‘The Handmaid’s Tale’: Could Janine Become a Gilead Aunt Like Lydia?

In the penultimate episode of The Handmaid’s Tale season 4, Janine (Madeline Brewer) gets the young Ester Keyes (McKenna Grace) to comply with Aunt Lydia’s (Ann Dowd) rules. But the move has some fans wondering if Janine is headed toward a path to become a Gilead Aunt. 

[Spoiler alert: This article contains spoilers for season 4 episode 9 of The Handmaid’s Tale.]

A side view of Janine in Janine in 'The Handmaid's Tale' Season 4
Janine in ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ Season 4 | Hulu

Janine reunites with Ester in the latest episode of ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’

The Handmaid’s Tale season episode 9, “Progress,” finds Janine back in the custody of Aunt Lydia. She’s in her handmaid’s dress and bonnet once again. And as she scrubs the floor of a scuffy gym, Janine sees that Ester Keyes, the young sexually abused wife who gave fugitive hanmaids sanctuary earlier this season, is also being prepped as a handmaid. 

But as seen in previous episodes, Ester is a fighter. And she’s defiant in her attitude towards Aunt Lydia. 

RELATED: ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’: Unlike Her Friends, June Is Using Her Freedom for Vengeance

Ester rebels against Aunt Lydia’s rules and goes on a hunger strike. But when Janine overhears other Aunts suggesting cutting the young girl’s tongue out as a behavioral “correction,” she pleads with Aunt Lydia to go easy on her. 

Lydia allows Janine to talk to Ester, in hopes that she’ll talk sense into her. Eventually, Janine convinces the teen to comply so that she can be alive “when things get better.”

‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ sequel, ‘The Testaments,’ introduces Pearl Girls

In The Testaments, author Maragaret Atwood’s 2019 sequel to The Handmaid’s Tale, Aunt Lydia starts a new program to train Aunts. She calls the young women Pearl Girls, and makes them travel to different countries to groom and recruit new handmaids. 

In the novel, Pearl Girls wear pearls, white hats, and silver dresses and travel in pairs. When they successfully recruit a new handmaid, Pearl Girls become full fledged Aunts. 


Some fans of ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ think Janine could become a Pearl Girl

After seeing Janine get Ester to comply, some fans of The Handmaid’s Tale think she might become Aunt Lydia’s first Pearl Girl. 

“I think Janine is going to become an aunt and probably the first pearl girl,” one Reddit user shared. “When she was trying to get Esther to end her hunger strike in Progress, I could see it. She sounded just like an aunt. It’d be a great way to introduce the pearl girls, and I can totally see her as one of them. She fits. Maybe she’ll be brainwashed and tempted to defect when she’s on her mission in Canada.”

“I could see that happening honestly,” another Reddiotr added. “They did say they were trying to move in the direction of the books, so that would be a good way to start working on that.”

However, other fans believe that Janine was genuinely trying to protect Ester from a violent end. And that perhaps, she just needed a close friend and ally at the Red Center.

“I thought that Janine is just trying to protect Esther from move violence and gain a friend,” a Reddit user shared. “Since June is gone and Alma and Brianna are dead, Janine has no other handmaid friends, and we know she needs to have people close to her.”

Hopefully, by the season 4 finale, fans will get a better idea of what Janine and Ester are really thinking. The final episode airs Wednesday, June 16 on Hulu.