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June is back — and ready to take down Gilead for good.
The first three episodes of The Handmaid's Tale's long-awaited season 4 dropped on Hulu Tuesday night, nearly two years after season 3 of the Elisabeth Moss-led drama aired. The rest of the 10-episode season will be released weekly on the streaming service.
If you need a refresher before digging into the new episodes, however, read below for where things left off with each of the main characters, from Serena Waterford to Aunt Lydia.
June Smuggled 86 Children Out of Gilead
The main event of season 3 was June's (Moss) effort to smuggle Gilead's greatest asset — children — out of the oppressive society and into Canada.
In the final episode of the season, June's rebellious commander, Commander Lawrence (Bradley Whitford), arranged for a plane to take 86 children over the border to Toronto.
June, her fellow Handmaids and some of the Marthas — Rita (Amanda Brugel) among them — all headed to a remote wooded area, where they successfully got the children on board and in the air. Despite organizing the entire thing, June elected to stay behind because she promised she wouldn't leave Gilead without daughter Hannah.
… Which Got Her Shot — But the Handmaids Returned to Help Her
In order for the smuggling plan to work, June had to distract an armed Guardian, who began shooting at the group. Her diversion resulted in a chase between her and the Guardian, a scene reminiscent of her and Hannah's initial capture into Gilead years prior.
Ultimately, June was shot, but she mustered the energy to grab her own gun and point it at the Guardian, forcing him to report back to the higher ups that all was well before she killed him. (Viewers will recall that the killing was not June's first in the name of saving the children — she previously stabbed Commander Winslow to death when he tried to rape her as she was arranging the plan at Jezebel's.)
Though she appeared to be gravely wounded, June was pleased that her plan had worked and all seemed okay when her fellow Handmaids returned to carry her out of the woods.
Emily, Luke and Moira Continued Their Anti-Gilead Activism in Canada
Over in Canada, June's husband Luke (O-T Fagbenle) continued to care for June's baby with Nick (Max Minghella), Nichole, even reluctantly meeting with Serena Waterford (Yvonne Strahovski).
Ex-Handmaid Emily (Alexis Bledel) struggled to adjust to life in Canada after a traumatizing few years in Gilead, but got help from Luke and June's best friend, Moira (Samira Wiley). The three all engaged in anti-Gilead activism and helped with June's plan to get the children out.
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When the plane full of children and Marthas landed in Toronto at the end of season 3, Moira arranged for doctors, social workers and other volunteers to be ready to help in any way needed. As the children disembarked, though, Luke was visibly heartbroken, realizing that his own daughter was not on board.
An emotional moment followed when Rita reunited with Emily and then recognized Luke, telling him that it was June who arranged the entire rescue effort.
Serena and Fred Were Both Arrested
Lead villains Serena and Fred Waterford (Joseph Fiennes) are both being held as war criminals by the close of season 3.
Serena first betrayed Fred by working with Canadian authorities to get him arrested. She convinced her abusive husband to cross the border, where they were both taken into custody. But while Fred was charged with war crimes, Serena was afforded a more luxurious set up and was allowed visits with baby Nichole.
In the end, however, Fred got back at his wife by revealing to officials that she forced Nick to have sex with June back in season 1 and she was charged with arranging the rape, leaving both Waterfords awaiting their fates.
Commander Lawrence Was Widowed
Commander Lawrence was left in a unique position — he was instrumental in helping the children escape to Canada, a crime which he will surely pay for in Gilead. He cannot escape to Canada like the others, however, as he is a war criminal there for essentially arranging Gilead's entire economic set up.
The commander was also made a widower in season 3, when his beloved wife overdosed on drugs.
Her suicide appeared to be a direct reaction to Fred forcing Lawrence to rape June (a practice known as "the ceremony" in Gilead) under the direction of Aunt Lydia (Ann Dowd).
Aunt Lydia's Past Was Revealed
Dowd's Aunt Lydia remains one of the more complex characters in Handmaid's Tale.
For one, she was responsible for some of the greatest atrocities against June and the other Handmaids in season 3. She beat Janine (Madeline Brewer) for asking to return to her old post and have another child, and notably facilitated Commander Lawrence's forced rape of June.
However, she also advocated against Gilead's new practice of sewing Handmaids' mouths shut and finally offered Janine an eye patch to cover her season 1 wound.
Viewers also learned about Lydia's past — she was once a devoted schoolteacher, but her evil tendencies were apparent even pre-Gilead. In one flashback, she is rejected on a date and blames the friend who encouraged her to attend. She then reports the friend, a single mother, to social services and gets her child taken away.
The first three episodes of The Handmaid's Tale season 4 are available to stream on Hulu now, with the next episodes being released weekly.