The Handmaid’s Tale has pulled no punches this season. Between the brutal torture of June, the shock reveal that Serena Joy is pregnant, and the slaughter of four handmaids thanks to an ill-timed train, Season 4 seems to be all about reaching new brutal lows.
Episode 5, called “Chicago,” was no different. A reunion fans have been clamoring for since Season 1 finally went down, but it coincided with the loss of a pivotal original cast member. But is this person really gone for good?
Spoilers for Episode 5 ahead.
The Handmaid’s Tale: What happened in Episode 5?
In “Chicago,” we follow June and Janine, the last remaining handmaids from the Keyes’ farm after two were thrown off a building and four were either shot or hit by a train. After escaping in a tankard of milk, June and Janine ran into a nameless group salvaging together a life in Chicago, the front lines of a war between militant groups and Gilead.
At the same time, Commander Lawrence and Nick Blaine try to advocate for a cease-fire and eventually succeed, but get a disturbing order from the Gilead higher-ups: bomb the front lines just prior to the deadline. Nick raises concerns that civilians may be harmed, but it’s the “cost of doing business.”
June and Janine initially separate, with Janine wanting to stay with her new flame Steven, but later catches up with June — they’ve made it this far together, after all. And as they explore the front lines, the inevitable happens. Bombs fall, and both June and Janine are sent flying.
As June wakes up to the haunting cords of an acoustic cover of “Fix You,” she realizes she can’t find Janine, but the devastation is interrupted by the moment we’ve been waiting for since the first season — the reunion of June and Moira, together again outside the thumb of Gilead.
The Handmaid’s Tale: Is Janine really dead?
But is Janine really dead? Considering the way the past episodes have been slowly whittling down June’s allies, the choice would make sense. Then again, The Handmaid’s Tale has done the fakeout death before. Both Luke and Moira were assumed dead when they attempted an escape from Gilead, but they both survived. Janine could do the same, or she could be another addition in the long list of people who had to die to get June where she is now.
It looks like June, after years spent helping others escape, is finally going to get a taste of freedom herself. But freedom comes with a price, and now the question remains if she’ll be able to exist in Canada knowing how many of her friends are definitely dead or missing, and that her daughter is still in Gilead’s custody.
The Handmaid’s Tale Episode 5 is now streaming on Hulu.