June’s on the run again, but how far will she get this time? Tara Ward recaps episode two of season four of The Handmaid’s Tale.
Everyone has bad days, but June Osborne has the worst days of all. One minute she’s enjoying a lovely pash with her boyfriend on a bridge, the next she’s leading four of her handmaid BFFs to their deaths. They were shot by a guard taking a crap in the woods! They were smooshed by a train on the wrong side of the tracks! Now June’s back on the run, and when you think her life couldn’t get any shittier, she decides to go swimming in a train full of milk.
Was the train that smooshed the handmaids the same train that June and Janine used to escape Gilead? Even locomotives feel remorse, so it’s likely. After running from Aunt Lydia, June and Janine jump aboard a freight train bound for Chicago, where America is fighting hard against Gilead. Janine’s not thrilled to go to the war front, but June is pumped. She’s been practising her steely glares for four long seasons, and now it’s time to find out if looks really can kill.
However, our old nemesis “milk” has other ideas. June and Janine clamber into a refrigerated container filled with the stuff, because even dairy products want to get the hell out of Gilead. It’s the silky bath of every influencer’s wildest dreams, but June needs to find the plug before she and Janine drown or die from hypothermia. Despite having minimal experience in locating train drains, June makes the milk disappear quicker than my patience for this four-season-long escape storyline. Strong hearts, strong bones, smell you later Gilead.
Up in Canada, the Waterfords continue to whinge about their miserable lives. Are they trapped in a travelling tin of milk? If only. This week the Waterfords dragged our precious Rita into their cesspit of moral depravity, when Serena tried to manipulate Rita by telling her she could help raise the Waterford baby, but only if she backed Serena up in court.
The mind games went to another level, but unlike June’s fight of rage and fury, Rita drops her bombs quietly and calmly. She just wants to sit in the sun and eat Canadian sushi, so she gives Fred the baby scan photo and tells him it’s not her job to look after them anymore. Fred is stunned to learn he’s going to be a prison daddy, while Rita goes home and eats a salmon skin roll that tastes a lot like freedom. Sucks to be you, Waterfords.
Even train lover John Campbell would struggle to enjoy June and Janine’s cross country rail trip, given they must smell like my car that time I left a half-full carton of Primo under the passenger seat for a month. They’re cold and wet and Janine blames June for everything that’s gone wrong. She misses the four handmaids who died, I miss Mr Darcy the pig from the safe house farm. “I’m not a mushroom,” Janine tells June, and it’s hard to disagree. “You can’t keep me in the dark and feed me lies and expect me to be okay with it.”
I bet Aunt Lydia loves mushrooms, and this whole “stuck in a milk fridge” situation proves she was right in the last episode. “Everything is your fault,” Aunt Lydia told June, and when you drink a big glass of milk and think about it, a gazillion people have died because of June’s actions. They’re not mushrooms either, June. None of us are.
A flashback to Janine’s pre-Gilead life shows Janine is stronger than June realises. She’ll be even stronger once she absorbs all the vitamin D from that milk, and when the train is hit by rebel soldiers, it’s Janine who saves the day. June and Janine are taken into Chicago where the army leader tells them that food and shelter doesn’t come for free, and he’s not talking about sending an invoice at a later date. He’s talking about payment by sex, because everything in this show comes back to sex and honestly you can’t even lock yourself in a train fridge without someone bringing the peen into it.
Janine takes control of the situation, so that June and Janine can stay with the rebel army. It’s a cruel blow to discover this America is as dangerous and miserable as Gilead was, even if it has a lot less milk. Our dairy queens have finally made it out of Gilead, but at what cost?
The Handmaid’s Tale drops every Thursday night on Neon. You can read all our recaps here.