Warning Spoilers For Season 4 of The Handmaid's Tale Ahead
Blessed be the Fruitloops!
Season four was a groundbreaking experience that redefined The Handmaid's Tale universe. Fred is gone, and June is free from Gilead. We're playing by a completely different set of rules. The characters are facing struggles we've never seen before. Anything could happen. That's what makes it so exciting.
We're Not Running Blind
Just before the season five premiere, it was announced that The Handmaid's Tale had been renewed for a sixth and final season. We've known for some time now that the show is wrapping up, but now we have a timeline. We also have a destination in mind.
The showrunners have been setting the stage for an adaptation of Margaret Atwood's second novel, The Testaments. It will follow Aunt Lydia 15 years after the events of The Handmaid's Tale. So we can predict what's going to happen based on the events of the novel. Things won't always fit. There are quite a few contradictions between the book and the show, but we can expect the basic plot of The Testaments to be the same.
What Will Happen to June?
Last we saw June, Luke had just walked in to find her covered in blood and holding her infant Nichole in her arms. He fell to the ground, met her eyes, and shook his head as if to say that her crimes were too much for him. It was almost as though he was breaking up with her. June understood. She declared that she just wanted five minutes with her daughter and then she would leave.
There was a lot of speculation that he wouldn't allow her to stay in the house. June did declare that she was leaving. Some thought she might have to go on the run as a fugitive, live in her car, or maybe contact the resistance movement so they could find her a place to go. But the showrunners and actors confirmed in multiple interviews that June and Luke would try to work things out.
The showrunners have long teased that season 5 will be all about consequences and how June will be forced to pay for her sins. The murder itself was committed in No Man's Land, a contested territory between Canada and Gilead, so she probably won't go to jail, but Canadian jail is the least of her worries.
Serena's reaction to the murder also came up in interviews. After June killed Fred, we saw a guard pushing a mail cart at the ICC detention center where Serena was being held. He opens a blood-stained envelope and Fred's finger and wedding ring drop out. June sent it to taunt her.
We have no idea how Serena is going to try to get revenge, but we know she is going to devise a glorious plan, and we can't wait to see what it will be.
What Will Happen to Emily?
In May, Alexis Bledel, who plays the former handmaid, Emily Malek, announced that she would be leaving the cast of The Handmaid's Tale. There was no explanation, just a statement that looked like it had been written by someone who works in PR. She thanked everyone involved in the show for giving her the opportunity and left it at that.
After some time, fans were able to dig up news stories about Bledel's divorce with her husband, Vincent Kartheiser. The takeaway for many was that Bledel had left so she could spend time with her family and kids.
This left Emily Malek's fate hanging in the balance.
Many fans believed that Emily would play a larger part in the show going forward. Before June arrived in Canada, she was focused on healing, and building her relationship with her wife, and she'd even talked about going back to teaching at the university.
One night, Aunt Irene, who was responsible for the death of Emily's former lover, showed up at their handmaid support group. June forced Emily to confront the woman, who begged for her forgiveness. Emily refused, saying there was nothing that Irene could do to make her crimes go away. Later, the aunt hung herself from a tree. Emily saw what had happened, and she seemed elated by it. It was as if she had forgotten who she was, and June was trying to make her remember.
In Gilead, Emily enjoyed killing. She poisoned a commander and a wife, and she stabbed Aunt Lydia. At times, her hatred for the regime was so strong that we could feel it coming off of the screen. Nobody was fiercer than she was. Even Serena couldn't hold a candle to that kind of rigid intensity.
Emily remembered that part of herself, and she liked it. That's why she joined June in the woods when they murdered Fred. She had gotten a taste for blood. We assumed that Emily would take part in June's inevitable fight against Gilead. The resistance movement was certain to make an appearance in the coming seasons. But when Alexis quit, we knew that wasn't going to happen.
What About Janine?
Out of all of the characters in the show, Janine's struggle was by far the most unique. After the bombing in Chicago, which separated her from June, she nearly starved to death. She was ultimately picked up by Gilead's troops and shipped off to the detention center where June had been waterboarded.
Having failed miserably at surviving on her own, Janine was somewhat grateful when they found her. We see her lying on the floor in her cell wearing gauze over her eye. Aunt Lydia walks in and gives her a lecture, hoping to convince Janine that June left her behind.
Always the impressionable one, Janine couldn't really be sure. All she knew was that she would rather die than go back into service as a handmaid. This is where things get interesting.
The original plan was to send Janine to a Magdalene colony, but Aunt Lydia was so emotional when she found her that she couldn't do it. She loves Janine, and she can't deny how much the girl has suffered. Instead of sending her off, Lydia starts crying and runs her hands through Janine's hair before embracing her and saying, 'Whatever are we going to do with you, dear?'
Janine was always on the fence between fantasy and reality, and sometimes people like that can lose themselves when they face extreme conditions. They'll go past the point of no return, and their perception will completely shatter. If that happened, Janine would've likely been sent off to her death.
Aunt Lydia knew that. She had talked about not wanting to break Janine before. Instead of sending her to a Magdalene colony, she decided to keep Janine at the Red Center, forcing her to clean floors and do menial tasks. Lydia told herself that she'd find a posting for Janine soon--though it didn't seem like she had the heart to do it.
The other aunts hated it. They didn't believe in favoritism. They pushed her to send Janine off to a Magdalene colony, insisting that no commander would want a girl with her history. Lydia hated them for it.
When Esther arrived, Janine overheard them talking about cutting out the girl's tongue. Janine begged Aunt Lydia to show her mercy, so Aunt Lydia agreed to send her down the next morning to talk to Esther.
Janine was able to get Esther to eat, proving that she could be useful to the aunts. Lydia was overjoyed. She had a justification for keeping Janine close.
It was a strange scene with dark implications. Janine seemed to be developing a sense of loyalty towards the aunts. She was glad that she was alive after nearly starving. She knew that Lydia cared about her, and now she was instructing another handmaid to obey. It was odd, and it seemed like the show was grooming her for something.
We know from the sequel that girls who refuse to perform their duty under threat of suicide are sometimes given the opportunity to become aunts in training, and unwomen like Janine have been chosen for that honor from time to time.
Future aunts in training will be dressed in fake pearls and silver dresses, then shipped off to Canada to complete a missionary program. They'll be called Pearl Girls. Will Janine become the first? Will she be admitted as an aunt in training? Will she inspire Lydia to create the Pearl Girl program?
At the very least, we can be certain that Janine will play a part in setting the stage for the spin-off. Since Pearl Girls aren't a thing yet, and Lydia is responsible for creating them, Janine could be connected to them somehow.
What Will Serena's Life Look Like?
Before Fred died, Serena started wearing teal dresses, and she planned to live with him in Canada. Now that he's gone, it's hard to imagine what her future will be like.
She was worried that Gilead would take her child and make her a handmaid. It seems like Mrs. Putnam is trying to trick her into coming back so she can steal her baby.
She probably won't go back. She has the freedom to write, work, and go wherever she wants. She's often expressed how much she missed that. But Canada seems to scare her. She's not used to freedom.
Also, it doesn't seem like Serena would be satisfied as a working Canadian refugee. In the time before, she was a successful writer and pundit. Even if she wanted to, she couldn't live a normal, every day life. She's too toxic and entitled, and she has an insatiable thirst for power.
We have no idea where she's going, or what she's going to do.
Something is happening with Hannah. We see her in the season 5 trailer walking towards a bed covered with a white lace tent in what looks like the Red Center. She is getting closer to puberty, and girls in Gilead marry as soon as they are able to give birth.
I predict that the aunts will begin hunting down suitors very soon.