It’s the confrontation we’ve all been waiting for: June vs Fred. What went down, and how steely was June’s glare? Tara Ward recaps season four, episode eight of The Handmaid’s Tale.
Canada was light personified in ‘Testimony’, and our hero June Osborne stepped right into it, bold and brave as ever. The Waterford’s pre-trial hearing was June’s chance to drop some truth bombs, and she shared her story in an impressive seven minute, single shot monologue. She recapped every shitty thing that happened to her during The Handmaid’s Tale (if you haven’t seen seasons one to three, watch this episode and you’ll be all caught up), and gave voice to the women of Gilead who could no longer speak. A word after a word after a word is power, and June was in complete control.
Everyone was talking about the Waterfords but nobody was saying nice things, and Fred was mad. Forget the rape and abuse, didn’t everyone know Gilead had successfully increased the world’s birth rate? June’s courtroom confrontation with Fred wasn’t as satisfying as last week’s explosion with Serena, but it was still a tonic for our weary souls. June told the court she was done, but there’s no way she’s finished telling the world what a tool he is. Fred probably wants freedom to be spelt “Fredom” from now on, but June has news for him and it’s all bad.
Gilead, meanwhile, was full of shadows and Aunt Lydia was lurking in them all. “It must be killing you that June won, out of reach, free as a bird and singing like one,” Lawrence said, after Lydia went feral with her cattle prod and attacked an Aunt and a handmaid. Lydia was as grumpy as Fred is, so Lawrence gave Lydia a new outlet for her frustrations: Janine.
Exciting news, our missing handmaid Janine is not dead. On the downside, she’s back in Gilead, and Aunt Lydia’s mood perked right up when she saw her wee pet again. If Lydia can redeem the wayward Janine, she’ll redeem herself in the eyes of Gilead. Janine is Lydia’s ticket to the big time, but Janine is less than thrilled to be back. Her grim look into the distance? It’s June 2.0. Do your worst, Janine.
This episode was about moving on in life, and whether these women can get past the trauma Gilead inflicted on them. In Canada, Moira runs a therapy group to help ex-handmaids adjust to their new lives, because multi-tasker Moira is now a key piece of Canadian infrastructure. She does all the things in all the places: she got the kids off the plane, she got June out of Chicago, and now she’s helping a bunch of traumatised women find inner peace. The only ‘moving on’ Moira needs is a relaxing weekend in flash hotel with room service, blackout blinds and a pillow menu, immediately.
It’s hard to move on when your past keeps appearing, and when a refugee Aunt tracks Emily down to beg for forgiveness, June finds an outlet for her own anger. She falls into the role of Aunt Lydia, bringing Aunt Irene to group therapy and pushing the buttons of the ex-handmaids. June gladly stokes the flames of their anger, but not everyone’s happy to confront their past. “We’re not all like you,” Emily tells June. Emily’s rage is quieter and deeper, but it’s still there. When Aunt Irene kills herself, Emily admits she’s glad and hopes she had something to do with it.
Luke wants to move on, Moira wants peace, but June wants to sit in her rage and stew. “Why can’t we be as angry as we feel?” she demands, but tell that to the Waterfords. Serena suppressed her loathing of Fred as they united to fight their upcoming court case, their narcissistic sense of righteousness buoyed on by a growing number of religious supporters. With only two episodes left in season four, June will need more than just angry glare to take these bastards down.