The Handmaid’s Tale season 4 episode 1 recap: June hides from Gilead

Elisabeth Moss in The Handmaid's Tale

June hasn’t escaped Gilead quite yet by the season 4 premiere (Picture: Channel 4/Hulu)

Warning: spoilers ahead for The Handmaid’s Tale season 4 episode 1.

Season 4 of The Handmaid’s Tale on Channel 4 has transported UK viewers straight back to the heart of Gilead as June Osborne (Elisabeth Moss) suffers from an agonising gunshot wound after the gripping season 3 finale.

The Handmaid’s Tale, which is based on the novel of the same name by Margaret Atwood, premiered in 2017, with season five already confirmed.

The dystopian series tells the tale of June and other women who have been forced to become Handmaids in what used to be the US, their duty being to become pregnant and give birth to the children of high-ranking officials amid declining fertility rates.

While June’s youngest child, Nichole, has been taken to Canada away from Commander Fred Waterford (Joseph Fiennes) and Serena Waterford (Yvonne Strahovski), her eldest daughter Hannah (Jordana Blake) remains in Gilead, having been adopted by another family and given a new name.

By season four, June is in hiding and in dire need of medical attention as Gilead remains an ever-present threat.

What happened to June after the season 3 finale?

Having suffered countless horrific experiences in Gilead, the end of season three saw June on her deathbed, when a soldier shot her after she helped a plane full of children fly away to Canada.

After June shot the soldier dead, the other Handmaids who also stayed behind picked her up from the ground, which is where we meet them again in the season four premiere.

Elisabeth Moss in The Handmaid's Tale

June is bleeding out when the other Handmaids save her (Picture: Jasper Savage/Hulu)

The Handmaids do what they can to stop June’s bleeding, painfully cauterising the wound before travelling to a safe house at a farm.

As June arrives, she collapses, resulting in her requiring further care after developing sepsis due to the gunshot wound.

At first, June feels it’s too unsafe to continue with plans for Mayday, the resistance movement she and the other Handmaids are a part of in Gilead.

However, by the end of the episode, she realises that the time to take action is now… although what direction that will take remains uncertain.

Who is Mrs Keyes?

In the first episode of season four, June and the other Handmaids are welcomed to a safe house at the home of Mrs Esther Keyes (Mckenna Grace), the wife of Commander Keyes.

When June is finally able to get out of bed while slowly recovering from her injury, she speaks to teenage Mrs Keyes for the first time, realising just how young she is.

After expressing anger over June’s apparent lack of desire to take immediate action against Gilead, the teenager reveals to June that she was abused by several men under the orders of her elderly husband.

Mckenna Grace

Mckenna explained why she felt it was important that she play Mrs Keyes at 14 years old (Picture: Nathan Congleton/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)

At the end of the episode, when one of the men in question trespasses on the property, June supports Esther in her desire to kill him, which she does before curling up with June in bed, drenched in her abuser’s blood.

14-year-old Mckenna, who previously starred in films and TV shows including I, Tonya, Captain Marvel and Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, recently told Elle that ‘it meant a lot that I got to actually play the age Mrs Keyes is’ when people questioned the age of her character.

‘I did think it was important for an actual 14-year-old to play the role, especially since this 14-year-old is being raped and abused and sold off, all of these things that are happening to 14-year-olds every single day,’ she said.

‘If it makes people upset or uncomfortable that an actual 14-year-old is having to talk about how she was raped and it’s acting, then maybe that will make you want to do something for actual girls who are going through this.’

What will happen to Fred and Serena Waterford?

Having been arrested in Canada, Fred and Serena are informed by US government official Mark Tuello (Sam Jaeger) about the successful plan to transport over 80 children from Gilead to Canada.

Fred warns Mark that the children being taken from Gilead will start a war between the nation and Canada, before Mark tells the couple that June, their former Handmaid, was one of the individuals responsible for the operation.

Will Fred and Serena actually be punished in Canada for the atrocities they committed in Gilead? Or will they find a way to break free, either together or apart?

The Handmaid’s Tale returns next Sunday at 9pm on Channel 4.

Victim Support

Victim Support offers support to survivors of rape and sexual abuse. You can contact them on 0333 300 6389.


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