The Handmaid's Tale: No Man's Land
October 19, 2022 1:51 PM - Season 5, Episode 7 - Subscribe

June and Serena find themselves in a desperate situation.
posted by roolya_boolya (10 comments total)
Another belter of an episode. The investment in this show is really paying off this season. I went from wishing June would take Serena's baby and leave her in No Man's Land to be hauled back to Gilead to being devastated when the immigration officers separated them.
posted by roolya_boolya at 1:53 PM on October 19, 2022

I did think June looked like she might just take Noah and leave Serena to do whatever. She was right to save Serena's life but I was still with Luke. Now she knows how it feels. Personhood entitles her not to die abandoned in the middle of nowhere. It doesn't entitle her to walk away from the consequences of her own choices.
posted by Karmakaze at 6:23 PM on October 19, 2022 [2 favorites]

Serena deserved what she got but the traumatized look on June's face as she watched the scene in the hospital room was absolutely heartbreaking.
posted by kokaku at 2:36 AM on October 20, 2022 [1 favorite]

oooh I want Serena to suffer so bad. I thought June's speech about not being like Serena was great. The fact that Luke did what he did - now that makes him just as bad as them. They seemed to be getting on the right track but of course that couldn't last. I was actually convinced that Serena would end up shooting Luke. A husband for a husband.

I wish they would have spent some more time with Serena as a handmaid at least. Still couldn't help feeling bad for her.
posted by mokeydraws at 9:46 AM on October 21, 2022 [1 favorite]

June's relationship with Serena has always been a complicated one. Serena's loneliness in Gilead led her to blur the boundaries at times and be almost friendly towards Offred - and then pull back and treat her with unbelievable cruelty. June is, deep down, too good a person to have left Serena to die in the barn, despite her contempt for Serena and everything she stands for. First and foremost, June is a mother, and her compassion for Serena was only because she knows what it's like to give birth alone and afraid.

Serena's baby being taken away is such poetic justice. I don't think Luke did the wrong thing at all - I think foremost in his mind was what Serena did at Fred's funeral. I think that was a watershed moment for him and he is now fully on board with punishing the person who put his wife and daughter through such torment.

It was so poignant this week seeing Alma in the flashbacks.
posted by essexjan at 3:06 PM on October 21, 2022 [2 favorites]

I'm glad Luke stepped in and made sure Serena was punished. She was one of the founding families of this Gilead nonsense. She was getting what she deserves. I'm sure June's compassion is real, but it's wasted on SJ.
posted by luckynerd at 10:03 AM on October 23, 2022 [2 favorites]

I should also note that Noah is also likely to be safer raised by someone else. Given Serena's whiplashing between fundamentalism and "the rules weren't supposed to oppress me" the kid would be looking at a very unstable upraising even before bringing Gilead politics into the mix. We've all talked about separating Serena and Noah as punishment for Serena, but Noah's interests also count here.
posted by Karmakaze at 5:51 AM on October 24, 2022 [1 favorite]

Woah this discussion is way more bloodthirsty than I felt. This whole season, this whole show, we've been worried about June's soul. That she was so irrevocably damaged from the abuses of Gilead that she had lost her humanity, her compassion, that all she had left was vengeance and retribution. And that would be fine in a moral sense. She deserves all the retribution! But then what an awful outcome for her, for June.

So here in this episode June finds grace. She finds compassion for Serena's baby. And then, impossibly, for Serena herself. She saves Serena's life. She gives a whole speech about how she is saving Serena not for Serena's sake but for Noah's, because a child belongs with his mother. An absolute moral moment transcending everything Gilead has done. I found it very moving.

So everything that happened after in the hospital: the immigration, the threat of the baby being taken away. That's awful, that's not justice. I think that's the message the show meant to tell us. Which annoyed me a bit because as awful as handcuffing a new mother to a hospital bed might be, she's still in a fair, free, just country. It may be awkward for Serena for the next few weeks but in the end she and Noah are going to be OK. There's no symmetry between Canada and Gilead and Nicole and I'm a bit annoyed at the show pulling on our heartstrings that there might be.

(Except for the Wheelers. I never have understood who they are supposed to be. He seems to be the law in No Man's Land? And Serena fears his reach in Canadian hospitals? I sure hope they never come back and threaten Serena, June, Noah. But we have a few episodes to go.)

One last comment.. This whole episode is June's ambiguity with Serena, will she help her? Extract vengeance? That ambiguity is brought to a climax when Serena finally births Noah, when June is holding the baby. And for a few seconds there's a shot of June crouching there with the baby, with that feral look in her eyes. In that moment June is contemplating taking Noah, leaving Serena to die. She'd be fully justified in doing that. But she doesn't, because she has her moment of grace.

This show is intensely Catholic.
posted by Nelson at 9:31 PM on November 1, 2022 [4 favorites]

Excellent comment Nelson, insightful and I agree with almost everything you say. However I think that the echoes that are invoked by Serena's encounter with immigration law are a reflection on how even 'free and fair' countries can treat immigrants harshly within the bounds of their own laws and moral justifications. Examples abound in the US, UK, Australia and even the EU.
posted by roolya_boolya at 11:38 PM on November 1, 2022

And for a few seconds there's a shot of June crouching there with the baby, with that feral look in her eyes.

Just for a second, I honestly thought June might kill the baby right there just to cause Serena the maximum amount of pain. Because when Elizabeth Moss does that look, June seems capable of anything.
posted by Paul Slade at 2:11 PM on December 4, 2022

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