‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ Season 4: This Janine Fan Theory Will Gut You After That Episode 5 Shocker

On May 12, The Handmaid’s Tale Season 4 dropped the fourth episode, “Chicago,” and many viewers are dying to find out what happened to Janine (Madeline Brewer). But one of the most popular theories won’t be what fans want to hear. So here’s a breakdown of the cliffhanger and what Brewer revealed about Janine before the next episode of The Handmaid’s Tale.

[Spoiler alert: This article contains spoilers from The Handmaid’s Tale Season 4 Episode 5, “Chicago.”]

What happened to Janine in ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ Season 4 Episode 5?

Elisabeth Moss as June Osborne and Madeline Brewer as Janine in ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ Season 4 Episode 4, ‘Milk’ | Hulu

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While Janine and June (Elisabeth Moss) didn’t drown in milk, the two women faced yet another near-death experience in The Handmaid’s Tale Season 4 Episode 5. Now, one of the former Handmaids is missing.

At the start of the episode, June learned about the Nighthawks, a resistance group in Chicago that actually fights and doesn’t just try to survive. So naturally, June wanted to find and join the group. That said, Janine wasn’t as enthusiastic.

At first, Janine wanted to stay behind and live with Steven (Omar Maskati). But eventually, she chose to follow June. “I feel safer when we’re together,” Janine said. “Handmaids always walk in twos.”

As June and Janine walked through Chicago, the characters noticed the city was a ghost town, and the soldiers left their food behind in a rush. Then when they realized something was wrong, it was too late. Bombs fell from the sky, and everything went dark.

When June woke up, she was in a haze. She stood up despite her injuries and called out for Janine. No response. Then in the final moments, June ran into Moira (Samira Wiley), who came from Canada because of the temporary cease-fire. But even so, Janine was nowhere to be found.

Some ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ fans think Janine dies after ‘Chicago’

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Following The Handmaid’s Tale Season 4 Episode 5, many fans wondered whether Janine died in the explosion

“After the bombing I just got this overwhelming feeling Janine is dead,” a fan wrote on Reddit. “June had killed or damn near killed everyone she’s cared about, and I believe Janine is no exception.”

The Handmaid’s Tale fan also noted that Janine’s death would be “right on par” with other deaths. “They died trusting [June] fully,” the Redditor wrote.

When Alma (Nina Kiri) and Brianna (Bahia Watson) died in The Handmaid’s Tale Season 4 Episode 3, “The Crossing,” showrunner Bruce Miller suggested that the casualties occurred because of the impact on June. So it’s possible the show killed off Janine to push June’s character even further. 

That said, many Handmaid’s Tale fans also believe there’s still hope for Janine, particularly because the Hulu series hasn’t shown viewers a body.

“I think Janine’s alive, simply because I think they’d have shown us her death if she was really gonna die, so I say she’s not dead,” a fan on YouTube predicted. “But I also think we won’t know until the end of the season or possibly season 5 she might turn up to be alive.”

Madeline Brewer hints whether Janine is dead in ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ Season 4

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Whatever happens to Janine as The Handmaid’s Tale Season 4 continues, Brewer opened up about the ending of episode 5 in an interview with Digital Spy. But it doesn’t look like fans will find out once episode 6 starts because Brewer wasn’t there to film the aftermath of the explosion.

“After the bomb happens, you don’t see me again,” Brewer said. “So when it came to all of the rubble, I wasn’t even there.”

The actor also revealed she was “really impacted” by the final scene of “Chicago.”

“Clearly, [June’s] so distraught and so traumatized,” Brewer said. “I thought it was the fact that we don’t see Janine’s body or anything, and you don’t know what happens. It’s also kind of how it works sometimes. It’s a powerful ending to episode five.”

Then when speaking with TheWrap, Brewer teased whether Janine’s decision to go with June was a “fatal” one. But whatever happens next, the character’s recent choices have ultimately shown her love for June.

“Who is to say whether or not it was a fatal choice? I will not say,” Brewer said. “But the fact that Janine made a choice based on just herself and what she thought would be best for herself. … I think she made a choice based on the fact that she loves June, she does. She loves her like a sister, like a friend, like her own blood.” 

Hulu will release The Handmaid’s Tale Season 4 Episode 6 on May 19, 2021.