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The Handmaid’s Tale Episode 4 Recap: June & Janine Escape Death and Find Freedom in Milk

Everyone loves riding a train right? WRONG. You are wrong. Not if you are June and Janine and just watched your friends get killed, and then have to escape on one and accidentally fall into a vat of refrigerated milk. Is that how milk is transported?! But seriously, this is The Handmaid’s Tale, so June can catch a train but she can’t catch a break. She and Janine almost drown in milk and freeze to death. But before we get to that dairy madness, let’s quickly review what happened in the first three episodes of season 4 of The Handmaid’s Tale. June and the girls escaped and spent some time on a nice peaceful farm. Okay, it wasn’t peaceful. June came back from the brink of death to go through actual hell in episodes two and three.

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Episode 2 – “Nightshade”

June is captured. Mrs. Keyes is captured. The rest of the handmaids escape. Meanwhile back in Canada, Moira seems happy and has a girlfriend! And now a word from the worst humans… That’s right Fred and Serena are back and more miserable than ever. Except, Serena is now knocked up by her estranged husband. I would like to get on record that I think Serena slept with someone else. I don’t know who, but I don’t think Fred is the father. And not just because Fred sucks, but because I feel like he has no working sperm.

Fred blames Serena that he is what she made him. “I think I gave you too much freedom,” he tells her. Dude. You cut off her pinky! You are unclear about what freedom is. But maybe in Canadian jail you will learn. Serena gets checked out by a nurse who asks her about her missing pinky. Serena tells her, “It was an appropriate punishment under Gilead law.” Siri: look up self-hate. The ending of this episode is intense: June and Nick reunite, but with 42 guns pointed at June and Nick having to pretend to arrest her. He whispers to her, “I’m trying to keep you alive.” They look at each other with real love eyes whilst surrounded by so many guns.

Episode 3 – “The Crossing” – Hello, Lydia

I watched this episode with one eye open. Actually, I’m lying, some scenes both eyes were closed. There was a lot of torture. Handmaid’s Tale — I warned you that I don’t need to see that anymore. Episode three can only be described as a special slice of hell for June. It begins with her being transported in the back of a truck Hannibal Lecter style. The reunion we’ve all been dreading goes like this:

Lydia: Hello, dear.

June: (Blinks)


Then June’s thrown in to a room and water-boarded. My co-worker came up with a good way to watch Handmaids: fast forward through the torture. Evilydia sits in the hallway needle-pointing like a psycho, listening to the torture. Is she upset? Did I see a slice of humanity? Do not care. Lydia is unredeemable to me. June calls Aunt Lydia, “Lydia,” which is enjoyable to watch but very risky for June!

I couldn’t watch the nail clipper part, that’s when my eyes closed as I fast-forwarded (which is not easy to do with closed eyes). But I know in my heart June did not get a manicure. I cannot wait ‘til she murders them all. All of Gilead. Remember last recap where I was all, “Enough with the murder and torture.” And now I’m like, “Murder them all, June! Every single one of them, papercut their jugulars with your handmaid bonnet!” Elisabeth Moss does a brilliant job being brave one moment and then broken and scared the next. And she also directed this episode.

Luke is mad at June for not coming back. “She knew she’d never see me again,” he whines. Um. Dude. She didn’t want to leave your daughter! Lame, Luke. Lame. (But real talk, I think Luke has lost June. She and Nick have been through too much together).

June and Commander Lawrence have the saddest fancy dinner ever. He tells her to give up her friends. She says no. He says, “They will hurt Hannah.” She tells him, “Go F yourself.” Good June! But also eek. You dead girl. June sees they are keeping Hannah in a glass box. So she gives up her friends, which is exactly what I would do if my kid was placed in a glass torture box.

June asks Lydia to kill her. And Lydia joyfully tells her, she and her friends will be sent to a breeding colony. Before she’s transported to this horror farm, Nick and June profess their love to each other. They even get a big sweeping circular camera kiss shot. Sorry Luke. You will find love again, but please continue to raise their Gileydaughter Nichole. They will really appreciate it. I worry that Hannah will be hurt or killed. The Gileads clearly see that is June’s weakness. What I want to happen is for Nick to save Hannah. He can do that. You can, Nick. Get the Commander to help you, threaten his real estate again.

Then June and the girls are in a van with Lydia. The van stops for a train to pass. June attacks Lydia and the girls escape. Why June didn’t kill Lydia, we will never know. The girls run in slow motion as the train is coming. The driver starts shooting at the girls. June and Janine are the only ones to survive, the other girls are shot before they can make it to safety. Warning: You will cry in the last few minutes of this episode, and if you don’t, your name is probably Lydia. You heartless needle pointer.

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Elisabeth Moss and Madeline Brewer Hulu/Sophie Giraud

Episode 4 – “Milk” – Two ladies in red on the run

Janine is hysterical and wants to go back for their friends. June is like, “They are dead!” She’s right, Janine, get it together. Sorry. Side note: What’s happening to poor Mrs. Keyes? I worry about that tiny little tyrant. June and Janine see a train, and jump down a hole from one of the train roofs, and fall right into milk. So bizarre. They dive under the milk to hide as a guard closes the door. The train starts moving. Narrator: “Things do not look good for June and Janine.” They’re drowning in milk. Which is kind of my nightmare (thinks back to episode 3, oh no that was my actual nightmare). June finds the drain! She’s like Dory the Explorer. Get it? Because Dory was a fish and Dora was an explorer and why am I still typing?


Rita goes to visit Serena, who tells her she’s pregnant. “God is truly great.” And Serena is truly not. (See 10 Things I Hate About Serena and Fred). Why does this show constantly want us to feel sympathy for someone who did what Serena did? Serena exclaims, “It’s a boy!” Cool one-woman gender reveal party, Serena. Loser. Serena tells her she won’t tell Fred, but Rita can help her “take care of the boy.” Delusional woman, in room 5. Ha, Serena, she hates you.

Janine and June fight in frozen milk

Janine and June are freezing to death in their milk train car. Janine asks June for the plan and then she yells at June! June says, “I’m keeping us alive!” Janine is mean on the run. She asks June the question she’s been dreading, “Did you tell the eyes where to find us?” June tells Janine they had Hannah and admits through tears she told them. June’s crying, I’m crying, Janine is angry. June says you would have done the same thing and Janine is all Monday-morning-quarterbacking and says, “I would have done something different!” June yells back, “You would have done something stupid and dangerous and I would have had to save your ass!” Where’s the lie? Janine claims she wouldn’t have told them. I call BS on that, Janine. Then she blames June for their deaths. June leans in close and says, “I should have left you a long time ago.” Agree. Sorry, Janine. But wow, cold June, and not just because you are freezing to death.

Saving Serena?

Serena wants Rita to testify and blame the Commander for everything and say Serena was under “extreme duress.” Um no. Hard no. Absolutely not. Rita looks troubled and basically sings, “How do you solve a problem like Serena?” (Okay, she doesn’t sing, but if this was a musical, she’d be singing that). Rita then goes to see Fred. He says, “Nice to see a friendly face.” And she responds, “We aren’t friends.” To which the bearded monster quickly agrees, “I was never cruel to you.” Sure, Fred, you were just enslaving all women, but you were really nice about it! But then Rita wins. Crushing both Fred and Serena with one little envelope. She hands Fred the sonogram and says, “I’ll pray for your son!” I wish Fred would shave. Unrelated, I know.

The milk train is attacked

The milk train lurches to a stop, and then we hear gunfire. June morphs into a little acrobat and using Janine as a step stool (lol), pulls herself up and opens the top of the train. Janine gets up too but with a little more trouble. Now that I’m thinking about it, how did she get out without having a human step stool? Okay, I’ll let it go. Moving on, they’re rescued by train robbers or pirates with machine guns. (Are train pirates a thing, or can they only exist at sea? Who made these random rules?) Let’s call them train pirates, no one will stop us.

One of the machine-gun-toting train pirates asks who they are. June says, “We’re just trying to get somewhere safe.” And that they’ll do anything. Who are they?! Stranger danger ladies! They jump in the back of a pick-up truck, and drive through the dilapidated city and end up at their base camp.

June and Janine are rescued by a slime ball

“Sex slaves in America,” the lead train pirate, who’s sitting in a Staples swivel office chair, exclaims disgusted. Oh is he a nice guy? June corrects him that she wasn’t in America and then says they just need food and clothes. He agrees to help, then says, “Which one of you is staying with me?” He is NOT a nice guy. June stays. He undoes his pants and June gets on her knees. “Guess you’re used to this,” he tells her. Why are there so many shitty men running amok in this dystopian land? I hate this. He claims, “I’m not going to force you, you guys can just go.” Oh how sweet, making it seem like she has a choice. June leaves and then tells Janine they have to leave. Janine says, “Change first,” and then tells June brb. I know where she’s going. To visit swivel slime.

Sushi for one

Back at home, Rita peacefully eats sushi for one. She looks truly happy. Ahhh, the taste of freedom for everyone but the fish. Back at the train pirate camp, June takes down her hair and tosses the handmaid’s outfit and bonnet on the floor. Janine returns, “We can stay. It wasn’t so bad.” Janine saves the day, it’s super sad. “I’m sorry,” June tells her. Janine is smiling. I think because she did the saving for the first time. Sad that this is how these two have to save each other. Wow. Crying again. This episode was excellent. And I was able to watch with both eyes open without fast-forwarding — which is a real win for this show.
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