Janine (Madeline Brewer) in The Handmaid's Tale
4 Theories About WTF Is Happening To Janine On The Handmaid's Tale

Commander Lawrence can no longer be trusted.

by Ani Bundel
Sophie Giraud/Hulu

The Handmaid’s Tale started as a story about a fallen America replaced by Gilead. But since June escaped, the focus has been more on the Canadian side of the border and Gilead policy than the plight of the Handmaids. However, Season 5 did cover Esther’s assault by her prospective commander and her attempt to take her own life and Janine’s, and the season ended with the Eyes taking Janine away, spawning several theories about where the show will go next.

Warning: Spoilers for The Handmaid’s Tale Season 5 finale follow. Since Esther was revealed to be pregnant, the show checked in long enough to reveal the fallout of her assault among the commanders, to Lawrence’s benefit. But other than Aunt Lydia promising Janine she would never be assigned to another commander, the story was largely dropped. However, Lydia’s favoritism for Janine was called out in the finale, forcing her to break that promise.

She assigned Janine to the commander least likely to assault her: Lawrence. He was marrying the now-widowed Naomi Putnam, the woman to whom Janine bore a daughter when she was previously her handmaid. In Lydia’s twisted mind, she was creating a blended family of sorts. But upon hearing that Gilead had attempted to assassinate June, Janine finally found her backbone and told Naomi how much she hated her.

Janine was dismissed from the Lawrence household and returned to the Red Center. But Lydia’s inability to handle the situation was quickly moot. The Eyes arrested Janine (and the Martha who told her about the attack on June) at the command of Lawrence, taking them away to parts unknown. Here are a few theories about where she’s heading.


The Colonies


The Colonies would be the most sensible place for Lawrence to send Janine and the Martha. Back in the show’s early seasons, this was introduced as where Handmaids who misbehaved were sent, as were rebellious Marthas. If Season 6 is looking to call back to the show’s early seasons and bring the story full circle, a return to the Colonies, maybe with Janine staging a mass breakout, would be perfect.


New Bethlehem

Although Lawrence can no longer be trusted now that he’s married to a true believer like Naomi, he still has his promise to his late first wife, Eleanor, that he will try and make Gilead better. That’s the whole point of New Bethlehem; it’s where those who screwed up get a second chance.

Lawrence’s original idea was to have June be the poster child of Gilead’s mercy and forgiveness, but that’s no longer possible — nor is sending Nick and Rose, as Rose dumped Nick after he punched Lawrence in the face. Perhaps Janine and the Martha are his next best choice?


The Magdalene Colony

Sophie Giraud/Hulu

In the last episodes where June and Janine were together in Gilead, Lydia threatened to send them to something called “the Magdalene Colony.” It was the last resort spot for fertile handmaids, a place where the ones who wouldn’t function in households were taken and stored until a commander and his wife needed one for the evening.

June and Janine escaped ever going there, leaving the horrible idea in the air as a loose end. With Season 6 wrapping things up, it might make sense for the show to bring back this idea, especially if it gives Janine the chance to burn it to the ground.



Then there’s the answer everyone is hoping for: Canada. Just because Lawrence married Mrs. Putnam, it doesn’t mean he’s suddenly a true believer. Nor does it matter that both June and Nick turned against him. His promise to be good to these women and make Gilead better was to Eleanor, and he seems bound and determined to keep it.

Sending Janine and the Martha to Canada to get them out of Gilead and away from Mrs. Putnam’s wrath is precisely the move he’d make if he were aiming for true goodness. It would also be the perfect way for Naomi to accidentally realize her new husband has been betraying Gilead for years.

The Handmaid’s Tale Seasons 1 through 5 are streaming on Hulu. Season 6 is expected in 2023.