Handmaid's Tale season 4 ended with the death of Fred Waterford by June and the rest of the ex-maids in no man's land, which kicks off season 5 with the funeral of Commander Fred in Gilead. Serena makes a plea to the Canadian government to bury her husband in her homeland, which they grant.
After the funeral, Serena hopes she can stay in Gilead to raise her child, but the Gilead government doesn't want that and sends her to Canada in a safe house set up for her there to be a representation of Gilead and their values. However, in no time, June's husband Luke managed to get her evicted and left her practically homeless, having nowhere to go but to take refuge in the Wheelers' property, who are Gilead supporters and support Gilead's way of living. They practically treated Serena as their handmaid as they were controlling her every move and step to protect the wellbeing of herself and the baby she carries- she finally got a slight taste of her own medicine.
Moreover, while this continues, Luke and June travel to no man's land as they have heard Hannah, their daughter, was sent to a wives' training program school at 12 years old. Devastated by this, they seek answers to what the program is like and where it is. They also discovered more women part of Mayday to tear down the Gilead institution.
In the meantime, Janine gets caught running away with June and is back In Gilead under Aunt Lydia's care. She sees Janine as some sort of protege and is very fond of her. Aunt Lydia tries to keep Janine under her care as long as possible, hoping that as Janine continues her excellent work and listens, she may go unnoticed, and the other aunts might see her value in helping the other handmaids. However, this only lasts for a short time; later, she must become a handmaid. Aunt Lydia tries to persuade Ms Putnum to have Janine as her handmaid, the first family for which Janine bore her first child. Ms Putnum gives it a chance as Gilead is going for a rebrand, and she is now to be married to Commander Lawrence, as they are both widows. Mr Putnam was killed for abusing and impregnating one of the younger handmaids before she was assigned to him, which Gilead stated was a crime. Finally, some justice. As she expected, it was unsuccessful as Janine hates her and shares that notion with her, which gets Mrs Lawerence upset and is later returned to aunt Lydia. In no short time, guards take Janine from what I would call the 'handmaids training centre'. Aunt Lydia attempts to fight this by shouting and hitting the guards but is unsuccessful as Janine is put in a van, not knowing where they are taking her or what they will do to her... to follow in season 6.
Moreover, Luke and June get caught by Gilead's officiants in no man's land looking for answers, and June is given to Serena to watch her get executed by her bodyguard for the offences to not only Gilead but to Serena herself.. whatever that means. She manages to convince the bodyguard to let her kill June herself. However, Serena can't go through with it and shoots her bodyguard Ezra instead. Serena still holds the gun at June to get into the car, and then June starts driving while Serena is having contractions and goes into labour. June tries to run away and leave her when she drives the car off into the side of the road in chaos but instead, June ends up helping Serena to give birth in a barn, and Serena names her baby boy Noah. In that scene, Serena and June bond in a bizarre way and save Serena and her baby as she decides to 'turn the other cheek.' The scene reminds me of the birth of Jesus in a barn- the directors are very clever with their imagery, always consistent with the show's theme and biblical abstract.
Luke somehow gets freed from the Gilead officiants and finds out Serena is in the hospital and wants her to know how it feels to have her child taken away from her. Since she has no status in the country and is technically illegal in Canada, they detain her, and the wheelers take her child into custody. While detained, she calls for June for advice and assistance, which June does give in her own version but makes it clear that just because she saved her life does not mean they are friends, which Serena thought they were. June simply says, ' I am just a better Christian than you.'
While all this is happening, Canadian citizens are getting frustrated with the number of American refugees coming in, straining their government resources and taking away their jobs. They start campaigning and protesting for the Americans to go home. Commander Lawerence is aware of this and uses it to propose an offer to June on new Bethlehem, a place in Gilead that gives the illusion of freedom where they could be reunited with their loved ones, to try and improve Gilead's status. - June wants to do it because of how much she misses Hannah, but Luke is not up for it.
June and Luke found a video of the wives' schools which they showed to the Canadian governments, who sent their troopers to get in and rescue the children. Not knowing this was a ploy set up by Gileads, the Canadian planes taken there to save the children were shot down by Gilead and left no survivors. They do a remembrance night to honour those who risked their lives trying to help the Americans, but protesters were shouting and ruining the service at the back. A little girl begins to sing the national anthem of America, which June joins as, I guess, a counter-protest to the Canadians to show they are proud Americans, but this backfires, and there is a shootout.
After that, the protest gets worse, the Canadians get angrier and angrier, and the country changes. Someone attempted to kill June, luke killed that person, and they needed to run away as Luke could get arrested. Canada is changing as June said, 'America wasn't Gilead until it was' The Canadian government official Tuello helps Luke, June, and baby Nicole escape and tells them to avoid flying as the police will be looking for Luke at the airport, but that trains are going west, where they are sending the other refugees. Luke and June take that advice, and as they plan to do that, they must go through border control to access the trains. Luke realises this and knows this will cause trouble for their escape to guarantee Nicole and June's survival and ability to escape. Luke gives himself up so June and Nicole can go free into the train, where, surprise, she meets Serena with baby Noah as she manages to escape the wheelers' presence. And that's how the incredible season 5 ended.
And oh yeah... Throughout the season, Nick played both sides of the fences. Right-hand man to Commander Lawerence whilst highly concerned about the wellbeing of June, whom he is in love with, and in the end becomes a Canadian informant in Gilead hoping to help June. Nick later got arrested for punching Commander Lawerence at an event for making June a target of these protests in Canada that almost killed her.
My season 6 predictions:
The ending of season 5 suggests that in season 6, we will see more of Serena and June together, using each other as a form of survival, mentally and physically, both in different ways from each other. I can't say what will be of Luke, but I know season 5 won't be the last we will see of Janine, and in season 6, Aunt Lydia will start slowly rebelling against Gilead and all its harmful plans against her handmaids.