Elisabeth Moss and Yvonne Strahovski deliver outstanding performances in “No Man’s Land” as the two rivals are finally reunited. This is another utterly engrossing installment, highlighting the show’s keen eye for drama and emotional nuance.
This recap of the Hulu series The Handmaid’s Tale season 5, episode 7, “No Man’s Land,” contains spoilers.
The Handmaid’s Tale season 5 has really been firing on all cylinders of late, with some devastating revelations and plenty of cliffhanger endings to keep viewers coming back for more. The performances and the storytelling have all been top notch too, which thankfully continues in the stunning “No Man’s Land”. The seventh episode spends the majority of its runtime working like a bottle episode, with June and Serena escaping into the wilderness together after the previous instalment’s hijinks, whilst a flashback relates heavily to the two rival’s current predicament.
The Handmaid’s Tale season 5, episode 7 recap
The episode picks up only seconds after “Together” ended, with June aimlessly racing down a back road with Serena pointing a gun squarely at her from the backseat. June desperately wants to know what the hell is going on, but Serena just continually orders her to keep on driving. Serena is in agony though and accidentally fires the weapon as she is jolted with pain. That’s the final straw for June who applies the brakes and quickly scarpers, running for the woods.
June manages to escape her captor and heads into the undergrowth. From her vantage point, she watches Serena give chase and crash her car into a ditch. Compelled to help her villainous foe, June turns back, coming to Serena’s aid. She quickly realizes that Serena is in the throes of labour, wailing in agony as another contraction occurs. June takes Serena’s gun and assesses the situation, spotting a barn in the distance.
Serena’s plans have well and truly fallen apart. They now find themselves lost in the wilderness, with Gilead hunting them down and a baby on the way. The writers have mounted one monumental dilemma on top of another, which leads to thrilling results. In the cold barn, June reflects on her own previous pregnancies and remarks about giving birth singlehandedly that one time. Serena isn’t much better off, but at least she has June this time, although she can’t bring herself to actually allow June to help her.
Flashbacks are cleverly intercut with these tense scenes. We revert back to the days when June was referred to as Offred. She is sent to a Commander’s wife’s house for the birth of a baby. Serena is there to support the wife, whilst June is there for the handmaid, Ofclarence. The handmaid is bleeding heavily though and she is consequently operated upon. The baby survives, but Ofclarence dies in labour. The handmaids watch as one of their own is wheeled out, whilst the rich ladies celebrate their newborn baby without remorse.
Back in the present, June storms off to try and get the car out of the ditch so she can escape this nightmare. Even if Serena and the unborn baby are to survive and June sticks around, they’ll be trapped in the middle of nowhere without some wheels. So she puts her efforts into solving this current problem first. June tries all sorts to move the vehicle, but it just won’t budge. Eventually, she places a car mat under the wheel and secures a wooden post under that. This works a treat and the car reverses back onto the road. June pulls away the broken glass from the gunshot and sees the blood on her hands. Is this Serena’s or her own? Either way, it triggers a response in June and she heads back to the barn to do the right thing.
June returns and assists in Serena’s painfully natural birth. Serena is overjoyed to have such a beautiful baby boy and even June is caught up in the moment. Serena names the baby Noah and the two enemies discuss breastfeeding. Noah latches on quickly, whilst June always struggled. Now that the drama is out of the way, the two rivals find time to discuss the more important things. Serena wants to know why June didn’t kill her when she had the chance and they debate Noah’s future. Both Elisabeth Moss and Yvonne Strahovski are spellbinding in this sequence, delivering outstanding performances as the two enemies are drawn together by a life-changing event. June admits that she didn’t want to kill Serena and they both hope that Noah doesn’t turn out like his father, Fred.
June reiterates that they need to get to a hospital. They have no food or water and the temperature is bitterly cold within the barn. Serena may be sweating, but this is due to her fever. She adamantly refuses to go to a hospital, explaining the abusive relationship she has with the Wheelers. It’s heartbreaking to hear Serena talking of her abuse so candidly. She admits that they are controlling her and treating her like their handmaid. Serena states that she has no future and wants June to take her baby, to provide him with a safer life.
In this moment, June realizes that the handmaids were nothing but vessels to Serena and the other Gilead wives. She doesn’t want to be like them though and offers to save Serena’s life instead, adding that Noah needs his mother. It’s another powerful exchange in a truly gripping instalment. Shortly after, they find themselves at the hospital and Serena is taken away to be examined. June checks up on them later and Serena seems to have relaxed somewhat. She complains about the formula feed and just wanting to go home, although she doesn’t really have a place to call home anymore.
Luke and June are reunited and then the Canadian officials come to detain Serena. She is arrested on the spot and is informed that she is to be sent to a detention centre. Serena asks about her baby’s safety and they explain that Child Protection will be looking after Noah in the short term. The dire situation hits Serena hard and she starts to panic, screaming at June to come and help her. It’s a horrid end as Serena screams for help as they take her baby away, while Luke looks on, smiling, claiming this to be justice. Even the villainous Serena doesn’t deserve such a callous end.
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