After a lengthy pandemic pause, The Handmaid’s Tale finally returns for its fourth season this week on Hulu—but before you rush lớn begin your binge, you may need a quick refresher on what exactly happened in season 3. A lot of things went down during the final few episodes in particular, between June & Rita smuggling dozens of children across the border lớn Canada, the Waterfords finally getting their comeuppance, June murdering Chris Meloni’s creepy Commander Winslow, June aiding in the death of Commander Lawrence’s wife Eleanor, Nick vanishing without trace for the back half of the season…

It was a lot. Here are the key things you need khổng lồ remember about where we left off.

1) June & the Marthas smuggle almost 100 children out of Gilead.

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Throughout most of season 3, June conspired in secret with Rita & several other Marthas to lớn strike back against Gilead and hit the regime where it hurts the most. Since Gilead was (ostensibly) created solely khổng lồ increase the birth rate, and children are its most precious resource, the plan was khổng lồ take as many children as possible away from their faux Gilead families và bring them across the border to safety in Canada.

In the finale, Commander Lawrence arranges for Rita và the children to be funneled in secret through his house & onto a waiting plane that flies them north to Toronto. June stays behind because she’s determined to recover her own daughter Hannah.


2) June is shot in the final moments of the season.

Yeah, except for that. June, along with several other Marthas and Handmaids, create a distraction so Gilead’s guardians won’t notice the flight taking off. In the process, June takes a bullet lớn the abdomen & is shown being carried away by her fellow Handmaids in the season’s final shot. While it’s safe to assume she’s not dead, the extent of her injuries is unclear.

3) Serena turns on Fred.

And not a moment too soon! After enduring physical and emotional abuse from her husband for close lớn three seasons, Serena seemingly reconciles with Fred midway through season 3 & appears lớn be excited about the prospect of a new life with him in Washington, D.C. But it was all a ruse—she was actually working with the Canadian authorities to lớn trade Fred in exchange for leniency & the chance to see baby Nichole again.

In the third-to-last episode of season 3, Fred is arrested for war crimes as soon as he and Serena cross the border into Canada. Meanwhile, Serena herself is also taken into custody, but is afforded a very luxurious cell and allowed khổng lồ have supervised visits with Nichole.


4) But Serena ultimately gets arrested herself.

Because of how brutally Fred has treated her, it’s sometimes been easy to thua trận sight of just how monstrous Serena is herself. & though she had a brief moment of victory over Fred, the season 3 finale soon reminds us that she, too, is a war criminal.

After Serena turns on him, Fred wastes no time in returning the favor. While being questioned by Canadian agent Mark Tuello, Fred makes it clear that his wife is far from an innocent victim. Specifically, he reveals that Serena forced Nick và June khổng lồ have sex in season 1, a rape lớn which June was unable lớn consent. Serena is arrested on this specific charge và now faces just as uncertain a future as her husband.

5) Commander Lawrence allies with June in secret.

Throughout his time on the show, Lawrence has remained a true enigma—he was one of the architects of Gilead, but fundamentally disagrees with most of its central tenets (including the ceremony) and has been working in secret lớn undermine it. In the season 2 finale, he helps Emily escape, & in season 3 he becomes a wary co-conspirator with June, allowing the rebel organization Mayday to secretly meet in his house.

Lawrence và June’s relationship becomes even more complex when Fred forces them khổng lồ perform the ceremony against both of their wills. This experience traumatizes Lawrence’s fragile wife, Eleanor, who ultimately dies by suicide. In the finale, June tries to persuade Lawrence lớn leave Gilead with the Marthas, but Lawrence says Eleanor would want him to lớn stay behind & “clean up his own mess.” It remains lớn be seen what consequences he’ll face for his part in the Mayday plot.

6) Nick is MIA.

Much khổng lồ the chagrin of June/Nick shippers, Nick was absent throughout the latter episodes of season 3. Midway through the season, June makes the devastating discovery that Nick was a soldier in the Gilead crusade & played a key role in the regime coming khổng lồ power. That would’ve been enough lớn drive a wedge between them, but Nick is then sent to serve on the front lines in Chicago & doesn’t return. But without spoiling anything, we’re pretty sure he’ll be making a comeback early in the new season.


7) June racks up quite the body toàn thân count.

As she gradually becomes a revolutionary leader, June also becomes more & more ruthless, và by the kết thúc of season 3 she’s taken multiple lives. She memorably stabs Commander Winslow lớn death after he tries lớn rape her at Jezebels, và she chooses not khổng lồ intervene when she finds Eleanor overdosing—which could be described as a mercy killing. Finally, in the finale, she kills a Guardian. All of these killings are justified, but they’re bound khổng lồ have a psychological impact on June going forward.

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Emma Dibdin is a freelance writer based in Los Angeles who writes about culture, mental health, và true crime. She loves owls, hates cilantro, and can find the queer subtext in literally anything.

With The Handmaid's Tale season 4 on Hulu next week, here's what you need to remember from season 3. Major spoilers


If seasons one & two were all about June becoming a survivor of Gilead, enduring its brutality but not breaking, season three was all about her burning it down. A radicalised June transformed from survivor to lớn resistance fighter, sacrificing people và to some extent, her compassion in service of that goal.

The last we saw June in the season three finale, she was being carried away by the Handmaid resistance after getting shot. Her plan had worked – a network of Marthas và Handmaids had smuggled the stolen children of Gilead to Commander Lawrence’s house. From there, they’d hiked to lớn an airport & got the children onto a plane, creating a diversion so it could take off.

It was a hard won victory. At the start of season three, June’s focus was on her and Luke’s stolen daughter Hannah, now Agnes Mackenzie. Hannah was the reason June didn’t escape lớn Canada with Emily và Baby Nichole in the season two finale; this time, she vowed not to leave Gilead without her. June visited Hannah at her home, and later tried khổng lồ see her at her heavily guarded school, as a result of which Hannah’s much-loved Martha was hanged và the Mackenzie family left the district for an unknown location.

Distraught at losing the chance to reunite with Hannah, June attacked Ofmatthew (Ashleigh La
Throp) – the pregnant Handmaid who’d informed on her aborted Hannah visit to lớn Aunt Lydia – and encouraged her friends to lớn alienate và bully her. Cruelly, June told Lydia that Ofmathew had confessed to feeling ambivalent about her third Gilead pregnancy, an unthinkable crime in this world. Ofmatthew eventually snapped, stealing a Guardian’s gun and attempting to shoot Lydia, but was shot by a Guardian and went into a coma as the doctors tried lớn save her unborn baby. Forced to pray at Ofmatthew’s bedside until the baby was delivered as punishment, June went through her own rebirth of sorts. After Janine caught her trying to lớn disconnect Ofmatthew’s ventilator & told her she was being selfish, June understood the error of her ways. Separated from her own daughters, she promised the unconscious Ofmatthew that she would help Gilead’s other children, và hatched a plan.

To pull it off, she needed the assistance of Commander Lawrence, the head of June’s new household after the Waterford house burned down, và the man who had helped Emily escape after she attacked Aunt Lydia in the season two finale. Lawrence was an economist whose ideas were used in the creation of Gilead, but who was trapped inside the regime, which he covertly opposed. He secretly refused to carry out the monthly Ceremony in which Commanders và their wives raped Handmaids, và pretended not to lớn notice his staff running Mayday operations from his home. If he & his much-loved và mentally unstable wife Eleanor ever escaped Gilead, he would be imprisoned for war crimes, keeping them in place.

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An increasingly ruthless June manipulated Eleanor into helping with her unsuccessful visit lớn Hannah’s school. Eleanor was put under more pressure when Fred Waterford, in an act of characteristic cruelty, forced the Lawrences to lớn rape June as part of the ‘Ceremony’ to prove their loyalty lớn Gilead. It was after the rape that a sickened Lawrence agreed lớn help June’s plan by providing a truck to transport the kids to lớn the airport.Afterwards, when June walked in on a dying Eleanor who’d taken a deliberate overdose, she chose not khổng lồ resuscitate her and watched her die. June saw Eleanor as a liability who would put the rescue plan in danger, và so she sacrificed her for the greater good.