Episode 3 of The Handmaid’s Tale Season 4 begins with a familiar feeling for June. She’s tied up, with a face mask and chained to the back of a lorry. Sporting bruises over her face, Nick pleads with her to cooperate. June refuses to say anything though, eventually seeing Aunt Lydia brought in as June’s “guardian angel.”
Thanks to Angel’s Flight, June is public enemy number 1 in Gilead. Tied down to a stretcher, the Lieutenant arrives and chillingly asks where the Handmaids are. Getting nowhere, they begin waterboarding her.
After a horrific torture session, Aunt Lydia shows and pleads with her to give up the information needed. June refuses, clinging to her morals and calling Lydia out for her skewed moral compass.
After all, Lydia was the one who promised the Handmaids that they would all be okay… and the girls very much are not. As she tells Lydia she’s failed the girls, June antagonizes her and claims Janine turned quicker than she expected. Janine has, of course, always been Lydia’s golden child.
When the Lieutenant returns, the threat of losing a finger is enough for June to loosen her lips. She confirms that the girls are waiting to cross the border. Only, this is actually false info and only riles them up further when her torturers find out.
Reciting vows from the bible, the Lieutenant brings June up to the roof and asks where the Handmaids are again. This time, two girls stand on the edge of the roof awaiting certain death. After pushing one over the edge, he eventually pushes the other over before they can speak. Still, June doesn’t speak which sees her stuck inside a metal box for the night.
Meanwhile, Nick’s true intentions finally become clear. He’s on June’s side but in a difficult position. Given he’s now a Commander, there are a lot of eyes on him so he’s had to try and play up to his role.
He speaks to Lawrence in private though and admits that he’s unable to move on. He wants to help June but right now he’s not quite sure how.
In Toronto, Luke receives the horrific news that June has been captured. There could be a trial but given Gilead’s history, it’s unlikely to be broadcast or even made public. Well, Moira decides to head out on a march for June with the others in the community.
Luke is in no such mood though, and feels guilty for not being able to do more. In fact, he also questions her decision to stay in Gilead at the end of season 2.
Back in Gilead, June is taken away for dinner with Lawrence. There, he questions June about the poisoning… and where the other Handmaids are.
Realizing this is all a ruse, June puts down her spoon until she realizes Hannah’s life is on the line. Still believing Gilead cares about children, June’s reality comes crashing down when she realizes what she knew was a lie.
Eventually this leads to June back in the torture room again. This time, even Aunt Lydia can’t bear to watch. Hannah is kept in a glass cage in the middle of the room. This is June’s one weakness, and June immediately gives up the location to the other Handmaids.
With the girls all together, June and the others learn the horrifying truth of where they’re ending up. They’re being sent to a breeding colony, where they’ll be put to work apart from one day of the month where Commanders will come and visit.
Dressed in her Handmaid gear, June is brought up to secluded bridge crossing where Nick stands waiting. He confirms Hannah is safe and apologizes.
June struggles to hold back her emotion, reflecting on how Hannah was afraid of her and not Gilead. We’ve seen this from the kids up in Canada, and the intoxicating, sickening appeal of this society is something that’s hard to break for these impressionable minds.
After kissing Nick goodbye, our captured Handmaids all sit together as they prepare to be taken up to the Breeding Centre. With the driver off on a bathroom break, our Handmaids break out the back of the truck, knocking Aunt Lydia down, and heading on the run again.
With a train coming, the unthinkable happens. Janine and June make it across the tracks and begin running to safety. As they look back, Alma and the other handmaids are hit. There are no survivors.
The Episode Review
Wow, what an episode. Interestingly, this intimate display of trust, loyalty and weakness was directed by Elisabeth Moss herself.
The Handmaid’s Tale has had a lot of stick in the past for dragging out its story but season 4 really hasn’t felt that way at all.
The tense torture sequences early on pave way for some good moments between Lydia and June, with the latter no longer afraid of her Aunt. Even through all her mental barriers, Hannah is still the one weakness that June has – and seeing how quickly she gives up the location of the Handmaids after everything she went through proves as much.
That ending though… wow! Like many others, seeing the Handmaids gunned down and then struck by a train has to be up there with one of the most shocking moments from this series.
However, it also feels a tiny bit contrived over just why Lydia’s guard didn’t just shoot Janine and June while they’re running in a straight line. I know there are train carriages but surely he could have at least tried?
That’s a nitpick though in what’s otherwise an incredibly well paced and enthralling episode. Let’s just hope the rest of the season follows suit!