On The Handmaid’s Tale, June finally escaped the iron grip of the totalitarian regime. Here are all of the characters who have fled Gilead.
Here are all of the characters who have managed to escape Gilead on The Handmaid’s Tale. Season 4 of the dystopian drama picked up in the immediate aftermath of the events of the season 3 finale. June, who cemented her standing as a rebel leader after orchestrating the Angels’ Flight, was quickly captured, and she seemed destined to be trapped as a prisoner of the totalitarian regime and doomed to be brutally tortured and treated like breeding stock. However, after three seasons, The Handmaid’s Tale shocked viewers by expanding its scope beyond Gilead’s border and revisited characters whose story arcs had languished as June squandered several escape attempts in favor of staying close to her daughter Hannah.
June tried in earnest to flee Gilead twice before the birth of her daughter Nichole, determined that her second child not be indoctrinated into the patriarchal hierarchy. As her character evolved from a compliant Handmaid to a resistance fighter, June refused to leave Gilead, trying to save Hannah while attempting to dismantle Gilead from within. Viewers and critics alike grew frustrated with The Handmaid’s Tale’s gratuitous violence and the increasing implausibility of June’s storyline. June’s repeated attempts to get Hannah back were thwarted until the girl’s new family relocated to parts unknown and well beyond June’s reach.
Throughout the first three seasons, several key characters managed to escape Gilead, and the series briefly explored how they were still haunted by the trauma they endured and the guilt they suffered over the loved ones they left behind. The Handmaid’s Tale season 4 shifted its focus from June’s survival to her fight for justice. The show fulfilled its promise of long-awaited reunions, and friends, families, and adversaries discovered that it didn’t mean they were free just because they made it across the border. Here is every character who has escaped from Gilead.
Although June thought her husband Luke was dead, she learned in season 1, episode 6, that Luke was still alive, and episode 7, “The Other Side,” shows how he got out of Gilead. An injured Luke encountered former Army soldier Zoe, who was smuggling a small group of people out of Gilead. She treated Luke’s gunshot wound, and he traveled with them to Maine, planning to catch a boat back to Boston while the others fled north. Zoe convinced Luke he had a better chance of getting Hannah and June out of Gilead from Canada by showing him the dead bodies of those who dared to fight back. As the group boarded the boat, Guardians attacked, killing Zoe, but Luke escaped. The end of the episode revealed he was living in an area of Toronto, Canada, known as Little America.
Erin is a young woman rescued from a high school gym in South Carolina by Zoe and her U.S. Army unit. Erin was one of many kidnapped women as part of Gilead’s efforts to accumulate fertile women to become Handmaids. The Aunts’ cruel treatment left Erin so traumatized she refused to speak. She didn’t trust Luke at first, but after they survived the attack on the boat, they shared an apartment in Little America. She was last seen in Handmaid’s Tale season 3, episode 2, “Mary and Martha.”
Moira Strand made her first escape attempt while she and June were still at the Red Center which ended with Guardians capturing June as Moira boarded a train for Boston. The two reunited in episode 8, “Jezebels,” when June discovered Moira had been caught and was forced to choose between prostitution or facing certain death working in the Colonies. June returned to Jezebels and reminded Moira that she promised they would find Hannah and told her friend not to give up. Later, Moira killed a Commander and, disguised as a deliveryman, drove off in a van. In episode 10, “Night,” she arrived at a farm on foot and, after seeing a license plate, realized she’d made it to Canada, where she reunited with Luke.
Emily Malek And Nichole
After becoming the enigmatic Commander Lawrence’s Handmaid, Emily Malek was spared enduring ritualized rape, but not the cruelty of Aunt Lydia, whom Emily stabbed and nearly beat to death. Emily believed Lawrence was going to turn her in, but instead, he had arranged for her to escape, having too much respect for her intelligence and contributions to society pre-Gilead to see her on the Wall.
As conditions in the Waterford home deteriorated for June and Serena, Nick, Rita, and a network of Marthas facilitated not only June’s escape but also Nichole’s. June and Emily arrived at a rendevous point, and June handed Nichole over to Emily, who was whisked away to the border during the season 2 finale. In the season 3 premiere, Emily was forced to cross a freezing river with Nichole in her arms. When she made it to the other side, the Canadian police offered Emily asylum.
Serena Joy Waterford
Once Serena realized Fred’s ambition surpassed his desire to get Nichole back, Serena turned to Mark Tuello for help. Serena helped to lure Fred over the border, where he was immediately arrested as a war criminal during season 3, episode 11, “Liars.” Tuello also took Serena into custody, but Serena would go free and have a chance to be a mother to Nichole in return for her cooperation. Serena’s escape from Gilead made her a traitor, guaranteeing that she could be imprisoned, executed, sent to the Colonies, or made a Handmaid if she were ever to return. Her plan didn’t allow for the possibility that Fred would, after he learned of her betrayal, turn on his wife, taking her down with him. Fred’s death at the hands of June and the other former Handmaids in the season 4 finale has left Serena’s future uncertain.
Rita Blue And 86 Gilead Children
In her biggest act of defiance, June orchestrated the escape of 86 children from Gilead during the season 3 finale. Under the cover of darkness, the women and children traveled from the Lawrence home to the airport, where a plane was waiting. June stayed behind to ensure the mission was a success, entrusting Rita Blue with the task of making sure all of the children made it on board. In the season 4 premiere, Tuello revealed to Fred and Serena that in addition to the 86 children, nine Martha’s (including Rita) had arrived in Canada.
June traveled to Chicago hoping to join the resistance, but Gilead bombed the city, paving the way for Moira, who returned as part of a humanitarian mission in season 4, episode 6, “Vows” to finally get June out of the country that considered her public enemy number one. After June once again refused to leave without Hannah, who no longer recognized her mother, Moira convinced June Hannah would be safer with June gone. Moira snuck her onto the NGO boat endangering the lives of everyone on board. However, they were able to get past Gilead soldiers without them recognizing June, and after seven years as a Handmaid, June finally made it to Canada.
Aunt Irene And The Women In June’s Support Group
In addition to many of The Handmaid Tale’s central characters who escaped Gilead, June encountered others who fled the country and found safety in its neighbor to the north. Some, like the former Handmaids who comprised June’s support group, were deserving of their freedom. Others, like Aunt Irene, who betrayed Emily, were not (The circumstances precipitating their arrivals in Canada weren’t disclosed.) With The Handmaid’s Tale renewed for season 5, fans are hopeful that Janine and Esther Keyes will make it out of Gilead as well.
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