'The Handmaid’s Tale' Season 3 Finale: Why It Ended The Way It Did

The Handmaid's Tale, Season 3, Hulu, Joseph Fiennes, Yvonne Strahovski, Samira Wiley, Alexis Bledel, Ann Dowd, Max Minghella, Madeline Brewer, O-T Fagbenle, Amanda Brugel and Bradley Whitford, Elisabeth Moss.

Elisabeth Moss as June Osborne in Hulu's 'The Handmaid's Tale'.

Photo Courtesy of Hulu.

This article contains spoilers.

The third season of Hulu’s The Handmaid’s Tale centered around Elisabeth Moss’ June Osborne and her resistance to the extremely cruel dystopian regime of Gilead. Fans finally got to see her fight back and win, though the win may not have come in the form fans wanted.

The 13th and final episode of season three, entitled “Mayday,” ended in such a way as to set up what will surely be an incredibly intense, nail-biting fourth season. No, June doesn't escape. She is shot by one of Gilead's guards but not before she and a few Marthas and Handmaids stayed behind to distract him by throwing rocks at him as dozens of children (more than the 52 originally expected), Marthas and Handmaids made it to the waiting plane.

Yes, we wanted to see June finally escape Gilead but her goal was to hurt her prison more than to escape its horrors, explains show creator Bruce Miller. His love of the 1985 dystopian novel by Canadian author Margaret Atwood was the catalyst for the show we can’t stop bingeing and analyzing. The story he brought from the page to the small screen has now gone well past the book and he has reasons for every decision made.

“By helping all the children and Marthas and Handmaids escape, she was trying to hurt Gilead. She’s punching back and she’s stubborn as f**k,” says Miller. “But she couldn’t step foot on that plane without her daughter, Hannah. This wasn’t about her saving herself, she’s in I am going to hurt Gilead mode.”

This season was about what it means to be a rebel and a hero in the real world. “June was going to be that one special person to save the world,” says Miller of how the season ended. “What I was trying to do with June was show that being a hero in the real world is messy and she was going to experience mostly failures, and in the end, when she does have a huge success, it comes at a cost we cannot even begin to fathom. She was going to be knocked on her ass many times but she keeps getting up. And then, she gets knocked down again.”

It was, in many ways, the perfect ending to an overall incredibly brave and suspenseful season. Leaving June, as well as a handful of her helping Handmaids in Gilead, is actually perfect. They're now in a position to take Gilead down from the inside out. And, with Commander Lawrence still there, can you imagine the underground army they can now form? It could easily be assumed by Gilead's regime that June and the remaining Handmaids did, in fact, escape. They could have a new kind of power in being invisible.

With guidance from Commander Lawrence, who can help them pull the right puppet strings, a new and stronger network of Marthas and Handmaids can do some serious damage from this potentially hidden place. With a bird’s eye view, total destruction of a wounded Giladean government is possible in a way only achievable from the inside. As Miller points out, “June shot and killed the only guard that could say otherwise.”

Bottom line, June couldn't leave just yet. The story Miller and the writers aimed to tell this season is that you cannot snap your fingers and change the world. “It’s a slow and steady process but June is trying to change things,” Miller explained.

A story this deeply tangled takes time to unravel. Miller said in past interviews that season one was about surviving versus living and season two was about motherhood. This season was about Gilead facing terrorists, resistance and revolution. What will next season bring?

Will June finally take Gilead down in season four? Will fans finally get to see June escape with her eldest daughter? “June is now a changed person. She’s had a great success at a great cost," says Miller. "She is now at a crossroads. Will she try for another success or save herself and Hannah?”

We will have to wait to see if June gets her happy ending. The writers did give fans the pleasure of seeing Commander Waterford and Serena face justice, as well as a few heart-wrenching reunions as some escaped to Canada. For those left behind, they lived the defiant prayer, “Blessed be the fight,” and fight they did.

In the meantime, Miller answered a few questions fans have been asking on social media.

Where in the heck is Nick? “He’s fighting the rebels in Chicago, but not to worry, we’ll see him next season. His character is still very important. We’re as interested as the audience is and we’ll explore their relationship more.” Miller adds how season three brought June many revelations about people in Gilead. Of course, Nick’s past as one of the architects of Gilead, was of particular significance. “He’s this person she believes is good, that she loves, and yet he’s capable of doing such horrible things. So, she wonders, if he can do horrible things and not go to hell, maybe I can, as well.” This explains why she committed many of the acts she did this season, including murder.

Does Miller feel Nick really loves June? “The relationship between them was very real. This is what makes it such a problem for Nick. This was always the reason he was so worried about her finding out his past involvement in Gilead.”

Why doesn’t anyone in Gilead have a Boston accent when it’s located within what was formerly known as Boston? “I tried to make the people sound like those I know from Boston and not all have the accent. Also, many in our cast come from other countries, such as England and Australia, so the general American accent, we felt, suited the show well.”

Why do none of the Handmaids wear glasses? “Why would they? They don’t have to read, there’s nothing for them to see. They don’t drive. They also do not wear braces.” It’s symbolic, Miller explains, of their nothingness. “When Emily gets glasses after she escaped to Canada, it was symbolic of her seeing life in blurry vision for years and now she can see in color.”

Does Commander Lawrence know June allowed his wife to die? “I think he wonders if there’s more to June than he initially thought. I can see him wondering if she did this, wondering if she tricked him in some way. This was the set up for him deciding not to go on the plane. He stays to clean up the mess. He’s a survivor and thinks he has a better chance of surviving where he can manipulate people better, especially now that Gilead is two Commanders short.”

Starring alongside Moss are Joseph Fiennes, Yvonne Strahovski, Samira Wiley, Alexis Bledel, Ann Dowd, Max Minghella, Madeline Brewer, O-T Fagbenle, Amanda Brugel and Bradley Whitford.


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This article contains spoilers.

The third season of Hulu’s The Handmaid’s Tale centered around Elisabeth Moss’ June Osborne and her resistance to the extremely cruel dystopian regime of Gilead. Fans finally got to see her fight back and win, though the win may not have come in the form fans wanted.

The 13th and final episode of season three, entitled “Mayday,” ended in such a way as to set up what will surely be an incredibly intense, nail-biting fourth season. No, June doesn't escape. She is shot by one of Gilead's guards but not before she and a few Marthas and Handmaids stayed behind to distract him by throwing rocks at him as dozens of children (more than the 52 originally expected), Marthas and Handmaids made it to the waiting plane.

Yes, we wanted to see June finally escape Gilead but her goal was to hurt her prison more than to escape its horrors, explains show creator Bruce Miller. His love of the 1985 dystopian novel by Canadian author Margaret Atwood was the catalyst for the show we can’t stop bingeing and analyzing. The story he brought from the page to the small screen has now gone well past the book and he has reasons for every decision made.

“By helping all the children and Marthas and Handmaids escape, she was trying to hurt Gilead. She’s punching back and she’s stubborn as f**k,” says Miller. “But she couldn’t step foot on that plane without her daughter, Hannah. This wasn’t about her saving herself, she’s in I am going to hurt Gilead mode.”

This season was about what it means to be a rebel and a hero in the real world. “June was going to be that one special person to save the world,” says Miller of how the season ended. “What I was trying to do with June was show that being a hero in the real world is messy and she was going to experience mostly failures, and in the end, when she does have a huge success, it comes at a cost we cannot even begin to fathom. She was going to be knocked on her ass many times but she keeps getting up. And then, she gets knocked down again.”

It was, in many ways, the perfect ending to an overall incredibly brave and suspenseful season. Leaving June, as well as a handful of her helping Handmaids in Gilead, is actually perfect. They're now in a position to take Gilead down from the inside out. And, with Commander Lawrence still there, can you imagine the underground army they can now form? It could easily be assumed by Gilead's regime that June and the remaining Handmaids did, in fact, escape. They could have a new kind of power in being invisible.

With guidance from Commander Lawrence, who can help them pull the right puppet strings, a new and stronger network of Marthas and Handmaids can do some serious damage from this potentially hidden place. With a bird’s eye view, total destruction of a wounded Giladean government is possible in a way only achievable from the inside. As Miller points out, “June shot and killed the only guard that could say otherwise.”

Bottom line, June couldn't leave just yet. The story Miller and the writers aimed to tell this season is that you cannot snap your fingers and change the world. “It’s a slow and steady process but June is trying to change things,” Miller explained.

A story this deeply tangled takes time to unravel. Miller said in past interviews that season one was about surviving versus living and season two was about motherhood. This season was about Gilead facing terrorists, resistance and revolution. What will next season bring?

Will June finally take Gilead down in season four? Will fans finally get to see June escape with her eldest daughter? “June is now a changed person. She’s had a great success at a great cost," says Miller. "She is now at a crossroads. Will she try for another success or save herself and Hannah?”

We will have to wait to see if June gets her happy ending. The writers did give fans the pleasure of seeing Commander Waterford and Serena face justice, as well as a few heart-wrenching reunions as some escaped to Canada. For those left behind, they lived the defiant prayer, “Blessed be the fight,” and fight they did.

In the meantime, Miller answered a few questions fans have been asking on social media.

Where in the heck is Nick? “He’s fighting the rebels in Chicago, but not to worry, we’ll see him next season. His character is still very important. We’re as interested as the audience is and we’ll explore their relationship more.” Miller adds how season three brought June many revelations about people in Gilead. Of course, Nick’s past as one of the architects of Gilead, was of particular significance. “He’s this person she believes is good, that she loves, and yet he’s capable of doing such horrible things. So, she wonders, if he can do horrible things and not go to hell, maybe I can, as well.” This explains why she committed many of the acts she did this season, including murder.

Does Miller feel Nick really loves June? “The relationship between them was very real. This is what makes it such a problem for Nick. This was always the reason he was so worried about her finding out his past involvement in Gilead.”

Why doesn’t anyone in Gilead have a Boston accent when it’s located within what was formerly known as Boston? “I tried to make the people sound like those I know from Boston and not all have the accent. Also, many in our cast come from other countries, such as England and Australia, so the general American accent, we felt, suited the show well.”

Why do none of the Handmaids wear glasses? “Why would they? They don’t have to read, there’s nothing for them to see. They don’t drive. They also do not wear braces.” It’s symbolic, Miller explains, of their nothingness. “When Emily gets glasses after she escaped to Canada, it was symbolic of her seeing life in blurry vision for years and now she can see in color.”

Does Commander Lawrence know June allowed his wife to die? “I think he wonders if there’s more to June than he initially thought. I can see him wondering if she did this, wondering if she tricked him in some way. This was the set up for him deciding not to go on the plane. He stays to clean up the mess. He’s a survivor and thinks he has a better chance of surviving where he can manipulate people better, especially now that Gilead is two Commanders short.”

Starring alongside Moss are Joseph Fiennes, Yvonne Strahovski, Samira Wiley, Alexis Bledel, Ann Dowd, Max Minghella, Madeline Brewer, O-T Fagbenle, Amanda Brugel and Bradley Whitford.


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