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‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ Is Back & If You Think Things Can’t Get Worse, You’re Wrong

Warning: This article contains spoilers for The Handmaid’s Tale Season 4, Episode 1, “Pigs”

Content Warning: The following story contains mention and/or description of sexual violence.  Please visit for resources to help.

 Oh, June. June. June. June. Why must they torture you so?! Why, Handmaids?! June is back in Season 4 of The Handmaid’s Tale, and wow, if you think they were going to give our favorite red-cloaked lady a break for even 10 seconds, you’re dreaming. This apocalyptic, dystopian drama laughs at peace and quiet. Ha. This season’s theme is freedom and rage. Who loves freedom with a side of rage the most? Raises hand. June. June does. June is always hoping to get freedom, but she always historically does the exact opposite to acquire it. However, it’s all for her daughter. The Handmaid’s Tale Season 4 starts off in a super calm slow-mo sequence in which June is dying and bleeding to death. And let me tell you, it’s the only peace you will get this entire episode. Well, that and a cow. So let’s break it down. Here are the highlights of the season 4 premiere.

June – Lady in red no more

The episode opens on June bleeding as “Say a Little Prayer for You,” plays softly in the background. She has a big hole in her stomach. Wow, Handmaid’s Tale, immediate stress. Cool. Thanks. And they’re soldering it with a hair curler?! What the ever-loving?! No anesthetic. Television characters’ pain tolerance is ridiculous. (IRL, I’d die. June would die. We’d all die). Or at least pass out. Someone sticks a hot hair curler in an open wound. Get out of here. This is going to be 50 minutes of pure stress.

June recovers from sepsis at a painfully slow pace and even makes homemade penicillin from mold scraped off raw fruit. The rest of the free handmaids seem happier they’re befriending pigs and not in red cloaks. Ahhh, the freedom and farm life. As for June, she too has shed the red — cloak and blood — and begins to roam around the farm.

Tiny terror lady

When they arrive on their safe farm oasis, the tiny, young woman of the house is Mrs. Keyes. She whips in with a cigarette and doesn’t hide her hate for good ol’ Gilead. Okay, my feelings for this character go from love to hate to sadness with a side of sympathy. She begins by yelling at June (who is still recovering from a hole in her stomach, hello!) “If you weren’t going to fight then, you should have just let them catch you!”

Les Miserables: The Colonel and Serena

The Colonel and his estranged wife are still being held in Canada by the authorities. These two wretches have turned on each other. And I really enjoy their misfortune and their outrage at the law being applied to them. I detest them. Honestly, one day I will make a list called “10 Things I Hate about Fred and Serena.” Oh, that day is today.

  1. The Colonel: I hate his stupid face and his stupid beard. I can’t believe he is the English Patient’s brother! (I know he’s an actor, but he’s too good at his job and I hate everything about him. (Insert Carrie Bradshaw voice: It’s not logical, it’s hate.)
  2. Serena: You only started caring about others when it benefitted you.
  3. Your husband chopped your little pinky off and you were shocked?! That’s who he always was! It’s like cheating. A man who chops off other people’s pinkies will chop off your pinky.
  4. You’re kidnappers.
  5. How did Fred not die in that explosion from two seasons ago?!
  6. Every time you feel a modicum of sympathy for Serena, remember she and Fred raped June repeatedly for years.
  7. I
  8. Hate
  9. Them
  10. The End

Okay, I cheated a bit there.

Save the children

Last season ended with 86 of the kidnapped kids from Gilead being flown to safety. Of course, Fred and Serena (aka worst humans) were all, “Their poor families!” Um, you wanky kidnappers, just stop. And nice cop guy, who showed Serena far too much empathy last season, though he didn’t know she’s the actual devil, reminded them that they were being reunited with their real families. Logic and facts are lost on Frerena. What’s their couple name? Evil jerks? Let’s stick with Les Miserables. Or worst humans ever.

When Freddie hears June was involved, he says matter-of-factly, they will find Offred and kill her. Her name is June. Frederick. But I don’t disagree with you. Serena says, “May God show her mercy.” But can’t tell if she is being evil Serena or good Serena and this is why I do not like her character. Who are you?!

Aunt Lydia is still alive, unfortunately

Aunt Lydia has risen like the evil phoenix she is, once again. She was under investigation for 19 days. She’s bruised, battered, and still horrible. After the government tells her she’s not exonerated fully, she kisses up to them and says, “When June is hanging on the wall, justice will be served. Find her and bring her to me.” If they find June and bring her to Lydia, I might break up with this show. I feel the same way about Aunt Lydia that I do about the worst humans ever. I’d like to put her on an island with Fred and Serena. And one coconut. And see them Lord of the Flies their way straight into hell.

Nobody puts Bradley in jail

Our favorite good commander, Bradley Whitford, is in jail. (I still feel like he is his character from the West Wing). Oh no. No. No. No. I will not have him die Handmaids. June’s second baby daddy, Nick, thankfully comes to check on him. But all he says over and over is, “Thank you for your service to Gilead.” What the Nick is happening? I think he knows Commander Lawrence is going to die and is trying to play it cool.

Right in the Nick of time…

Nick. Oh, Nick. I really like you. But I also really get annoyed by how scared you are at times, too. The evil soldiers head back to get the Commander, most likely to bring him to the wall. Why can’t Nick save him?! They bring him into a room with what can only be described as a scary torture/electric chair. But then Nick does save the day. Nick tells the commander they want him to help defend against the upcoming Canadian invasion! Turns out that the torture chair is just for him to get a haircut and a shave. I would get a new hairdresser if they had that chair. Things just always work out for the guys in this show.

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Max Minghella and June Hulu/Jasper Savage

Nick or Luke?

June sure loves one-syllable men. Sadly, in the premiere, she doesn’t get to see either of her babies’ daddies. Last season, June sent her and Nick’s daughter, Nichole, to Luke. And she stayed back in this horrendous hell to rescue her and Luke’s daughter. And something tells me Nick will help. Here’s the thing: They could live as a threesome. Though I wonder, will Moira (Samira Wiley) fall in love with Luke? Will Luke and Moira want to give up Nichole?! Dystopian love is complicated.

The main goal right now is to get the hell out of Gilead — which is very difficult for June. And for us. Like, I want to go pick her up and bring her a prescription for an antibiotic, so she doesn’t have to make it from her moldy apples. Please enjoy this photo of happy June talking to a cow. You deserve it after dealing with the stress of this episode.

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Elizabeth Moss

Mrs. Keyes goes off the rails

Janine makes friends with a pig on the farm, who is clearly slated for a fate that’s not great.  Even though Janine prays, they end up having it for dinner. And the dinner gets weird, really weird. Mrs. Keyes forces Janine to eat the pig. Her dead best bacon friend! Not cool, Mrs. Keyes. You tiny little terrorist.

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Madeline Brewer and McKenna Grace Hulu/Jasper Savage

Luckily, June crushes Mrs. Keyes and tells her not to mess with Janine. But then it gets sad, and we learn that Mrs. Keyes, who is essentially a child, endured repeated raped by multiple men. She tells June, “Wives have bad things too.” June yells at fellow freemaid Alma for not getting Mrs. Keyes under control. Alma calls her a “fat ass.” Do not body shame June, Alma! Rude. Thankfully, Janine recovers from her traumatic bacon dinner and is soon dancing in the barn. She seems happy and vegan. Spoiler alert. Janine is never eating meat again.

After capturing one of Mrs. Keyes’s rapists, June gives little Keyes the big knife to kill her rapist. “Make me proud,” June tells her. “We’re mayday, we don’t hide, we fight.” Yes, June. That’s the combo of freedom and rage we love to hear. But also, I’m scared for you. Then, June goes to lie down. Yep, she goes to take a nap. A nap! After Mrs. Keyes kills the rapist, she shows up all bloody at June’s door. June is just trying to take her damn nap. Mrs. Keyes lies down next to June with the murder blood still all over her! Like, now June will have to change her sheets. I know things are bleak, ladies, but please shower before a little friendly post-murder comfort spooning.

A look ahead

The trailer for the rest of the season shows us that June’s serene farm life doesn’t last long. In fact, it’s looking like she gets captured again. Here’s what we want to see and hope Season 4 gives us. Joy for June. Seriously, enough already. Give her her daughter back and get her out of Gilead. Nick should go with her and they can work out their love triangle with Luke, and all raise their kids together — because it takes a village. Be the village. Less violence and rape. It’s too much. Even when it’s not shown, it’s referenced, and it gets very exhausting to digest that level of trauma. Serena and Fred getting what they deserve. I want to see them destroyed. I do. Thank you.

Giddyup, Gilead. June’s coming for you and so is her baby GileDad (go on say it, “Giley-Dad. Yeah you, Nick). Handmaids is back and it’s the dose of hope and depression we need.

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