What happened at the end of season four?
It’s been quite some time since we last saw June, so we’re taking a moment to remember the brutal final moments of season four.
At the end of the season, we saw June orchestrate a series of events that left Commander Fred Waterford (Joseph Fiennes) at her mercy and proceed to brutally murder him in no-man’s land between Gilead and Canada, an act of revenge for the pain he inflicted on her as his Handmaid.
With an army of other former Handmaids around her, June had Fred ripped to shreds (including that bone-chilling moment she bit his lips off), and hung on a wall, with the show’s famous phrase “Nolite te bastardes carburondorum” painted underneath. It's a fake Latin phras ethat means "Don't let the bastards grind you down" and appeared in the books the show is based on.
To add insult to injury, June then mailed his severed finger to his pregnant wife, Serena Joy (Yvonne Strah, who is still captive in Canada). As unhinged as she might be, we have to admit June has style.
What will happen in season five?
We tragically watched June return home after her little woodland murder and say goodbye to her husband Luke Bankole (O.T. Fagbenle) and baby Nicole. While it’s looking like she’ll head out on the run, we’ve been left wondering what the implications will be for Luke and for June’s best friend, Moira Strand (Samira Wiley).
Showrunner Bruce Miller has also hinted that it will be another intense season for the audience, even though we’re pretty hard to shock at this point. He told EW that the season will be “definitely Sophie’s Choice: The Series, in that you’re moving on with someone who’s made these terrible choices”.
“It’s the American story – can we snap back to normal, or do we have to move into something new? And that’s where June is right now,” he explained.
Who will appear in season five?
While no official cast list has been released, Elisabeth Moss will obviously be reprising her role as June and will be rejoined by Yvonne Strahovski as Serena – both have been seen in the first-look pictures from the season.
We’re also certain we’ll see a return of Moira and Luke, although perhaps to a lesser scale given that June will now be going on the run. Miller also confirmed that Fred is likely to return, possibly in flashbacks.
“I think we’ll see Fred again,” he said.
Sadly though, we’ve seen the last of Emily Malek, also known as Ofglen, a former Handmaid who was played by Alexis Bledel.
A prominent character in seasons one through four, Bledel even won a Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Guest Actress in a Drama Series for her role.
“After much thought, I felt I had to step away from The Handmaid’s Tale at this time,” Bledel said in a statement about her departure.
“I am forever grateful to Bruce Miller for writing such truthful and resonant scenes for Emily, and to Hulu, MGM, the cast and crew for their support.”
Will this be the last season?
Unlikely! We’re not expecting the show to end on season five, given that Miller has confirmed he’s happy to continue making the show for as long as Elizabeth Moss wants to star in it.
It’s also been indicated by Ann Dowd, who plays the foreboding Aunt Lydia Clements, that there will be at least a sixth season.
And we can’t help but feel there’s plenty of story to go. June might be free of Gilead, but plenty of others aren’t – Handmaids Janine and Esther, and June’s daughter Hannah spring to mind.
Also, since the show began, Margaret Atwood has released The Testaments, a sequel to the original 1980s novel the first season of the show was based on – giving us plenty of source material for a few more seasons, or perhaps a spin-off in future.
Where can I watch season five of The Handmaid’s Tale?
The fifth season has been slated for release on Wednesday, September 14.
As is standard, it will premiere two episodes on the one day, and drop the rest on a weekly basis for the remainder of the season – which is usually about 10 episodes long.
SBS is the regular provider here in Australia, with the episodes dropping On Demand, while also airing on free-to-air TV. They have confirmed they'll be airing the new season fast-tracked when the time comes.
In the meantime, all seasons are available on the streaming platform Stan.