‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ Recap: Season 4, Episode 1 “Pigs”

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The Handmaid’s Tale has finally returned, and already it seems as though freedom is more than just a fantasy. But, of course, it won’t be easily obtained. In the premiere episode of season 4, June and the other handmaids make it to safety after the events of season 3, we find out what happened to Commander Lawrence, and more. Read on to find out what happened in “Pigs.”

The season picks up right where we last saw June: she’s just been shot and the other handmaids with her bring her to safety. They tend to her as best they can at an abandoned cosmetics store, discussing a martha who knows a guardian who can help. June, barely conscious, emphasizes they need to go west to Mayday. Soon the group is tucked away in hidden compartments on a truck, almost getting caught during a stop. They continue on without incidence.

Serena and Fred are still detained in Canada. Tuello informs them that Serena’s meeting with her lawyer and Fred’s hearing have been pushed, telling them about the plane that recently landed carrying nine marthas and 86 children from Gilead. Serena makes a remark about the children being returned to their (Gilead) families, and Tuello responds by mentioning that the children are being reunited with their families in Canada. Before he leaves, he reveals that June orchestrated the escape. Fred says that June will be killed when she’s found.

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June and the rest of the group reaches the edge of the forest, where they’re searching for a lantern at a farm in the distance. June decides to go closer and is greeted by a guardian, David, carrying a lantern. June signals everyone to join her. Just as they’re about to reach her, she collapses. They bring her inside the house where they and a wife (who is maybe 14 or 15) help her.

Back in Gilead, a very beat up Aunt Lydia faces the council, where we learn she was interrogated for 19 days about June’s whereabouts (and probably the source of her injuries). They dismiss her but let her know she’s not in the clear. As she turns to leave, one of the commanders makes a nasty remark about the handmaids. Aunt Lydia comes to their defense; however, she blames June for their misguidance, ordering the council to bring June to her when she’s found.

Later, June wakes up and finds herself in bed. She begins treating and rebandaging her wound as a voiceover from her walks us through what she’s doing and how she’s feeling, wanting to push through for the others. Once she’s done and dressed, she heads outside. The others happily greet her, glad to see her up and moving. She makes her way to Alma, who points out the road she found using a set of binoculars and checks on June. Shortly after, June goes back inside. She hears a thumping noise and finds a man (Commander Keyes) banging his cane against the ground. She then goes back outside where Mrs. Keyes greets her, thrilled to finally meet June. Mrs. Keyes asks if they would be able to see drones, then saying the drones would see all of them, but she’s not worried; June is there, which means Mayday is too. She’s eager to jump into action, but when June mentions how unfair it is that such a young girl needs to be brave, Mrs. Keyes is offended, reminding June she’s the mistress of the household before leaving.

Returning to Gilead, Lawrence reads in a cell. Nick enters and Lawrence asks if a trial (HIS trial) was held, which Nick confirms and indicates it didn’t lean in Lawrence’s favor. He thanks Lawrence for his service to Gilead, not giving Lawrence very much information. Lawrence inquires about an impending invasion of Canada. He tries to sway Nick by explaining how leaving the children in Canada could lead to positive progress, reminding how important the next few weeks will be. Nick again thanks Lawrence for his service. In response, Lawrence brings up June and her legacy, but Nick doesn’t budge. He pulls out the service line one last time, telling Lawrence he’s a good man before leaving.

Jasper Savage/Hulu

On the farm, Janine brings June to say goodbye to Mr. Darcy, one of the pigs, before he’s slaughtered. During dinner, Mrs. Keyes, June, and the rest of the group eat together. Janine tries to avoid the pork (poor Mr. Darcy), which angers Mrs. Keyes. She forces Janine to eat it, then storms off and Janine spits out the pork, upset. June follows after Mrs. Keyes into the livestock shed, scolding her to leave Janine alone. She tries to take the knife Mrs. Keyes is holding, with no luck. Mrs. Keyes explains why it’s important to her they eat everything. Still incensed, June brings up how the handmaids have been brutalized, and Mrs. Keyes needs to show compassion. Mrs. Keyes counters by relaying how Commander Keyes passed her around to other men, reminding June that wives also struggle. June softens and comforts Mrs. Keyes, saying it’s not her fault. Mrs. Keyes relinquishes the knife, which June hangs on the wall on her way out (Chekhov’s gun knife?). Outside, June scolds Alma for not keeping Mrs. Keyes in check, then asking where Janine is. Alma says she’s probably enjoying her freedom, which, while not what they imagined is the closest they might get. June eventually finds Janine in the barn, where everyone else is dancing and enjoying themselves. June seems overwhelmed and unsettled by the scene.

A small group of guardians escort Lawrence to another room, where Nick meets them and comes bearing a file regarding the invasion. He tells Lawrence the council is bringing him on as a consultant. Lawrence makes another remark about June, still getting no reaction from Nick. Nick leaves Lawrence to get ready, who settles into a barber’s chair situated in the middle of the room to be groomed.

Jasper Savage/Hulu

June searches the house for Mrs. Keyes, spotting the knife from earlier on the counter. Commander Keyes walks in and asks for June’s name, to which she says, “Martha.” He then asks about the other girl in the house, meaning Mrs. Keyes, not remembering her name either (or really her, for that matter). June approaches him, holding the knife, and as much as she appears to want to kill him, she doesn’t. A ruckus begins outside, and David comes to get her.

Outside, everyone is gathered around a guardian named Johnny, one of the men who raped Mrs. Keyes. He soon runs away after plowing into June, but then the rest of the group catches him and begins to beat him. They tie him up in the livestock shed, stuck on what to do with him as he’s seen all their faces. David suggests taking Johnny to the river, but June has other plans. She approaches Johnny and calls him out for being a traitor and a rapist, and the appropriate punishment is death. Mrs. Keyes joins them, and June hands her the knife. She leaves and we hear Mrs. Keyes kill Johnny.

The episode ends as June returns to her room, wincing in pain, and lies down. Mrs. Keyes shows up at June’s door, covered in blood. She lays next to June and holds her. Mrs. Keyes tells June that she loves her. June responds by saying, “I love you, too, Banana.” (OOF.)

The first three episodes of The Handmaid’s Tale are streaming now on Hulu. The remainder of the season will drop weekly every Wednesday. Make sure to check back for our recaps.

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By Julia
Julia is a writer/editor/content assistant for Nerds who joined the team in 2019.
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