Episode 8 of The Handmaid’s Tale Season 4 begins with June cutting her hair. Shedding the old and beginning the new; June is about to face the court and hold charges against Gilead.
While the others are concerned, June’s rage is enough to drive her forward. Talking to Moira, she wonders why the others aren’t more angry. “How do you know they’re not?” Moira says.
Emily is approached by a strange woman at the library holding a note. The others arrive and drive her away, but June picks it up and reads it. At dinner, she confronts Emily and asks about Iris Baker. It turns out that woman is a former Aunt called Irene. June tells Emily to let her anger out, promising she’ll feel better soon. “We’re not all like you.” She hits back.
After dinner, Luke and June come to blows when the latter learns that Luke spoke to Mark about the lakehouse. Angry, she walks away as Moira arrives. Luke struggles to hold back tears and comments how June is like a stranger to them now. “Trauma is a bumpy road.” Moira tells him gently, reminding Luke of the horrors June has faced and that he needs to be patient.
Back in Gilead, Aunt Lydia looks over her new handmaids. She comments how poorly they’re cleaning and even shocks them into submission. With Aunts and Handmaids alike watching her, Lydia eventually takes off. Lydia’s issues see her back to Commander Lawrence who questions her over Aunt Ruth and the Handmaids.
Lawrence believes the indoctrinated handmaids have grown up in the system and now they’re not likely to rebel. Lawrence outright admits that other people don’t really like her too. However, she’s tasked with a new assignment. A “stray” picked up in Chicago… which happens to be Janine! She’s alive!
Lydia heads over to check up on Janine, telling her that June is in Canada. As they talk, Janine pleads with Lydia not to be made a handmaid again. In fact, she’d rather die in this cell than be brought back. When Janine stands up, Lydia hugs her.
This is a brief respite from the moments in Canada, as June faces the council. Mark Tuello and Luke both show up too (the latter earlier encouraged not to by June) while Serena and Fred sit listening.
June tells the council everything, including the horrific experiences that have kept her caged until now. She reminds them she’s just one voice and that there are numerous others who have gone unheard. Luke listens to all of this and struggles to hold back tears.
Now comes time for the defence. June is approached by the lawyer who claims she “chose” this option. Fred then speaks up too, playing up the merciful Commander role and claiming he let her see Hannah and Nichole. June refuses to listen to anything more though and walks away.
When she returns to the library, she brings Aunt Irene inside to see Emily. She was waiting outside and June is ready to help Emily move past what’s happened. Moving the chair into the middle of the circle, Irene is sat down in front of the group to speak her piece.
This Aunt happens to be the one responsible for Emily being mutilated – and the Martha being sent to the wall. She asks for forgiveness. Just to interject here, this moment is exactly the same repentance as Serena asked for too.
Sinking to her knees, Irene begs Emily…who simply turns and walks away. Moira follows though and gives some words of encouragement, convincing Emily to talk to Aunt Ruth again.
At home, June and Luke both continue to operate on different wavelengths. He begs her to talk to him but she refuses to do so, instead walking away and leaving him a heartbroken, confused mess.
Emily heads up the road where she finds Irene tied to a tree and hanging. As authorities hurry to the scene, Emily heads back to group. She admits that she feels amazing and hopes that she had something to do with it.
This single act helps all the girls to confront their rage and talk about exactly what they’d do to their former Commanders. Moira tries to talk them down but June is having none of it. “Why can’t we be as furious as we feel?”
Well, that fury finally manifests itself in a moment of revelation for June. She finally opens up and speaks to Luke, telling him she wants to reveal the truth about the last time she saw Hannah.
That fury June mentioned? Well, it’s definitely about to be channeled closer to home. Fred and Serena head outside and find themselves faced with a group of protestors who support Gilead’s ideas. Is Gilead about to extend across to Canada?
The Episode Review
The Handmaid’s Tale bows out this week’s episode with an ominous chapter that centers on rage and anger. The fury that June has had bottled up all this time is finally starting to come out now and it looks set to explode in the most ferocious way possible.
What will happen with the court case? Judging by the end of this episode it seems likely that the Waterford’s will be found not-guilty and if that happens, it could well lead to the public turning on the government and demanding changes.
There would even be a civil war erupt between these Gilead supporters and those who have survived and fled from the horrors of that world. Interestingly, this could then mirror the xenophobia toward immigrants that some extremist groups have expressed in recent years.
Either way, this episode really does well to show how far June has come from the docile, scared woman she was back in season 1. That fear has washed away and her inner-anger is just now starting to come to the surface.
Quite what June is going to do about Hannah and breaking her out remains to be seen but this fight is definitely far from over.
Far more interesting however, is the dynamic between Aunt Lydia and Janine. It seems Lydia has formed a real attachment to these girls – and in particular Janine. Lydia seems to be looking at Janine as a daughter – which coincides with her past which we saw in season 3 too; the woman is yearning for a child she can’t have.
The final two episodes of this season look like they’re building up to something major. Will this have the same effect as Angel’s Flight did last season? We shall see.