Thursday, October 28, 2021

‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ Review: Season 4 Brings a Gratifying Conclusion to the Table

At the end of April, the Hulu original series The Handmaid’s Tale finally returned with its fourth season, and it was a doozy. This season saw June face new consequences for pushing back against Gilead, and she also found herself heading on a different journey. As always, this season delivered (read our co-director Kaity’s spoiler-free thoughts on the first eight episodes here), but the final two episodes packed several punches.

Spoilers beyond this point. Read at your own risk.

One of this show’s greatest strengths is the way storylines are set up and executed. Viewers don’t quite know what to expect, and episodes 9 and 10 of this season are excellent examples. For much of the season, it’s easy to think, “Well, this is just too good to be true.” On occasion, we’re led to believe that’s the case, and that suspense draws viewers in even deeper, creating the same uneasiness and uncertainty of what lies ahead that June experiences.

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At the end of episode 9 and through a large portion of 10, we learn that Fred’s charges have been dropped and he’s essentially free as a bird … until he’s not. June wants one thing: to see Fred Waterford on the wall. We learn that June has crafted a plan with Nick, Lawrence, and a group of women who escaped Gilead – including Emily – that led to Fred’s demise in a chilling and immensely satisfying way. It’s nearly impossible not to cheer on June, Emily, and the rest of these women as they were finally able to punish the man responsible for their suffering. Finally, Fred hangs on a wall in the woods.

“Nolite te bastardes carborundorum.”

The final two episodes also create a great set up taking us into the forthcoming fifth season. First, the end of the season saw a bloody June spending a few more minutes with Nichole for what will more than likely be all she gets for quite a while … and both she and Luke are aware of that. Speaking of June’s children, thanks to Nick, June now knows where Hannah lives. Though he said it’s impossible to get her out, we have no doubt June will find a way — not only because of her maternal instinct, but because getting Hannah back has been a major goal since the beginning of this show. Meanwhile, Serena must face the knowledge that Fred is dead and come to terms with any feelings she has regarding that and what it means for her moving forward. And it’s time to bring Gilead down once and for all.

Season 4 has been full of twists, frustration, pain, joy (yes, joy. It’s the little things), and victories. The build-up was steady and coherent. It offered the familiar slow burn from the previous seasons but led to one of the greatest episodes of television. The cast brings their all this season, as they give performances that emphasize the complexities of their characters’ situations. Elisabeth Moss introduces a new side of June, the side beaten and bruised from trauma that she tries to cope with and heal from as best she can — a shift from the often-tough persona she displays. This season marks itself as truly unforgettable.

All episodes of The Handmaid’s Tale are streaming now on Hulu. Find our season 4 recaps and other coverage here. Stay tuned for season 5 updates!

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Julia
Julia is a writer/editor/content assistant for Nerds. She joined the team in 2019 but has always enjoyed talking about her favorite fandoms. When she isn't writing or working, you can find her reading, watching her favorite shows and movies, and building her repertoire of Dad jokes.

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