The Handmaid’s Tale Season 5 Episode 3 Review: Border

That’s not to say ‘Border’ didn’t have highlights. One was the “I was lucky/Women always say that when they’ve done something extraordinary” exchange between June and Mayday agent Lily. Good observation from writer Aly Monroe. Another was Lawrence’s line about Gilead not having the proper infrastructure for “unusual women” to live within its borders. Of course the High Commanders couldn’t afford to have literate, educated Serena hanging around and having ideas. She’d make a mockery of their whole set-up. 

Yvonne Strahovski really sold the moment that Serena realised she was yet again being bitten by the dog she’d fed. Her flirtatious goodbye to Mark Tuello the night before the council meeting showed confidence that Gilead would welcome her back, this time perhaps on the arm of a new and more powerful Commander. Instead, Gilead spat her out, because Serena always fails to grasp that the society she helped to create hates her, as it hates all women. 

Did Serena really think Lawrence would marry one of the gang who forced him, his wife and June to perform “the ceremony” that prompted his beloved Eleanor’s final breakdown? She’s been getting high on her own supply. Those candle-bearing acolytes clearly aren’t healthy for her imperious streak. 

If not Lawrence, then might Mark Tuello be Serena’s next target? Fred accused him of ‘coveting’ Mrs Waterford last season. The question for viewers is whether those puppy dog eyes he’s been making at Serena are for real or another manipulative spy ruse? 

Unlike this time last season, we know where Nick stands romantically, and after their phone call so does June. He loves her, but is obligated to his new wife Rose, the daughter of a powerful High Commander. (“How luckythat you two were able to stumble upon such a wonderful match,” came Serena’s subtext-laden blessing. From the woman who tried to seduce Commander Lawrence with a kicking baby bump and the promise of a social-capital son.

June and Nick’s phone call absolutely did not need to happen at the Walking Dead-style Mayday woodland camp, but the new location gave us a change of scenery and fleshed out the show’s lore. Mayday wasn’t just the friends we made along the way, it turns out, but a real Underground Railway-style organisation that assisted Gilead escapees. Introducing that set-up did one useful thing: offered June a potential future. If she’s not able to reintegrate and live as a family with Moira, Luke and Nichole, then Mayday could be a place for her – June Osborne, the surprisingly diminutive rebel fighter who does extraordinary things.

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