Warning: Spoilers ahead!
The Handmaid's Tale is back and more depressing than ever.
In the three-hour season premiere, June (Elisabeth Moss) and the rest of the handmaids are seeking refuge at the house of Commander Keyes and his young wife, Esther (McKenna Grace). It's a huge risk for the Keyes since the handmaids just put 86 children and a handful of Marthas on a plane to Canada, which has apparently been labeled "Angel's Flight" by the media.
Plus, June, who has made a miraculous recovery thanks to homemade penicillin, has been labeled Gilead's public enemy No. 1.
But as Mrs. Esther Keyes tells June in their first meeting, "I'm not worried at all... I want to hurt them so badly—Gilead, the men."
June approaches the situation with trepidation, because, in her words, Mrs. Keyes looks no older than 14 and someone her age "should never need to be this brave."
But this is the wrong way to speak to "the mistress of this house," Mrs. Keyes says, before adding, "If you weren't going to fight, then why did you even come?"
Unsurprisingly, Mrs. Keyes holds a lot of anger towards Gilead. After all, Gilead's leaders made her marry Commander Keyes and relocate to a farm in the middle of nowhere.
And as she reveals to June later in the episode, the handmaids aren't the only ones subjected to sexual abuse. She was raped by Commander Keyes, as well as other commanders and eyes, in the hopes of having a baby.
It isn't all bad though. Mrs. Keyes has stripped the Commander of his ability to function as a normal human being by giving him small doses of poison made out of nightshade, as explained in episode two. According to Mrs. Keyes, the Marthas taught her how to make this and it's how she's avoided any sexual encounters.
After revealing her traumatic experience, June takes Mrs. Keyes under her wing, which doesn't seem like the best thing for a teenager. But as Moira (Samira Wiley) and Emily (Alexis Bledel) point out in episode two, "That's what June does. Takes the big swing and f--k the consequences."
So, that's how Mrs. Keyes ends up murdering one of the men who sexually assaulted her.
"In this place, we all fight," June tells Mrs. Keyes, before handing her a carving knife. "Make me proud."
In episode two, June goes into planning mode so that they can avoid capture by the guardians. In the process, she's told about a brothel where the less chaste commanders go for their fill of booze, drugs and sex.
One of the jezebels at the brothel informs her of a safe house, but it's dangerous and this jezebel is putting her life at risk by helping the handmaids. In exchange for the help, June offers her the chance to kill every last commander at the brothel. Their weapon of choice? Mrs. Keyes' poison.
<blockquote class="twitter-tweet"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">🚨THIS IS NOT A DRILL 🚨 Here's a special Season 4 message from The <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/HandmaidsTale?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#HandmaidsTale</a> cast. <a href="https://t.co/7uvdAhHFmm">pic.twitter.com/7uvdAhHFmm</a></p>— The Handmaid's Tale (@HandmaidsOnHulu) <a href="https://twitter.com/HandmaidsOnHulu/status/1387209955187494912?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">April 28, 2021</a></blockquote> <script async src="https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script>
With June's bottle of nightshade in hand, the jezebel pours shot after shot into the commanders' all too eager mouths.
Meanwhile, June returns to the farmhouse, only to be captured by guardians, who are led by Nick (Max Minghella). They somehow have a tender moment as Nick removes the chains from her legs at the prison, pleading, "Please let me help you," as if he isn't the reason she's about to be waterboarded.
Then, in episode three, we learn that none of this matters because Mrs. Keyes is also captured and likely going to be killed, and June's poison didn't even kill all of the guardians.
Once June is back in Gilead, she's brutally interrogated, and when that doesn't work they threaten to kill her daughter Hannah. In exchange for her daughter's safety, she divulges the location of the safe house, practically guaranteeing her friends' deaths.
She and the rest of the handmaids are then being taken away when an opportunity to escape presents itself, because apparently the guardians didn't learn their lesson the first five times.
As the van stops for a railroad crossing, June attacks Aunt Lydia (Ann Dowd) and the handmaids make a run for it. But any glimmer of hope is dashed when one handmaids is shot and three others are hit by the train. June and Janine (Madeline Brewer) are the only ones to survive.
As the love of his life runs for her life, Nick plays both sides, saving Commander Joseph Lawrence (Bradley Whitford) from execution and planning an attack on America's last strongholds. It seems he and Commander Lawrence think they can save June by helping Gilead fight the war in Chicago, which doesn't entirely make sense, but again, very little makes sense when it comes to this show.
Regarding Aunt Lydia, there's not much to say. She's still just a terrible person with no redeeming qualities.
Meanwhile, Fred (Joseph Fiennes) and Serena Waterford (Yvonne Strahovski) remain imprisoned by the United States and are back to their scheming. This time, they're no longer on the same team and, surprise, Serena finds out she's pregnant in season two. It's almost as if Gilead's whole reason for existing was a moot point.
Then, there's Luke (O.T. Fagbenle), Moira and Emily who are just trying to find their new normal. They're happy to have survived, but it's getting to the point where they're questioning if June herself even wants to be saved—and if we're being honest, we're wondering the same thing too.
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