Hulu’s The Handmaid’s Tale is peak dystopian fiction, starring Elisabeth Moss as June, Yvonne Strahovski as Serena Waterford, O-T Fagbenle as Luke, and Samira Wiley as Moira. The Handmaid’s Tale explores the harsh reality of fertile women in a declining population, where their bodies are coerced into reproduction under the theocratic ruling of the new America, coined Gilead. Torn away from their families, jobs, and autonomy, the women must navigate through a world where they cannot read, consume media, or speak when not spoken to. Suppressive but brimming with historical factors that have undermined the livelihoods of women around the world, The Handmaid’s Tale is a difficult but engaging television series.
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With The Handmaid’s Tale set to return to Hulu on the 14th of September 2022, Season 5 will encapsulate the tipping point of June and Serena’s relationship when June faces the consequences of Fred’s (Joseph Fiennes) murder, and Serena engages with her followers in Canada. June is also joined by Luke and Moira to push back against Gilead and rescue Hannah (Jordana Blake), while Commander Lawrence (Bradley Whitford) and Aunt Lydia (Ann Dowd) join together to reform Gilead. To prepare for the exhilarating new season to come, here are the top three episodes of every season of The Handmaid’s Tale so far, as ranked by IMDb.
Season 1 – “Night” (9.0)
‘Night’ is the finale of the first season of The Handmaid’s Tale, in which June’s worst fear has come true – she is pregnant. Fueled by anger at Fred’s transgressions, Serena tells him that the child mustn’t be his, because he is too weak; meanwhile June discloses her pregnancy to the real father – Nick (Max Minghella). However, the turning point of the episode unveils when the handmaids are summoned to a stoning of a person that endangered a child – Janine (Madeline Brewer).
A loved woman in the handmaid circle, June offers her hand in neglecting the stoning, to which the other handmaids conform with an apology to Aunt Lydia as they leave. The episode closes with the Eyes coming to collect June, who is unaware of her impending doom or fate. Rated 9 stars on IMDb, the finale sets up an extra layer of defiance to June’s character, for it is certain that her pregnancy allows her to act rebelliously, but stay free of punishment.
Season 1 – “The Bridge” (8.7)
Rated 8.7 stars, ‘The Bridge’ is the ninth episode of Season 1, in which the major plots begin to unravel. June successfully launches herself into the resistance, where she is tasked with retrieving a package at Jezebels. However, Commander Waterford allows June to catch up with Moira, who is furious at June’s attempts at rebellion, leaving June no choice but to leave the bar empty-handed.
June is rushed the next morning to Janine, who is holding her newborn attempting to jump off a bridge because she doesn’t want to give up her daughter to her posting. June manages to retrieve the baby, before Janine jumps. Meanwhile, Serena becomes suspicious of Fred’s infidelity, and Moira attempts to escape Gilead. “The Bridge” is a powerful episode that showcases the effect of having to birth a child forcefully, but then have the same child taken away.
Season 1 – “A Woman’s Place” (8.7)
The sixth episode of The Handmaid’s Tale is ‘A Woman’s Place’, which received a rating on IMDb of 8.7 stars. The episode has a focal point on the irony of Serena’s hand in the creation of Gilead, where she wrote a book about the strength of women while advocating for their rights to be taken away.
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“A Woman’s Place” follows the visit of a Mexican delegate, Ambassador Castillo (Zabryna Guevara), who is interested in the handmaid idea as Mexico is currently facing its own infertility crisis. June is forced to discuss the arrangement as through it was created in her own will, and the other handmaids are soon led to believe that fertile women will become a part of world trade, when they are invited to a dinner party with some of the children they have birth to under Gilead’s tyranny.
Season 2 – “The Last Ceremony” (9.0)
The tenth episode of Season 2, ‘The Last Ceremony’, depicts an impatient Serena waiting for the birth of her first child. June goes into a false labor, angering Serena, who had all the handmaids and the Commander’s wives over for the occasion. Serena threatens June with moving into a district far away once she gives birth, where later, June unsuccessfully attempts to convince Fred to move her in the same district as where Hannah lives. As payback for the false alarm, Serena organizes Fred to rape June in order to induce the birth, leaving June void of emotion.
The Commander then summons June into the car, where she is allowed to reunite with Hannah briefly. Nick suddenly alerts June to hide, for some guards have arrived at the location. Nick is attacked and taken away, leaving a heavily pregnant June alone in a secret location.
Season 2 – “Smart Power” (8.9)
The ninth episode of Season 2 focuses on the happenings in Canada, and how Gilead has affected those who have escaped. Serena and Fred travel to Canada in attempts to prove that women are not oppressed under the Gilead authority, leaving June under the care of guardian Issac (Rohan Mead). In Canada, Serena is approached by Mark Tuello (Sam Jaeger), a representative of the U.S Government-In-Exile, who wishes to convince her to leave Gilead for good and write a book about the atrocities that ensure there.
During a protest, Nick and Serena see Luke, who later confronts Nick about June’s safety. Nick tells him that June is pregnant, and promises to look after her. “Smart Power” ends with letters from handmaids being published online, leaving Fred and Serena’s plans to change the public perception in shambles.
Season 2 – “June” (8.8)
Season 2 of The Handmaid’s Tale opens in a horrifying sequence in which explores the fates of June and the handmaids involved in the refusal of stoning Janine. Taken to an abandoned stadium, the women have nooses tied around their necks, before falsely dropping in a suspenseful scare-tactic by Aunt Lydia. The women are then once again punished by holding stones in the rain, as Aunt Lydia electrocutes them.
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June is saved once Aunt Lydia is informed of her pregnancy, but as mental punishment, the rest of the handmaids each have a hand burnt as June watches. Then, June’s luck comes in full bloom when after a pregnancy scan, she is given a key and led into a truck, which takes her to an empty building where Nick is waiting for her. “June” received a ranking of 8.8 stars on IMDb.
Season 3 – “Mayday” (9.3)
The finale of Season 3, “Mayday” is so far the favorite episode of The Handmaid’s Tale series, with a rating of 9.3 stars on IMDb. The episode centers around June’s elaborate and risky plan to transport over fifty children to the airport at night in hopes of helping them escape Gilead. The attempt becomes troublesome when the Eyes are alerted of missing children, where several handmaids are injured in a gunfight.
The guards are distracted enough that the children can board the plane, where they reach the Refugee Aid Foundation of Canada – where Luke and Moira are volunteering. Luke becomes disappointed when he realizes Hannah isn’t on the plane, but he meets Rita (Amanda Brugel) who tells him of June’s brilliance. Back in Gilead, June is bloodied and disorientated, where she is carried through the forest by her fellow handmaids. In Canada, Serena realizes that her testimony has done nothing to justify Gilead’s existence, when Nicole is taken from her, and she is arrested for crimes against humanity, rape, and sexual slavery.
Season 3 – “Liars” (9.2)
“Liars” received the second-highest rating on IMDb of The Handmaid’s Tale episodes thus far. June returns to Jezebels in hopes of igniting the plan to rescue children out of Gilead, where she narrowly misses being raped by Commander Winslow, who she beats to death.
Meanwhile, Fred and Serena indulge in a road trip where they meet Mark Tuello, who tricks them onto Canadian soil, where Fred is arrested for war crimes and human rights violations. “Liars” was ranked 9.2 stars for its climatic state that plunges the audience into the beginning of a new era.
Season 3 – “Unknown Caller” (8.4)
“Unknown Caller” explores Gilead’s tireless attempts to bring back Nicole into their arms, when it is discovered that she is in the hands of Luke in Canada. June is forced to ring Luke to organize for Serena and Nicole to meet once again, where Luke enforces to Serena that Nicole will never be a part of her life.
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As revenge for accepting a stolen child from Gilead, Commander Waterford and Serena set up a televised call-for-action to let Nicole come back “home,” with June in the background of their campaign.
Season 4 – “The Wilderness” (8.7)
In preparation for the upcoming season five of The Handmaid’s Tale, the finale of Season 4 opened up a plethora of questions and circumstances viewers are itching to be answered. In the episode, June testifies against the horrors inflicted upon her during her time as a handmaid for the Waterford family, as she struggles to move on from her past to make a future in the safety of Canada.
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June meets with Tuello and Commander Lawrence to discuss a trade offer: twenty-two marthas in exchange for Fred. Tuello agrees, and Fred is handcuffed and taken to “no man’s land,” where several handmaids viciously attack him. June returns home bloodied, where she says goodbye to Nicole, as Luke tearfully watches on. The ending scene briefly exposes Fred’s beaten body, with the words ‘nolite te bastardes carborundorum’ (translation: ‘Don’t let the bastards grind you down’) written in blood underneath it.
Season 4 – “The Crossing” (8.5)
“The Crossing” depicts violence as revenge for June’s anarchy and treachery towards Gilead and its reign. The episode follows June as she is captured and tortured under the permission of Aunt Lydia, who is determined to locate the handmaids (who are located at the Keyes’ farmhouse). Due to June’s insistence of keeping their location a secret, Beth (Kirsten Gutoskie) and Sienna (Sugenja Sri) are pushed off a building, and Hannah is brought in as a reminder of what is at stake.
June breaks at the sight of Hannah, who is now scared of her, and releases the location of the handmaids. The women are then sent on their way to a breeding colony, where they’ll be forced to partake in the ceremony once a month. June attacks Aunt Lydia with an electric prod, and the women make an escape. Two of the handmaids are shot, and Alma (Nina Kiri) and Brianna (Bahia Watson) are hit by a train, leaving June and Janine as the survivors.
Season 4 – “Home” (8.5)
“Home” focuses on June readjusting to a life of freedom in Canada, her relationship with Luke, and how she plans to enact revenge on the pregnant Serena Joy. June meets up with Serena, who begs for forgiveness. Angered by Serena’s pregnancy, June reminds her that she is not worthy of redemption of her sins, and that she deserves a life of suffering. In a power reversal, June stands over the begging Serena and wishes that Serena’s baby dies inside her womb, in attempts for Serena to fractionally understand what it felt like for handmaids to be ripped apart from their children.
Meanwhile, the episode received some controversy when June comes home and initiates intercourse with Luke, who tells her to stop. Instead, she gags his mouth and continues. This occurrence did not seem to affect their relationship however, as the next day Luke and June enjoy spending time together with Nicole. “Home” is the turning point in June’s arc, where she begins to struggle with the person she was in Gilead, and the person she can be in Canada.
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