The Handmaid’s Tale’s fourth season has come to a dramatic conclusion.
The hit dystopian drama, an adaptation of Margaret Atwood’s novel of the same name, aired the 10th and final episode of its latest season in the US last night (15 June).
UK viewers will have to wait until next week to tune into the latest season, which will begin airing weekly beginning 20 June on Channel 4.
Spoilers for season four below!
Fans rejoiced to see Fred Waterford, the sadistic commander played by Joseph Fiennes, finally meet his demise.
After learning that Fred has evaded prison by becoming a government informant, June (Elisabeth Moss) and her allies implement a bait and switch.
Instead of heading to greener pastures, Fred will be returned to Gilead where he will be punished under the same draconian system that he helped construct to inflict misery upon its women.
The final scenes, however, show that Fred is not turned over to Gilead but to June herself.
In a scene that has been described by viewers on social media as both “harrowing” and “satisfying”, women suddenly come out of the dense woods to enact their revenge on Fred.
Audiences last see Fred’s lifeless body strung up on a wall, with his severed finger put in an envelope addressed to his wife Serena (Yvonne Strahovski).
Speaking about his character’s death to The New York Times, Fiennes said he “went straight to the makeup trailer and off came Fred’s beard so I could begin the process of shedding the horror”.
The actor said he was “thrilled” to have Fred’s death play out in the finale, stating: “I think it’s great for the audience to have that catharsis.”
Fiennes revealed that during the revenge scene, in which he was beaten by the women, he was “padded up so people could let rip and throw the boot in”, adding that “it was genuinely quite terrifying”.
Describing his character, Fiennes called Fred “an ugly, pathetic, misogynist monster that will never change”.
“I felt like Fred wouldn’t redeem himself in the way that we want to see in movies,” he said.
Speaking about Moss’s character, who ends the season holding her baby following the revenge scene, Fiennes added: “I think June is a different woman, much to the horror of Luke” and that “she is the product of Gilead now”.
The Handmaid’s Tale showrunner Bruce Miller spoke to Variety about the shocking finale and suggested that Fred’s death may not be the game-changing moment it appears to be.
“Sometimes we think if X happens, everything will be all right: ‘Once Trump is gone, once the pandemic is over, things will be fine.’ But life doesn’t work that way,” he said.
Discussing the physical attack on Fred, Miller said: “Our rule of thumb is always to show only enough so that you can actually feel what June feels.”
UK viewers will be able to watch the first episode of The Handmaid’s Tale season four on Channel 4 on 20 June at 9pm.