‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ Season 5 Episode 3: Hannah’s Purple Outfit Means Something Sinister

The Handmaid’s Tale Season 5 Episode 3 finally gives fans more information about June Osborne’s (Elisabeth Moss) daughter Hannah (Jordana Blake) and her whereabouts. After June sees Hannah at Fred Waterford’s (Joseph Fiennes) nationally televised funeral in episode 2 “Ballet,” she’s infuriated and left wondering what Hannah’s purple dress means. Here’s what the purple color signifies within Gilead’s society. 

[SPOILER ALERT: Spoilers ahead for The Handmaid’s Tale Season 5 Episode 3 “Border.”]

Hannah (Jordana Blake), Warren (Stephen Kunken) and Serena (Yvonne Strahovski) in 'The Handmaid's Tale' Season 5; Hannah's dress color is explained in episode 3
Hannah (Jordana Blake), Warren (Stephen Kunken) and Serena (Yvonne Strahovski) at Fred’s funeral | Sophie Giraud/Hulu

Hannah and other young daughters wear pink in ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ 

In season 4 of The Handmaid’s Tale, June sees Hannah in a glass case wearing the traditional pink garb. This is indicative of her status as a young daughter. When young girls reach an appropriate age for marriage — at least according to Gilead’s standards — the color of their attire changes. 

‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ Season 5 Episode 3 reveals the meaning of Hannah’s purple dress 

In the second episode of the season 5 premiere, we see Hannah wearing a vibrant shade of purple at Fred’s funeral. Everyone else is wearing the traditional black, which makes Hannah stand out even more as June looks up to see her daughter on a big screen in the middle of Toronto. 

In the season 5 episode “Border,” June speaks with Nick (Max Minghella) over the phone. When she asks about the meaning behind Hannah’s purple dress, Nick says: “It means she’s ready.” 

He continues: “New school. High commander’s daughters training for future wives. They’re just preparing them now; there’s now further plans as far as I know.”

As the adopted child of Commander MacKenzie (Jason Butler Harner) and his wife (Amy Landecker), Hannah — who they call Agnes — gets to attend the esteemed Gilead school. Later, when she becomes a wife, she’ll wear the typical blue or teal shade. Not only is this color a contrast to the handmaids’ red outfits — they’re also a call to religion.

The wives wear shades of blue to reference the Virgin Mary, emphasizing their purity regarding “their” children. They wear similar attire in Margaret Atwood’s novels, wearing green dresses when they reach a marriageable age to signify their “freshness.”

Purple has been used in ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ wardrobe before 

Hannah’s dress in “Ballet” isn’t the first time The Handmaid’s Tale has made use of purple costuming. Serena Joy’s (Yvonne Strahovski) mother, Pamela, (Laila Robins) appeared in season 3 wearing a similar shade of purple. However, her outfit was symbolic of her status as a widow in the community. 

If Hannah is ever seen wearing red, it will signify that she has reached the status of a Handmaid. Their bright red dresses signify fertility. For now, since Hannah is the adopted daughter of a high-ranking Gilead commander, it’s unlikely she’ll have to serve the fictional nation in that capacity, but it’s always possible, especially if Serena wants to further punish June.

Watch The Handmaid’s Tale on Hulu to see how Hannah’s story plays out. New episodes release every Wednesday. 

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