Well, on the one hand, this was an overall improvement after season three where June seemed more or less invincible. On the other, she still seems invincible, but it may be having consequences for a lot of people she cares about.
Also, someone got what he deserved.
See, the penultimate episode to season four (and Hulu renewed the show for season five before this one even aired, and I am guessing this season was shortened for pandemic-related reasons) showed June shouting death threats at American agent Tuello. I said for that write-up that June very much had a legitimate right to be angry, but from a geopolitical point-of-view, it was also very understandable that Tuello and his superiors would go for a deal like that. Get a guy like Fred to get a bigger fish down the road and a lot of valuable intelligence.
This episode shows June being smart. Shouting threats didn’t work. Talking to what allies she has and making deals works much better. That means getting Lawrence, a shrewd ally at best, to offer an exchange for Fred: 22 captured female freedom fighters in Gilead in exchange for Fred going back there almost certainly to get executed. Tuello takes it.
Fred doesn’t know this, and June goes to see him later in what is certainly Fred at his most self-delusional as he imagined an emotional connection between “Offred” and himself. Dude, stop calling her that. I tag that name on these articles mostly to make connections easier for people who might search for them here for whatever reason, but I still call her “June” in these write-ups. Plus, considering how much of this episode is made up of June remembering how much she had to repress herself in Gilead when dealing with this man…wow, he really is a clueless bonehead.
So, Fred gets an unexpected trip to Gilead where the Americans hand him off to Lawrence, but then he hands Fred off to Nick because the Eye has jurisdiction on the border. Nick, in turn, leads Fred off into the woods and hands him off to June and a whole host of angry former Handmaids (including Emily) who chase Fred down and beat him to death, sending Serena Fred’s wedding ring and ring finger in the mail after hanging him from a wall with the faux Latin phrase he taught June way back in season one written underneath him. Fred was even begging “Offred” for mercy, and that was, like, the stupidest thing to say. The second being that he has a son on the way since so many of these former Handmaid’s had their own kids ripped away from them. Especially June. Half-assed apologies over drinks did not fix that, you wienie.
Regardless, Fred’s dead, baby. Fred’s dead.
And that look Lawrence made when he handed Fred over to Nick’s custody…oh, he knew what was really going on and didn’t care in the slightest. Since Fred was almost certainly going to be executed by the state for even trying to go all state’s witness in Canada, I doubt anyone in Gilead will miss him. I mean, I won’t. The guy was a loser. There may be repercussions between Canada and Gilead after all this, but I can somewhat doubt it.
The real repercussions will come from Luke, seeing as he looked absolutely horrified when June came home to cuddle Nichole covered in someone else’s blood and doesn’t seem to care. She also gave Nick quite the kiss, so that’s something Luke will need to worry about later. June has a lot of rage, and while it is earned, it’s also scary as hell to people who are ostensibly on her side. I can’t see Moira approving of this either.
But that’s where the show is now: June still has her plot armor, but she’s surrounded by people who have cause to be very concerned about her, and she’s potentially only going to get worse. The Handmaid’s Tale overall is a very small-scale, personal show. June should not be the one to topple Gilead. She wants to burn those people to the ground, but she probably can’t. In fact…isn’t Aunt Lydia already confirmed for the spin-off based on the book’s sequel already?
Regardless, June’s quest for blood and vengeance will cause her more problems going forward…or they should. It would be very easy for this series to slip back into bad habits regarding this character’s level of invulnerability. I don’t mind June using connections she’s made to get the revenge she wants. What I want is there to be consequences since, you know, that was sort of what this show started off as.
Anyway, I got won back (sort of) after season three, so maybe I can be won over some more by the Monday slot replacement…Titans.
OK, maybe not, but they usually do just enough to keep me on board with this show when I watch it.