The Handmaid’s Tale season 5, episode 1 recap – the premiere explained

By Adam Lock
Published: September 14, 2022 (Last updated: last month)
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The Handmaid’s Tale is back (Praise be!), and it is as captivating as ever. Emotions are high, and the show addresses the character’s mental instabilities with subtle actions — this is exquisite storytelling.

This recap of the Hulu series The Handmaid’s Tale season 5, episode 1, “Morning” contains spoilers.

In season four of The Handmaid’s Tale, June Osborne finally accomplished her long-term objective and exacted sweet revenge when she aided in the killing of Fred Waterford. The fifth season looks to be focusing on the fallout of this murderous act and the psychological effects the slaying has on June. The premiere, which Elisabeth Moss expertly directs, addresses June’s current mental state and Serena’s plans moving forwards after this devastating blow.

The Handmaid’s Tale season 5, episode 1 recap

June relives Fred’s death as she washes her bloodied hands in the bathroom at the start of “Morning”. She can’t help but smile and the series kicks off with that rebellious flair we have come to crave from the heroine. June ignores questioning from her husband Luke and best friend Moira, who both chase after her out of the house. They pull her back before she exits in the car, desperate to know why she is covered in blood. With that manic smile upon her face, June tells them that she has killed Fred and then whizzes off in the car.

She meets up with her fellow murderers in a nondescript café the morning after their heroic assassination. They’re all ravenous, and like June, are still covered in Fred’s blood. Conversation quickly turns to their next target. They want Serena dead or at least tortured for her many wrongs. June is shown a boot full of weapons, which brings to mind the Breaking Bad finale. These women are clearly out for further retribution, but June seems wary about returning to Gilead.

Serena receives the bad news that very morning and is moved to a different, more secure location. She demands to know what is going on and is informed of Fred’s passing. The cold, restrained woman remembers dancing with Fred and then weeps in the lift as she is taken away. Mark Tuello greets her at her new prison cell and explains the circumstances surrounding Fred’s death. He was involved in a deal where they exchanged him for 22 prisoners. Serena is sent his wedding ring and a severed finger by the killer(s). She sees this as a sign, June practically broadcasting her involvement to Serena, who quickly fears she’ll be after her next.

After being informed of Emily’s absence (Alexis Bledel will not be returning this season), June heads for her friend’s home. She is met by Emily’s wife Sylvia, who explains that Emily has returned to Gilead of her own accord. Emily wants to fight and may be seeking out Aunt Lydia for her own sweet revenge. June leaves and tries to wash off Fred’s blood, which still clings to her body. There’s a slight nod to Lady Macbeth as she scrubs at her hands, and then she washes her face in the sea, as you do.

Here, June is picked up by the authorities and subsequently confesses to the police. She tells Luke how much she enjoyed the experience and although she has no remorse for the act, worries what she has become. The mother doesn’t know whether she should even be around her own daughter and fears what she is capable of. Luke is just as angry about the situation and fully understands June’s actions, yet he can’t fathom why she would confess. June is swiftly taken away and describes in detail the incident to the police. Because the murder happened in no man’s land, she is allowed to leave without any repercussions. To June, this result is worse than imprisonment and she walks home in an absolute daze.

The ending

Meanwhile, Serena asks to see her husband’s remains and berates Tuello besides Fred’s unmoving body. Tuello explains that June will not be charged for the murder as she technically didn’t break any laws. Serena is livid and fears for her safety, verbalizing the matter this time around. She knows what she did and she knows June is after her next. Tuello offers Serena safe asylum in Canada, but she knows the outcome, shouting at Tuello that he cannot protect her. She whips off the sheet, which is hiding Fred’s corpse and uncovers his mutilated body. The camera lingers on Fred’s maimed remains for a little too long, demonstrating the violence June is capable of.

June returns home with Luke and sits in shock at the kitchen table. Luke is happy to have his wife home, but Moira is fretful. She airs these concerns to June’s face. Saying that she doesn’t feel comfortable having June in the house or letting her care for her own daughter, Nicole. June agrees with her friend, stating that she thought she would be in jail right now. Next, Tuello updates her on Serena’s reaction to news of the death and he thanks her for the assassination. He seems genuinely impressed by June’s tenacity. His words help June a little, making her feel less alone. The mother returns to her home and hugs Nicole, hinting at a brighter future for June, who clearly has the capacity to love still and yearns to be whole again.

What did you think of the Hulu series The Handmaid’s Tale season 5, episode 1? Comment below. 

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