There's always been a very important distinction in The Handmaid's Tale between June (Elisabeth Moss), the quick-witted rebel, and Offred, the obedient Handmaid alter ego she must present to survive within Gilead. Now, that distinction is about to disappear.
The most recent episode of The Handmaid's Tale ended with June abandoning all hope of escape and all thoughts of rebellion after Aunt Lydia (Ann Dowd) showed her Omar's (Yahya Abdul-Mateen) dead body hanging from The Wall. She also revealed that Omar's wife had been taken as a Handmaid and her son had been ripped away from her forever. All of this death and misery was laid at June's feet, but Aunt Lydia reminded her that Offred was innocent of these crimes. June was the guilty one.
Thanks to that onslaught of anguish and her return to a life of imprisonment, June decided to follow Aunt Lydia's advice and let Offred take the wheel, so to speak. Our final shot of her is one of a totally indoctrinated Handmaid, with the phrase "We've been sent good weather" playing on loop inside her head.
So has June officially gone off the deep end? We went to executive producer Warren Littlefield for an explanation of how to interpret that chilling final moment.
"I think that June dies... We lose June," Littlefield told TV Guide. "That plucky, tough fighter voice, that wisecracking and dark wit — she's defeated."
The loss of June is going to be apparent in many ways, not just in the obvious subservience Offred will now present to the Waterfords and other citizens of Gilead. If you pay careful attention to next week's episode, you'll notice certain June-related flares are missing from the episode entirely.
"We lose voice over, we lose the character of June," Littlefield says. "We're taking away one of the characters that Elisabeth Moss plays in this series, which is kind of a high-wire tightrope walk because it is one of the characters that gives us hope. That's extinguished for a brief period of time, but not an insignificant [one]."
As for the burning question of whether June will make her return or stay this awful automaton version of Offred forever, never fear. Littlefield did give us some hope that our beloved lead will reappear eventually, it's just going to take something big to draw her back out.
New episodes of The Handmaid's Tale are released every Wednesday on Hulu.