The Handmaid’s Tale of terror: what June has had to do to survive

By TVPlus20 September 2022

The Handmaid’s Tale of terror: what June has had to do to survive

Dystopian thriller The Handmaid’s Tale is a shocking series that explores political movements that strip women of human rights. American citizen June (Elisabeth Moss) finds herself prisoner in a new country called Gilead, which is what’s left of the United States following a military coup led by an ultra conservative faction.

June is now a handmaid to Commander Fred Waterford (Joseph Fiennes) and his wife Serena Joy (Yvonne Strahovski) and has been given a new name, Offred (Of-Fred). As she’s forced to be a natal slave used to give birth as many times as she’s able to, a rigid social structure ensures there’s nothing handmaids can do about it. But with the start of Season 5, we see that June has taken cunning, iron will and the ability to break every taboo she’s grown up with in order to fight back.

Here are some of the most horrifying things June has done to survive in The Handmaid’s Tale. Seasons 1 to 4 are streaming on Showmax, with new episodes of Season 5 landing every Monday, express from the US.

Murdering Commander Winslow: Season 3 episode 11

June has reached a breaking point. She’s been beaten, abused, emotionally manipulated and blackmailed, and raped too many times. But the tipping point comes when Commander Winslow (Christopher Meloni) tries to rape her and she launches into attack mode: she stabs him to death with a pen, the nearest object she can grab, and continues her bloody attack well after his lifeless body sinks to the floor.

And while murder isn’t right, we can’t help but feel glad that it comes at June’s hand. She did it to survive in one of the cruellest fictional worlds TV has ever known.

Staying “home”: Season 3 episode 1

June never asked to be in Gilead. She was abducted, thrown into slavery, and expected to fall pregnant (by compliance or force) to build up the country’s population. So, you’d think she’d run at her first opportunity. But no.

Instead, she chooses to stay in Gilead, a place that hates women and will discard the fertile female as soon as she’s no longer able to meet her duty. It’s a terrible choice, but she decides to stay in order to save her daughter Hannah (Jordana Blake), who was ripped from her arms when Gilead came into being, and who’s being raised by strangers to one day serve as someone’s wife.

Bite your tongue: Season 3 episode 5

June is an emotional wreck most of the time, but she’s learnt how to compose herself around her masters so as not to draw attention to herself or to expose any weaknesses. And that comes in handy when Fred and Serena force her to phone her husband Luke (OT Fagbenle) for their own gain.

She hadn’t seen Luke since they got separated while trying to escape to Canada years before, and all she wants is to be reunited with her family. Instead, she’s forced to deliver Fred’s message over the phone and say nothing else, and the agony in her eyes reaches you through the screen.

Don’t fight back: Season 2 episode 10

June is pregnant and due to give birth to “Fred and Serena’s” baby. After June experiences Braxton Hicks contractions, Serena decides to punish her for the false alarm, and to try trigger a true labour. She convinces Fred to perform one more Ceremony – the ritualised rape to impregnate a handmaid – while she pins the resisting June down.

After initially fighting back as much as she could, June eventually yields to the assault in order to protect the unborn baby, as she knows the Waterfords have no limit to their cruelty.

On her own: Season 2 episode 11

After the assault June endured in episode 10 still doesn’t induce labour, Fred’s guilty conscience gets the best of him and he tries to make it up to June. But what started as an attempt at amends ended up as a disaster.

After a horrible misunderstanding, June ends up alone in a secluded mansion in the woods and it’s here where she goes into labour. With no one knowing where she is, she is forced to handle a complicated delivery of her baby girl entirely on her own.

Pick your battles: Seasons 1-5

The life of a Handmaid is terrifying. These women are abused, mutilated, and used like animals on a breeding farm. So imagine the frame of mind that June was in when she was captured in Gilead and had to undergo the Ceremony continuously with her masters. As horrifying as that is, there’s one thing worse that June has had to do to survive: submit to it.

Even though she’s acted rebelliously throughout the series, she’s had to learn how to pick her battles, and what to allow. So while Gilead thinks it has broken its Handmaid and that she’ll be a good servant, June is secretly plotting to murder the Waterfords, rescue her daughter Hannah, and to escape. Hopefully that happens, one day in a future season…

Catch new episodes of The Handmaid’s Tale Season 5 weekly on Showmax. If you’re new to Gilead, binge-watch Seasons 1 to 4.

Original African stories by local talent

Original Sin: My Son The Killer on Showmax

Original Sin: My Son The Killer

Original Sin: My Son The Killer follows the murder of Andrea Venter by Gerhard Jansen van Vuuren, who then went on the run from South Africa to Brazil.

/images/za.svgMade in South Africa
Tracking Thabo Bester on Showmax

Tracking Thabo Bester

From the makers of Devilsdorp and the director of Convict Conman comes the true-crime documentary South Africa has been waiting for. Two episodes now streaming, and the remaining two episodes land on 22 March 2024 on Showmax.

/images/za.svgMade in South Africa
The Illuminated S1 on Showmax

The Illuminated

The Showmax Original docuseries The Illuminated explores different religious movements in South Africa. Stream now, with new episodes every Wednesday.

/images/za.svgMade in South Africa
Koek S1 on Showmax

Koek S1

The crime comedy Koek, starring Cindy Swanepoel, now streaming on Showmax, with new episodes every Thursday.

/images/za.svgMade in South Africa
Ekhaya Backpackers is on Showmax

Ekhaya Backpackers S1

Stream the Showmax Original comedy series Ekhaya Backpackers, with new episodes every Thursday.

/images/za.svgMade in South Africa
Cheta M on Showmax

Cheta M

Cheta M explores the love story between Adanna and Nnanna, young lovers who battle the spiritual and political forces in their way. Stream now, with new episodes Wednesday to Friday.

/images/ng.svgMade in Nigeria
Youngins on Showmax

Youngins S1

Stream Tshedza Pictures’s first teen drama, Showmax Original Youngins, with three new episodes every week. 

/images/za.svgMade in South Africa
Sadau Sisters is on Showmax

Sadau Sisters S1

Rahma, Zainab, Aisha, and Fatima Sadau pull back the curtain on their family, fame, and lifestyle. Stream now on Showmax.

/images/ng.svgMade in Nigeria
The Winning Ticket, a Showmax Original
Youngins S1 episodes 1-20 recap