Let’s say SPOILER ALERT and FIST PUMPING! The season four finale of The Handmaid’s Tale finally scratched that agonizing four year itch! Our heroine, victim, crusader, leader beautifully strategizes with Gilead, Canada, the US, and her team of survivors to enact a sweet, sweet revenge. Commander Fred Waterford (Joseph Fiennes) is minutes away from realizing his own plan for immunity and the release of his equally abusive and conniving wife Serena Joy Waterford (Yvonne Strahovski) when the audience and the Commander detect something amiss.
The audience is partially appeased to find out his new residence will not be jail, or freedom, but back home to Gilead to face the repercussions of his traitorous deal. BUT. THEN. We see! June (Elizabeth Moss) can’t let us or herself down by not seeing the definition of Gilead’s justice, as the abused refugees, with June front and center, hunt Commander Waterford down through the woods and return the vicious punishments they endured at his hands, culminating in what the audience and all stations of victims of Gilead seeing Fred’s headless body hanging above the show’s proverbial phrase, “nolite te bastardes carburondorum, ” which translates as “don’t let the bastards grind you down.” Creator of the Hulu series, Bruce Miller says it succinctly. “It’s a very ugly kind of justice, but it is justice and it feels good because of that. It’s what Fred deserved.”
Previously in the season’s finale, June struggles with the responsibilities of being a mom and there for her daughter. She wants to be a mom, but needs to be an avenger. The choice was clearly made, and there is no going back, as her quest to take down Gilead put her own freedom at risk. She returns home after their justice has been doled out to say goodbye to her husband and daughter. Covered in blood, and cradling her baby, she says to her bewildered and revolted husband, “I’m sorry. Just give me five minutes with her (her daughter, Nichole) and then I’ll go.”
Miller explains, “June says, ‘A good mother would be able to let it go. I want to be able to let it go.’ At that point, she realizes what she has to do, which is to let it go [after Fred will not face justice for his crimes]. But later, when she sits with Fred, it’s the moment that he apologizes and she realizes that he isn’t ignorant of his own evil, but knows what he’s done and how bad it is and has accepted that – that’s the moment where her rage gets so white-hot that it’s not going to dissipate until this person is off the planet.”
Speculating on what The Handmaid’s Tale season 5 will have in store, MIller ponders, “I think the stories of Serena and Fred that we haven’t seen before, even in early Gilead, are fascinating. In the finale, we revisit Fred and June and what happened in the Waterford house in flashbacks. I would never take anything like that off the table. I love that we can access that stuff where the viewer and June are on the same page and thinking back to the same things. Before, there were a lot of flashbacks where June was leaving us to remember about Hannah. But now, we’re with her. When she’s walking to see Fred and she’s remembering walking to the ceremony, I remember that. You’re not just being carried by her, you’re walking with her in that experience.”
The next season is already percolating in the creator’s head, but he couldn’t or wouldn’t say if it would be the series finale. “I’m not going to shut it down while we have interesting stories to tell.” And now we wait to see what Hulu gives us.
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