Warning: Spoilers for The Handmaid’s Tale Season 5, Episode 6 follow. The Handmaid’s Tale Season 5’s Canadian storylines have dominated the discourse of June versus Serena. However, back in Gilead, the political problems have been mounting as commanders try to one-up each other, wives jostle for dominance, and Aunt Lydia struggles with her handmaids. So far, Nick has been coming out on top, but to what end? If his wife, Rose, is actually pregnant, things are only going to get more complicated.
The fallout after Esther’s attempt on her own life (and Janine’s) back at the end of Episode 2 has been spreading. Janine’s rage at Lydia over how handmaids continue to be treated spurred the aunt into genuinely trying to find a workable solution to an inhumane concept. Lawrence laughed her out of the room the first time, but he, too, is trying to find a path to a more relaxed lifestyle with his New Bethlehem proposal.
However, the discovery that Esther was pregnant changed everything for Lydia. Now she wasn’t just dealing with a young girl who was angry at the world. It turned out, Commander Putnam raped and impregnated Esther when she wasn’t even his handmaid yet. It sounds bizarre, but Lydia has standards, and that is a line you do not cross.
Once again, Lawrence laughed Lydia out of the room when she came demanding justice be served against one of the most powerful men in the country. But Lawrence had his own need to remove Putnam from the chessboard: Putnam led the faction that refused to let Lawrence’s New Bethlehem idea be considered. As long as he stood between Lawrence and his goal, he was a problem to be solved. Having him tried and found guilty of apostasy and assaulting “unassigned property” was a neat little irony for taking down one of the most outwardly pious of Gilead’s commanders.
Nick carried out the sentence, putting a bullet through Putnam’s head before going home to Rose. She’d heard all about it by the time he arrived, and she disapproved, worried how it would affect his immortal soul. Nick said it was all to make Gilead a safer place for their child. Rose touched her belly in response, even as she doubted his claim.
It was a sublte moment, but a major one. Does it mean Nick has another child on the way? Considering he’s clearly still in love with the mother of his first child (June), this could be a very messy development in his personal life.
But it also brings up another mess: Gilead wives aren’t supposed to be able to conceive. The whole point of the handmaid system is that only a small number of women can bring children to term, making those women a commodity for the rich and powerful to own. If wives can get pregnant — not just Serena in some magical way, but as a matter of course, the way Ester (a former wife) and now Rose (a current wife) can — why does the handmaid system even exist?
The Handmaid’s Tale Season 5 continues with new episodes streaming every Wednesday on Hulu.