The Handmaid’s Tale Season 4 Episode 4 Milk Recap
We are headed right into The Handmaid’s Tale Season 4 Episode 4. If you want to get caught up check out our previous recaps and reviews.
As The Handmaid’s Tale Season 4 Episode 4 starts June and Janine are on the run and June is keeping Janine’s shit together by telling her they are going to follow the train tracks. As they enter a train yard its clear Janine wants to go to Boston and June wants to keep traveling west to Chicago. Janine doesn’t love that plan.
The two make a run for the train car that has an open lid. Inside the car seems to be about eight feet of milk. I really don’t get this decision. June jumps in and starts swimming in the milk (what is going on). Janine is next. They are both cold and wet now which seems like a pretty terrible combination.
Quietly they allow themselves to be sealed up as the train car starts. It is claustrophobic and terrifying. Generally this scene is beautifully shot to perfectly capture the confines of the car. They start to drown as they desperately look for the plug that will drain the milk. Janine finds it.
Rita is kneading dough. She has baked it for Moira who has come over. Rita is looking for her sister and nephew but Moira reports they aren’t in any refugee camp. Moira mentioned the Catholics are good at forging documents so they might be living under assumed names. Moira also mentions that Serena wants to talk. This is bullshit as who gives a fuck what the Waterfords think about anything.
Its Rita’s choice and she is a good person so its not a surprise when she shows up at Serena’s cell. The episode is really picking up steam as Serena shows Rita an ultrasound picture and mentions that she is pregnant. They both share joy over the pregnancy. She is not telling Fred. Serena wants Rita to help raise him (What in the actual…). Serena tells Rita that she misses her. Serena says it is nice to have a friend. Rita and Serena pray.
A Train Full of Milk
Janine and June are in the train car and June is trying to keep her awake because she is worried about hyperthermia. They are REAL miserable. June is on the look out for May Day but the long story short is that she doesn’t really know what their plan should be. She is winging it.
Janine with the line of the episode and one that I will use “You can’t treat me like a mushroom”. She is sick of being kept in the dark (Get it girl). June says she is keeping her alive. Janine reflects back on the dead handmaids and brings God into it. June for obvious reasons has turned from her faith. Janine is pretty clear that June is a bad person and that she killed the handmaids despite them loving her. Gut PUNCH. She wants to know if June told the Eyes where the handmaids were. June confesses about the torture and specifically about Hannah. She admits she told them.
Janine walks to the other side of the train and June tells her she would have done the same thing. Janine says she might have done something smart. June essentially calls her dumb and says that she has to save her all the time. Janine says their current plan is stupid and reiterates that the plan caused the other handmaids to die. June is pissed and tells Janine she should have left her when she could have.
We get a flash back to Janine’s past. She seems like a pretty busy and frazzled retail worker as she has to call in because she has a doctors appointment.
The doctors appointment is actually at a Christian crisis center. They are awful terrible places that DO NOT offer actual medical care rather only moralizing young women’s decision. The counselor tries to talk her out of having an abortion in a shitty terrible bit of sophistry. Once Janine figures out what’s up she gets the hell out of dodge.
Rita and the Waterford Redemption That Never Was
Our CIA agent arrives with prep material for Rita. Serena has told her defense team that Rita will back her story that she was coerced into doing what the commander told her to do. Rita is BIG ANGRY now. Rita reminds him that she was registered property in Gilead. Woof.
Rita is now visiting Mr. Waterman (I still don’t give a shit about either of them). He inquires about her family (not good timing bro). She doesn’t want to talk about it. He tells her she is free to do what she wants. He says its nice to see a friendly face. She tells him they are not friends.
She removes the ultrasound picture and informs Fred that his family is no longer her problem and that she will pray for his son. Cold shit a long time coming. Fred looks at the photo and maybe just maybe this storyline will get interesting. Probably not though.
Chicago Sucks Yo
The train is slowing down and suddenly there is a lot of shooting and explosions all around. June tells them both that they must leave now. If someone is attacking the train then they must be friendly. You know, enemy of my enemy stuff. As they exit the train one of the rebels demands to know who they are. The rebels are raiding the train as fast as they can. The rebel guards search them and bring in Stephen. Stephen is the head of this part of the rebellion. He seems very dubious about the handmaids. June agrees to do whatever he says and he relents and takes them in. Janine remains nervous.
The rebels are in a sort of convoy and we get a look at what the bombed out shell of Chicago looks like. It ain’t pretty. I think these brief setting shots are quite effective in conveying the opposite of what Gilead stands for. It is chaotic and dirty unlike the almost sterile atmosphere of Boston.
Eventually everyone ends up back the rebel encampment. Things are not Gilead here but they aren’t much better. They are all desperately short on supplies and it becomes clear there are no free rides with this group. In fact Stephen is an asshole and once June talks to him about how they escaped and begs to stay he reminds her that this place isn’t a charity. June tells him she can be useful. He tells them they can stay but one of them needs to stay and service him. Either one is fine. June says not Janine, not ever and thus June stays.
The Handmaid’s Tale Season 4 Episode 4: Milk
June gets down on her knees and tries to do the deed as he unzips his pants. He demeans her further by saying she must be use to this. After all nothing is free (fucking gross). Meanwhile Janine goes downstairs to try and find new clothes. Stephen tells June he won’t force her but that they can just go. June can’t go through with it and confirms that they are not May Day.
She heads down stairs and tells Janine that they are leaving. Its just such a gut punch that she was made to do that. Janine knows something happened and asks if he hurt June. She tells her that its fine but they must leave. Janine tells her that June needs to change before they go. June looks for clothes and Janine eyes Stephen’s room.
We get a flashback scene where we realize that Janine wanted an abortion because she already has a son that she is raising all by herself. She puts him to bed and reads him a book. Janine was and is a good mother. Later she sits in a doctors office and this doctor is real and asks her if she is ok. The doctor asks if she wants to be pregnant and if she doesn’t that’s all she needs to know. The doctor gives her some pills and that is all she needs to do.
Rita sits down to a plate full of sushi. For real it looks good. The way this scene is shot we get just how lonely Rita is though. She sits all by herself next to a sunny window.
June changes clothes finally getting rid of the red uniform for good. There is fury, sadness, desperation all in her face as she stares at the pile of clothes on the ground. Janine returns and gives June some bread. She tells June they can stay and that Stephen isn’t that bad. June apologizes. Janine appears happy that she could contribute. It is still devastating.
Where We are Going/Where We Came From
At the end of The Handmaid’s Tale Season 4 Episode 4 I am left with a ton of questions and thoughts
- Crisis Centers are really gross. There are a number of exposes that discuss how the conduct business and I put them in about the same boat as Hell Houses (Hell Houses can be entertaining at least).
- Rita’s discussion of having to register as property reeks of the Dred Scott Decision. Perhaps the single worst court case in the history of the court. In the decision Chief Justice Taney argued Dred Scott did not have standing because he was technically chattel. Not a good look Taney, not a good look at all.
- Clearly the rebel group in Chicago is not Mayday and BTW’s Cuervo Jones wants his look back.
4. So the question that has been lurking for June and me the last few months. Now what? You are in Chicago and you have direct access to the enemy. Are we kamikazes now? Do we sacrifice ourselves in a way that helps the war effort? Was it worth it? June is still acting terrible and this decision feels half baked.
5. The Waterfords still suck. REALLY bad. This part of the storyline slows EVERYTHING down. Its like the opposite of momentum and I am slightly concerned there storyline will become the dominant one and well that just will be a boring path to go down.
Maybe a glimmer of hope with The Handmaid’s Tale Season 4 Episode 4. However when it comes to hope The Handmaids Tale often couples despair with these glimmers of hope. I guess we will see just how bad things are on the war front with the next episode titled Chicago.
Tyler has been the editor in chief of Signal Horizon since its conception. He is also the Director of Monsters 101 at Truman State University a class that pairs horror movie criticism with survival skills to help middle and high school students learn critical thinking. When he is not watching, teaching or thinking about horror he is the Director of Debate and Forensics at a high school in Kansas City, Missouri.