'The Handmaid's Tale' Season 4 Ending Explained: Does June go back to Gilead?

Season 4 ends with June asking Luke for five minutes to hold her daughter before she says she 'will go'


                            'The Handmaid's Tale' Season 4 Ending Explained: Does June go back to Gilead?
Elizabeth Moss as June Osborne in 'The Handmaid's Tale' (Hulu)

Spoilers for 'The Handmaid's Tale' Season 4 Episode 10

It's early dawn as daylight peeps in through the thick of woods. A group of women walks back to their cars before the sun shines on the sin they have just committed. They are handmaids — both old and new, and they are reinstating what one of them had scribbled in Fred Waterford's house years ago: "Nolite te bastardes carborundorum." As fans will remember, the Latin phrase loosely translates to, "Don't let the bastards grind you down." And our handmaids were finally able to squelch the bastard grinding them down.

'The Handmaid's Tale' Season 4 ended with a passionate kiss, a cathartic attack, and a reunion without closure, leaving us with more questions than answers. The audacious Waterfords are once again at June's mercy after she took out the man of the house who had formulated the concept of Gilead. Fred, confident as ever that June cannot kill him, chose a whistle when she offers him the choice between that and a gun. Leaving viewers surprised with its twist in the tale, the finale then shows June blow the seemingly harmless whistle as the flock of women appear with torches. Emily is among them too, and together they doom Fred with the same fate the rapist guardian had received in Season 1: violent beating to death.

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When dawn arrives, June is back with Luke as she beams at the daughter she still has the privilege to hold. Her bloodied face reveals to Luke what she has been up to and he falls to the floor in a daze. The season ends with the focus on June holding her baby as the scenes switch between her and Fred's body hanging on the wall. But June has already made a request that might take some pondering upon to find where it leads. As the season ends, June asks Luke for five minutes with her baby before she goes and the mention of her leaving has our curiosity piqued. Where is June going? The possibilities are limitless, but here are a few options.

The most obvious destination is Gilead as Hannah is still there and June will know no peace until she has her firstborn. It's been a pattern with every season of 'The Handmaid's Tale', where June — at the nick of escaping Gilead — is stopped because Hannah is still trapped. And the latest season, although sees June make her way back to Luke, poses an open ending that questions her escape from Gilead. But going back to Gilead comes with its own share of colossal problems. For one, Fred was being given back to Gilead as a prisoner exchange; orchestrating his murder thus makes June prone to arrest under international law. 

A still of Elizabeth Moss as June Osborne and Yvonne Strahovski as Serena Waterford in 'The Handmaid's Tale' Season 4 (Hulu)

There is also the possibility that before Gilead, June makes a detour to Serena Waterford. She has already delivered her former captor an envelope with Fred's finger and wedding ring and the pregnant Serena knows she expecting and widowed. Now that she's with child, she worries more about her security — the one thing all handmaids were concerned with when carrying their commanders' children. But if June decides squashing Fred like a bug wasn't enough, much can't be assured of Serena's safety. This brings us to the not-so-little-anymore Hannah, whom Serena had used as leverage. "As long as my baby is safe, so is yours,” Serena had told the then-pregnant June, and the warning applies the other way round. 

June could very well visit Serena and hold her leverage to retrieve Hannah, but the question remains: Will she reach Hannah before Gilead gets her? The answer to that has to lie in speculations as of now, and of course — hope. Hope that the Hulu extension of Margaret Atwood's harrowing dystopia will offer some respite after four long years of teasing us with June escaping and unleashing fresh ways of torturing women with each new season every year. It's about time Hannah meets her little sister; June sure thinks so. And 'The Handmaid's Tale' was always about June, not what was done to her.

'The Handmaid's Tale' Season 4 ended on June 16, and Season 5 is expected to return sometime around spring of 2022.

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