WTF Just Happened in 'The Handmaid's Tale' Season 3 Finale?!

Praise Be, June's plan actually worked.

Warning! Spoilers ahead for The Handmaid’s Tale Season 3 finale.

The Season 3 finale of The Handmaid’s Tale, aptly titled “Mayday,” had plenty of surprises, the biggest one being that June’s plan actually worked. There was a lot of potential for failure (everyone remembers the attempted escape in early Season 2, right?) and the stakes were extremely high. While everything that could go wrong actually did, the plan miraculously succeeded.

However, with all actions come consequences. June was shot to guarantee the children’s safe passage and there were plenty of Marthas and Handmaids left behind even after the plane carrying the 52 kids took off. Oh, and one of the most shocking twists ultimately came when Fred outed Serena to Tuello. So, let’s break down the major plot twists, shall we?

The Handmaid's Tale Season 3 Finale
June rallies the Marthas to help the 52 children escape.

June’s the Boss Now

After a long period of radio silence, Mayday came back into play in a major way. We speculated last week that Commander Lawrence suspected June had played a part in Eleanor’s death. However, that proved to be a moot point in the finale. On the verge of the plan going awry after a Martha was caught fleeing in fear, Lawrence threatened to shut the entire operation down. But June refused to admit defeat, not after everything she’d done to help get the children out of Gilead. After all, they were so close to freedom. Why turn back now?

Meanwhile, Lawrence tried to put his foot down and even attempted to pull the “this is my house” card, but June wasn’t having it (and she had a gun). “You really think this is still your house?” Ouch. It’s a major blow to Lawrence, but he knows June’s right. She is the boss now and continued to be throughout the finale, leading the children, Marthas, and Handmaids to the approved meeting spot. She also took one for the team when they were blocked by one of Gilead’s soldiers at the fence, coming up with a plan to distract him while Rita led the children to the plane. “To the ruthless go the spoils,” June said in her opening voice-over. And for once, June’s ruthlessness actually worked in her favor.

Serena Waterford The Handmaid's Tale Season 3 Episode 5 Unknown Caller
Serena really thought she'd finally gotten what she wanted.

Serena Was Finally Arrested for Her Crimes

For most of The Handmaid’s Tale Season 3, Serena Waterford continued being a villain that often blurred the lines between good and bad. Was she someone worthy of sympathy or was she a woman capable of horrific things?

Well, the penultimate episode, “Sacrifice,” broke that spell and maintained how manipulative she could be when she sacrificed Fred to the Canadian government and made a deal behind his back. She made it clear that she traded her rights to be with Nichole and, with Mark Tuello on her side, she was working toward becoming a free woman once again.

Everything changed, however, when Fred revealed to Tuello that all of Serena’s choices in Gilead were not necessarily made under duress or the threat of violence. Much like the audience, Serena was shocked that she was finally being arrested for her voluntary crimes against June (for forcing Nick to rape her to conceive Nichole). Looks like Serena shouldn’t have gotten too comfortable with her legal immunity after all.

The Handmaid’s Tale Season 3 finale packed an emotional punch and was satisfying in a way several episodes of the season weren’t. While there were plenty of plot threads left hanging (and which will likely be explored in Season 4), the season ended on a rather uplifting note — at least by the deeply depressing show’s own standards.


The Handmaid’s Tale Season 3 is available to stream on Hulu.

Media via Hulu, Sophie Giraud/Hulu, Hulu/TV Promos