In the penultimate episode of The Handmaid’s Tale, June took Nichole to see Nick for a real tearjerker reunion, and Tuello made a deal with Fred Waterford; in exchange for inside information on Gilead, Fred’s charges will be dropped and he’ll be a free man. June is not pleased about this new development.
It’s a flashback, and June is detailing the inner workings of Fred Waterford’s twisted psyche as they dance at the Jezebels from season 3. “It needs to look like love.” If you want to stay alive, make him the center of your world, and whatever you do, don’t fight it.
Tuello greets June as she waits to make her final plea to get Fred convicted. She’s to make a video testimony to be shown at his I.C.C. hearing, and it will be a permanent part of the tribunal record. She’s not exactly thrilled she can’t meet face to face with the judges, and Tuello tells her that regardless of what she does, Fred will still likely go free.
Weak men, hmm. They do make the world go round.June Osborn
Back at home, Moira is on a call while Luke greets June as she comes in, and Rita makes some tea. Rita, much to June’s dismay, serves her lunch, and then Moira reveals what her phone call was about. They’re sending Waterford to Geneva for his immunity hearing. Moira tries to convince June that she needs to go to Geneva and testify, but June disagrees. She thinks maybe Waterford is more important than her. Even after her testimony, they still made a deal with them.
Meanwhile, the I.C.C. is trying to get Waterford to help identify missing persons and their statuses, and he’s less than cooperative. Serena steps outside with Tuello, and she has quite the list of demands for him. She wants Fred to be referred to as Commander, faster internet service for Fred, and she wants to go house hunting for a family home for them. He reminds her they’re still in custody and is baffled she still wants to be a family unit with Fred after all he’s confessed to. She gives him no answer.
Emily goes to visit June to chat about the supplemental testimony, and they compare this justice system to that of Gilead’s. Gilead took their treason much more seriously. June breaks down, upset she can’t seem to let go of Fred and that she can’t focus on her family while he’s still infiltrating her thoughts. So later that night, she goes to see him.
In a deeply unsettling scene, Fred apologizes for the terrible things that happened to June in Gilead, that he couldn’t imagine the pain of having his child ripped from him. Then, he tells June he misses Offred and their special connection, and June agrees. She misses her, too. She misses her strength.
On the ride home, Luke offers to take her to get a beer or some food, and June refuses, instead saying she’s going to put Fred on the wall.
June meets up with Tuello outside of his apartments after a run. He’s rather upset at the inappropriate intrusion and June’s demands that he get in his car and drive her somewhere. He understands that Gilead changes a person, and he does give in to what she wants, which is for him to listen to her and give her a ride.
The ride happens to be for an arranged meeting with Commander Lawrence, who has a deal for Tuello. In exchange for the return of Fred Waterford to Gilead, they will release 22 women into the I.C.C.’s custody. Tuello agrees to take the proposal to his boss. June is hoping for swift Gilead justice for Fred after he’s leaked so much of their intel to the adversary, but Lawrence knows June and he tells her that whatever happens to Fred in Gilead, it won’t be enough for her. He’d live.
Rita, Emily, June, Luke, and Moira are discussing Fred’s future over dinner, and everyone but June is happy with the outcome. He’ll face trial and they’ll be rid of him, but June wants him to be afraid. She references when Gilead first captured her, Luke, and Hannah in the woods and that fear. She wants Fred to feel scared to death.
It’s time to head to Geneva, and Fred is thrilled to get the hearing done and return a free man to his wife and son. He says goodbye to Serena, who gives him some reading on the trial to catch up on as he flies. They agree to Zoom while he’s gone, and Serena takes a call as Fred leaves.
There’s been a change of plans. Fred is no longer going to Geneva. Tuello takes him back into custody, and he has been ruled unfit for leniency. Fred is furious as he’s loaded into the back of a truck, his destination unknown. June also leaves her house, her destination also unknown.
On a bridge separating Gilead and Canada, the exchange is made. Tuello gives Lawrence Waterford, and the 22 agreed-upon prisoners walk free. Tuello assures Fred it’ll all be okay and that he’ll be tried under the formal Gilead justice system which Fred helped write. Fred is terrified as the Eyes take him to Commander Lawrence, and Fred says he’ll never apologize for what he did. Then, Nick arrives.
Fred tries to plead with Nick, but it falls on deaf ears. Fred is loaded into the back of a truck and taken deep into the woods into No Man’s Land. And June is waiting.
After sharing a kiss filled with gratitude with June, he leaves her and Fred alone where June frees him from his handcuffs. She presents him with a choice between a gun and a whistle. Fred states that June could never shoot him, and the whistle is blown. June wasn’t alone. The liberated women of Gilead, including Emily, are here to take their vengeance.
She tells him to run. Just as Gilead had done to June and her family, the women chase him through the woods as he sprints for his life. When they catch him, it’s the end of Fred Waterford as he’s beaten to death.
Dawn has arrived, and the women emerge from the woods, victorious and free.
Serena logs onto Zoom for her call with Fred, but he isn’t there. However, just outside a package has arrived. Inside is Fred’s wedding band … and his finger. Eye for an eye … or finger for a finger.
June arrives home still covered in blood. Nichole is awake upstairs and she goes in to see her, and when Luke walks in, he’s mortified. June apologizes as he collapses to the floor, appalled by the blood covering his wife, and she begs him to give her five more minutes with Nichole before she leaves.
Fred, now headless, hangs on a dilapidated wall in the woods. June got her wish.
What’s next for June with Fred gone? What about Serena? Her attitude towards Gilead was already soured, but without Fred to keep her tethered, will she join Tuello in taking Gilead down? While Luke and June’s future looks bleak, clearly Nick and June still have strong feeling for one another. Will he abandon Gilead for her, or stay to help her rip it apart from the inside out? And whose side is Lawrence on anyway? So many questions waiting to be answered in Season 5 of The Handmaid’s Tale.
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