The Handmaid’s Tale Season 5, Episode 2 Recap – “Ballet”

By Adam Lock
Published: September 14, 2022 (Last updated: April 22, 2024)
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The Handmaid's Tale Season 5, Episode 2 Recap – “Ballet”
The Handmaid's Tale season 5, episode 2 (Credit - Hulu)




“Ballet” returns viewers to the horrors of Gilead as Serena orchestrates an extravagant funeral for her husband, Fred. The handmaids make a welcomed return, and June battles her inner demons back in Canada. It’s a packed installment with one hell of a climactic twist ending.

June achieved her goal of killing the monstrous Fred, and now she has her sights set firmly on her next enemy, Fred’s villainous wife, Serena Waterford. Episode 2, “Ballet,” focuses on June’s internal battle as she considers whether to go after Serena or just to let her go. Whilst back in Gilead, Serena organizes Fred’s funeral and plots a most heinous scheme of her own.

June’s Trauma and Mental State Is Put On Show

To signify June’s latest headspace, viewers are shown a montage of moments from her past. These all focus on the atrocities that Serena has put her through over the years. June is traumatized by these past events that plague her memories and clearly has unfinished business with the woman, but like she said in episode 1, she just can’t see a simple way of killing her.

Serena Has Grand Plans for Fred’s Funeral

Serena lands in Gilead, where she is met by Commanders Nick Blaine (Max Minghella) and Joseph Lawrence (Bradley Whitford). She wants to see what is in place for Fred’s funeral straight away, but the Commanders have downplayed the event, choosing a small, insignificant church instead. Serena isn’t best pleased with the arrangement and asks for a much grander affair.

Joseph bites back with his usual sarcastic vigor, but Serena has a secret weapon. She knows June killed Fred and threatens to tell the other Commanders of this scandalous secret if they do not appease her. Serena has always been a manipulative so-and-so, but in “Ballet,” she takes this to another level.

The Handmaid's Tale Season 5, Episode 2 Recap – “Ballet”

The Handmaid’s Tale season 5, episode 2 (Credit – Hulu)

Fred’s wake is to be held at the Putnam household, and Aunt Lydia wants to show off her handmaids to this wealthy, powerful family. Esther Keyes (Mckenna Grace) is the most likely candidate, and Lydia hopes Esther will become Putnam’s next personal handmaid. Janine is on hand to help train Esther in the specific protocols and tries to guide her in the right direction. It’s great to have the old gang back again, and this subplot allows audiences to see that even though June is free, there is still plenty of suffering going on in Gilead.

Extravagant food is on display at the wake, and the rich elite wander around Putnam’s lavish home. Warren and Naomi Putnam welcome Serena and Tuello to their house. Tuello is immediately pushed to one side while the ladies discuss Serena’s miracle pregnancy. Later, Serena meets with the other Commanders and suggests that they make the funeral into an internationally broadcasted event. Sensing trouble, Nick and Joseph gallantly defend her proposal, and the idea takes hold.

Janine Is Not Giving Up on Her Daughter

Whilst Serena negotiates with the rulers of the land, Janine and Esther are allowed a brief meeting with Naomi. This gives Janine a chance to see her daughter again, who she lovingly embraces. It’s a painful moment, reminding us of the sacrifices these handmaids have made. Esther and Naomi are then introduced, and Lydia convinces Naomi to consider her as their next handmaid. Naomi points out how young she is, but Warren Putnam seems to secretly enjoy this factor. What follows is an intensely creepy scene as Warren feeds a chocolate to Esther in private.

After the wake, Janine and Esther eat stolen chocolates in secret. Janine discusses her undying love for her daughter and then says how much she’ll miss Esther when she is gone. Esther’s cute, kind persona instantly switches to a cold and nasty one. She says that she hates Janine and is adamant that Janine only befriended her so she could get to see her daughter once more.

Janine pleads that she is only trying to help, but Esther is livid. She says she’ll make June proud and then begins to cough and splutter, collapsing onto the floor. Janine follows suit as Lydia rushes into the room. Has Esther poisoned them both? What is her endgame here?

How does The Handmaid’s Tale Season 5, Episode 2 End?

The Handmaid’s Tale season 5, episode 2 (Credit – Hulu)

Away from the haunts of Gilead in safe old Canada, June is falling apart. Everything seems to trigger flashbacks to her traumatic past, even a game of Scrabble. Her PTSD is worsening, and June has no one to really turn to. Luke tries his best to accommodate them, and they go to the ballet for a little bit of normalcy.

After leaving this event, they wander the city streets, joking and kissing. Things look on the up, but Serena has one last trick up her sleeve. Suddenly, the funeral is broadcast on all the city’s billboard screens.

June and Luke look on in horror as Serena leads the funeral procession. Their daughter, Hannah, then greets Serena, with her face plastered on all these screens for Luke and June to see. It’s a masterstroke from the writers. Serena finally achieves her own devious payback. June killed Fred, so in retaliation, Serena hits June where it hurts. And June looks rightfully livid, whilst Serena twinges the minutest of smirks in response. It’s one of those moments that will give you goosebumps; what a clever ending indeed.

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