Hulu’s Handmaid’s Tale Episode 5 – Review
In a dystopian world, a woman would be denied of all privileges, having fun is one of them. But somehow even though she is forbidden to read, Offred has found a way to be in a study room and read magazines in the midst of all this. The Commander and Offred have gotten closer after playing 34 games of scrabble, she is seen sharing a drink, flirting and smiling at him, and with a little sarcasm, she adds ‘We are a match made in Heaven’ to herself. The time she spends in the study with the commander is an escape from her present to relive a few moments of ‘June’, this is all she expects from the covert meetings, and she is not falling for him. Offred is profusely careful of what she does and communicates to him. They share smiles, the commander is trying to win her over but his intentions are not quite clear, the audience can see he is trying to build a connection with her but is he falling for her? He a very high profile member and holds an important position in the Republic of Gilead, we do not expect him to be naïve and fall in love with a handmaid but loneliness can make you take extreme steps.
Meanwhile, the flashbacks take us through the beautiful start of June and Luke’s relationship. Moira, our own ‘Poussey’ made it happen unknowingly. This character has so much energy and is the true archetype of a powerful woman. From time to time, our protagonist, Offred looks up to her for strength in this shady and distressful world of Gilead. Interestingly, in the present, Offred is attracted to Nick or at least finds her amusement in exchanging brief glances with him.
While shopping, Offred comes to know that Ofglen is back but with a changed name, Ofsteven. She is sadder than before if that is a possibility. Offred learns from her that the resistant group that exists in Gilead is named ‘Mayday’.
Paradoxically no woman in this man’s idea of ‘Perfection of a future’, is happy. A handmaid not just bears a baby for barren women of high profile but their desires too. Mrs Waterford’s desire to keep ‘The perfect household’ image intact unfortunately makes her prey on the Handmaid’s miseries and fears. She carves out an idea of getting Offred impregnated by Nick. She tells her that Nick was loyal and has already agreed to the idea and asks her if she would do it!
Her words ask but her tone commands. A scared handmaid admits doing anything yet again against her will. Trying to convince Offred to do this, Serena unexpectedly admits for the first time that it might be Commander’s fault and it is just bad luck for Offred that she is not pregnant yet. Unwillingly when Offred goes up to Nick’s room with Mrs Waterford, we see the disparity between the world where free women lived and Gilead. Even though June is attracted towards Nick, she Is not allowed to enjoy having sex with him, keeping a straight face during the ritual. While back in time, she had commanded Luke that she would be on top in the same situation. It was the day of the monthly ceremony, a reminder that the poor women in affliction are just kept alive to serve their biological purpose. The commander was seen deriving pleasure during intercourse this time which scared Offred, if Serena saw, she might get very upset with her. However it was completely opposite with the commander, when confronted by Offred, he sat very relaxed and uttered words which were sucked deep into his powerful stature. His belief that it is a luxury for a handmaid to be able to lead a life like hers explains the tragic life of women in Gilead. He reveals what they did to Ofglen, now named Ofsteven. He said the world has become better with their efforts but at the same time admits ‘better never means better for everyone.’
Offred is disgusted to the core to hear this and once again shattered. She feels helpless and angry. She wants to be comforted. There is the only person in this house she has a little faith on, Nick. She can feel something is not right there as well but her heart doesn’t want to believe this. And finally her ears have heard the truth, Nick is an eye!
While Offred is in trauma, Ofsteven has a moment of freedom in the market when she gets in the driver seat of a car and drives like crazy, handmaids rejoice seeing this but ultimately Ofsteven gets caught. Gathering herself together, thinking about this incident, Offred is motivated to do something crazy herself. She says ‘There was something inside her, they couldn’t take away. She looked invincible’. Offred wanted to feel the same and there was only one way she could make herself feel invincible. She wanted the June, still alive inside her, to be unleashed. A strong confident woman who always wanted to stay on top. Offred knocked a door, which she never thought she would, but always wanted to. As soon it opened, she unbuttoned herself and Nick. Taking assurance from him in between, she kissed him and their bodies fulfilled a desire they both had longed for.
Find quotes from this episode on the Handmaids Tale Quotes page.
Handmaids Tale Series 1, Episode 5: “Faithfull”