The Handmaid’s Tale season 3 recap ahead of brutal new episodes airing in UK

UK fans of The Handmaid’s Tale finally have new episodes to enjoy.

The fourth run of the acclaimed drama series begins on Channel 4 on Sunday with Elisabeth Moss once again reprising her role as June Osborne aka Offred.

The series tackles a chilling dystopian future where a Far-Right religious sect has seized control of America to create the new Republic of Gilead.

With fertility an issue in this future, the fertile women are used as ‘handmaids’ to deliver children to the men of the political elite and their wives.

If you are a fan of the show, you may be wondering what happened in the previous season which aired back in 2019.

So, with spoilers for the third season in mind, beware of what comes next if you have not seen those episodes!

The Handmaid’s Tale season 3 recap

Despite June having helped her baby Nichole escape with fiery handmaid Emily ( Alexis Bledel ) at the end of the second season, she elected to remain in Gilead as she did not want to leave behind her older daughter Hannah from her marriage to Luke (O-T Fagbenle)- who now lived with an adopted family from Gilead’s elite.

June (Elisabeth Moss) embarks on a bold mission with unexpected consequences

June asks the sympathetic Gilead politician Commander Lawrence ( Bradley Whitford ) – who had helped Emily and Nichole escape – to help her visit Hannah. June meets with Hannah but is recaptured and returned to Commander Fred Waterford (Joseph Fiennes) and his estranged wife Serena Joy Waterford (Yvonne Strahovski) who had also helped in the escape.

The Waterfords blame the whole debacle on Emily, but Serena tells Fred what she did before attempting suicide by burning the house down until June saves her life.

June later goes to live with Commander Lawrence, becoming his handmaid, Ofjoesph. In the Lawrence household, June joins an underground resistance cell consisting of house employees, with Lawrence and his wife’s knowledge and help.

Aunt Lydia guards June in a scene from season three
Aunt Lydia guards June in a scene from season three

Becoming further entrenched in the resistance, June recruits further new captive women to the cause.

She is later reunited with former lover Nick ( Max Minghella ) who is now a commander and the Waterfords, attempting to make Fred reconcile with Serena who remains distant and suicidal.

Meanwhile, Emily and Nichole arrived in Canada and June’s husband Luke and friend Moira (Samira Wiley) take in Nichole. Emily reunites with her wife Sylvia and their son Oliver.

Soon the Waterfords use June to secure a meeting for them in Canada to see Nichole, but they do not get her back. However, Serena smuggles a tape from June to Luke -telling him the circumstances of Nichole’s birth and the name she gave her – Holly. Meanwhile, Serena is offered a chance to defect but instead returns to Gilead with her own satellite phone.

The Waterfords' quest to have a child backfires on them spectacularly
The Waterfords’ quest to have a child backfires on them spectacularly

Returning to Gilead, the Waterfords use June to broadcast their daughter’s ‘kidnapping’ and try to pressure the Canadian government to return Nichole.

The diplomatic crisis continues with Gilead causing international debate surrounding the child, while June discovers Nick had been a crusader for Gilead in its early days and committed war crimes.

After having been told Hannah’s school location by Serena, June tries to see her daughter but is continually met with obstacles until Hannah is relocated and even Commander Lawrence does not know where she is.

High Commander Winslow ( Christopher Meloni) pays a visit to handmaids
High Commander Winslow ( Christopher Meloni) pays a visit to handmaids

After a trip to Washington and meeting with High Commander Winslow, the Waterfords have high hopes for their advancement and also regaining Nichole. The implementation of muzzling handmaids is decided by Gilead in all districts, while Serena realises they are being used by Winslow and he won’t help them get Nichole.

To convince Gilead’s high command of Lawrence and his wife Eleanor’s loyalty, June and they participate in the sexual “ceremony”. Lawrence also agrees to help June smuggle children out of Gilead.

During a trip to the brothel Jezebels with Lawrence to meet a contact who can help them, June is almost raped by a visiting Winslow but she manages to kill him. The women in the brothel help cover up the murder and burn the body.

Serena Joy Waterford
Serena betrayed Fred in order to get to Nichole in Canada – but this backfired on her too

Meanwhile, the Waterfords arrange with USA representative Mark Tuello to discuss Nichole but are led into a trap in Canada and Fred is arrested for war crimes. In detention, Serena soon reveals that she helped secure their capture so she could see Nichole.

In a meeting with Luke and Moira, Serena gets to see Nichole, while Luke punches Fred because of what he’s done to June.

Back in Gilead, Eleanor Lawrence almost accidentally exposes the plan to smuggle the children to safety to her friends, causing June to scold her. Eleanor attempts suicide and June discovers this but lets her die from her overdose instead.

June managed to help the children escape to Canada
June managed to help the children escape to Canada

June and her resistance cell go ahead with the plan to smuggle children to safety out of Gilead, with many going to the Lawrence household. They soon head to the airport.

Meanwhile, Fred exposes Serena’s own complicity in Gilead’s crimes, prompting her to be detained the same as him after having previously been allowed to freely roam Canada and see Nichole.

At the airport, June along with the handmaids Janine, Alma, Brianna, Beth and Sienna cause a distraction so that their ally Rita can escape with the children on a plane.

June was carried away by her fellow handmaids in the final moments of the season
June was carried away by her fellow handmaids in the final moments of the season

Arriving in Canada with the children, Rita tells Luke that June is responsible for saving them.

Finally, back in Gilead, June gets into a scuffle with a soldier and is shot.

She is later found by other handmaids who then proceed to carry her out of a forest with a cloak.

Will June survive?

The Handmaid’s Tale season 4 begins on Channel 4 at 9pm on Sunday.

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