The Handmaid's Tale Season 4 Episode 10 Review: The Wilderness

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Ding dong! The Waterford is dead.

The Handmaid's Tale Season 4 Episode 10 was indeed a game-changer.

The entire hour was nothing short of a masterpiece, and knowing the show has already been renewed for a fifth season makes the anticipation all the more extraordinary. So let's dive in.

June and Emily - The Handmaid's Tale Season 4 Episode 10

For four seasons, Fred has committed horrific act after horrific act, and the thought of him going free was unconscionable.

What would it say about the series if they let someone like Fred Waterford escape justice after the torment and brutality he put June and others through? Nothing good, I can tell you that much.

Fred: You are a good and cunning woman, a mother.
June: Choose.
Fred: I know you can’t shoot me.
June: All right.

So, it was necessary that Fred be punished for his crimes in some way but the former handmaids killing him and others instead of letting him rot away in a prison cell in Gilead was much more satisfying.

If ever there was poetic justice, it was how Fred met his end.

Fred freedom - The Handmaid's Tale Season 4 Episode 10

Fred's killing beautifully mirrored June being chased through the woods and captured before The Handmaid's Tale Season 1 Episode 1 and the handmaids' "particicuting" a commander convicted of rape.

But the cherry on top was Fred's body hanging on the wall, just as June wanted.

It's somewhat ironic that Fred's death was the first time the series, which loves unnecessary violence and death, killed off a series regular, but if someone had to die, we're glad it was him.

Even until his last breath, he didn't seem to understand all the pain and suffering he caused.

June risk - The Handmaid's Tale Season 4 Episode 10

Yes, he apologized to June for some of what happened when she was stationed at their home, but his words fell flat.

He was still under the delusion that what he had with June was consensual, that they had an affair of sorts where real feelings were involved, when in actuality, she was playacting to survive.

Fred: What we had, it was vital, it was a relationship we both needed very badly to survive in our own ways. I wouldn't call it love. It was something else, something very strong.
June: Yeah, yeah, there was.
Fred: It's funny to find myself missing her.
June: Who?
Fred: Offred. I realized that must sound strange to you.
June: No, I miss her too, some things so much. I miss her strength.
Fred: She was very special, inspiring in a way.

And if Fred couldn't understand that, then there's no way he could ever understand the magnitude of the brutality that went on in the Waterford household.

Fred likened those horrific months to a mere discomfort when they were living hell.

That disconnect is frightening and necessary to remind us of what a monster Fred truly is, so when the show decided to off the former commander, we would feel nothing but joy.

Fred deal - The Handmaid's Tale Season 4 Episode 10

However, as gratifying as Fred's death was, it's more interesting where the characters go from here.

Despite Luke's pleas to let it go, June couldn't move on from Fred no matter how badly she wished she could.

She was on the fence for the first half of the episode, but Fred's apology solidified June's decision to enact revenge.

Hearing his oversimplified apology let June know Fred was capable of remorse and regret even if he downplayed the brutality of what happened.

June meets - The Handmaid's Tale Season 4 Episode 10

In a way, it was worse than if Fred was unfeeling. His half-assed apology showed he could distinguish right from wrong, that he had a conscious, and that pushed June over the edge.

She couldn't let Fred start a new life, essentially getting off scotfree for all the hurt and suffering he put everyone through, and being tried by Gilead wasn't enough.

June: I heard that you were going to Geneva. So I thought this might be my last chance.
Fred: Really? To wish me well. That doesn't sound like our June. Out of respect, I hold no ill will even after those things you said in court.
June: Fred, I think we both know what happened.
Fred: Yes, we do. I remember quite well. I do understand that you had to frame things in front of the judge and your husband. There were discomforts in my house, I know, for both of us. More for you, of course. And for that, I do have deep regrets. I don’t know I was able to truly appreciate your situation until now. As a father, to have my son taken away from me would be unimaginable. You must have experienced such terrible longing for your daughter. And for that, I’m sorry, truly deeply sorry.
June: I didn’t think you’d ever say that.

June needed him to suffer and be afraid like she was for so long, and Fred meeting his end the way he did was just the icing on the cake for her.

And while she got her revenge, she may have lost Luke and their family in the process.

Luke distress - The Handmaid's Tale Season 4 Episode 10

Luke doesn't know the full story of what happened, but seeing a bloodied June is enough to give him a good idea of what went down.

Since June's arrival in Canada, Luke has been pretty understanding and forgiving of his wife.

He's been able to get past her love for Nick, her flip-flopping emotions, and her desire for vengeance, but it seems he may not be able to overlook her killing Fred.

Luke understands that Gilead changed June, but he doesn't quite get just how deep those scars run.

June and Nichole - The Handmaid's Tale Season 4 Episode 10

There's no real way for June to explain to Luke just how much those seven years in Gilead brutalized her, and it's something she may never be able to put into words.

All Luke sees at that moment is a June who chose revenge over their family, and it breaks him to his core.

Emily: What do you want?
June: I want him to be afraid because I was afraid for so long.
Emily: How afraid?
June: Like in the woods when I was caught, when they took Hannah.
Emily: More than that.
June: I want him to be scared to death.

He's come to realize there some things that are unforgivable, and the devastation is written all over his face.

June, for her part, also realizes that there's no coming back from what she's done and prepares to leave her would-be life in Canada behind.

That doesn't mean June's going to pack up her things and leave Luke, Nichole, and Moira behind, as I read her telling Luke that she would go in five minutes more as she would get out of the way of what he was building in Canada.

Moira calls - The Handmaid's Tale Season 4 Episode 10

She would step aside and let him live his life while she lived hers, which solely revolves around burning Gilead to the ground.

Her life is now this war on Gilead and creating a better future for her daughters. That is her purpose, and, of course, rescuing Hannah. 

June has come to accept the divergence of her and Luke's paths, and while she's not necessarily OK with it, she understands that this is where the cards have fallen.

And while it's a shame about June and Luke's marriage, it does open up the possibilities for June next season in exciting ways. We have no clue where she's headed, but it'll most likely be epic.

Serena speaks - The Handmaid's Tale Season 4 Episode 10

Besides June and her fellow ex-handmaids, Fred's death will most impact Serena, who is still in the dark about her husband's death when the credits roll.

Serena spent most of the episode making plans for what life will be like when she and Fred are finally free, but, as it turns out, all of those plans were for naught.

Mark: You plan on living with the commander as husband and wife?
Serena: As a family, of course.
Mark: Can you explain that to me, Serena?
Serena: I don't believe I have to.

Fred's death can take Serena in several different directions, all of which could be equally compelling.

Most likely, Fred's killing will set Serena on her own path of vengeance, as she seeks retribution from June and co. for the murder of her husband.

Fred unexpected guest - The Handmaid's Tale Season 4 Episode 9

That could send Serena down a very dark path from which she may never return.

There's also the possibility that after her initial shock and anger wear off, Fred's death finally frees Serena from the shackles of their abusive marriage.

At the start of The Handmaid's Tale Season 4, Serena wanted to cut ties with Fred and raise their son on her own.

Well, now she's being given that chance, so she could surprise us all and turn the other cheek, even if it's doubtful.

Commander Lawrence meet - The Handmaid's Tale Season 4 Episode 10

Some stray thoughts:

  • Why didn't June barter with Commander Lawrence to trade Fred for some resistance women AND Hannah? Weirdly, June wouldn't try to get her daughter back when striking such a deal. It seems like Commander Lawrence would have been more willing to play ball this time since Fred switched sides. 

  • Nick literally would do anything for June. There's nothing she could ask from him that he wouldn't do, although helping her kill Fred is hardly asking too much of her ex.
Emily sit - The Handmaid's Tale Season 4 Episode 10
  • With Fred dead, what happens to Serena? Will she still be in custody by the Canadians, or does she get to go free now? Maybe, I missed something, but it's still a little unclear on what happens to her from here on out. And if she is still in custody, what happens after her son is born?

  • Did anyone else catch that Mark may have feelings for Serena? He seemed overly interested in her future with Fred, and now that Fred's out of the picture, Mark might stand a chance... after waiting the appropriate amount of time, of course.

So what did you think, Handmaid's Tale Fanatics?

What did you think of Fred's death?

Has June crossed a line from which she can never return?

How will Serena react to Fred's killing?

Don't forget to hit the comments below to let me know your thoughts.

The Wilderness Review

Editor Rating: 4.7 / 5.0
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User Rating:

Rating: 4.2 / 5.0 (76 Votes)

Jessica Lerner was a staff writer for TV Fanatic. She retired in October 2021.

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The Handmaid's Tale Season 4 Episode 10 Quotes

Mark: Commander Waterford will in all likelihood be granted immunity in exchange for its cooperation.
June: So I should just get comfortable with the fact that he's going to get out. No matter what he did. No matter what I say.
Mark: No, I don’t expect you to be comfortable with this.
June: Is he everything you hoped for?
Mark: Absolutely. He’s already rewritten our understanding of the Gilead command hierarchy. He is proving to be an intelligence asset of great value. Yes.
June: You won’t be able to shut him up. Weak men, they do make the world go round.
Mark: I am on your side, Ms. Osborne,
June: I was a prisoner that Waterford would sometimes take out to fuck, and you're gonna set him free.

It has to look like love. That what he needs. Pretend you like it. Pretend you love it. Pretend you want it. He is your commander. Make him your whole world – your sun, your moon, all your stars. Make him believe because your motherfucking life depends on it. Don’t run. Don’t kick. Don’t scream. Don’t fight at all. Don’t fight.