The Handmaid’s Tale Season 1 was a somewhat faithful adaptation of Margaret Atwood’s 1985 novel of the same name. Set sometime in the "near future," the story follows a character known as Offred, a fertility slave in the nation of Gilead, where widespread infertility and religious extremism have come together to topple the US government and take over the continental United States. The show was so popular, it was then renewed, necessitating a second season and new story added, including revealing Offred’s real name: June. What happened to June in The Handmaid’s Tale Season 2?
In the original novel, June’s name is hinted at, but never directly confirmed. Her time at the Waterfords sees her get pregnant by their chauffeur, Nick, at the silent encouragement of Serena Joy Waterford, the Commander’s wife, who is desperate for the handmaid to have a baby and then leave. At the end of the novel, Offred is put inside a van and taken away, to parts unknown, either her death or perhaps an escape to Canada.
In Season 2 it is revealed the answer is neither. After all, June is pregnant, and that makes her far too valuable for anyone to hurt her. Season 2 begins with June using that space Gilead gives her to escape, only to find herself holed up somewhere in the middle of her journey, unable to get across the border to Canada.
Once captured and returned to the Waterfords, June mentally breaks for a while, accepting her fate. But it doesn’t last long. By the time she’s nearly to term with her pregnancy, she’s seen Nick married off to a teenager (by Serena Joy, to keep June and Nick apart). She’s managed to smuggle the letters written by other Handmaids to Canada, where they reveal the truth about life in Gilead to the rest of the world. And hse’s once again found her will to escape, in hopes of having her child in a free country.
But once again, her hope to get out are dashed, this time by her own body. While holed up in an abandoned house, June goes into labor, giving birth to a little girl, who she names Holly. Soon after, she’s found once more, and once again returned to the Waterfords.
However, when Serena Joy finally gets her daughter, now called Nichole, something snaps inside her. She finally realizes why June was so desperate to escape. Gilead is a place that kills women and asks questions later, even the most faithful ones like Nick’s teenage wife, even the ones born to the highest levels of society. So when June is handed a chance to escape with the baby in hand, Serena Joy blesses them both.
Except… June doesn’t leave.
To the shock of viewers everywhere, June hands the baby off to another handmaid getting out, Emily, and tell her to see the child safely to Canada. After all, June still has another daughter, Hannah, trapped in Gilead, being raised by a family that stole her, forced into a life that will never be safe. June can’t leave with Hannah.
She turns back to head home to the Waterfords, and the unknown Season 3 to come.
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