Kudos to both actors in this scene. They successfully navigated complex emotions, packing each scene and each glance with deep meaning.
What Will Happen With Hannah’s Rescue Attempt?
June had convinced herself to go to New Bethlehem when Tuello brought her good news: they found Hannah thanks to a video sent to June and they’re going to rescue her.
First, I think Nick sent June that video. He doesn’t want Lawrence’s plan of attracting June and Nichole to New Bethlehem to work. He wants them to stay safe.
But I have my doubts that the rescue will work. Luke and June were just far too happy. You know that in this show, something bad is going to happen very soon.
Overall, this was a great episode. One of the best, perhaps, of the season because of the fast pace, the fun dialogue (Lawrence had some really great quips), and the truly tough decisions characters had to make. There was even a twist at the end I hadn’t expected. I can’t wait to see what’s next.
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