The Handmaid’s Tale season 4, episode 9 recap – what happened in “Progress”?

June 9, 2021
Daniel Hart 0
Hulu, Weekly TV


Episode 9 serves as an enticing penultimate chapter — everything is coming together for the finale, politically, emotionally, and dramatically.

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Episode 9 serves as an enticing penultimate chapter — everything is coming together for the finale, politically, emotionally, and dramatically.

This recap of Hulu’s The Handmaid’s Tale season 4, episode 9, “Progress,” contains spoilers.

While nothing overly dramatic happens in the penultimate chapter, it does bring some impactful moments.

Following on from the last episode, the opening scene shows June (played by Elisabeth Moss) and Luke (played by O-T Fagbenle) looking at each other in silence. June has told him about Hannah, which is a truly traumatic story for both of them. Luke expresses to June that they have to find her and bring Hannah to Canada. He shows her what he’s done so far.

A phonecall with Lawrence

And then comes an unprecedented moment that felt unlikely at the start of season 4. It feels strange how the dynamics have changed drastically.

June, along with Luke and USA Government Official Mark, ring Commander Lawrence on loudspeaker. June asks for Hannah, but Lawrence tells her to leave her alone and that Hannah only knows Gilead. He explains that Janine is alive and safe, looked after by Aunt Lydia. June offers a revision to the trade agreement with the Americans, but he scoffs it off. Lawrence tries to bargain and asks her to return ten children in exchange for Hannah. June is conflicted, but she cannot agree to that and tells Lawrence that she knows he’s a good man. Lawrence tells June that she’s free and asks her to be grateful.

Lawrence may have told June that he will do what’s right when she leaves, but it’s clear he hasn’t got the capacity to do anything at present.

The Aunts discuss what to do with Janine

Aunt Lydia is told that they can’t keep Janine forever and wonders which Commander would want her, given her history. The other Aunts think Janine should be taking to the breeding center. Aunt Lydia brushes all suggestions off and believes anyone would be grateful to have Janine.

Lydia wants Janine to help Ester

Aunt Lydia is also having difficulty with Handmaid Ester and asks Janine to clean up after a confrontation. Later on, Janine tells Lydia the abuse Ester has gone through and believes the woman deserves a chance. Aunt Lydia agrees to put Ester’s correction on hold and asks Janine to help her out.

So Janine brings Ester breakfast the next day and warns her that she needs to take care of herself and behave, and warns there will be consequences if she doesn’t. Ester senses that Janine was sent to her to say this. Janine warns her that they will keep hurting her repeatedly as that’s their job.

Near the end of the episode, Ester heeds Janine’s warnings and complies.

It feels like roles have reversed, and Janine is taking June’s mantle in Gilead. The Handmaid’s Tale season 4, episode 9 provides another parallel that this installment has brought frequently.

Luke asks June to meet with Nick to try and get Hannah

Luke tells June that Nick should be able to help them locate Hannah. He makes the point that Nick is a Commander now and has access. June hesitates at first but then agrees that she will try and set up a call. Luke feels it may better that she meets Nick in a safe place to talk about it and bring Nichole with her. He doesn’t think Nick will say no if she brings his daughter.

This was a surprising moment for Luke, as he knows June is in love with Nick just as much as him. It goes to show that a parent’s love is always uncomparable.

Naomi tells Serena that she should return to Gilead once the ordeal is over

Naomi visits Serena Waterford and tells her that she’s willing to raise her child if they are not released. Serena tells her that she expects to be free with her son, even though Fred’s prospects are slim. Naomi agrees but also thinks Serena should return to Gilead with her child and a hero.

Meanwhile, Fred is frustrated when he talks to a fellow Commander. He’s angry that Gilead has not tried to negotiate for him, but his acquaintance explains it is a complex situation.

June meets Nick

Episode 9 brings a bittersweet, heartwarming, and rare moment for Nick and June.

June is escorted to a mutual safe place to meet Nick — she brings Nichole with her. They are happy to see each other, and Nick makes a cheeky comment that “freedom agrees with her.”

Nick gives her information he has on Hannah since June left Canada. Hannah is currently in Colorado Springs; she has a school, and she’s a good student. He shows her photos, and June gets teary-eyed. Nick explains that it’s impossible to get Hannah out, but he did what he could to get her information. June is warmed that he did all this for her. Nick explains that he should have left with her when he had the chance, and they kiss each other passionately.

In a sweet moment, Nichole wakes up, so the parents admire their child together. Nick gives Nichole a doll that he managed to buy in Gilead. June and Nick have missed each other greatly, but it’s bittersweet. As she leaves, Nick tells June, “try and be happy.” When June drives off, she smiles but also sobs — this life will never be simple. It’s exhausting.

Serena questions Fred’s power

Serena raises her concerns about returning to Gilead and that she could be made into a Handmaid. Fred tells her he will do anything he can to stop that, but Serena questions what power he has.

The ending of The Handmaid’s Tale season 4, episode 9

But we find out what power Fred has very quickly.

June returns with the information and photos she has on Hannah, and Luke is overwhelmed and happy. They thank Mark for arranging it. Mark tells them they have a new asset that can advise them — Fred Waterford. There’s a shock in the room, and June is dismayed. Mark states that Fred has a wealth of knowledge that will be useful for them. He’s doing it in exchange for freedom, and the prosecution has dropped their charges. June and the others tell Mark it is bullshit. June believes her testimony was used as leverage, but Mark says sometimes you have to use fish to catch bigger fish. June is furious, so she chases after him, and in untapped rage, tells the US official that she will kill him.

Episode 9 serves as an enticing penultimate chapter — everything is coming together for the finale, politically, emotionally, and dramatically.

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