Handmaid’s Tale: 406, 407 and 408 Recap

Handmaid's Tale
(What will June do now that she’s in Canada?)

The Handmaid’s Tale Season 4 is only 10 episodes long. So, there are just two more episodes left of the entire season. Hulu will drop the penultimate ninth episode, Progress, on June 9. Then fans can start streaming The Handmaid’s Tale Season 4 finale, The Wilderness, on June 16. Make sure you are all caught up before watching the final two episodes!

When we last left June (Elisabeth Moss) in Chicago in episode 5, she was in a post-explosion haze and miraculously saw her very good, pre-Gilead friend and fellow Handmaid, Moira (Samira Wiley) in the cloud of dust and rubble as she was calling out for Janine. 

Episode 406: Vows

Handmaid's Tale
(Courtesy of Hulu)

Vows begins exactly where Chicago left off and it becomes apparent that June was not hallucinating when she saw Moira. This episode is saturated with flashbacks which illustrate their pre-Gilead friendship as the flashbacks are artistically woven in and out of June’s thoughts and as Moira desperately tries to get through to her concussion haze. June is determined to find Janine and Moira convinces June to go to the medical tent to look for Janine and get herself checked out.

Moira gets June onto a truck that transports the two to the Canadian NGO base. Against the wishes of Moira’s girlfriend and NGO coordinator Oona (Zawe Ashton), Moira sneaks June onto the transport boat to take her back to Canada from Chicago, after arguing with June, who is refusing to leave because she doesn’t want to leave her daughter Hannah in Gilead.

Handmaid's Tale
(Photo by: Sophie Giraud/Hulu)

(Photo by: Sophie Giraud/Hulu)

When Moira stowed June away on the boat, she was unaware it would be boarded by Gilead before they made it to Canada. The entire crew argues over what to do with June and June interrupts the argument and tells them to turn her in, that her life isn’t worth all of their lives. In a split-second decision, Oona decided to make June an ID badge moments before they are boarded by Gilead forces for an inspection. June fools the troops and they continue on towards Canada.

Before being reunited with her husband Luke (O. T. Fagbenle), June is plagued with flashbacks of their life together and is terrified that he won’t forgive her for showing up without their daughter Hannah.

Ultimately, June attempts to leave on a lifeboat and Moira catches her. The two argue and Moira pleads with June to continue to Canada. June tells Moira about the last time she saw her daughter Hannah and how heartbreaking it was for her to have her daughter not only not recognize her own mother, but she was also terrified of June.

June tells Moira that she doesn’t believe Luke will forgive her for not having Hannah, and Moira tells her that she’s wrong and that he loves her and is desperate to have her in his life again. 

Unfortunately, it seems Moira’s decision has cost her the relationship she shares with Oona.

Upon arrival in Canada, June has trepidation exiting the boat. It is clear that she understands what it will mean when her feet touch Canadian soil. Luke can’t wait for her to exit the boat and instead runs onto the boat to her. She immediately apologizes for not having Hannah and he takes her in his arms and the two are reunited in a tear-soaked embrace. 

(Photo by: Sophie Giraud/Hulu)

Handmaid's Tale
(Photo by: Sophie Giraud/Hulu)

The episode ends with the two stepping off the boat together as June takes a deep breath to acknowledge her freedom. 

Episode 407: Home

June is immediately greeted by US Government officials Mark Tuello (Sam Jaeger) and Rachel Tapping (Krista Morin) who welcome her onto Canadian soil where they question her in order to grant her asylum. 

(Photo by: Sophie Giraud/Hulu)

From there, she has whisked away to a 5-star hotel which is a stark contrast to her living conditions in Gilead. Moira leaves June to be alone with Luke but promises to return the next day with Nichole. Luke is somewhat awkward, and June is obviously shellshocked. As her devoted husband awkwardly sets up a plethora of room service for her, and after a long, hot, cleansing shower, June curls up in bed and sleeps for 17 hours straight.

Handmaid's Tale
(Photo by: Sophie Giraud/Hulu)

The two struggle to find their rhythm with each other and Luke insists June has nothing to apologize for, he even goes on to beg her for forgiveness over his inability to rescue her or Hannah and confides in her that he can’t forgive himself for everything she has gone through.

June tells Luke about the time she saw Hannah in a house and gives him a detailed account of the last moments they shared when Hannah remembered who she was. The two laughed and cried over Hannah’s attitude. 

In the very next scene, June is being debriefed by Tuello and she details her latest escape and shares that her overall drive is revenge against Gilead, the kidnappers and Serena. Luke decides to advocate for June and cuts the questioning short, insisting that they can continue the debriefing the next day.

(Photo by: Sophie Giraud/Hulu)

Luke takes June to his home, which will become their home and she is reunited with her daughter Nichole, who was fathered by Nick (Max Minghella) while June was a hostage of the abusive Waterfords during her time as a Handmaid. While alone with Nichole, she talks to the infant about her “first daddy,” alluding to the fact that she still has feelings for him.

We cut to Serena (Yvonne Strahovski) on her knees, praying for her pregnancy to continue, as well as her future as a single mother. Tuello walks in and Serena immediately asks about June. Without sharing any info about June, Tuello informs Serena that her husband wants to see her and is thrilled about her pregnancy. Tuello asks Serena to talk to Commander Waterford and she eventually agrees.

Handmaid's Tale
(Photo by: Sophie Giraud/Hulu)

Waterford (Joseph Fiennes) is overjoyed to see her and mentions their shared pregnancy. Serena corrects him stating that it is her pregnancy. Waterford responds, “This pregnancy belongs to me just as much as Offred’s belonged to you” and with that, she promptly leaves Waterford’s quarters. Before leaving, Waterford implores her to team up with him against June.

Back at Luke’s, June is awakened by the babbling of her happy infant Nichole and wanders into the kitchen where Moira and Luke are making pancakes. Moira mentions that she wants to head to the supermarket with Nichole and June asks if she can join them.

Moira warns June that it could be triggering and somewhat of a culture shock, but June is steadfast in her decision and Moira agrees to let her accompany them. June even suggests inviting Rita (Amanda Brugel)  and Emily (Alexis Bledel) over for dinner so she can reconnect with her fellow Gilead survivors. Moira agrees, stating that she believes they will be thrilled. 

In dramatic contrast to the “grocery stores” in Gilead, Luke, June, and Moira enter the huge and fully stocked store with Nichole in a stroller. June is shocked and dismayed to discover that potato chips have all become “healthy” in the last 7 years.

Moira and Nichole join Luke and June in the snack aisle to inform them that the ticking time bomb they all know and love as Nichole, is reaching her breaking point and needs a change and a nap. After checking that June is OK, the three split up to conquer the list and tend to Nichole. On her own in the massive store, June’s PTSD kicks in high gear, triggered by some familiarities of Gilead and she has a panic attack in the store, which she keeps to herself.  

In the safety of Luke and Moira’s, June is introduced to Emily’s son Oliver and as she is hugging the boy, Rita arrives and the two embrace as tears stream down their faces. Rita, Moira, Emily, and June commiserate over their past experiences as June asks why they deserve to be out and free while others suffer in Gilead. June asks about the Waterfords and Rita admits to visiting Serena.

Rita tells June about Serena’s pregnancy and June asks if the baby is fathered by Commander Waterford. They then joke about Serena’s appearance like a group of gossiping hens. Moira finds Oona outside, who was dropping off a meal for June and the two discuss their relationship. Moira wants to fight for it, but Oona says they can’t get past this. Moira professes her affection and Oona agrees to “have the fight” but at another time and for Moira to call her. 

Handmaid's Tale
(Photo by: Sophie Giraud/Hulu)

Later that night, after all the guests have left, June and Luke share a kiss, but once things get heated, June pulls away and Luke apologizes. After that, June calls Tuello and the two of them sneak off into the night. It seems June has requested to see Serena so she can tell her exactly what she thinks of her. June verbally admonishes Serena, who ends up on her knees, in tears, begging June for her forgiveness. Not only does June refuse to forgive her, she also tells Serena that she deserves to miscarry her baby so she can feel the pain she has caused others. 

After confronting Serena, and refusing to allow her traumas rule her body, June climbs into bed and in a very disturbing sex scene, June appears to have sex with Luke without his expressed consent. His hesitancy could also have been a genuine concern for June’s emotional well being, however in her own attempt to reclaim her body as her own, she climaxes on top of him as she holds her hand over his mouth.

The next morning he seems completely unfazed as he plays lovingly with June and Nichole.

In the last scene of the episode, June meets with Tuello and warns him about who Serena truly is and that she believes her actions would trigger Serena into showing her true colors, just as we are shown Serena meeting with Commander Waterford again and agreeing to work with him against June. 

RELATED: RECAP: The Handmaid’s Tale, ‘Chicago’

Episode 408: Testimony

Handmaid's Tale
June (Elisabeth Moss), Luke (O-T Fagbenle), Fred Waterford (Joseph Fiennes), Serena Waterford (Yvonne Strahovski), shown. (Photo by: Sophie Giraud/Hulu)

The episode begins with June participating in every woman’s traumatic coping response, cutting her hair in another attempt to have control over herself and her own body.

After that, we pick up in a Gilead support group hosted by Moira and after one survivor shares her story of secret self harm in her Commander’s home, the focus shifts onto June, who will be testifying against the Waterfords the following morning. They all tell her that she’s allowed to be scared or worried, but she insists that she can’t wait.

As June tells Moira that she’s not sure the support group is a good fit for her, the two overhear a woman approaching Emily, who wants absolutely nothing to do with this woman, who insists that she just wants to talk to her. June steps in and forcefully tells her to go away, then questions Emily about the woman, who hands her contact info over to her. 

The next day, June approaches Emily about the woman by name. June insists that Emily confronts “Aunt Irene” (Carly Street) for the harm she caused her, but Emily insists that she’s not like June.

Luke asks June if she would like him to be there for June’s testimony in court and she tells him that she doesn’t want him to hear everything she has to say. Luke tells June that Tuello was very interested to hear about the house where June saw Hannah and June becomes very upset that he shared that info with Tuello.

After abruptly leaving the room, Luke confides in Moira that he doesn’t know how to handle June’s behavior. Moira’s response is that getting over trauma is a really hard and bumpy road and that he doesn’t know what she went through. He obviously takes it upon himself to go to the hearing so he can hear about exactly what she went through. 

The Waterfords have a meeting before the hearing as Serena reads Moira’s unflattering testimony about him back to him. Commander Waterford asks Serena to come to court to show everyone that they are a united front, and she eventually agrees. 

Handmaid's Tale
(Photo by: Sophie Giraud/Hulu)

Back in Gilead, Aunt Lydia (Ann Dowd) completely loses her temper on a Handmaid-in training and fellow Aunt, brutally beating them both and using a cattle prod on the Handmaid. 

June steps into the courtroom where she will share her testimony, with her head held high and sees that her husband has entered to show his support. She shares her entire story, in graphic detail.

After her heartfelt account of the atrocities she survived, counsel for the defense immediately accused June of being an adulterer, for her relationship with her husband Luke, prior to his divorce. She was also asked if she volunteered to be a Handmaid, which she admitted because the other option was to be put to work in a toxic mining environment. Commander Waterford interrupted the questioning to go on a religion-soaked tirade about how Gilead is the only source of procreation on the planet.

Handmaid's Tale
(Photo by: Sophie Giraud/Hulu)

Back in Gilead, Lawrence (Bradley Whitford) confronts Aunt Lydia for her abusive behavior and instructs her to get control of herself so the two of them can continue their work. Lawrence shows Aunt Lydia a file containing Janine’s information and tells her that she has been apprehended and that Aunt Lydia must clean up her mess and deal with Janine personally, using her “talents” she just exhibited at the training center and is told she can “do with her what she will”.

Handmaid's Tale
(Photo by: Sophie Giraud/Hulu)

The survivors of Gilead are all in the Gilead support group again and June appears with Aunt Irene. At first the group is dumbfounded that June would bring an Aunt to their meeting, so June takes a poll. The other women agree that they should have the opportunity to confront an Aunt and encourage Emily to confront her as well.

Aunt Irene shares that she was the one who outed Emily as a lesbian, as well as the Martha whom Emily was sleeping with. Irene was the reason why that Martha was hung, and why Emily was a victim of female genital mutilation. The support group gangs up on Irene and Emily tells her that she can’t do anything to earn her forgiveness. 

Back at the house, Luke asks June how the support group was and she says it was fine and compliments his cooking. He apologizes to June for showing up at court and asks her if she wants to talk about anything. She declines and he tells her that he’s there for her. June once again throws herself at Luke, much like the night she reclaimed her body, but Luke pushes her away and demands that she talks to him instead of immediately turning to sex. At that moment, June was unable to achieve that level of intimacy and leaves him alone. 

Aunt Lydia goes to Janine (Madeline Brewer) , and Janine asks if June is ok. Lydia tells Janine that June made it to Canada and Janine is thrilled for June. Aunt Lydia tells Janine that she shouldn’t be happy for her because she’s selfish and unpredictable and that June abandoned her in Gilead. Janine tells Lydia that she knows she will be tortured, but asks that she not be made a handmaid again, telling Lydia she would rather die than be put back into service as a Handmaid. 

Moira tells Emily that she doesnt think it was right for June to force the interaction with Aunt Irene, but Emily believes that June thought she was helping. The next day, Emily decides to go to Aunt Irene’s house, only to drive up and see her hanging from a tree outside of her home. Emily turns her car around and leaves. 

When the Waterfords leave the hearing, they are greeted by a crowd, cheering for them with signs of support for the Waterfords. Reveling in the external validation, Serena takes her husband’s hand and the two walk proudly together to their car. 

In the support group for survivors of Gilead, the group processes the death of Aunt Irene. As all the women sugar coat their feelings and support Emily, June tells the group that Emily should share her feelings herself. Emily tells the group she’s glad she’s dead and that this closure makes her feel amazing and hopes she had something to do with her suicide.

The group then takes a dark turn as the women share their dark revenge fantasies for their Gilead abusers. Moira tries to take back control of the group and bring it back to the light, telling the women that they can’t live in their darkness, pain, and fury, and ends the group on that note. June volunteers to continue the group so they can all revel in their anger together. 

When June returns home, she tells Luke that she’s ready to talk about the last time she saw Hannah and tells him that she wasn’t completely honest with him. 

With just one more episode before the season finale, it’s dizzying to attempt to foresee what could possibly happen over the next two episodes. What will become of Janine? Will June and Luke ever get Hannah back? Where is Nick in all this? Will Serena carry her baby to term? What becomes of the Waterfords? We all just have to wait and see if these questions will be answered in the next two episodes! 

The Handmaid’s Tale streams Wednesdays at midnight EST exclusively on Hulu.


Joia DaVida reports on the entertainment industry in both Chicago and Los Angeles.