The Handmaid’s Tale season 4 will deal will the fallout of June’s victory against Gilead. Here are the biggest questions it needs to answer.
The Handmaid’s Tale season 3 ended with a victory for June and the Mayday network, as they successfully smuggled 86 children out of Gilead and across the border to Canada. However, Gilead is sure to retaliate brutally in The Handmaid’s Tale season 4. As the dust settles, there are many major questions to be answered about the future of June and other major characters.
It can’t be overstated how severe the loss of the children is for the Republic of Gilead. The dystopian totalitarian nation was built on the promise of combating the deviancy and weaknesses in society that its leaders claim are the cause of the fertility crisis. Fertility, babies and children are worshipped as Gilead’s most sacred resource. The mass jailbreak sends a message to both Gilead’s citizens and the rest of the world that the country is not as impenetrable or as inescapable as it appears to be.
Gilead’s fury will surely be felt in The Handmaid’s Tale season 4, but June and the other members of the resistance will also be emboldened. With Gilead’s facade fracturing and many characters’ fates hanging in the balance, here are the biggest questions the upcoming season needs to answer.
Can June Escape Gilead?
June has had more than one chance to escape Gilead and get across the border to Canada, but she’s been held back by her determination not to abandon her daughter, Hannah. For the past three seasons The Handmaid’s Tale has been building June’s arc not simply towards escaping, but to disrupting and perhaps even destroying Gilead from within. As June said in season 1, “They should have never given us uniforms if they didn’t want us to be an army.”
According to the trailer for The Handmaid’s Tale season 4, June manages to evade capture with a few of her fellow handmaids for at least 19 days, but staying off the radar isn’t easy in Gilead. Elsewhere in the trailer she’s shown captured by the Eyes and wearing a prison uniform, while other moments show her in Canada, confronting Selena, and even giving testimony. The idea of June getting out of Gilead and being reunited with Luke, Moira, Nichole and Emily is a hopeful one, but physically escaping Gilead might not be enough to make June truly free.
Will Hannah Be Liberated?
The main connection anchoring June to Gilead is her daughter, Hannah, who was taken away from her while still an infant and has been raised Commander McKenzie and his wife since then. June was briefly reunited with Hannah in The Handmaid’s Tale season 2, and was heartbroken when her daughter asked why June hadn’t tried harder to get her back. The trailer for The Handmaid’s Tale season 4 shows Hannah placed in a transparent cube with the Eyes’ logo on the floor, and an imprisoned June once again getting to see her daughter – though it seems that Gilead is using Hannah to keep her in line. With all the trouble that June has made, along with her dogged determination to get back to her daughter, Gilead can be expected to tighten its grip on Hannah, making her liberation all the more difficult to achieve.
Can Commander Lawrence Keep His Position?
Though he originally planned to use the escaped children to make the case for being pardoned in Canada, Commander Lawrence ultimately chose not to leave Gilead with the children at the end of The Handmaid’s Tale season 3. Eleanor Lawrence committed suicide shortly before Mayday carried out the escape, and without the promise of a fresh start and safety for his wife, Commander Lawrence became less focused on escaping and more on making amends for his crimes by disrupting Gilead from within. Before he can do that, however, he has to make sure he doesn’t end up on the wall. The Eyes will surely figure out that Lawrence’s house was used to stage the escape – whether by following the children’s trail back to it, or by torturing the Martha who panicked and ran away before being captured. To avoid execution and keep his position as a commander, Lawrence will have to convince his colleagues that he wasn’t involved in the escape and had no advance knowledge that it was going to happen.
Will The Mayday Marthas Be Executed?
The Marthas who participated in the Mayday evacuation of the children risked everything, with one even killing her commander and his wife in order to leave with their baby. Rita was the only Martha who actually joined the children on the plane, with the rest remaining behind in order to help June distract the guard at the airport. There’s no question that the Eyes will learn of the Marthas’ involvement, whether from the Martha who was captured or through an in-depth forensic investigation of the escape. Like June and the handmaids, the Marthas will most likely go into hiding, but whether they’ll be successful in remaining hidden remains to be seen. Unfortunately the more likely outcome is that they’ll be rounded up and executed – but they no doubt knew that was a possibility when they liberated the children.
Will The Waterfords Actually Go To Prison?
In The Handmaid’s Tale season 3, the Waterfords were arrested during a trip to Canada. Serena Joy betrayed her husband in exchange for a pardon and short visits with June’s daughter, Nichole, while Fred Waterford was to be put on trial and expected to be given a considerable prison sentence for war crimes. In retaliation against Serena, Fred told U.S. representative Mark Tuello that Serena had arranged for Nick to impregnate June, which falls outside of the state-ordered religious practices that Serena was forced to take part in and therefore is not something that her pardon will cover. As of The Handmaid’s Tale season 3 finale Serena is now set to face charges of crimes including rape and sex trafficking, and has lost the right to see Nichole.
While it would be satisfying for the Waterfords to finally face retribution for everything that they’ve done, Gilead can be expected to fight for their return. As a high-ranking commander, Fred could give the Americans plenty of intelligence about the internal workings of Gilead, and has already been shown offering up information in a deposition ahead of his trial. Whether by negotiating a trade for his release, staging a jailbreak, or assassinating him to shut him up, there are plenty of ways that Gilead could intervene before Fred is put behind bars. As for Serena, a scene in The Handmaid’s Tale season 4 trailer shows June confronting her for all the things she’s done – but June could also be Serena’s best chance at escaping prison, if she testifies in her defense. With Serena at her mercy, could June use that power to leverage something that she needs?
Will Nick Choose June Or Gilead?
Nick Blaine is no longer a driver in The Handmaid’s Tale season 4, but has been promoted to the role of Commander Blaine. Nick’s loyalties have been difficult to pin down; he was a member of the Eyes, placed to spy on the Waterford household, but also has ties to the resistance efforts within Gilead. Then of course there are his feelings for June, and the fact that their child is now being raised in Canada. Promos for The Handmaid’s Tale season 4 have framed Nick’s story as one of being torn between his duties to Gilead and his love for June, but it may be more complicated than that. If Nick is actually a high-level member of the resistance, then he may have a bigger plan to sabotage Gilead from the inside that he doesn’t want to compromise by openly helping June escape.
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