What exactly is New Bethlehem, in The Handmaid’s Tale season 5?

'The Handmaid's Tale' Season 5: Release Date, Photos, Cast, Trailer, Plot

The Handmaid’s Tale flashes back to Gilead’s beginnings as new versions emerge. This reveals some characters’ emotional journeys and draws poetic connections between the American and Canadian Gilead. In Season 5’s “Fairytale,” Serena Joy Waterford (Yvonne Strahovski) and Commander Joseph Lawrence (Bradley Whitford) were featured. Serena is living with the Wheelers (Genevieve Angelson and Lucas Neff), a Canadian couple profoundly involved in Gileadian customs, while Lawrence is striving to evolve the system (called New Bethlehem) to welcome back people who departed Gilead. What exactly is New Bethlehem, as hinted at in The Handmaid’s Tale season 5?

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In the episode’s one scene together, Lawrence and Putnam appear to be developing a rivalry. Putnam is seeking isolationist, hardline chauvinism at any cost, while Lawrence is attempting to create what he terms “New Bethlehem.” They get along poorly.

What exactly is New Bethlehem in The Handmaid’s Tale season 5?

And then there’s Lawrence, who has voiced regret for how out of control Gilead already became but also doesn’t want to follow the Gileadian rule that “only married men may continue in power” because he has no plans to be married again following the death of his wife. To maintain the nation on a “moderate path,” he comes up with the concept of New Bethlehem, which is intended to be a haven for Gilead refugees and has a few softer laws. However, he admits that Gilead is a step too far.   In New Bethlehem, “there’s more freedom of choice; it’s still very, very confined from a government standpoint, but people can live their lives a little more as long as they stay within their bounds and don’t breach the law outside of their house.

Despite the fact that Putnam is not in the least bit in favor of this, he considers this to be a potential ending for whatever it is that he is working on. What we do know is that this would require bringing back criminals and other people who were rejected by the society of Gilead, people who are seen to be deserving of a second chance in some way. It is unknown whether he seeks the salvation of these individuals or whether he has some other objective in mind at this time.

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