The Handmaid’s Tale: Episode Ten

Well, we’ve made it. We are at the finale of season four of The Handmaid’s Tale. Are you ready for it?

The episode opens to a flashback of Fred Waterford and June at one of those clubs (you know, the ones where Commanders would take their Handmaid’s to rape, and also rape the women who worked there). They’re dancing, and he’s feeling her up, while we have a voiceover of June explaining how she had to go along with it and has to deal with the slimy things he does so she’s able to live another day. “Make him believe, because your motherfucking life depends on it,” she says. “Don’t run, don’t kick, don’t scream, don’t bite. Don’t bite.” That reiteration of the last thing is said as she stares at the camera, and then we are taken back to the present, where June is looking out the window of a high rise building. Mark comes over and asks her to come with him—which June reluctantly does, because she is still very much upset at what he’s done. As they walk, he explains what is currently going on with the Commander’s case and that she will be doing a virtual hearing. They enter a room that is empty except for a camera and chair. Mark tells her that it is more than likely that Fred will be granted immunity for his cooperation because he’s proved to be a great intelligence asset, and therefore, of great value. To that, June quips, “Weak men, they really do make the world go round.” Mark attempts to appease to June by saying he’s on her side, but June doesn’t believe that, because he knows that he serially raped her and is going to set him free, therefore he doesn’t have a side. With nothing more to say, Mark leaves and June sits down in a chair while a man gets the camera ready to tape her testimony for the hearing.

We cut to June leaving the building and looking up towards the sky, except we don’t then see the sky. We see a chandelier and ceiling. We see June being raped by Fred and to dissociate herself from the traumatic experience, she’s just staring at the ceiling. We’re then jolted back to the present when she closes her eyes for a couple seconds and opens them again to see the partly cloudy sky above her.

When she returns home, Luke, Moira and Rita are in the kitchen. Moira is on the phone with someone, but we don’t really hear the conversation. Luke asks June how it was, to which she responds that it was shitty, but it’s done. Nicole starts to cry on the monitor, so Luke goes to take care of her and leaves June with Rita. Rita asks her if she wants tea or food. June, with a smile, tells Rita that she needs to stop serving her and cleaning for them. “I’m working on it with my therapist,” she says. As she goes to make tea, Moira comes back in the room, having ended her phone call. She tells them that they’re sending Fred to Geneva to do his court hearings there, and then he’ll be free and go wherever he pleases. He’ll be on a plane by the ned of the week. Moira, upset at this new information, tells June that she needs to go to Geneva, and that she’ll raise money so she can do her hearings there, in person. June doesn’t think that’s a good idea, but Moira thinks that they have to do something to stop him from going free. June has accepted that the authorities think he’s more valuable than her, because if she said what she said and they chose him, he must be. “Don’t fucking say that,” exclaims Moira, always the fiercest defender of her friend. She is adamant that they will raise money to go to Geneva, so June can try to stop this.

Moving over to Fred and Serena, they are seated in a meeting room, where he is being interviewed about the women he encountered or did things to in Gilead. Serena is sitting behind him, with a notepad and pen in hand. Then, Mark comes, and Serena exits the room to talk to him. She’s upset that Fred is being questioned about the women, when he has already given a lot of crucial information about the Gilead structures and policies. Mark reminds her that he has confessed to a lot of bad things that he did to these women. Serena then states that if the interview is to continue, the woman questioning him needs to start calling him Commander. Along with that, she demands that Mark give them access to higher internet speed, and a home that is big enough for their family. Her final demand is for the judge’s decision to be expedited so their son is not born in “this place.” Mark accepts the internet access, but everything else he will have to speak with the prosecutor’s office. He then asks, because of the talk of getting themselves a house, if she plans on leaving as husband and wife. Serena responds, yes, as a family. Mark, dumbfounded at her ability to stay at his side, asks, “Can you explain that to me Serena?” “I don’t believe I have to,” she responds, as she goes back into the meeting room to be by Fred’s side.

Returning to June, she is sitting on the steps of the porch when Emily and her son come over. He begins playing soccer in the yard as Emily sits down next to June and they start talking about the testimony for the hearing. June, emotional, tells Emily that she really wants to let go of Fred and focus on her family. “A good mother would be able to let go,” she says through tears. 

We then see June walking down a dark corridor, while flashes of her as a Handmaid walking to Fred’s bedroom are weaved in. She, in the present, then enters a room, and it is Fred Waterford’s. “Blessed evening, June. May I call you June?” he asks. “That is my name. Always was my name, actually,” she says, as she begins to walk around the room looking at all the extravagant things he was allowed to have as a prisoner. Fred then asks her why she’s come and she tells him that she heard he was going to Geneva, and thought this might be her last chance. Fred thinks she’s come for an absolution of sorts, and tells her, “Out of respect, I hold no ill will, even after those things you said in court.” With that, June tells the security they can leave, and her and Fred are left alone in his glamorous prison cell.

Frank continues, saying he knew she had to “frame things” in front of the judge and her husband. June, not responding to his words, sits down on the couch. He follows suit and continues spouting more bullshit, saying that what happened in his house were “discomforts” for both of them. He then apologizes to her for what happened with Nicole, because as an expecting father, he doesn’t want his son taken away, so now he feels as if he understands how June felt. June tears up, telling him that she didn’t think he would ever say that. Through her tears, though, she laughs, then looks at him and says she could “use a drink.” With that, he gets up to make them both one, and her face turns downwards as his back is turned. She is putting up a facade, and he’s believing it. Fred carries on speaking (at this point, I wouldn’t mind June stabbing him in the throat or something to get him to shut up), saying that the two of them was “a relationship we both needed to survive, in our own ways.” Oh boy, the rage I felt when he said that. He wasn’t surviving, he was THRIVING. He is so twisted that he is attempting to change the narrative. Or, perhaps, that is the narrative he has convinced himself of being true because he doesn’t want to admit the atrocities he’s done to June. Either way, he’s a fucking scumbag.

He returns to the couch and hands her the drink, saying that there were strong feelings, not love, but something strong between them. She says there was. He then mentions that he finds himself missing Ofred. June agrees, saying that she misses her, too. He is surprised to hear this from her and turns to face her. They cheers “to Ofred,” and she drinks her liquor in one go and looks over to him with a look so vile, you’re shocked that she is able to control herself from lashing out at him. But, then again, June is precise— she knows what she’s doing. She has also had to control herself and her emotions around him for years, which also feels like such a parallel to how, in reality, women learn to control themselves around misogynistic, sexist, chauvinist pigs like him.

We then cut to June and Luke in the car as they head home. Luke asks if she wants food or a beer, but she is tired and just wants to go home. Luke makes a light joke of it, asking her, “Wanna go to Boston? Catch a Sox game?” She looks forward, tears in her eyes, but full of vengeance and power, and says, “I want to put Fred on the wall.”

The next day, June is sitting on a bench as Mark comes running. He sees her and stops, and says good morning. “Fred’s not going to get out, Mark,” June says sternly. She tells him to change, that they’re going to need his car, and that he is going to help her, no discussion. Mark lashes out with a raised voice, upset that she’s at his home, telling her it’s inappropriate and unacceptable. After a beat, he apologizes for his tone. June tells him he’s right, and that she’s sorry. He sits down on the bench next to her. “You know,” June says,” Gilead turns you into a bit of a cunt.” That gets a smile out of Mark and she continues. “I need Fred to get what he deserves.” Mark understands that, he just doesn’t know what he can do for her. June asks him to just listen. To give her a ride and just listen.

That ride culminates in June and Mark arriving at an empty diner, with a lot of security in tow. The two of them walk in and Commander Lawrence is there, sitting in one of the booths. They sit down, and June begins by asking him, “So, you want to make a deal for Fred.” Mark says that he’s been talking, and Gilead is scared because of that. Lawrence counters, saying they’re willing to discuss a range of monetary policy changes for his exchange. Mark sees that as a waste of his time, until Lawrence says he has another offer. He takes out files of 22 women who worked with the resistance. Mark is shocked—he thought most were dead.

June turns to Mark and tells him that she understands he is trying to get information from Fred to save lives, but these women are the lives he’s trying to save, and he cannot say that Fred is worth more than these women. Mark says he will take it to his boss and walks out with the files. “Glad you haven’t lost your touch,” Lawrence says to June. With a final exchange, June walks out of the diner, leaving Lawrence in the booth she found him in.

Back in Toronto, June, Luke, Emily, Moira, and Rita are in the kitchen talking about Fred. Now that he’s going back to Gilead, he’ll get a trial, or go to the colonies. They and the other women will be getting justice of some sort. Moira doesn’t care what happens to him, as long as he’s gone, and leaves the room. Rita gets up and helps Luke with the dishes, leaving Emily and June at the table. Emily asks June, what does she want? “I want him to be afraid, because I was afraid for so long,” she says. “How afraid?” Emily asks. “Like in the woods when I was caught, when they took Hanah,” June responds. “More than that,” Emily says, pushing June to say what she really feels. “I want him to be scared to death,” she responds. With that, both her and Emily smile slightly, and there’s a sense that something is brewing.

Fred walks into Serena’s room as she’s on the phone. She finishes her call and he says that he’s off to the airport and that when he returns, he will return a free man, husband, and father. “It really is a miracle, Fred…what you’ve done,” Serena states. She thanks him and gives him the court materials with her notes. She continues, saying that they will have to divide and conquer for a while, and to call her when she lands. Fred suggests a zoom. Then, Serena gets another conference call, and Fred leaves. He walks out of the building, with Mark exiting moments after him. He catches up to Fred and tells him that he isn’t going to Geneva, that he no longer has a lawyer, and is now in Mark’s custody. Fred immediately swells with anger, yelling that this can’t happen to him, that he is “a man and I have rights,” and continues to yell that as he’s put in an armored truck. The doors close on him and his freedom. There’s none of that where he’s going, that’s for sure.

We then go to June, who is leaving the house, alone. She looks back at Luke, Moira and Nicole through the window, smiles, and walks away. But where is she going?

Returning to the series of unfortunately events, Fred Waterford version, the armored truck stops in front of a bridge, and there is high security surrounding the area. A couple guards take Fred out, who immediately questions where he’s going. Mark tells him that he’s going home, and the fear washes over Fred’s face as he realizes that they are at a border crossing. Mark takes Fred from the guards and walks towards the middle of the bridge. As he does this, the 22 women he had gotten the files for earlier, briskly walk across the bridge to the Canadian side. Now on the Gilead side, they are face to face with Commander Lawrence. Fred is absolutely gobsmacked at what is going on. Lawrence, in his usual arrogant manner, says that the “Nation’s prayers have been answered.” Fred responds to him, saying, “Everything I did, I did to protect my family. I won’t apologize.” Then, Nick steps out of one of the cars, and walks over, telling the guards to take the prisoner into custody. This sends Fred into a frenzy, as he begins to plead with Nick to let him go, and while continuously calling him “son,” tells him that he’ll regret this.

Fred gets put in another truck where he is chained up by the neck, feet, and hands. After a bit of a drive, the truck comes to a stop. Nick opens the door and takes Fred out and begins to lead him into the woods. Fred keeps on pleading with Nick to know where he is, and Nick hits him in the face with the butt of his gun to shut him up, and tells him to keep moving. But, once again, Fred asks where he is. “No man’s land,” Nick replies. Then, in the darkness ahead, a figure comes forward, and it’s June!! She walks forward to them, kisses Nick in front of Fred (and he’s disgusted having to witness this) and thanks him. Nick then leaves Fred with June, who takes his chains off. She stands in front of him and takes out a gun in one hand, and a whistle in the other. She stares him in the eyes and tells him to choose. “I know you can’t shoot me,” he tells her. “Alright,” she says, and blows the whistle.

That call to action brings out several women from the woods, including Emily, all victims of Fred Waterford and Gilead. June gives a single command: “Run.” Without hesitance, Fred begins running for his life as the women chase after him. We get flashes of him and June dancing as the women chase after him, until he trips and falls, allowing them to catch up. He looks up at June and the other women with complete fear. June takes a breath as the song You Don’t Own Me begins playing, and then gives him a swift kick in the face, sending him flying on his back. She then starts punching him with all her might, and Emily joins in, and so do the rest of the women. We then hear a voiceover of the same thing she said in the beginning of the episode— “Don’t run, don’t kick, don’t scream, don’t bite. Don’t bite.” With that last one, June bites down hard on him, then continues to punch him. It then goes to an overhead shot of Fred Waterford getting beaten, with incredible shadow and lighting play that looks like the beams of light are in the same circular formation they once took as Handmaids, while in the center, they are destroying the person and system that forced them to don the red cloaks and white caps.

We then move forward to morning, as we see the women emerge from the woods, covered in blood. They each get into their cars and drive back to Canada, but we stay focused on June, with blood on her face. She looks into the camera, into the beyond, and breathes. An enormous weight has been lifted.

It then transitions to Serena at her computer, on Zoom waiting to connect with Fred, completely unaware of what has happened to her husband. Outside her room, we see the mailman come down the hallway with letters and packages. He leafs through some and sees a strange package and opens it. Out comes a bloody ring, and then a finger.

June returns home early in the morning and walks upstairs to Nicole’s room, still covered in Fred’s blood. She starts to cry and picks her daughter up, and you can tell June feels lighter and more free than she ever has before. Luke walks in and sees her in her current state and automatically knows what happens. She apologizes to him as he slumps down on the floor, but we know she really isn’t sorry for what she did. She tells him to give her five minutes with Nicole and then she’ll go. She whispers in Nicole’s ear, “Mommy loves you. Mommy loves you so much,” and kisses her on the nose. As we go to a shot of June and Nicole in the doorway of the sun soaked room, we transition to the image of Fred’s body hung on a wall in the empty woods with “Nolite the bastardes carborundorum” written on it, and transition back to June and her daughter wrapped in the warmth of the sunshine. It’s a new dawn, it’s a new day.

Don’t let the bastards get you down.

Until next season.

Isabel Maina

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