Hulu’s The Handmaid’s Tale
Directed by Christina Choe
Written by Jacey Heldrich
* For a recap & review of 4×03, click here.
* For a recap & review of 4×05, click here.
Janine and June are on the road together alone, grieving the loss of their sisters. But they must keep going. They’re headed somewhere west in hopes of getting back to Mayday. Right now, they’re at a Gilead depot with trains being packed up, one of which is headed for the front in Chicago. This terrifies Janine when June says they’re headed for Chicago, but it’s their best chance of getting to others helping the rebellion along. First they’ve got to find somewhere to hide away on the train. It doesn’t take long and the women find a spot to hide, winding up in a tanker filled with milk. They hide themselves long enough for the tank to get closed up. That just means they have to find a way out when they arrive in Chicago. Eventually June finds a way to drain the milk, making it a less difficult ride for herself and Janine.
In Canada, Rita’s still adjusting to life outside of Gilead’s strict confines. She has a nice homemade meal with Moira and they talk a bit. There’s no news available about Rita’s family, though Moira promises to keep looking, suggesting the family might have taken on assumed names. They also talk about court issues. Serena has apparently requested for Rita to come see her. There’s definitely lingering sentiment on Rita’s part towards Serena. Does she have anything to say to the woman? Appears so. Rita goes to see Serena at the embassy and she finds out about the latter’s miraculous pregnancy. Fred doesn’t know the good news and it’s because Serena doesn’t intend to tell him. She wants Rita to help care for coming baby boy. Is the former Martha going to get reeled back into the Waterfords’ world like this?
Janine and June are trying to stay alert in the freezing milk, worried about hypothermia. June keeps insisting: “We‘re going to be okay.” But it’s a bit difficult for Janine to keep up hopes when they’re soaked in freezing milk and all alone in the midst of Gilead. She also doesn’t like the way June keeps passing things off like everything’s fine. She doesn’t want to be lied to and kept in the dark. She’s also grieving the loss of the other Handmaids, though she remains caught in a web of religious delusion; can’t blame her, seeing how it was beaten and raped into her by the Commanders of Gilead. She asks if June was the one who gave up their location, and June admits it was because the Eyes had Hannah, threatening to hurt the child. They descend into argument about the choices June made and Janine blames her for the deaths of their sisters.
We see a bit of Janine’s past, when she was a struggling Denny’s waitress. She had a doctor’s appointment because she’d found out she was pregnant. She was considering having an abortion due to the unplanned nature of the pregnancy. It’s interesting to see Janine back then, not particularly a religious person, and to see her now, broken down by Gilead and turned into another cog in the religious wheel. She was also being lied to by a clearly conservative woman: “Your body was made to keep that baby, not get rid of it.” The lady fed her lots of nonsense right-wing talking points about babies being torn up and ripped from the womb, largely just scaring Janine. It also goes to show the mechanisms at work in a society prior to Gilead; y’know, like the one we exist in today.
Rita’s beginning to see that Serena is manipulating her. The Gilead wife wants to be relieved of all her sins by getting Rita to blame Commander Waterford for everything done to June. Then Rita tells Mark about being “registered” as property in Gilead, belonging solely to the Waterford family like a car. It must be difficult for Rita because she’s clearly got emotional connections to Serena, yet she was also treated like a slave by the woman and her husband. Rita decides to go talk with Fred at the embassy and she brings him the sonogram that Serena gifted her. She wants nothing to do with their family again, now that she’s a free woman.
The train stops when gunfire erupts. June and Janine head up for a look outside, where they see a bunch of people with guns picking through the train’s loots. It’s not Mayday, but at least it isn’t more assholes from Gilead, either. The two Handmaids are searched. They tell the people they’re attempting to get to Chicago, or anywhere safe for the time being. The folks with guns worry the Handmaids are “walking targets,” which is true. But June agrees to follow any orders necessary in order to be taken along. Thankfully better hearts prevail and now the Handmaids have a ride along the road. We see more of the destruction in an America divided, a country at war. The streets are empty and 90% of the city looks bombed out.
The Handmaids are brought with the group to a secluded, rundown building. Everyone is shocked to see them; not like Gilead is a big secret. June and Janine are starving, they want food. But things are tight there. The Handmaids want to make themselves useful, though it seems one price to pay will be sleeping with the leader, Steven. “Nothing‘s free here,” he says. June refuses to let Janine pay that price. Sad to see that the men outside of Gilead haven’t changed one bit. Eventually, June decides against it, so she and Janine are forced to leave. So ugly.
More flashback to Janine in her former life. She already had little Caleb running around and she didn’t want another child because it was too difficult being a single mother. She finally went to a doctor who was compassionate and didn’t give her right-wing talking point bullshit. She was given pills to take, not some barbaric hose stuffed inside her like the conservative lady tried to conjure an image of earlier. In current day, Janine’s made another tough decision to help them stay, debasing herself for Steven so she and June don’t have to go anywhere. [This made me cry, though that’s no strange occurrence while watching The Handmaid’s Tale.]