‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ Explores Trauma and Questionable Choices in ‘Testimony’
[Warning: The below contains MAJOR spoilers for The Handmaid’s Tale Season 4, Episode 8 “Testimony.”]
June (Elisabeth Moss) testifies to the horrors inflicted upon her in Gilead by Fred and Serena Waterford (Joseph Fiennes and Yvonne Strahovski) in the June 2 episode of The Handmaid’s Tale, but you might be surprised by who’s on whose side by the end of it.
After all, did you expect the Waterfords to have any support in Canada? They do. Did you expect June and her best friend Moira (Samira Wiley) to be at odds over the support group for those who escaped Gilead? They are.
June vs. Moira
While Moira is focused on healing, June encourages the others in the group to feel their anger — and to stay longer after a session is over, seemingly taking over. Is June seemingly gearing up for another fight because it’s the right thing to do or because that’s what she’s known all this time?
“I think both of those things, but I think more it’s illustrating that this kind of trauma has a million paths forward,” Miller tells TV Insider. “Moira and June, having been very compatible people, had very similar lives [and] have come out of this so differently. That’s what I was trying to underline, the fact that, trying to be super careful not to diminish anybody’s experience with trauma, you want to show that there are different experiences and they’re all valid and there are many, many ways through this terrible post-trauma journey.”
“Can Moira support her friend June through a very different path than she took? [That] is really interesting because I think Moira’s been able to see other refugees through a good process, others who had different processes than she has,” he continues. “But it’s different when you’re best friends and not only does she want her to get well, but she wants her to be a good person. Moira is definitely seeing how hard her road has been. It’s not easy to look at your friend going through that.”
The Truth Comes Out
June has quite a bit to say in this episode, beginning with testifying in a courtroom. (“You got one of the greatest actresses of our generation doing a three-page speech,” Fagbenle notes.) While she didn’t want her husband to attend, he did and thinks they’ll be able to move on as a result.
“Having truthful discussions with the ones you love is kind of fundamental to having intimate relations with them,” Fagbenle explains. “So for their relationship to move forward, there had to be some kind of revelatory talking or experience between them.”
June also, presumably, tells Luke the truth about the last time she saw their daughter, Hannah, who had been scared of her, at the end of the episode. “Luke lives with the knowledge that the worst tortures are put upon people in Gilead and that his daughter is not immune to such torture,” Fagbenle says. “And so it’s hard for him to hear, but he is prepared for the worst.”
Support for the Waterfords?!
In perhaps the most shocking scene of the episode, Fred and Serena have support in Canada.
“He knew that they were capable of gaining this power, wherever they are,” Jaeger, whose character has a complicated relationship with Serena, says. “We’re very fallible creatures. If someone says something convincingly, there’s a lot of us that will be convinced. And there are few characters on our show more convincing than Fred Waterford.”
Lydia Loses Control
Lydia does get back at an aunt who has been bothering her, by (accidentally) tasing her. But there’s zero satisfaction in that for Dowd’s character.
“She’s screwed. A handmaid is one thing — you can make a case — but not an aunt,” Dowd explains. “What good came from that? None. In fact, you’ve made a lot more problems for yourself. She knows all about control and she didn’t keep it.”
The Handmaid’s Tale, Wednesdays, Hulu