TV Review: ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ Season 5, Episode 7

by Erik Amaya

The confrontation that happened in this week’s The Handmaid’s Tale seemed inevitable from the start of the series. June (Elisabeth Moss) and Serena (Yvonne Strahovski) have been on a collision course for a very long time. There have been a couple detours and this season sought to up the tension between them. Thus, they had a serious confrontation and, luckily, it did not disappoint. This is in contrast to the rest of the season, which seem to be meandering from one plot point to the next in anticipation of this moment. Now that it has finally arrived, the show returned to form by firing on all storytelling cylinders.

This episode picks up pretty much where last week’s left off. Serena jumped in the car with June and the two of them drove off. Of course, Serena goes into labor and June feels compelled to help her. But it’s not all sunshine and rainbows. The two of them bicker and fight and it takes a while for them to realize they are in this together. This scene, which takes up the bulk of the episode, is spliced together with a flashback of a birthing ceremony in Gilead that met with the tragic death of a handmaid mother. At the end of the episode, June convinces Serena to go to a hospital. Unfortunately, Luke (O-T Fagbenle) shows up and tips off the authorities, who arrest Serena.

Besides the strange ending that June couldn’t see coming, this episode was nearly flawless. It was well written, directed, and acted. It pretty much just focused on these two women who utterly hate each other yet are bound together by the birth of an innocent. The symbolism of this event when compared to the flashback is profound. In Gilead, where the birthing process becomes ritualistic and controlled, winds up in failure. This is in contrast to Serena’s own birth, which is natural, free, and wild. She’s successful while the birth in the artificial world she created was not. It was truly a powerful episode that had been lacking from this season, and hopefully that momentum will carry forward as the season wraps up.

The Handmaid’s Tale airs Wednesdays on Hulu.

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