June in Chicago in street clothes

Spoilers ahead for Episode 4 of The Handmaid’s Tale Season 4.

After a delay due to the set being shut down, Season 4 of The Handmaid’s Tale has finally arrived on Hulu. There was a ton of hype around the new episodes following the explosive three-episode premiere event, which saw the tragic death of beloved characters like Alma. Episode 4 arrived this week, and opened a ton of doors for the future of the acclaimed series.

While June and Janine weren’t able to travel all the way to Canada, they did manage to escape Gilead proper. The two Handmaids traveled to the front lines of the country’s war, specifically the long-referenced battlegrounds in Chicago. They’re “free” although wrapped up with a revolutionary group that operates in the morally gray.

It certainly feels like The Handmaid’s Tale is a very different show this time around. We’re no longer living within the confines of June’s posting with Bradley Whitford’s Commander Lawrence, and the majority of our beloved characters have safely made it out alive and into Canada. And as June once again stripped herself of her Handmaid uniform, this time felt like it might be the last. Will Elisabeth Moss protagonist spend the rest of the season living as a freedom fighter outside the confines of Gilead?

Indeed, the trailers for Season 4 of The Handmaid’s Tale showed a ton of footage featuring June out of her uniform and being a member of the resistance against Gilead. Considering how many times she’s been captured at this point, this is probably a smart move to keep the show fresh. Although from the way the group of revolutionaries behaved in the last episode, it’s clear that there are dangers and predators everywhere.

With so many main characters (including the Waterfords) in Canada, it makes sense that The Handmaid's Tale might make a drastic narrative change in Season 4. All of the Handmaids we knew and loved (plus Rita) have either escaped or died trying. There’s no one in red robes for us to follow, unless we’re watching how Aunt Lydia continues to fight for control.

Speaking of escaped characters, I’m curious to see how folks like Alexis Bledel’s Emily will be kept integral to the story of The Handmaid’s Tale Season 4. She’s been noticeably absent from the season thus far, with the exception of a brief scene with Moira. And while we’ve seen Rita come into her power in Canada, it’s unclear how heavily she’ll factor into the main narrative moving forward.

While the first three seasons of The Handmaid’s Tale followed a specific set of rules, it certainly seems like there are a ton of new doors and possibilities open in Season 4. This may be partly due to how the show adapted to film during the pandemic, while it could also be the showrunners trying to keep the audience on their toes. But if June is truly free from her red robes for good, will the Hulu series still feel the same?

The Handmaid’s Tale airs new episodes Wednesdays on Hulu. Be sure to check out our summer premiere list to plan your next binge watch.

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