The Handmaid’s Tale (Season 5), Episode 3: Recap & Ending, Explained

The Handmaid's Tale (Season 5), Episode 3

The Handmaid’s Tale (Season 5), Episode 3 Recap and Ending, explained: An uneasy atmosphere sets in as the director Dana Gonzales develops the subplots already established in the two previous episodes. From one side, June Osborne plans a way to protect her oldest daughter and punish Serena Waterford. From another, the top echelon of Gilead uses the widow as a potential weapon against whoever may disturb their regime. Nick Blaine and Joseph Lawrence maintain their leadership in the middle of this turmoil, both trying not to be engulfed by the distrust that hangs upon them like a thick fog.


The Handmaid’s Tale (Season 5), Episode 3 Recap

Once at home, June Osborne, Luke Bankole, and Moira Strand talk about Mr. Waterford’s broadcast funeral. The first one calls their attention to Hanna’s purple attire since every color has a different symbolism in that distorted society. She also remembers that Nick Blane was there, though her husband says it is impossible to meet him without a formal mediation. Finally, Strand proposes an alternative to which most agree: Get in touch with a clandestine women group on the border to establish communication between Gilead and Canada.


Osborne and Moira encounter a former Martha on the roadside. Lily introduces herself as one of the girls exchanged for Fred Waterford as part of a deal arranged by June. The protagonist asks for her help to send a message to Commander Blaine, and the woman readily agrees, not hiding her admiration for what she has done for kids and prisoners in the past. Finally, the trio gets into cars and follows Lily to a place unknown. 

The Handmaid's Tale (Season 5), Episode 3
The Handmaid’s Tale — “Border” – Episode 503  (Photo by: Sophie Giraud/Hulu)

In Gilead, Serena Waterford has a conversation with Mark Tuello about her late partner’s ceremony a day before. Despite being grateful for the respect, she doubts that Canada’s representative may be taking advantage of the situation to gather information for his home office. He counterparts the insinuation, telling her he is offering protection to apologize for the unfortunate miscommunication regarding Mr. Waterford’s transfer into custody. The widow, in her turn, advises him not to stay long, which the man takes as a concern about her reputation.


Lily guides Osborne and her friend to a camp near no man’s land. She introduces them to other clandestine messengers, already anticipating that the contact with Blaine might take some time. Further, into the woods, they enter a cabin full of pictures of those who managed to escape Gilead and others who died over the years. According to the former Martha, Mayday, a secret resistance organization, helped many prisoners by sending information and weapons to the country. June, who just found out about it, feels glad they may still be active in small outposts like the one they are at. 

Tuello escorts Mrs. Waterford to Joseph Lawrence’s house and stays outside while she reunites with some couples. Commander Mackenzie, Hannah Bankole’s current guardian, greets Serena, who gets disappointed to hear about Osborne and her accomplices’ deadly hunt. The widow gets surprised by the comment, but Lawrence immediately diverts attention from the subject. In another room, the group meets Nick and his wife. As the duo recalls how they first met, Rose Blaine gives Mrs. Waterford a handmade gift for her upcoming child.


The scene cuts to Aunt Lydia visiting Esther Keys and Janine Lindo in the hospital after their poisoning. She enters the first one’s room very upset and slaps the unconscious girl. On the flip side, the middle-aged woman goes to where Lindo is still sleeping and kneels before her bed, pleading to God not to take the Handmaid’s life as a punishment for her choices as an Aunt.

Mr. Mackenzie pressures Joseph at the social gathering by saying he needs to remarry soon, though he declines. The Commander takes the opportunity to express how concerned he is about June’s strategies to rescue her daughter, hitting at the possibility of joining forces with Mrs. Waterford to stop the rebellion at any cost. Shifting the focus, Serena mentions Hannah, renamed Agnes, to demonstrate her appreciation for the Mackenzies’ support at the funeral.


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When it gets dark at the camp, a gunman suddenly arrives. He puts everyone on alert, including Osborne and Moira, but ends up proving to be an ally who was sent to bring a kid named Rachel. In the meantime, Blaine manages to exchange a few words with Mark in the garden until Mr. Mackenzie shows up to disperse them. Inside, Lawrence and Serena talk about Eleanor, his late wife, and Fred. He wishes Mrs. Waterford better luck next time, so she reinforces that he should find another partner to stay in power. A little after that, they get distracted by the baby’s kicking in her belly, and the host ensures her protection for both. 

The following sequence begins with Naomi Putman taking little Angela to see Janine in the hospital. Although hesitant, the wife ensures the unconscious Handmaid that her memory will be preserved. Back in the hotel, Serena tells Tuello she is staying in Gilead, but he thinks the woman is making a mistake by choosing a country that mistreats her own gender, especially now that she is free. Still, the pair farewell with a kiss before someone comes in to confirm Serena’s presence at the council reunion.


June manages to contact Blaine through a satellite phone. She first asks about Hannah and the connotation behind her purple dress at the ceremony. According to him, it means the teenager is ready to become a wife, so she will be taught how to accomplish that purpose at school. Nick proceeds to update the protagonist on his obligations as a husband before finally asking for her and Nichole to be safe because he can not do much from afar. 

Aunt Lydia wakes up in Lindo’s room and founds out she was moved. However, she goes outside and feels relieved to find her protégé in a wheelchair. In another take, Serena meets Joseph in a hall before their appointment, even though he is acting cold. They join the other council members, so Commander Mackenzie proposes that she makes herself useful by lending her expertise as an unofficial ambassador in Canada while they expand the influence of Gilead worldwide. As resentful as she is, Mrs. Waterford agrees to play that role on the condition that they provide her with a staff, substantial budget, and protection.


The Handmaid’s Tale (Season 5), Episode 3 Ending Explained

June discusses Hannah’s situation with Moira at the camp when they are informed that Serena is flying to Toronto. Later that day, a bunch of supporters holding candles surrounds her car near the accommodation, and she gets moved by their faith. The driver turns in the direction of a closed street, but unexpectedly, Osborne gets out of the shadow and starts beating in the glass and screaming at Serena. In counterpoint to what happened in the prior episode, she is now a mouse frightened before the cat’s warning. The little animal then backs off, yet it can not help but stare at the huge feline that disappears into the night’s lair. 

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Nathalie Moreira

A journalist who knows the world through the big screen and debates by the lyrics of cozy songs.