The Handmaid’s Tale season 3, episode 5 recap: Unknown Caller


This episode is a reminder that The Handmaid’s Tale will forever thrive on breaking our hearts.

The Handmaid’s Tale brings forth a very heartbreaking moment for viewers in this episode, “Unknown Caller”. We’ve seen so much of Luke and June separately that we often forget that they haven’t been around one another for years. It’s actually quite heartbreaking when you think about it, which is why the title of the episode makes it hurt when you realize what it means.

June finds some comfort when she finds out that Nichole is most definitely with Luke. Moments like this in The Handmaid’s Tale are scarce so June definitely has cause to celebrate, at least for the time being. Now, all she really wants to know is if Luke is safe, but she isn’t going to find out through Commander Lawrence, that’s for sure.

Meanwhile, Fred does something strange and asks Serena to join a meeting where they are trying to figure out what steps they should take to bring Nichole back. Because the baby is in Canada, Gilead doesn’t have much control over what they can do, and it’s a bit confusing that anything like this is being discussed in the first place. Didn’t Serena want Nichole to be away from this horrible place?

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I’m not sure I sympathize but Yvonne Strahovski’s acting is so damn good that it makes it so hard to hate Serena, seeing as how she is responsible for Gilead in the first place. But when she asks to see Nichole one last time to get closure, it’s hard to hate her. However, this sentiment sort of changes when she and Fred ask June to call Luke and beg him to meet them in Canada for a meeting. Seriously, guys? How messed up can you get?!

June is one smart cookie because as much as she wants to withhold this favor from Serena, she also wants to hoard it over when the time comes, so she calls Luke. It’s such a tough scene to get through, and I have to warn you all that I was basically in tears.

Hearing Luke and June talk like this after so long is heartbreaking between the apologies and the lost time palpating between the two of them. He’s a bit shocked when he hears June’s request but demands that only Serena show up, not Ford (which makes total sense).

The Handmaid’s Tale allows us all to take a big sigh of relief when Serena does indeed travel sans Fred and arrives in Toronto greeted by a man that could potentially save her life if she allowed him to. As she heads to meet Luke and Nichole, Serena is told the meeting will happen in public and she will have to change into non-Gilead clothes.

The meeting between Luke and Serena goes as expected with an angry Luke keeping distance from her. I mean, who wouldn’t want to? She’s the reason for all this hurt and pain, and even though Nichole isn’t his daughter, he feels a duty to protect her from anyone and everyone. After an emotional reunion with Nichole, Serena is given the option to stay back but refuses and returns to Gilead, where Fred awaits her arrival. And in true The Handmaid’s Tale fashion, you know something shady is going to happen when Fred tempts Serena with the option of changing the situation.

Going back to Serena’s trip to Canada, Rita had placed a package for Luke in Serena’s things and asked Serena to deliver it to Luke upon seeing him. It turns out that in the package was a Walkman with a recorded tape of June confessing to Luke what her life has been the last few years. She’s in love with Nick, the baby is Nick’s, and that given the world they’re in, he should move on too. Ugh, the pain.

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What we don’t see coming in this episode is the treachery that Serena is concocting behind the scenes. While at the supermarket, June is escorted away to an undisclosed location where the Waterfords are waiting for her in a place that looks just like their living room, except it’s a set–and they’re about to be recorded.


The scene shifts to Luke and Moira in Canada watching this very broadcast as Fred announces they are mourning the loss of their daughter and intend on getting her back safe and sound. And the look on June’s face as the scene cuts to black tells us everything we need to know–she is pissed.