‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ Season 5: Owen Painter’s Character Gives a Glimpse of Gilead’s New Generation

Owen Painter guest stars in The Handmaid’s Tale Season 5, “Fairtytale.” Painter plays Jaden, a young Guardian who meets June and Luke in No Man’s Land to deliver information about the Wife Schools that Hannah attends. Though Jaden is working to bring Gilead down, he barely remembers life before the Republic took over.

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

Owen Painter plays Jaden in The Handmaid's Tale Season 5. June smiles at the bowling alley.
Elisabeth Moss as June in ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ | Sophie Giraud/Hulu

Many Guardians in Gilead are trained from a young age

In The Handmaid’s Tale Season 5, Luke and June learn that their daughter Hannah’s purple attire means she is attending a “Wife School.” At the start of episode 5, June receives a call informing her that a Guardian in No Man’s Land is willing to share information about these schools.

Unfortunately, when Luke and June arrive to meet the Mayday leader Lily, she informs them that Gilead has stepped up its border patrols, and it’s no longer safe to cross. The couple decides to go anyway. In No Man’s Land, they find Jaden, the aforementioned Guardian.

Jaden’s youth is evident throughout the episode. Margaret Atwood’s novel on which the series is based makes it clear that training Guardians from a young age is pretty common. A passage where Offred notes a pair of Guardians reads:

“These two are young: one mustache is still sparse, one face is still blotchy. Their youth is touching, but I know I can’t be deceived by it. The young ones are often the most dangerous, the most fanatical, the jumpiest with their guns.”

– The Handmaid’s Tale

Owen Painter’s character Jaden is a part of the resistance in ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ Season 5

Owen Painter’s character Jaden is not a believer in Gilead in The Handmaid’s Tale. He’s working to bring it down. “People should just be able to talk to each other. See their families. Do whatever they want,” he tells June and Luke.

Still, Jaden admits that he doesn’t remember much from before Gilead. The memories, like going bowling with his father, are foggy. Gilead is all he knows.

Perhaps that’s why Jaden doesn’t seem to fully understand Luke and June’s horror when they learn their twelve-year-old daughter is being prepared to be married and run a household. “That’s just how it works,” Jaden tells them.

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Jaden’s youth and immersion in Gilead is also apparent when Luke begins to sing Al Green’s “Let’s Stay Together.” Amazed, he asks Luke, “Did you write that song?”

The series explores other children who have been indoctrinated into Gilead

The Handmaid’s Tale has previously explored the notion of youth indoctrinated into the Republic. After June successfully frees dozens of children from Gilead on Angel’s Flight, the situation isn’t all perfect, happy reunions. Moira encounters a little boy who tells Moira he misses his Martha and his “mom and dad” from Gilead.

Even Hannah is slowly forgetting her old life. In season 4, when she comes face to face with June, she is afraid of her own mother. Hannah was young when she was stolen from June, and it’s hard to imagine what her new “family,” the McKenzies, have been telling her mother. It seems like a painful road ahead, even if Luke and June get their daughter back.

Don’t miss new episodes of The Handmaid’s Tale Season 5 Wednesdays on Hulu.