June is off to prison in episode 3, as Nick attempts to keep her alive by forcing her to give up the location of the rest of the handmaids, doing whatever it takes to make her talk. In Gilead, true love means torturing your paramour and killing your friends so that you’ll both live to see each other again someday. It’s a unique twist on Romeo and Juliet’s accidentally on purpose suicides and murders.
Gilead is such a harsh dystopia that sometimes I expect the bodies to turn into zombies, get up and keep going. Most of the living in Gilead are basically zombies anyway.
June acts as a reverse zombie maker. She wakes people up from their psychological numbness, but frequently they die not long afterwards. Sometimes they just symbolically die to Gilead and in reality they become Canadians. That can be fraught with difficulty as well, because June still haunts them.
Luke struggles with June’s choices this week and what they mean for him and Nichole. Joseph and Lydia struggle to regain their former positions in Gilead after June disrupted their lives. As always, June struggles to do the right thing in a world that only offers wrong choices.
As episode 3 begins, June is masked, restrained and in a van that’s bringing her to an isolated prison that’s built like a fortress. Once the van stops inside the prison garage, its door opens to reveal Nick, who’s developed a habit of appearing out of nowhere instead of just lurking in the shadows, the way he did at the Waterfords.
He’s entirely too quiet for someone who seems to move around Gilead so freely. That’s the mark of someone who keeps all the secrets and knows how to use them.
June is terrified and Nick’s presence doesn’t calm her. He moves closer so that he can unchain her from the van, taking the opportunity to put his face near hers for a moment.
Nick: “Mrs Keyes is safe in custody. The other handmaids are still at large. They moved on to the next safe house. That’s what they assume. If you don’t tell them where they are, I can’t help you. Please, let me help you.”
As usual, Nick is all quiet intensity. He survives Gilead by showing nothing on the outside and saying as little as possible, giving his enemies no accidental ammunition. For that reason, it’s crucial to watch who’s nearby when he allows himself to be vulnerable with June. This season, Nick has power and a network of trusted contacts, but he’s not invulnerable. June is too impulsive and too much of a wanted criminal for him to take her into his confidence.
Aunt Lydia arrives at that moment to take custody of June, acting as her advocate and guardian angel. June clearly doesn’t see Aunt Lydia’s return as a gift from God.
June is escorted to the first of many torture chambers she’ll be visiting this episode and left kneeling on the floor. Lydia strikes her on the head hard enough to knock her to the ground before yelling at her for kidnapping the children, causing Lydia and their families so much pain.
After Lydia has said her piece, the Guardians rush back in to strap June on top of a steel table, her four limbs stretched out. The Guardians/Eyes all now wear full face masks similar to the police in Watchmen, which makes them extra intimidating in this concrete dungeon. Then they’re joined by the Lieutenant, a sadistic, matter of fact interrogator who enjoys his work a little too much.
He asks June where the handmaids are. June won’t tell him. Lydia taunts her. June tells them, “God has forsaken this place.” The Lieutenant slaps her, then asks if she’s okay, as if it was an accident. Once he’s certain that she’s determined not to talk, he holds a quick prayer ceremony to bless this torture session before they waterboard her.
Lydia sits in the hall and embroiders while silently advocating for June during the waterboarding.
After a rough season 3, Lydia seems to have lost even more of her inner reserves. Guess the
beatings interrogations she underwent between seasons (probably at the hands of the Lieutenant) took a physical and mental toll. She is no longer the indomitable pillar of strength we met in season 1. This episode is probably triggering her traumatic memories.
Luke meets with
a government official Rachel Tapping who gives him the news that June has been captured, but is still alive, for now. The official Rachel says they’ll probably never find out if June has a trial or how she’s sentenced, since those aren’t held publicly in Gilead. Luke is understandably frustrated that the government can’t do anything else to help June. As the official Rachel leaves, she tells him that her grandmother used to bury a green persimmon in the yard for good luck. Her family traditions are all she has to offer him.
After the waterboarding, Lydia warns June that things will only get worse for her if she doesn’t talk. She calls the handmaids by their Commanders’ names and accuses June of corrupting them, taking them away from lives of meaningful service. June sets her straight, telling her what their lives were really like.
June: “You told those girls that if they followed the rules, they’d be okay. Then you sent them out to be raped and beaten and humiliated. Over and over and over. You failed them.”
June has found Aunt Lydia’s weak spot. Lydia yells at her to shut up, pushes her out of her chair, onto the floor, then throws the chair. June continues taunting her, telling her she failed her precious girls. “Your fault. Your fault.” The chant that Aunt Lydia uses to break stubborn, proud handmaids.
June: “Lydia, you know Janine, your girl, she was so easy. She turned on you in a f—ing second.”
Lydia looks heartbroken at this revelation, which is odd, because last season at the Putnams she told Janine that she knows how the handmaids, including Janine, really feel about her. Then she publicly beat Janine a few minutes later. June didn’t even have to ask Janine to turn. She begged June to let her help with Angels’ Flight when she overheard June trying to convince Alma to help.
The Lieutenant and Guardians return, this time with pliers. Lydia says, as if she’s trying to convince herself, “It is only through true suffering of the flesh that we shall find his love.” If that were true, everyone in Gilead beneath the rank of Commander should be swimming in God’s love by now, but they don’t appear to be finding much good fortune or affection.
As the Lieutenant prepares to remove the first of her fingernails, he tells June that she can stop the torture anytime. It’s her choice to be tortured. June tells him to stop, then confesses that the rest of the handmaids are hiding in a library in Vermont.
Spoiler- they’re not.
It’s also not her choice to be tortured. It’s the choice of the Commanders of Gilead to enforce these punishments. June’s only choice is whether to accept the punishment, and eventually death or worse, or doom her friends. It’s not like they’ll set her free to go have a happy ending if she turns in her friends, either, not that June would be that selfish.
Since torture is on the table whether June wants it or not, up against equally bad or worse choices, this is coercion, not a choice. JUNE IS NOT FREE.
Moira gets ready to leave for a march to support June, but Luke plans to stay home with Nichole. He’s still frustrated that there’s nothing they can do for her. He asks Moira if June chose this outcome, since she chose to stay in Gilead, even though there was a chance she’d get caught. Moira doesn’t think she chose death by Gilead, but she does think June is willing to die doing something good.
Luke is having difficulty with the nuances here. It tears him apart that she knowingly chose the option that might keep her from reuniting with him and Nichole. Instead, she chose the option that kept her closer to Nick and Hannah. She chose suffering and fighting for Hannah instead of a normal life in Toronto, then that goal broadened into saving other children.
He tells Moira that he needs to respect June and her choices, so he can’t ask God for something she didn’t want. He means that he can’t ask God to bring her home to him and Nichole. Moira reminds him that God has taken care of June so far. Luke starts to break down in tears, so he says good night and goes inside.
Moira is happy June is alive. Luke is worried about saving his marriage, not just saving June’s life. He’s trying to come to terms with the fact that she could die or he could lose her to Nick or she could be so changed that they can’t make their marriage work anymore. He’s lived without her, on hope, for a long time, so the dream that she’ll come back to him is tough to give up.
The more interesting side of this is that Luke seems to have given up on getting Hannah back, now that he has Nichole. By the same token, June didn’t choose to abandon Luke and Nicole by staying in Gilead. Her priority was Hannah, who she couldn’t abandon to the same terrible fate she’s experienced.
Lydia is the one who informs June that they know she lied about the handmaids’ location. June swears that she’ll never talk. Lydia says that her words are brave, but they are just words. A pair of ninja Guardians take June to the roof of the building, where Beth and Sienna, the Marthas from the Lawrence household, are standing on the edge. It’s pouring rain and a helicopter circles, because things aren’t bad enough without this extra drama.
The Lieutenant reads a Bible quote, then asks his usual question. Beth defiantly tells June not to talk. The Lieutenant casually shoves her over the side. He brings June closer to Sienna, suggesting that she could save the Martha’s life. I doubt there’s even a remote chance of that, but this is how he plays his game of cat and mouse. His fun comes from executing Sienna in front of June.
He lets June and Sienna hold hands and silently communicate for a minute. When Sienna starts to speak, he shoves her over the edge and tells June not to lie to him again.
June is taken back inside and locked in a metal box that’s maybe 3 feet by 3 feet. She can’t sit up straight or stretch out any of her limbs.
While June is tortured, two of her examples of the “good men” of Gilead, Nick and Lawrence, enjoy a cozy drink in front of the fireplace at Lawrence’s house. Nick seems really sad- this ordeal is hard on him, too, because he just can’t bear the thought of June getting dead. He’s willing to suffer through the torture inflicted on her, as long as she’s alive at the end of it.
Such a brave soul, that boy. 💀
Lawrence, on the other hand, says he has total respect for June’s intelligence, such as it is, but he suspects she’s outlived her usefulness and it’s time for her to die, like the disposable trash that she is. Even if she lives, he reminds Nick, they’ll never be together. 👿
Nick says he’s accepted that he and June can’t ever be together. He just needs her to be alive, somewhere in the world. He tells Joseph, “Here’s the thing- you owe me.” Nick says it in an amazingly firm tone of voice, for him. He goes on to remind Lawrence that June did some things that helped save him, too. She’s changed Gilead for the better.
I’m not sure that Nick realizes June ‘s part in Eleanor’s death and Lawrence’s need for revenge against everyone who took part in Angels’ Flight because of it. That would be why Sienna and Beth died in front of June instead of living out their days in the Colonies. Lawrence let the flight happen, because it’s what Eleanor died for. But now he wants everyone who was left behind to die, including June, because he lost Eleanor and maybe so they don’t compromise him further as well.
Lawrence tells Nick to move on from June, but Nick just can’t. She’s the love of his life, the way Eleanor was the love of Lawrence’s life. She’s in a box right now, the way Lawrence kept Eleanor boxed up tight in her bedroom to keep her “safe”. Lawrence reiterates that he can’t help Nick with his situation.
Except he owes Nick, and Nick knows he can help. Nick has been paying attention to Lawrence. He notes that Lawrence really likes living alone in this big old house. Lawrence calls it “home”. Nick tells him that he almost lost this home to another Commander. Getting June to talk could help Lawrence keep his house.
After all, he owes Nick.
Why do I get the feeling that a lot of people quietly owe Nick? Has he spent the last 2 seasons becoming the Godfather of Gilead?
Back in the box, June sings Heaven Is a Place on Earth, by Belinda Carlisle, to herself, the song that was stuck in her head throughout S3Ep9, Heroic, the episode in which she sat vigil by Natalie’s hospital bed. That episode was a turning point, when she realized that though Hannah was lost to her for the moment, she could still help other women and girls in Hannah’s place. That was the episode where she became a revolutionary fighting for her people rather than just a mother acting to save her child and a handmaid lashing out at the people holding her.
They say in Heaven love comes first. We’ll make Heaven a place on Earth.
Luke and Nichole take a green persimmon, a bitter, unripe fruit, and a trowel out to the backyard. Luke has decided to try Rachel’s suggestion of burying the persimmon for luck. I’m not sure if this is supposed to signify burying his bitterness or burying, and thus setting free, his unfinished/unripe situation with June, but either option would probably help his mental state. Hoping the persimmon fairy grants his wish will not. The green, unripe persimmon, with seeds that won’t grow, probably signifies that you accept this is a hopeless situation, outside of your control, and you’re ready to humbly leave it to the fates.
June’s period of symbolic burial is over. The box opens automatically and she slithers out, too stiff to do more than collapse on the floor.
Once she’s cleaned up, she’s taken to a candlelit dinner with Lawrence. He has a table full of food. She has a bowl of soup. He speaks kindly to her and pretends he’s fully regained his status. He mentions that the Council needs his help, since there are 9 Commanders in the hospital, plus another 6 dead, from some bad liquor at a Jezebels in Pennsylvania.
Excellent work, June, Daisy and Mrs Keyes. Hopefully they’ll send Putnam to the front soon.
Then the interrogation starts. Lawrence says they’ll hurt Hannah if she doesn’t talk. June doesn’t believe him. The one good thing she believes about Gilead is that they protect children.
Lawrence: “Gilead doesn’t care about children. Gilead cares about power. Faithfulness, old-time values, homemade bread- that’s just the means to the end. It’s distraction, window-dressing. I thought you would have figured that out by now.”
June is trying very hard not to cry. The essential truth she’s held onto is that Hannah was safe until she could make babies. She couldn’t let herself believe any differently and survive.
June: “I thought you were going to clean up your mess.”
Lawrence: “I can’t do it from the end of a rope. This is where we are.”
Lawrence is back to observing people and the system as if Gilead is a fascinating insect colony. June has some choice words for him to let him know she’s not not ready to cooperate.
Joseph attempts to show emotion and fails. I think he’s a little emotional, mostly because he loses his house if she doesn’t talk. He calls in the Guardians to take June to another room.
Hannah is in a glass cage, in her nightclothes- they left her looking especially vulnerable. She’s playing with a doll. The scene is meant to represent refugee children who are torn from their parents. June approaches Hannah and touches the glass. When Hannah notices her, she screams and scurries to the other side of the cage.
June is devastated that Hannah is afraid of her. She follows Hannah, speaking softly to her, and sits near her. Hannah cowers in the corner as June cries. The Lieutenant appears and waits for June to speak. She tells him where the other handmaids are. He says a polite goodbye, then Aunt Lydia takes June from the room, assuring her that Hannah will be safe now.
Nick found her weakness, but he also gave her the trade off of a visit with Hannah in return for stripping her down to nothing. He tortured her but also gave her the gift of some harsh truths about her life and herself, so that she moves forward with her eyes open. She knows now that Lawrence was never really an ally anymore than Serena was, and that Hannah is currently even more lost to her than she thought. She won’t be able to show up at the MacKenzies to spirit Hannah away, because Hannah doesn’t trust her.
Nick is showing us that influence in Gilead is gained through favors, debt and blackmail material, not trust, affection or achievement.
The other handmaids are asleep in the Murrows’ basement. They haven’t moved on to another safe house, though they must have realized something was wrong when June didn’t show up. Janine is the only one who wakes up when dogs bark. She wakes up the others when she sees the lights outside, but it’s too late to escape. The Murrows are shot and the handmaids are captured. They stand together and hold hands as they’re found.
June is left to rest in a cell until Lydia returns to let her know the others have been captured. Lydia is thrilled that they’ve found June’s weakness and broken her at last. Especially since June’s sin is the same as Lydia’s- both are now snitches who turned in good friends, though when Lydia was a teacher she turned in her friend out of spite, while telling herself it was to save a child. June did it solely to save her daughter, not to save herself from death or torture. Lydia will also be remembering the way June judged Natalie so harshly for reporting June’s actions to her in S3.
June very calmly looks up at Lydia and tells her she’s ready
to find Heaven on Earth. Lydia is confused, so June explains that they can execute her anytime- she’d like to die now. But Gilead doesn’t kill people who want to die.
Lydia chuckles. Too many fertile women and children have been lost recently, so anyone who can make a baby gets to live. The handmaids are all sentenced to a Magdalene Colony, a prison camp where they’ll work in the fields. Their Commanders and Wives will come to the Colony to perform the Ceremony each month. It’s a life sentence. Lydia had her doubts about the Magdalene Colony at first, but now she can see its value.
Then she tells June to remember that everything that’s happened to her, to the handmaids, Beth, Sienna, Hannah, and everyone in June’s sphere- it’s all June’s fault. “Your fault, your choice.”
Lydia had a powerful need to twist that knife, after she had to undergo torture thanks to June and Angels’ Flight. But she’s wrong. Everything is still the fault of the powerful in Gilead. I’m honestly not sure where Lydia falls on the scale of influence and blame in Gilead. Should she have chosen death over becoming an aunt? Does she try to protect her girls where she can, when she’s not feeling spiteful and sadistic?
June’s actions have been coerced or desperate while she’s been in Gilead. Except for maybe the poisoning of the Commanders at the country club Jezebels. That was an act of war, so I have no problem with it. We saw hundreds of innocent women in cages last season who had been kidnapped from Chicago, who were about to be sent to death. They were the tip of the iceberg. Every Commander in Gilead is complicit in mass murder and mass rape. They all deserve execution. Probably most of the Guardians, too. If fate has chosen June as her avenging angel, so be it.
June is hosed off, then Lydia dresses her in her handmaid’s robes, the true prison. Let’s hope this is the last time she returns to them.
June is driven out into the countryside, then told to get out of the van and walk alone down a path in the woods. It seems like a set up to quietly execute her, but in reality Nick is waiting for her on a bridge. He must have the loyalty of these Guardians and be able to influence the schedule to transfer June to the Magdalene Colony.
June is relieved to see him, but also worried. He tells her that Hannah has safely returned home, then he tries to apologize for the things he’s done to keep her alive. June stops him. She needs to talk to her friend and lover, the rock who supported her through her pregnancy with Nichole and suicide attempt in season 2, more than she needs his confession right now. I hope we eventually get the confession, though.
June, in tears: “She was scared of me. She wasn’t scared of them… My baby was scared of me… She didn’t know me.”
Nick: “Listen to me. She loves you. She loves you. I love you.”
Nick’s attention is drawn to a second van that pulls up on the opposite side of the bridge. June nods her head, understanding that it’s time for her to go. They hold each other for a minute, then she walks toward the van. After several steps, she turns and runs back to Nick. They kiss for an impressively long time, given this was filmed in the COVID era. June says, “I love you,” and Nick says it back again. June kisses him one more time, then goes to the Red Center van.
The rest of the handmaids and Aunt Lydia are already in the van. A single Guardian drives them toward the Magdalene Colony. Janine hums “I’ve Been Working on the Railroad.” The handmaids realize they’re stopping at a train crossing and begin to assess their situation. There are 6 of them. Aunt Lydia has her cattle prod. The Guardian decides to go to the bathroom in the woods, since it could take up to half an hour for the train to go by.
Aunt Lydia remarks on how wonderful it is that they’ve gotten the band back together again. No one answers. The handmaids all look at each other and the cattle prod, then June lunges for it. While the rest of the handmaids leap from the van, June and Lydia struggle for control of the prod.
Just as June is about to club Lydia with the prod, Alma tells June to give it up so they can run to beat the train to the intersection. Lydia calmly tells her not to do it. The handmaids are all still standing just outside the van, waiting for June the way they always wait for her.
June drops the prod and the handmaids run for the tracks. Lydia yells to the Guardian for help as the train bears down on the intersection. The Guardian reappears and shoots the two unnamed handmaids. Alma and Brianna slow down to look back. Lydia screams “No!” June and Janine make it across the tracks, but Alma and Brianna are hit by the train.
Once the train is between them and capture, June and Janine stop for a second to take in what happened. They don’t have long before the train is past, so they quickly start running for their lives.
Flashback to the Red Center dorm, during the handmaids’ initial training. The handmaids are all in their cots. An aunt circles the room with a light, looking for rule breakers. Once she leaves, several of the handmaids reach out their hands, then silently mouth their names to each other.
June: “We slept in what had once been the gymnasium. We learned to whisper in the semi-darkness. We learned to lipread. Sarah, Ellie, Brianna, Alma, Janine, Moira, June.”
Elizabeth Moss (June) directed this episode.
Goodbye Beth (Kristen Gutoskie), Sienna (Sugenja Sri), Alma (Nina Kiri), Brianna (Bahia Watson), Sarah (Melissa Kelly) and Ellie (Victoria Goodman and Masa Lizdek). You will be missed.
I’m really not clear about whether Nick just sacrificed 6 women’s lives, plus Mrs Keyes’ relative freedom, to keep June alive. Lydia told June that her life was never in danger during the torture and interrogations because they aren’t killing fertile women, so what exactly was Nick bargaining the location of the handmaids for? The chance to escape at the train crossing? The visit with Hannah? Something else that he had planned for June at the Magdalene Colony?
The timing of the train and the van seems too convenient to be a coincidence. No way would they send a single Guardian and aunt alone with 6 violent handmaids who were barely restrained, then leave the aunt alone with them, with the doors to the van unlocked. That’s way too many mistakes for Gilead. Look at how restrained June is in the beginning of the episode, when it’s just her being transported. It seems like the transport incident at the end had to be a set up to give June a chance to escape and possibly for the Guardian to kill the others.
By the end of the episode, everyone who was left in Gilead who had something to do with the Angels’ Flight, and thus with Eleanor’s death, is dead, except for Janine and June. Nick and Joseph might have struck a deal that Nick could save June, even though Joseph guessed that she could have saved Eleanor but didn’t, but in exchange the rest had to die. Nick could see the rest as witnesses who pose a threat to June in the long run, so he might agree to it. Or maybe Nick and Joseph double-crossed each other, causing the escape plan to go horribly wrong.
The next time we see June after she leaves Nick on the bridge, she’s in the van with the rest of the captured handmaids and Aunt Lydia. I can only assume that Aunt Lydia was in the van while June and Nick were hugging and kissing, which means she could have seen them. There were other small signs during the episode that Aunt Lydia is loyal to Nick- he was also still close to June when Lydia arrived in the garage early in the episode and no one was phased. She was verbally vengeful with June throughout the episode, but physically she was relatively careful.
It seemed like Nick and Lydia might be working together to prove to someone that June could be brought to heel. They’d both seen her eventually submit in season 2, so they knew she could be driven to it. But we saw her submit again in season 3 when Natalie was dying, this time without fully losing herself. She’s grown more sure of her reasoning and purpose as time has gone on, so that the blame and humiliation Lydia heaped on her in season 2 isn’t enough to break her now.
Nick’s betrayal of June is similar to what happens in the novel 1984, when the two main characters are broken during torture by betraying each other’s worst fear to the authorities to save themselves. Nick sought out and then told the interrogators about June’s worst fear, losing Hannah forever, in order to save himself from his own worst fear, losing her forever.
Joseph’s worst fear, losing Eleanor, has already happened and he’s survived it. But Nick correctly guessed that Joseph has a new worst fear, losing the home they shared, which would be like losing Eleanor all over again. Joseph probably isn’t happy that Nick has leverage over him. Maybe they will continue to work together or maybe Joseph will try to get rid of Nick, just as Fred did when Nick knew too many inconvenient secrets.
Hannah is Luke’s biological daughter, but he knows he’ll probably never see her again, while Nichole is there and needs him. Meanwhile, I suspect that Nick does what he can to keep Hannah safe for June’s sake, but he feels that Nichole is lost to him. He trusts that Luke is keeping her safe.
Both men love June, but in reality, neither of them have her. She’s unable to choose her own happiness over the suffering of the women and children of Gilead, which is why she’s evolved into a revolutionary. Her sense of right and wrong and the need to act on it extends beyond herself and encompasses all of Gilead/former America. I can’t even begin to guess how she feels about Nick or Luke at this point. I don’t think there’s room in her head for romantic feelings, most of the time. She’ll have to sort out her relationship with whichever of them is left alive at the end, if she’s still alive.
This episode widened the dichotomy between the two men- Luke is flawed, but ultimately follows the law, is reliable and “good”. That ironically leaves him unprepared to save his family in the worst of times. He’s stood by helplessly for years while his family has suffered in Gilead. But he’s also forgiving enough to take on parenting Nichole, the child of his wife’s affair, and become a devoted father to her.
Nick is morally neutral, but he’s devoted to the people he loves to the point that he will commit morally questionable acts and even go to war to save them. He was directionless before Gilead, but when he’s given someone or something to protect, he flourishes. But he also took part in Serena’s scheme to rape June to get a baby for herself. And he doesn’t always help people as quickly as he could- his child bride, Eden, for example.
One guy is great for normalcy and one guy is great when you’re in a crisis. How do you choose? Maybe after Gilead you want to feel normal again or maybe you need know your partner will fight with every resource available to keep you safe.
Hannah must have been trained to be afraid of June, in case June tried to kidnap her. It hasn’t been that long since they’ve seen each other, but it has been long enough since they lived together that the MacKenzies could have convinced Hannah her memories of June are wrong or that June has changed. Maybe they used the Baby Nichole kidnapping story to scare Hannah.
The camera work at the prison emphasizes how far away from normalcy they are, so that June isn’t even someone Luke would recognize anymore as she’s supposedly choosing who lives and dies while experiencing excruciating circumstances. It’s hard to imagine how June can ever fully come back from these experiences.
‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ Boss on Making June Take Responsibility for Her Actions in Season 4:
After leaving so many behind, including Hannah; watching more friends die; convincing Janine to keep going, how much of the regret you mentioned a minute ago also includes guilt for June?
I want her to feel responsible. Whether she feels guilty is a slippery thing because who’s guilty, who’s responsible? It’s really Gilead. But yes, she is weighted down, hugely, by what she has done, thought, wanted to do, how her desires have changed, how ruthless she’s become and how she finds satisfaction in violence sometimes. The entire show is, “Look what I’ve done. How can I resolve myself?”
‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ Star Elisabeth Moss on Gilead Torture Tactic That Breaks June
“They knew that that just would mess her up so badly that she wouldn’t be able to do anything else but tell them,” Hulu star tells TheWrap
‘Handmaid’s Tale’ Team on Season 4 Trip to Gilead ‘Hotspot’ Chicago, What Comes After Season 5
“We’re delivering on the things that we’ve set up. And I think that’s very satisfying,” creator Bruce Miller tells TheWrap
TVLine Performer of the Week: Elizabeth Moss
‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ Boss on Tragic Fates and Surprise Reveal in Season 4 Return
Why were all of these deaths necessary in moving forward June’s story?
I look at it from the flip side. I’m thinking about what would happen, They’re in a terrible place; a place where nobody gets out. Nobody gets out. It’s hard to get out and this is what hard looks like. Hard is hard; it’s terrible. I wanted to make it realistic in terms of, what would the cost be to June? In the beginning of the season, she talks about how she wants to be a rebel and a hero. Those are nice words. But she is dealing with real human beings making real decisions and you have to drive that home for her. Shit happens to people because she makes these decisions. The reason why this is a season where lots of stuff happens is because she makes active decisions. She makes them happen; but there’s a huge cost.
The final scene flashes back to the original group of Handmaids, with June saying their names in voiceover (Sara, Elliie, Brianna, Elma, Janine, Moira, June). Now, only three are left. Can you talk about that tribute?
I read the book The Handmaid’s Tale a lot, still. I re-read it and there are things that stay with me that I always want to use; images that are so beautiful or things we’ve touched on and want to revisit. So, this was not a hard scene to come up with. Elisabeth Moss and I worked more closely on this script because I knew she was going to direct. I wanted Lizzy to be able to shoot this scene as part of her episode and not use Reed Morano’s version of it [from season one]. This was a very, very difficult shot for us to get during COVID. It was expensive and a big commitment of us to do, but it was worth it. We had to go back to this location where the Red Center [established to house and train the Handmaids] is, which is a very particular place. All of the very practical things about COVID prompt questions like, where can we shoot? How can we get all of those people? Do we use dummies in some of the beds? All of those actors were perfectly happy to be there, but they can’t because of COVID. It was a very easy creative decision, and it was a bear. And I had a first-time director and she did a remarkable job in that beautiful scene. It’s not just a flashback for June, it’s a flashback for us as viewers.
Images courtesy of Hulu.
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