The Handmaid's Tale Season 4 Ending Explained: Justice Is Served

For the longest time, "The Handmaid's Tale" viewers have maintained that getting out of Gilead would solve all of June's (Elisabeth Moss) problems. After a tumultuous fourth season, we've seen June finally enjoy a taste of freedom after many years of being subjected to rigorous systemic injustice and violent ordeals. On a more shocking note, June carried out her own form of justice when she avenged herself and countless other women by orchestrating a plan to take down her abuser Fred Waterford (Joseph Fiennes), for good. Here's the thing, though — seeking refuge in Canada has only made June angrier, and it will take some time for Gilead to get out of her mind.

Upon learning that Fred Waterford would be set free in Geneva for yielding to the Canadian government, June recruited the assistance of Commander Lawrence (Bradley Whitford) and Nick (Max Minghella). They offered the Canadian government a deal to free several women in exchange for Waterford, and the Commander was then taken to No Man's Land, where his victims decided his fate.

June's actions sent shockwaves through the millions of fans watching the show, and her vengeance will not go down well in season 5. She's not in a totalitarian society with a penchant for violence anymore — so it is likely for her to face the consequences of her crime. The setting of No Man's Land (which doesn't fall under the jurisdiction of Canada or Gilead), however, stands as a loophole of sorts. So, what's going to happen in season 5?

Is June on the run now?

Unable to move on from Fred being acquitted of all his crimes, June arranged to serve justice of her own. She was joined by countless other women and Gilead refugees when they beat Fred to death in No Man's Land. After avenging herself, June returned home, drenched in Fred's blood, and embraced her baby daughter Nichole in an emotional goodbye. The rift between June and her estranged husband Luke becomes clear as day, and she promises to leave after seeing off her daughter.

Knowing that June is now responsible for the murder — will she go on the run and disappear from the scene, or will she be charged for it and sent to jail? Either option will not aid June in her ultimate mission to save her daughter Hannah, and since being in Gilead won't help her, she will have to continue fighting from the sidelines. Here's hoping that Fred's murder doesn't spell trouble for June as it should — mainly since it took place in No Man's Land, which isn't under Canadian jurisdiction — and by virtue of which, gives them no reason to send her to prison. We'll have to wait and watch.

Will Serena become a handmaid?

With Fred out of the picture, Serena's (Yvonne Strahovski) future is now more uncertain than ever. Her relationship with Fred grew more strained after she discovered she was pregnant, and now that he is dead and she's a widow — a fertile widow — Gilead might turn her into a handmaid upon her return. During the conservative couple's time in Canada, Fred revealed several Gilead secrets in exchange for his freedom, which means the totalitarian society might turn his widow into a handmaid to make an example out of a traitor's wife. Any woman who can conceive a child is assigned to Handmaid status, so Serena might meet the same fate.

There are, however, many variables. Though she isn't evil incarnate like her husband, Serena has been exceedingly cruel to June and a companion to Fred's crimes against her. She's a war criminal too, and no matter how much of a soft spot a certain U.S. government representative has for Serena, it'll be rather complicated for her to attain freedom in the way she would like. Becoming a Handmaid seems like a natural course for her character arc — but her husband was just murdered — so she'll put a good fight before she's turned over to the other side.

Whose side are Commander Lawrence and Nick on?

"The Handmaid's Tale" is pretty straightforward: there are good people and bad people. Commander Lawrence and Nick Blaine are the only ones who have managed to maintain their morally grey personalities, they've done good and bad things, and we have no idea what they want.

Commander Lawrence was an architect of Gilead's economy and was responsible for forming the colonies, and Nick fought in the war to support Gilead. So why do they keep helping June in her vengeance-filled pursuits? Are they trying to dismantle Gilead's rule from within? What are their motives, and how long will they continue playing games? After multiple seasons of being duped by both of them, I hope season 5 can offer some clarity on their motivations.

What happens to Janine and Esther?

While Janine (Madeline Brewer) and Esther (Mckenna Grace) didn't appear in "The Handmaid's Tale" season 4 finale, we saw them return to the Red Center in the penultimate episode. Janine was separated from June when they were bombed in Chicago, and Esther was arrested for harboring fugitives and murdering her husband. We see Janine and Esther talk about things getting better in Gilead ... which could mean a rebellion is on the way. We've already learned of Esther's knowledge of toxins. Whether she uses her abilities to poison the Aunts at the Red Center is yet to be seen, but it's an excellent way for Janine and Esther to exact their revenge and get Aunt Lydia (Ann Dowd) to pay for her misdeeds. Interestingly though, we already know Aunty Lydia will survive the events of "The Handmaid's Tale" since she lives to narrate "The Testaments," Margaret Atwood's sequel novel and Hulu's next production.

"The Handmaid's Tale" has left us with many, many questions, but hopefully, season 5 will tell us all we need to know. The forthcoming season is set to premiere weekly on Hulu on September 14, 2022.