Episode 7 of The Handmaid’s Tale Season 4 begins with Mark Tuello meeting June on the shore. Much like any other immigrant, she’s asked a series of questions about her asylum.
Eventually she repeats the words back, seeing her brought up to Canada where she’s faced with normal life. Or, at least, a fragment of normality outside of Gilead. Away from the refugee center, she’s given a lavish hotel room. Moira eventually says her goodbyes, telling June she’ll bring Nichole the next day.
June eventually has a shower and gets dressed in a bathrobe. A red one at that. When she spies Luke outside prepping a meal for them both, June finds herself conflicted over what to do. Instead, she simply chooses to fall asleep.
In the morning, she sits with Luke and the pair talk. She mentions the lakehouse incident and seeing Hannah. However, she intentionally misses out the second moment they had together – the one involving Hannah being afraid of her. As Luke holds his wife, June mutters that she’s not a good Mother.
Later on, Mark arrives and talks to June about Angel’s Flight. Intoxicated by a heady cocktail of rage, June tells her that Serena and her kind have taken everything from them. For now, Luke interrupts and tells Mark that they’re heading home. There, Emily and June finally get to see each other again… and Nichole is handed back as well. In private, June tells Nichole that her first Daddy loves her very much.
Meanwhile, Serena prays before the Almighty and hopes that she has the strength to continue her pregnancy. Mark shows up and tells Serena that Fred’s insistence to see her can work in their favour. In fact, this brings Serena back in to see Fred…with undesired results. Fred proposes they team up against June given she’s now in Canada.
June awakens in the morning and finds Nichole with Moira and Luke. She feels left out and decides to tag along to the supermarket. Given this was the place she spent so much time with the other Handmaids, it’s a bit of a culture shock. She even sees two women holding hands too. June begins to experience serious PTSD, with flashes of all the heartache and losses over time.
That evening, June is reunited with Rita and the others. It’s a pretty emotional reunion and one that sees all four of our women sitting together and discussing their return to Canada. June even outright asks if they deserve to be sitting there.
June turns the attention to Serena though, where Rita admits that she’s seen her. June’s face turns to one of rage as she learns the woman is pregnant. Holding back tears, June curses Serena as the girls all jump in and do the same.
With the party over, June and Luke wind up kissing in the kitchen. Only, it’s awkward and passionless – nothing like the kiss she had with Nick on the bridge. It also doesn’t help that she’s still hung up over the Serena reveal.
In the middle of the night, she’s picked up by Mark and he takes her to see Serena. With both of them in the same room, Serena spews off her venomous words, telling her the Lord brought her pregnancy on purpose. June certainly doesn’t hold back.
“The only thing you deserve is a life full of suffering and shame.” She says, telling Serena that she’s destroyed her world. Dropping to her knees, Serena begs June and apologizes. June screams at the woman, telling her the child will die and only then will she feel a fraction of the pain she’s caused everyone else.
Heading back home, June is desperate to feel passion; anything to mirror the few fragments of joy she felt with Nick. She wakes Luke up and starts riding him, holding the man down while she does.
In the morning, June gives her statement to Mark, admitting that underneath Serena’s façade is nothing. Desperate to do anything not to feel this emptiness, Serena betrays her own principles and decides to team up with Fred after all.
The Episode Review
The Handmaid’s Tale may have changed locations, but it’s certainly no less intense and interesting. This episode in particular offers up a really fascinating glimpse at both June and Serena’s characters. Both of these women have had quite the journey and that end monologue from June is not only chilling, it also aptly describes both women.
This episode we see June’s quiet rage slowly bubbling up. She’s an outsider again, forced to watch from the wings (an important motif of course) as Luke and Moira raise Nichole. Through it all, these two seem to be playing happy families while June is left to watch all of this unfold.
It’s interesting too that the few moments of intimacy between Luke and June parallel what the latter is currently feeling and yearning for from Nick. Their passion was so raw and so heartfelt when they kissed on the bridge that June is missing all of that when she returns to Luke.
It’s clear she’s in a very different place to him and as Luke doesn’t know the horrors of Gilead first-hand, he can’t relate to her on a psychological level. They’re two characters who have drifted apart thanks to a horrible incident and sex has been changed for these women now.
The whole power dynamic with June riding Luke is an interesting shift and one that only backs up that end monologue about doing whatever it takes – even rape – to get ahead. While June is obviously talking about Serena’s wickedness, it’s clear she too is now exhibiting that same feeling thanks to Gilead’s influence.
The episode is a little slow, but thematically it’s easily one of the strongest this season. Unlike the 30 minute milk carriage ride in episode 4, the slow pace here makes perfect sense and does a great job setting the tone and mood for the final 3 episodes to come.
Given this one has already been renewed for season 5, I think it’s fair to say this season is probably going to end on a cliffhanger!