The Handmaid’s Tale (Season 5), Episode 9 Recap and Ending, explained: Under the thoughtful direction of fellow actor Bradley Whitford, no race ends at the finish line. One step away from rescuing Hannah Bankole, the heroine must face the resistance of Joseph Lawrence, who now favors Gilead. Meanwhile, Serena Waterford finds herself torn between submitting to the nation’s values and starting a new life abroad. As a mother, she recognizes that the first alternative would be the easiest, but as an antagonist, keeping the head down was never a long-term option.
The Handmaid’s Tale (Season 5), Episode 9 “Allegiance” Recap
Mark Tuello takes June Osborne and her husband to the Canadian Air Force Base to follow a rescue operation in Gilead. The couple is informed that a task force will launch in three aircraft towards a Wives’ School located in Colorado and evacuate thirty girls that will later be sent to their parents. Tuello then introduces Osborne and Bankole to Commander Elijah Vance, so he promptly greets the protagonist before confirming her teenage daughter’s identity. In response to that, she mentions being concerned about the girls’ emotional state, but Bance shows her a picture of his child Emma and reaffirms his compromise to bring them home.
At the Wheelers, Serena Waterford takes pictures with her son for the opening of Gilead’s Fertility Center. When the photo shoot is over, the widow asks Alanis if she can bring the baby to the event in order to greet the supporters and doors, though the host declines, justifying that Noah would be too exposed. Mrs. Waterford attempts to remember the Commanders sent her to represent the republic, to which Mrs. Wheeler replies that her husband does not answer to them. As the little one starts crying from hunger, she requests that Serena pump milk so he can bottle-feed on occasion. The mother, in turn, attests that it would be less confusing if the baby only nurses, yet Alanis orders her to do as told next time.
Joseph Lawrence makes an appointment with Naomi Putnam at his home to discuss her situation after Warren’s death. Counting on Aunt Lydia’s assistance, the Commander explains to Mrs. Putnam that she cannot live alone with a young child and proposes a trade: they would move to his house for security, whereas he would pose with them to symbolize Gilead’s traditional values. Naomi, however, asks if she has a choice, so the middle-aged supervisor hastens to answer that, according to the Bible, every woman is free to marry whomever she desires if her husband dies. Noticing the palpable discomfort in the room, Lawrence emphasizes Mrs. Putnam’s autonomy and leaves the room The moment Lydia speaks again, Naomi points out that Joseph was responsible for her husband’s death, but the Aunt assures her that he is trying to overlook what happened and advises the woman to mirror his example.
Mrs. Waterford sneaks to Ryan Wheeler’s office to repeat her earlier proposal to his wife. The widow starts reminding him that the Fertility Center was her idea, hence she should be there with her son as a symbol of a successful pregnancy. He praises her passion for the cause and finishes the conversation by promising to consider the peach. In the next take, June and Luke watch the mission progress from the control room. Tuello drives their attention to the big screen in which some radar images of the Wives School can be seen, so Osborne’s point of view starts to alternate with the night routine at the place. Guided by an Aunt, a group of teenage girls prays in unison before bed. After each one retires to their respective tents, teenage Hannah proceeds to flip through a picture book, signing her birth name in it as a sign of resilience. Meanwhile, in Canada, her parents are immediately removed from the room as an emergency alarm goes off causing an instant riot.
Outside, Mark announces to the couple that Gilead has anticipated the operation, taking three planes down with no survivors. The instant he leaves to call other families, the scene changes to a call between Laurence and the former Handmaid. He apologizes for what happened, but June ignores it to underline how cruel the counterattack actually was since they aimed to rescue stolen children. Given this observation, Joseph tries to persuade her to move to New Bethlehem, where she could be close to both her daughter and ex-lover, Nick Blaine. Although Osborne disapproves of the idea, the Commander pleads with her to go public and condemn the mission as a way of helping him to fix the system from within, like he had promised his late wife. June recalls the occasion of her suicide and underlines that Eleanor could not stand living with his partner’s dark side. Lawrence responds that she would still want him to help Osborne with Hannah, but she, on the other hand, states that the girl belongs to her mother in Canada. In the end, June hangs up the phone in his face and throws a tantrum in the garden until Luke notices what is going on and comforts the woman in a thigh embrace.
In the following sequence, the protagonist discusses the unsuccessful operation with Tuello. She describes the dialogue in the previous call and asks her fellow Canadian what they should do next. Mark suggests getting in touch with Blaine, explaining that the Commander turned down his offer of mutual help in the past, though they still can have it. As June gets surprised by the information, he adds that she could use her power as a weapon too, but the former Handmaid claims not to feel comfortable doing such a thing. Instead, she agrees to focus on the first alternative, finally giving Tuello permission to set up a meeting with Nick.
Back at the Wheelers, Serena gets ready to attend the opening when the host slaps her in the face. After scolding the widow for talking to Ryan the other night, Alanis announces that she will accompany her to the event. Once there, Mrs. Waterford chats with other women for a while until Mrs. Wheeler approaches to insist that she return home and leave Noah in her care. The first-time mother reluctantly consents and suggests breastfeeding before going, as she has not brought a bottle with milk for the occasion. Alanis gets angry, yet allows the maid to guide the widow towards a reserved spot at the back on the condition that she does not take long. Mrs. Waterford then grabs the chance to escape through a door that leads directly to the street, hitchhiking any vehicle that passes beside her without success. Desperate, she decides to invade the road with the baby on her lap and stops a young woman’s car, who drive them away without further questioning.
Osborne and Blaine get together in a quiet garden. The Commander begins the conversation by lamenting that she declined Joseph’s offer, so June replies by questioning why he refused to help Mark in exchange for moving to Canada. Nick justifies that his wife Rose is pregnant and content with life in Gilead, which has become a better place under Lawrence’s government. Though disappointed, June declares that she wants the best for their families, so Blaine takes the chance to reaffirm his love for the protagonist and asks her to convey his feelings to Nichole. As Osborne returns the affection, she reminds him to set an example for the heir to come and walk away in the opposite direction.
A group of Commanders and their wives gather at Lawrence’s house. In the living room, the women congratulate Mrs. Blaine on the pregnancy until one of them raises a question about Aunt Lydia’s presence. Naomi clarifies that the servant is there to be her chaperone, but realizing the embarrassment that follows, the wives turn their attention to Rose, expressing concern that her baby may have genetic problems due to the mother’s disability. Simultaneously, in a more private room, the men celebrate the diplomatic alliances stemming from Gilead’s retaliation. Mr. Mackenzie, Hannah’s current tutor, inquires Nick Blaine about the progress of the upcoming mission, to which he confirms that two battalions are already waiting at the borders. Moving on to another topic, the Commander points out that June is still causing trouble, pressuring Joseph to take action. He says it will be considered and proceeds to lead the companions into the living room, where they end up thanking him.
The Handmaid’s Tale (Season 5), Episode 9 Ending, Explained
In Canada, a vigil in honor of those killed in the rescue operation competes for space with a protest against Gilead’s refugees. First, June and her family watch Tuello chant the victims’ names, then the heroin steps forward to help little Emma, Elijah Vance’s daughter, sing the American anthem. At that moment, gunshots are heard nearby, causing people to run in multiple directions. However, Osborne remains on the same spot, bending down with the child as bullets hit the flag in front of them to the sound of Janelle Monáe’s “Americans”. The image, in turn, represents the symbolic death of the United States, whereas the lyrics convey a message of resistance against the extremist ideology that killed it. Considering that hate currently spreads like a plague, both in fiction and in reality, those who refuse to fight it with an open heart become accomplices to the intolerance that affects closed minds.