Episode 7 manages to weigh in on June’s new reality and the trauma and pressure she faces — as the fourth season wears on, it is evident that writers have an idea in mind of how this installment is going to end. This has been brilliant television.
This recap of Hulu’s The Handmaid’s Tale season 4, episode 7, “Home,” contains spoilers.
We have reached a significant moment of The Handmaid’s Tale, especially after the tense chapter last episode — what will freedom cost June? This is the start of a new phase in her life.
June steps off the boat and takes in the air and her surroundings. The US Government welcome her on American soil and explain that she is safe. They ask her if she returned to Gilead would she be in danger and be persecuted for being a woman; she confirms and agrees to seek asylum in Canada. June is taken to a fancy hotel that will be her home for a few days. She’s not used to civilized and free surroundings — she’s in shock. This is a pivotal moment in the story, and they have set it up wonderfully.
Not a simple adjustment
As we suspected last week, episode 7 proves that returning to normalcy for June is not going to be a walk in the park.
Moira leaves June and at her hotel room and offers to bring Nicole the next day so she can see her daughter. Luke asks her what she wants to do, but it’s abundantly obvious that this will not be a simple adjustment to life. June heads into the shower and enjoys the water as the camera pans around her body to show scars and bruises, giving the audience a true sense of what she has been through. Luke prepares dinner and waits, but June stays in her room. When he checks on her, she’s fast asleep.
Luke cannot forgive himself
Episode 7 then manages to encapsulate the pain both parents have gone through — the measure of regret that has gone through their minds during their forced break. This scene has been coming for some time.
When June wakes up, Luke tells her she slept for 17 hours straight. He tells her he’s in disbelief that she’s here — June asks him to sit on the bed as it’s obvious he kept his distance while she adjusted to her new surroundings. Luke tells her she needs to stop apologizing and that he tried his hardest to get her and Hannah out every single day — he calls himself a failure and doesn’t blame her — he can’t forgive himself and doesn’t expect June to forgive him.
June tells Luke that she was allowed to see Hannah for ten minutes and that she knows her parents love her. She tells him that their child is “big and mad.” Tears flare up for both characters — two parents reuniting on the unknown. Yet, their love for their child has not dissipated. Seeing Luke’s pain is as impactful as June’s. Both of these characters have suffered. A void in their life has hurt them. Luke calls June a brilliant mother and hugs her.
Questions from Mark / reunited with Nicole
The seventh chapter of season 4 brings another reunion; a bittersweet moment for June, who can at least have one of her children in her life.
The next day, Mark from the USA Government asks June questions about her experiences — he specifically wants to know how she freed all the children. June talks about what Gilead deserves and how they take everything. Luke suggests that they take a break, and he tells Mark that he’s going to take his wife home to see her daughter. June is reunited with her daughter Nicole — Emily passes her the baby, which feels almost ceremonious and right — June was the one who passed Nicole to Emily back in Gilead before she escaped to Canada.
Mark asks Serena to talk to Fred
Episode 7 also brings the audience back to the Waterford’s who are still competing with the legal landscape against them.
Serena Waterford prays to God and asks for a healthy baby and not to be punished for her sins. Mark walks into the church and apologizes for eavesdropping. Serena is worried that June is going to complicate her case. Mark reminds her that her husband has requested to see her. Serena isn’t interested in seeing him, but Mark wants her to cooperate more, so it helps them. So Serena meets Fred. He tells her that God has granted them a child of their own, and he wants to be a good father to their son. Serena calls it “her pregnancy” and walks away. Fred tells her that their legal landscape has changed with June in Canada, so they need to team up — he’s willing to recant his testimony against her to ensure a good life for her and his son.
June wants culture shocks
The Handmaid’s Tale season 4, episode 7 finally reaches the stage where reality hits June.
June wakes up the next day to Nicole’s cries and sees Moira and Luke preparing breakfast. Moira offers to take Nicole out and give June and Luke some space, but June wants to join her. She also wants people over — she claims she is ready for the culture shock. So June heads to the supermarket, which is a completely different experience from what she’s used to in Gilead as a Handmaid. In the supermarket, June in shock at the normalcy around her — the calm nature of a normal supermarket is unsettling. She remembers being a Handmaid and sees spring water that reminds her of a symbol from Gilead with the logo — she has PTSD. She begins to hyperventilate as she remembers her violent experiences.
A cold truth
I am surprised it took so long for June to reach boiling point, but episode 7 sees the lead character learning a truth that tips her over the edge.
Emily and Oliver come over to the house, and June asks Oliver for a hug. Rita also comes over, and June is overwhelmed and hugs her tight. The women talk later on, and June wonders if they deserve to be free again. Moira tells them they did what they had to do to survive. June asks about Serena, and the conversation turns awkward. Rita tells June that she saw her and wanted her help. She learns that Serena is pregnant, and June is boiling inside — her face turns sour when she learns that the baby is Fred’s. June says, “f**k her, I don’t care,” and everyone else joins in.
But what a painful moment; June knows Serena has the chance to have a baby without the abuse she suffered. It’s an unfair world.
June visits Serena
When the evening is over, Luke and June hug in the kitchen and kiss for the first time in years. June is struggling with the intimacy, and Luke apologizes. In bed, June cannot fall asleep as she’s thinking about Serena. She heads out and meets Mark, who picks her up. June meets Serena in her prison facility — they face each other after a long time. Serena tells her she prayed for this chance and thanks the Lord for a visit — she tells June she wants to make amends. June says she brought herself here to tell her the hatred she has for her and that she deserves a life of suffering and shame. She reminds Serena of everything she is destroyed and that she is not worthy of redemption.
Serena kneels and begs for June’s forgiveness which is a daunting moment; the roles have switched but in a safer environment. June tells her that the reason Serena became pregnant, is so God could make her understand a fraction of the pain she felt when her baby dies in the womb — June is shaking with fury and grabs her face and asks, “do you understand me!?”. This is a top-level performance from both women, bringing chills down our spines.
June heads home, gets into bed, and wakes Luke up — she kisses him passionately. The couple has sex. When Luke tries to take control, she grabs his hand and covers his mouth, so she remains in control until she climaxes. The next day, June and Luke enjoy time with Nicole. Then, June heads to see Mark and describes who Serena is — pathological, toxic, sociopath, abusive — “she’s a monster”. June tells Mark that hatred and rage drives Serena, and underneath all that is pure misery and will do anything not to feel that way.
As the episode ends, Serena meets Fred and tells him that she needs him. The Waterford’s are a union again.
The Handmaid’s Tale season 4, episode 7 manages to weigh in on June’s new reality and the trauma and pressure she faces — as the fourth season wears on, it is evident that writers have an idea in mind of how this installment is going to end. This has been brilliant television.
- Moira catches Oona outside her house — Oona tells her they are not allowed back into Gilead, but Moira explains they did bring back an intelligence asset. She tells Oona that she doesn’t want their relationship to be over, but her ex reminds her she destroyed her NGO for her friend — she doesn’t want that conversation. Moira tells her she wants to fight and calls Oona her “forever” — Oona agrees to fight another time, not outside in the cold.