This article contains some spoilers for 'The Handmaid's Tale' season 3 episode 5
'The Handmaid's Tale' season 3 episode 5 holds the key to Serena's (Yvonne Strahovski) intentions for the future and it has become clear that June Osborne (Elisabeth Moss) did not gain an ally after all. At least, not when it comes to the fate of their baby, Nichole. At the beginning of the episode, it seemed like all Serena wanted was to meet her daughter Nichole one last time.
Once Serena got a look at her daughter with Luke Bankhole (O.T. Fagbenle) in episode 4 through a video, there was no stopping her. We knew she would rally for a meeting with her daughter, come what may. The fact that she attended a meeting with the high commanders - a mere wife sitting on the same level as these men who rule Gilead - and the fact that her husband invited her for a meeting that would decide the fate of their child, shows the kind of power the two now hold among the higher rungs of Gilead's society.
All of this is shown in passing and what takes center stage is Serena's meeting with Nichole. It changes the direction the show was headed so far. A germ of doubt has now been planted about how sincere Serena really is as a mother. Her obsession with the need to be a mother may really result in difficult times ahead for Nichole and everyone involved in her escape from Gilead.
After meeting Nichole in Canada in episode 5, it was clear that despite wanting the best for her daughter, she might fall back into her old ways of manipulation and torture for the selfish reason of wanting to stay with Nichole. Especially after Luke explicitly expressed how Serena will never be a part of Nichole's life and her story will be associated with her real mother June and how brave she was.
Serena almost begs Luke to allow Nichole to make her own judgements about where she comes when she is old enough, but Luke will, of course, have none of that. This is probably the beginning of Serena turning away from everything she and June achieved so far.
He questions Serena about what she tells herself to sleep at night and why she thinks this meeting is going to be of any help. All that Serena has to say in response is that she did it all for her daughter. Just to get Luke to accept the gift she prepared for Nichole, she stoops to warning Luke about how she saved his wife once. That certainly had Luke taking a step back.
So, meeting her daughter changed something in her clearly, enough to have her join hands with her husband again to bring Nichole back home. She is even given an option by the Canadian government to stay back and she doesn't accept. She definitely seemed ready to make a huge change and when she said she was hoping to return to "Atlanta" soon, it seemed there was hope after all for Gilead.
But that is not how things progressed. With one sentence, Fred Waterford (Joseph Fiennes) changed everything. As expected, the baby has now become a point contention between Gilead and Canada and this is going to affect many lives including that of Moira and Luke. Fred has cleverly got Serena back on his side and June is left to deal with the consequences of the chance she took by trusting Serena with Nichole.
Also, at this point, what is unclear is if Serena has really changed or if she is going along with what Fred has set out to do. We haven't heard what she has to say about her decision to go along with Fred's idea. What she has done now, however, will lead to a political debate unlike any Gilead has ever seen. This is going to influence the way June becomes a part of the resistance.
Her daughter and husband's life is at stake and desperate times call for desperate measures. Did she put her family in danger by accepting Serena and Fred's terms when it came to arranging a meet with Nichole? The thought of that is what will drive June further into the resistance and we saw how determined she was to face her enemies down at the end of episode 5.
'The Handmaid's Tale' season 3 episode 6 will air June 26 on Hulu.