Warning: This article contains spoilers for 'The Handmaid's Tale' season 5 episode 9 'Allegiance,' which aired November 2, 2022.
Blessed be the Fruit Loops!
It's not fair. It seems like yesterday we were refreshing our browsers and scouring the internet, hunting down clues about season 5. Now we're on the penultimate episode, and the finale is just a week away. There's only one more season left after that, and God knows how long we'll have to wait for the spin-off--or how many seasons we'll get before it all ends. In a perfect world, we'd get 365 episodes a year until the end of time. But that's not possible. We have to take what Hulu gives us.
It's worth every second of suspense and speculation. The series' writers are some of the best in the industry, delivering us shock and awe on cue. This most recent episode was no different. There was a dangerous confession, a failed mission, and whispers of a threat to June's life. Now Canadians are speaking out against Gilead's refugees. Everyone is on unsteady ground. We don't know everything that will happen, but there are roadmaps we can follow, and there's a sneak peek trailer to analyze. That should give us the clues we need to make a few reliable predictions.
Hannah Will Stay in Gilead
June felt Gilead pulling her back before she even stepped on the boat to Canada. So it wasn't much of a surprise when she agreed to accompany Luke across the border to meet with a Mayday contact. Their time there was brief, but it was an edge-of-the-seat moment. Audiences must've known that something would go wrong, and the thought of another full season of enslavement in Gilead--or worse, Luke's death--was almost too much to think about. Fortunately, they were able to make it back safely, and they were able to smuggle in the information the Americans needed to rescue Hannah from wife school.
Anyone familiar with Margaret Atwood's sequel novel The Testaments should've already known that their mission would fail. Gilead was ready to shoot the American planes down the second they crossed the border, and there's been no talk of a second attempt. Hannah will not be escaping Gilead any time soon.
We may also see retaliation. In a meeting with Commander MacKenzie, Nick announced that they would have two battalions waiting at the border, to which MacKenzie said that the Canadians would think twice about letting the Americans use their airspace. This is especially significant considering conditions in Canada, which will likely define the events that take place in the coming episode.
Lawrence Will Turn His Back on June
'The Handmaid's Tale' strives for realism. This is especially the case with characterization. They don't create characters to entice us or make us laugh. They create human beings, who act based on the laws of the human psyche, not logic or storytelling, and that's not always easy to watch. We had a moment like that in this most recent episode. June was livid. She thought she was finally going to get her daughter back, and she didn't, so when Lawrence called her and apologized for shooting the planes down, she made a stupid move. She told him that she watched his wife Eleanor die and that she let it happen. He was in tears. He didn't seem surprised. In fact, she seemed to confirm his suspicions, but he still offered June help, saying that's what Eleanor would've wanted.
It was big of Lawrence. We can honestly say that he wants to do the right thing. It was confirmed by the actor who plays him, Bradley Whitford. He's devoted to reforming Gilead for Eleanor's sake. But that doesn't mean that he's loyal to June. Whitford even said it could put them at odds with one another, and we have no guarantee that his resolve to help her will hold.
With High Commander MacKenzie is dead set on taking June out, Lawrence might just cave and decide to completely turn his back on her. In the sneak peek for the upcoming episode, they make it clear that Gilead is planning an assassination, and they want her to suffer. We see her wearing respirator tubes. There's scratches on her face, and her arm is in a sling. Nick even contacts Tuello to beg him to protect her. After June's reckless confession, Lawrence will probably sit back and let it all happen.
Canada Will End Its Refugee Program
With Gilead's troops lining up at the Canadian border and violent nationalists raging in the streets, Canada is going to have a hard time justifying its refugee program. It's always had a time limit. In the original epilogue, Atwood states that Canada eventually stops accepting people, and there's been talk of an extradition treaty. This would give Gilead the power to force the deportation of anyone they believe to have committed a crime--which is basically everyone who has left their borders.
If the books are any indication, not everyone will be sent back. Canada might allow some to stay, and others will find protection either from sympathetic Canadians, the Americans, or the resistance. But there will be poor souls who have struggled, put their lives on the line, and nearly died, fighting to get to freedom. When they finally did, they were given a warm blanket, kind words, and the promise of safety. Many refugees live with the trauma of being enslaved and violated. Some have found peace, and now their worst fears will come true--boots on the stairs, men with rifles bursting into their homes, dragging them away while they're screaming and begging. It's not likely that Gilead will welcome refugees with open arms. Many will be turned into handmaids, and considering the fact that their economy depends on slave labor, some will most certainly be sent to the colonies, where they'll work until they die.
In this upcoming episode, we will witness the events leading up to the end of the refugee program. We might see deportations, or we might be given a warning that they're about to happen. Refugees may be given the choice to either hunt down the resistance and go underground, or face a life sentence in a work camp. Not everyone will be able to save themselves.
June Will Be Forced Out of Her Home
The Canadian nationalists are on fire, raging through the streets, clogging up neighborhoods, spreading chaos like the plague. It's bad. In the previous episode, shots rang out at a vigil for the men that died in the rescue mission. June had to tackle a child to the ground and use herself as a human shield. The shooter narrowly missed hitting the girl. June, Luke, and Moira already have people outside their home, honking their horns and shouting at all hours, and now things are getting violent.
It is not safe, and it does look like June gets hurt. Between threats from Gilead and the protesters, something is probably going to drive June and Luke out of their homes. That might be why we see them disheveled and wearing backpacks in the sneak peek trailer.
In The Testaments, Gilead goes on a massive manhunt for June and Nicole, and everyone involved is forced to go underground for their safety. June takes on a role as a Mayday operative, and the others likely go their separate ways. My guess is that they will leave the house in the upcoming episode to find Mayday's base near the border. But they probably won't be successful in finding it.
Lydia Will Make an Effort to Reform Things
As strange as it might sound, fanatics are really just lost souls who want to do the right thing. If they didn't care, they wouldn't be true believers, and Aunt Lydia is definitely a true believer. This has put her at odds with Gilead's leadership. She now knows, thanks to Lawrence, that she's really just a glorified madame, peddling toys to pious men who need their kink. She's not the kind of person to leave well enough alone, and she's not about to compromise her morals. Something is coming to a header. It's written all over her face.
In the sneak peek, she is forced to place Janine in the Lawrence household as a handmaid, and Janine is not happy about it. Given Lydia's love for Janine, this could spur her to action somehow. My guess is that it will lead her to start the Pearl Girl program. In The Testaments, the Pearl Girls are aunts in training who travel the world looking for converts. The idea was proposed after a settlement failed, destroying a commander's reputation. She proposed the new program as a way to make him look good in front of his peers. The girls act as spies and smugglers, allowing Aunt Lydia to remove women from abusive households and send messages to Mayday. I've suspected for some time that Janine will be the first Pearl Girl. She would fit their kooky profile, and Lydia has had a very difficult time bringing herself to finding a posting for her.
It's likely that the Pearl Girls will have a place in the series, either next week or later on in season 6. In The Testaments, they already existed when Hannah went into training to become an aunt. My guess is that we will see the establishment of the program or something leading up to it in the coming episode.
Start a Conversation
Many of these predictions are based on the books, but this period in the story hasn't been recorded at all. We can't necessarily go on The Testaments, either. We're already seeing contradictions. Hannah can write. Mrs. MacKenzie is still alive, and Aunt Lydia is a completely different person.
Anything could happen. If you disagree with what you see here, or you'd like to expand on any of it, start a discourse. 'The Handmaid's Tale' is supposed to get us talking and thinking. That's the whole point of the show.