12:00 pm EDT, June 14, 2019

‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ 3×05 screener secrets: Lighting the fuse

The Handmaid’s Tale 3×05 ratchets the tension in Gilead and beyond to unforeseen levels. Here’s what to expect in “Unknown Caller.”

The quiet, Nichole-shaped bomb that went off in episode 4 of The Handmaid’s Tale season 3 leads to an increasingly percussive explosion. “June and Serena grapple with a new revelation about Nichole, leading to an incident that will have far-reaching ramifications,” Hulu says of “Unknown Caller.” But what else is in store for this twisted tale?

Serena’s journey

The positive identification of Nichole and Luke in the most recent episode of The Handmaid’s Tale sets the stage for the drama of “Unknown Caller.” With her adopted daughter’s whereabouts known, Serena Joy finds her newfound connection to June challenged. Desperate to see Nichole again, the Waterfords hatch a plan (or two) that instigates a transformative journey for Serena, and forces June to confront her feelings about her new network of resistance.

And there are further consequences, as there always are whenever anyone tries to get what they want in the context of Gilead. The Waterfords’ decisions culminate in a moment of private drama that could shift the balance of power and impact lives in their closed world of Gilead and beyond.

A little more light on the Lawrences

In its gentler moments, The Handmaid’s Tale 3×05 continues the process of illuminating the bizarre puzzle that is the Lawrence household. Mrs. Lawrence, adding to the body of evidence that her madness may not be what it seems, engages with June in an unexpectedly emotional moment of reflection. Commander Lawrence himself is the silent beneficiary of this exchange — but whether any change can be effected in his haughty arena remains to be seen.

Back to the source

June’s interactions with the Lawrences’ allow for another major development to unfold in The Handmaid’s Tale 3×05. Communication is a major theme in “Unknown Caller,” and the episode — long past the bounds of Margaret Atwood’s novel — utilizes a critical element of June’s original story to convey a message that may only add fuel to the fire catching between Canada and Gilead.

Hold your breath

The most notable thing about The Handmaid’s Tale 3×05 might just be what isn’t there. Following the pattern of the season so far, “Unknown Caller” is absent any major action or devastating displays of Gileadan horror.

And yet, the episode simmers with a profound and relentless tension. Its motions mimic that of a bow being carefully strung, the string stretched slowly to the breaking point, pulled with agonizing deliberation. The question is, what exactly is being shot — and who is the intended target?

“Unknown Caller” answers these questions eventually, opening the floodgates for powerful drama as The Handmaid’s Tale season 3 progresses. But after an hour of uncertainty, you may need a minute to catch your breath.

The Handmaid’s Tale 3×05, “Unknown Caller,” premieres on Wednesday, June 19 on Hulu.

What are your predictions for ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ 3×05, ‘Unknown Caller’?

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