The Handmaid’s Tale season 4, episode 8 recap – what happened in “Testimony”?

By Daniel Hart
Published: June 2, 2021 (Last updated: February 17, 2024)
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Hulu series The Handmaids Tale season 4, episode 8 - Testimony


Episode 8 brings strength to “being heard,” as the women in the story fight against their trauma, while June tries to rally a fiercer response; this season shows no sign of wavering, becoming just as strong as its predecessors.

This recap of Hulu’s The Handmaid’s Tale season 4, episode 8, “Testimony,” contains spoilers.

If we thought June finding freedom was not going to get any more interesting, we were wrong…

At the start of episode 8, June (played by Elisabeth Moss) cuts her hair herself while looking in the mirror. New freedom, new her. She feels like a woman again. She’s also in a support group organized by Moira (played by Samira Wiley). The topic of Waterford’s “confirmation of charges hearing” comes up — June tells the group she cannot wait to attend to give her testimony. Afterward, June tells Moira that she thought she’d have more in common with the group — she wonders why the women are not angrier.

It seems June wants the other victims to bring similar feelings to her, even though trauma is complicated.

Aunt Irene confronts Emily — June wants action

At the library, Emily is irritated by a woman trying to talk to her, so June and Moira help her. Emily does not tell June and Moira who the woman is at first. Later on, June asks her who Iris Baker is (the woman at the library). Emily explains she knows her as “Aunt Irene,” who was assigned to a district before June met her in Gilead. June believes Emily should face her and “let it all out” to feel better, but Emily raises that “we are not all like you”.

Emily’s words highlight for the first time that a character has spoken up since June has hit freedom; there’s frustration and recognition that June is not the same person that she used to be, but why would she be?

Luke feels like June is a stranger since returning

And that connects to Luke as well, who has been a patient man up until now — in the last episode, he was incredibly tentative and understanding.

Luke tells June that he told the USA Government Official Mark about where she met Hannah in Gilead — she’s annoyed that she’s told him and walks off, leaving Moira and Luke in the same room. June also does not want Luke at the hearing, believing it will be too much for him. Luke tells Moira that June feels like a stranger “half of the time,” and he’s lost in what he can do — the character cuts an emotional figure. Moira offers wise words and tells him that he needs to give her time, as he doesn’t know what she’s been through. June listens in outside the room.

Lydia is out of control, but Janine has been found

We return to Gilead after spending a lot of time away from this place — Aunt Lydia is commanding her new Handmaids, but she is irked by other Aunts gossiping in her earshot — she tells them that they must set a good example. She tasers one of the Handmaids scrubbing the floor, and then does the same to one of the Aunts. Aunt Lydia is shaky and not her usual self.

After her outburst and heavy use of a taser, Aunt Lydia is called in by Commander Lawrence — she claims what happened was an accident. Commander Lawrence states that most of these Handmaids are compliant and lived here most of their lives. He wonders if she’s acting like this because June has won and that she had a victory because people like her — he then states that’s why Aunt Lydia lost because no one likes her. Commander Lawrence tells her he wants her back in form as Gilead performing means the world to him.

And then, in a revealing moment, Commander Lawrence confirms Janine has been found — Aunt Lydia is emotional. Lawrence tells Aunt Lydia that she needs a “better outlet” and offers her Janine.

June’s testimony

The Handmaid’s Tale season 4, episode 8 brings another pivotal moment and one that the audience needs to watch and consume.

The “confirmation of charges” arrives in episode 8 — the camera follows June walking into the court chambers, walking past the Waterford’s. She swears to tell the truth, but then she is shocked to see Luke arrive despite telling him not to. The judge gives her the room and says, “in your own time”. June does not hesitate and gives her story since 2017 and highlights the horrors and crimes by the Waterford’s.

It’s a long statement that brings chills as she describes what happened to her — it’s evident June has waited to give this statement for a long time. It’s a pivotal moment in the story that’s striking and impactful. Kudos to Elisabeth Moss for performing this so well. It really reminds viewers what the lead character has been through, encouraging us to understand her frame of mind and thirst for revenge.

In the end, she asks for maximum charges against the Waterford’s so that all women who have suffered can be heard and justice is served. Luke sobs at the back.

Defense questions

The first set of questions by the defense counsel targets June’s adultery in the past and claim she signed up to be a Handmaid. And then, the court turns on its head. Fred Waterford talks about how Gilead has the highest birth rate globally, and they have chosen God’s path and been awarded for their suffering. June confronts Fred’s claims and asks how she was rewarded for her suffering and tells him that “she is done” and anything more can be brought to his trial. June walks out, and Fred looks a little defeated.

Aunt Irene asks for forgiveness at the support group 

June brings Aunt Irene inside the support group, and Moira is annoyed by it. June argues that this is their group, so it goes down to a vote — she tells Emily that she’s trying to help her. And then, June puts a chair in the middle of the room, and Aunt Irene sits down. June asks her to talk. Irene admits she has done terrible things — she confesses to informing the Eyes that Emily was having an affair with a Martha; she was the reason that a Martha was hung, and Emily was mutilated.

Aunt Irene asks Emily for forgiveness. June asks, “why the f**k do you think you deserve forgiveness?” and accuses her of hiding behind God. Irene gets on her knees and begs for forgiveness. Emily tells Irene that there is nothing she can do and walks away.

Emily feels she did not get enough from Aunt Irene and tells Moira that she could be useful for a testimony. So Emily visits Irene’s house; however, when she gets there, she learns that she’s hung herself.

But what’s telling in this scene is how June refuses to be the only woman that uses her anger; she wants them all to be like her — she wants a collective effort to fight with the trauma, but in a leading way, just like the Handmaids needed her in Gilead.

Luke’s struggles with June continue

Luke’s woes continue in The Handmaid’s Tale season 4, episode 8.

In the evening, Luke and June have dinner together. June has a smile on her face and tells him that the support group was “fine”. Luke apologizes for turning up at the hearing, but he thinks now that he knows everything, they can move on — he even raises talking about Hannah. June tells Luke that “she’s good,” and he accepts it but cuts a frustrated figure. He begins to get emotional and tells June that he’s trying as she comforts him — she snogs him and then initiates sex, but when Luke tells her to stop, she doesn’t. Luke pushes her off and asks June to talk to him. June walks off, angry.

Janine would rather die than become a Handmaid again 

We are surprised the wellbeing of Janine was delayed for this long, but we are glad she’s alive.

Aunt Lydia visits Janine in her cell and tells her that Gilead saved her. Lydia tells Janine that June is in Canada, and she’s elated that she’s free — Lydia is confused as to why she’s happy because June left her. Janine asks Lydia not to make her a Handmaid again. Aunt Lydia tells Janine that June corrupts and destroys everyone — she tries sympathizing with Janine, saying she’s spent her whole life losing her loved ones. Janine asks again and this time tells Aunt Lydia she’d rather die than become a Handmaid again. Aunt Lydia sobs and hugs Janine.

The Waterford’s have support

Serena asks Fred if he believes what he said in court, and he’s adamant that he did. They then walk out together to what they believe are protestors — however, they are supporters; they have people in Canada that believe in the Gilead-way.

June rallies the women in the support group 

In the support group, everyone tells Emily that she should not feel bad about Aunt Irene hanging herself, but June tells the group they should let Emily speak about her feelings. Emily tells the group that she feels amazing and that she’s glad she’s dead — she hoped she had something to do with it. The others join in and describe what they’d do to their Aunts and Commanders — the violent ways they’d get revenge. Moira interrupts the session and talks about healing. June asks why “healing is the only goal” — she explains they have the right to feel nefarious. Moira finishes the session, not willing to participate in the conversation.

The ending

June says she will stay longer if anyone would like to — and most of the group want to stay; Moira and June eye each other…you can take June out of Gilead, but you can’t take Gilead out of June.

When June returns home, she comforts Luke and explains she will tell him about the last time she saw Hannah. It appears June will use her thirst for revenge and anger in the support group but then use Luke for her healing.

The Handmaid’s Tale season 4, episode 8 brings strength to “being heard,” as the women in the story fight against their trauma, while June tries to rally a fiercer response; this season shows no sign of wavering, becoming just as strong as its predecessors.

Hulu, Weekly TV
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