‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ Season 2, Episode 5 Recap: Two Weddings and a Funeral
*Warning: Spoiler alert*
- Offred and Serena dive into an awkward new prenatal workout routine.
- Emily remembers just how different she and Janine really are.
- Nick gets a new lady friend, and she’s, um, really young.
- Offred is forced to reckon with a message her body has been trying to send her.
Ready, set, let the tense moments and Prayvaganzas begin.
Offred (Elisabeth Moss) is relaxing in her room like a good little handmaid when she remembers the stack of Mayday letters hiding behind her bathtub and decides to burn them. Nick (Max Minghella) barges in and asks her why she’s destroying them, and she simply replies, “I’m not supposed to have these.” Um, hello. What happened to the Offred we know and love?
The next morning, Aunt Lydia (Ann Dowd) weighs her and asks a series of questions, all of which Serena (Yvonne Strahovski) answers. Aunt Lydia writes the answers down and Serena looks on horrified, because anything remotely intellectual is expressly forbidden to Gilead women. Aunt Lydia assures her that aunts are allowed to write when necessary, but it’s more of a burden than a privilege. She ends the inquisition by telling Offred she smells musty and prescribes her two baths a day.
Serena invites Aunt Lydia to join her for a cup of tea downstairs. Aunt Lydia calls her out for biting her nails and says she remembers how hard it is to quit smoking because she used to smoke once upon a time (imagine that). Serena is having none of it and insinuates that Aunt Lydia’s help isn’t needed since Offred is under the care of an ob-gyn. Aunt Lydia quips back that her check-ins are meant to test the temperature of the household—and guess what? It’s icy AF.
She excuses herself and runs into Commander Waterford (Joseph Fiennes) before walking out the door. They muse about the baby’s sex (guess science has regressed in Gilead), and Aunt Lydia says she thinks it’ll be a “strong boy, just like his father.” Barf.
The Facts of Life (and Death)
Back in the Colonies, the unwomen gather for their morning hymns, and Janine (Madeline Brewer) tells Emily (Alexis Bledel) that the women who died in their sleep look peaceful. She quotes Aunt Lydia repeatedly like she’s some nouveau apostle and it weirds Emily out.
They head to the field to start their day’s work and a woman named Kit (Novie Edwards) collapses. Emily rushes over to offer her medicine, but she declines it and says she should save it for someone who still has a chance. Even after witnessing this, Janine can’t process the fact that death is inevitable in the Colonies.
And We’re Walking, and We’re Walking
Meanwhile, Offred has her own issues to worry about. She uses the restroom and realizes her underwear is stained with fresh blood. Rita enters her room to tell Offred that Serena is waiting for her downstairs and, frightened, Offred mentions nothing.
Offred heads downstairs to go on her first morning walk with Serena (yet another thing Aunt Lydia suggested). Serena tries to gossip with Offred and talks about a pregnant handmaid, saying that she knows “she’s God’s chosen vessel, but is he sure he wants to pass on that nose?” (Hardy-har-har, Serena.) Offred is spared responding because they run into consummate one-upper Naomi Putnam (Ever Carradine) and her sidekick. Naomi congratulates Serena on her “intimate” baby shower and says her staff spent days cleaning up after her own. As they walk away, Serena opens up to Offred about how annoying Naomi’s backhanded compliments are, but she doesn’t get the response she’s hoping for. She reprimands Offred for only ever saying, “Yes, Mrs. Waterford” or “No, Mrs. Waterford,” and sneers that these walks aren’t for monologues, they’re for conversation.
When they arrive home, Nick pulls Serena aside to say he’s worried about Offred’s mental health and suggests she should see a psychologist. Serena icily tells him “the handmaid is not his concern.” Lttle does she know. She continues into the dining room to have breakfast with the Commander, but he’s distracted and won’t engage in conversation with her either.
Later, Commander Waterford has a walking meeting with his boss, Commander Andrew Pryce (Robert Curtis Brown), and asks if they can promote Nick. Andrew says he’s open to it but that Fred should try to keep him around if he’s so special.
Here Comes the (Child) Bride
Offred soaks in one of her twice daily baths, but as the camera pans down, we see the water is colored with blood. She gets out, fashions a pad from toilet paper, places it in her underwear and heads down to drink her morning green juice. She and Serena are off on another walk and this time they’re headed to a Prayvaganza (even Serena thinks the name is ridiculous). Offred is dizzy and unsteady when she stands but says she’s fine when Rita expresses concern.
The Prayvaganza is a sight to behold. Commander Pryce calls Gilead’s “most valued Guardians” to the stage, and although Nick is among them, Offred’s face shows no feeling whatsoever. Serena whispers, “He looks handsome, doesn’t he?” but Offred doesn’t respond.
Turns out this isn’t a promotion ceremony, it’s a mass Guardian wedding. A group of women dressed in white with opaque veils over their faces enter the auditorium and stand before their soon-to-be-husbands. They exchange rings, and the Guardians lift up their new wives’ veils to find that they’re actually preteens. Yikes. They kiss and bingo-bango everyone’s married. The crowd erupts in excited applause, and Offred joins in on the merrymaking even though her emotional pain is visible.
Fact: Cows Don’t Get Married
Back in the Colonies, the unwomen shovel their toxic sludge, and Janine’s childlike behavior continues. She stops her work to revel in the sight of some dandelion weeds saying, “I like them. They’re happy for everyone, they don’t care who you are.” She makes a wish and Emily can’t help but ask, “Why do you think God is looking out for you?” Janine simply says that he’s saved her life twice now so there must be a reason. Um, we’re not sure shoveling yourself to death is an example of divine will, but OK, honey.
Behind them, Kit drops to the ground and her fellow scorned-woman-turned-lover Fiona (Soo Garay) rushes to her side. A Guardian yells at them to get up, but it’s clear that Kit doesn’t have long to live. Janine says she wants to change her wish.
After her backbreaking work is done, Emily washes up for bed and is horrified when one of her teeth falls out. She retires to the bunk area, where a former rabbi is marrying Kit and Fiona. Janine tells Emily this was all her idea, and suddenly Emily can’t contain her frustration any longer. She pulls Janine into another room and tells her to grow the hell up and recognize where she is. Emily chastises her for trying to dress Gilead’s cows (ya know, the unwomen they’ve essentially put out to pasture) in flowers, but Janine doesn’t get the comparison and responds, “Cows don’t get married.”
The next morning, Kit is dead and Emily gives Janine the closest thing to an apology she can: She says it was a beautiful ceremony.
Meanwhile in Gilead, Nick reads Bible verses to the Waterfords while his new wife, Eden (Sydney Sweeney), looks on. They all celebrate the whole Married at First Sight situation with champagne, and Offred is asked to go to her room.
Rita tries to gossip with Offred about how young Eden is, but she just continues on to her room. When she undresses, her underwear is soaked in blood, so much so that her hand is red when she pulls it away. She starts to walk out of her room to get help, but then thinks otherwise and retreats back inside.
Across the way, Serena helps Eden settle into her new digs. She’s clearly nervous in Serena’s presence and is eager to please. She opens up about the small farm town she came from, and Serena pointedly asks if she knows what to expect when she goes to bed with Nick later. Serena tries her best nurturing voice and explains, “It can bring you closer together. It should anyway.” She leaves and says goodnight to the new Mrs. Blaine.
While Serena and Eden discuss the birds and the bees, Nick and the Commander drink whiskey and toast to “good women.” The Commander says he has big plans for Nick, but he has to start a family first. So, Nick goes off to his room, but not before enjoying a cigarette outside. As he puffs away, he spots Offred on the ground, covered in leaves and lying in her own blood in the pouring rain. She’s not responsive. *Heart pounds in chest*
Offred wakes up in the hospital, and Serena rushes to her side then goes to get the doctor. Offred feels her stomach and thankfully little baby Gilead is still in there. She breathes a sigh of relief and starts to talk to her baby: “You’re tough, aren’t you? Now you listen to me. I will not let you grow up in this place. I will not do it. You hear me? They do not own you and they do not own what you will become. You hear me? I’m going to get you out of here. I’m going to get us out of here. I promise you.”
Phew! There’s our girl. Now we wait to find out how she plans to make this whole escape thing stick when The Handmaid’s Tale season two, episode six hits Hulu on Wednesday, May 23.