'The Handmaid's Tale': Is June's Message to Serena a Finger-for-a-Finger?

In the shocking season 4 finale of The Handmaid’s Tale, June Osbourne (Elisabeth Moss) sends Serena Joy Waterford (Yvonne Strahovski) a cryptic message in the mail. But aside from the obvious, is there a more significant meaning behind her gory gesture?

[Spoiler alert: This article contains spoilers for season 4 episode 10 of The Handmaid’s Tale.]

June gets justice in ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ season 4 finale

In The Handmaid’s Tale finale, “The Wilderness,” June is unwilling to accept the fact that Fred Waterford (Joseph Fiennes) will walk free. She sets up a meeting between Mark Tuello (Sam Jaeger) and Commander Lawrence (Bradley Whitford) and facilitates a prisoner exchange. 

Lawrence agrees to hand over 22 women that work for the Resistance in exchange for Fred’s return to Gilead. Tuello agrees, and on the day Fred is supposed to leave for Geneva, he whisks him away and tells him he’s now a prisoner of the US. 

Tuello and Lawrence make the exchange on a bridge at the Canada/Gilead border. After a brief fake protest, Lawrence hands Fred over to Nick (Max Minghella), who then brings the prisoner to a remote forest location he deems “no man’s land.”

While Fred pleads with Nick to release him, June arrives with a whistle in one hand and a gun in the other. Before Nick leaves, she gives him a passionate kiss and then asks Fred if he’d prefer the gun or whistle.

When he taunts her about not having the nerve to shoot him, she blows the whistle. Dozens of women appear in the forest, including Emily (Alexis Bledel).

After chasing Fred down, the women proceed to beat him. Later, a package containing Fred’s wedding ring and finger arrives for Serena in the mail.

Does June’s message to Serena in ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ season 4 finale have a deeper meaning?

June is presumably the one who sent Serena Fred’s finger. And while she likely sent it as a confirmation and taunt of his brutal death, some fans of The Handmaid’s Tale couldn’t help but wonder if the gesture was a callback to Fred’s brutality. 

“I haven’t seen anyone really mention this, but isn’t [it] a little funny Fred took Serena’s finger and June gave Serena Fred’s finger,” a Reddit user wondered. “Honestly, I think it’ll shock Serena, but I don’t think she will be that upset.”

“I think June did that on purpose,” another Redditor added. “If only she sent the pinky.”

The finger could be June’s way of both torturing Serena and giving her a sense of justice 

In the season 2 finale of The Handmaid’s Tale, Fred and his Commander buddies punish Serena for reading the Bible by cutting off her pinky finger. Fred, who was an abusive husband to begin with, justifies the punishment and shows very little remorse. 

Despite her hatred for Serena, June was appalled to see her go through such brutality.  So, it isn’t far-fetched to think that June sent the finger to Serena as a taunt, but also as a sentiment of justice — instead of an eye-for-an-eye, June literally made it a finger-for-a-finger. 

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