June, Esther, Chicago and Janine
Having freed 86 of Gilead’s stolen children and nine Marthas on what came to be known as ‘Angel’s Flight’ in the season three finale, June started season four on the run as an enemy of the state. June, Janine, Brianna, Alma and the others hid out in a remote farmhouse, welcomed by Gilead-hating Wife Esther Keyes.
Esther was a young teenager forcibly married to an elderly man who encouraged other local men to sexually assault her with the goal of making her pregnant. When one of Esther’s rapists – Guardian Pogue – was found on the farm, June urged Esther to kill him, which she did. Esther had been gradually poisoning her ‘husband’ with nightshade, which inspired June to spike the drinks of a nearby houseful of Gilead’s commanders, killing several.
The disappearance of Guardian Pogue attracted the Eyes, who raided the farm and captured June. The other Handmaids escaped but June was held in a facility and tortured for information on their whereabouts. She was eventually forced to give them up when Hannah’s life was threatened. June, Janine, Alma and co. were rounded up, and during transportation to a Magdalene Colony for rebellious Handmaids, they attacked Aunt Lydia and escaped. Shackled, they ran across a railway line but only June and Janine survived.
June and Janine stowed away on a milk train and entered the war-torn city of Chicago, where they met up with a group of anti-Gilead American resistance fighters. Their leader Steven demanded sex in exchange for food and board, and while June refused, Janine did as he asked and fell for him, imagining a future together. During an air raid by Gilead’s military, June and Janine were separated. June was picked up by a Canadian aid group for which Moira was working and welcomed home.
Though delighted to have June back with them, both Moira and Luke struggled to know how to deal with the new person Gilead had made her – a revolutionary activist with intense trauma and blood on her hands (quite literally in her final scene of the season, as she kissed baby daughter Nichole while still covered in what was left of Fred Waterford).
Meanwhile, Janine had been rounded up by Guardians in Chicago and sent back to Gilead to be placed, with Commander Lawrence’s agreement, in the custody of Aunt Lydia.