‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ Season 4: June Will Learn the ‘Cost’ of Her ‘Ruthless’ Actions, Executive Producer Says
June Osborne is the closest she’s ever been to getting out of Gilead in The Handmaid’s Tale Season 4. But the journey out has caused a lot of collateral damage—perhaps more than June can handle, according to the show’s executive producer, Bruce Miller. June will have to grapple with the “cost” of her actions this season. Where she will begin to process all the hardship she’s experienced—and in some cases, caused—remains to be seen. But Miller says her finding “satisfaction in violence” won’t serve her well.
[The Handmaid’s Tale Season 4 spoilers ahead.]
Does June ever escape Gilead?
Season 4 episode 4 of The Handmaid’s Tale, “Milk,” finds June and Janine on the run from Gilead again. And this time, it feels like they actually have a chance.
The previous episode, “The Crossing,” delivered a major plot twist. After June was subjected to physical and psychological torture in a Gilead prison, she, Janine, Alma, Brianna, and other Handmaids were sentenced to live in a breeding colony. While en route to the colony with Aunt Lydia, the Eye driving their van parked so he could take a bathroom break while a train passed by. The train, as he said, would take five minutes to pass. June and the women saw their out, and they took it.
While the guard was outside, June attacked Aunt Lydia while the other women escaped from the van. She nearly kills Lydia, but Alma reminds her there isn’t much time before the train passes. They all run for their lives to make it across the tracks. The Eye shoots and kills two of the Handmaids while Lydia screams for him to stop, leaving June, Janine, Brianna, and Alma. June and Janine make it across the tracks safely, but Alma and Brianna are tragically struck by the train and die.
Is June going crazy in ‘Handmaid’s Tale’?
Both June and Janine are distraught, given they’ve known Alma and Brianna since their early days at the Red Center. But June knows she has to convince Janine to keep running. They narrowly escape, and in episode 4 they find a way to get to Chicago, which has not yet been taken over by Gilead. June wants to join the resistance and fight, but Janine just wants to survive.
June is retaliatory in seasons 3 and 4. After years in Gilead, years of trying to escape, to survive, to cling to sanity, she became fully radicalized in season 3. Her grief over not being able to see or help her daughter, Hannah, drove her to put all of her effort into getting those children out of Gilead. Elisabeth Moss told The Hollywood Reporter June has lost some of her sanity by the end of season 3, and that’s shown in her actions in season 4. She said:
If she can’t get Hannah out because she doesn’t know where she is, then she’s going to get these kids out. It’s the least she can do. It’s some sort of atonement for not being able to get Hannah out. She’s lost her mind. June’s gone crazy in a way.”
June’s determination to hurt Gilead often causes problems for everyone else.
June finds ‘satisfaction in violence,’ but it comes at a price
Moira points this out in season 4, when she tells Emily of a child from Gilead who’s struggling to acclimate to life in Canada because Gilead was all he knew. In season 4 episode 1, June encourages 14-year-old Esther Keyes to murder an Eye who sexually assaulted her. June thinks the violence will satisfy Esther the way it satisfies her, but it will likely traumatize her.
In “Milk,” Janine calls June out for acting on what she thinks is best for everyone else. She’s correct in saying that’s not always the case. Miller told Variety June has become “ruthless,” and she’ll start to feel the weight of her actions in season 4. He said:
“I want her to feel responsible. Whether she feels guilty is a slippery thing because who’s guilty, who’s responsible? It’s really Gilead. But yes, she is weighted down, hugely, by what she has done, thought, wanted to do, how her desires have changed, how ruthless she’s become and how she finds satisfaction in violence sometimes. The entire show is, ‘Look what I’ve done. How can I resolve myself?'”
He said seeing Alma and Brianna die made June see the cost of her choices. Had she not attacked Lydia for longer than she needed to, all four of them might have made it across the tracks.
“I wanted it to have a cost for June right in front of her,” he said. “Because honestly when people say something’s going to be hard and then it turns out to be hard, everybody’s shocked [by] what hard feels like. But this is what hard feels like: you make decisions and people can die in front of you and you are nothing but full of regret and mistakes and that doesn’t go away.”