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Beginner’s Guide to The Handmaid’s Tale: Episodes to Watch Before Season 4

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One of the most acclaimed Hulu Original shows, The Handmaid’s Tale, is back for Season 4. In other words, if you’re late to the party, now is the time to join the resistance once and for all.

If you don’t have time to binge all 36 episodes, we’re breaking down the absolute must-see episodes and everything you need to know before diving in. Praise be.

What is The Handmaid’s Tale About?

Based on Margaret Atwood’s best-selling novel, The Handmaid’s Tale is set in a dystopian alternative America — the theocratic Republic of Gilead. Here, freedom is reserved only for powerful men and women are treated as second-class citizens with one purpose: to bear children.

This story centers around the handmaids, fertile women (likely “sinners”) who were captured by the government as a means to combat a widespread fertility crisis. The women are taken from their families, stripped of their identities, and forced into a life of sexual servitude.

June Osborne (Elisabeth Moss) is one of those women. Renamed Offred (“of Fred”), as all of the handmaids are named to reflect the Commander to which they belong, her story is one of war, fighting for freedom, and incredible sacrifice.

When does Handmaid’s Tale Return for Season 4?

The first three episodes of The Handmaid’s Tale Season 4 premiered on Wednesday, April 28, 2021. For the remainder of the 10-part season, one new episode will drop each week.

Read on for the ultimate The Handmaid’s Tale episode list to see which episodes we recommend binge-watching before diving into season 4. 

Must-See The Handmaid’s Tale Episodes to Watch Before Season 4

S1 Episode 1 ‘Offred’

Watch how June Osborne, a hardworking wife and mother, became Offred, a handmaid for a powerful Commander. Get a glimpse into the culture and protocols of Gilead.

S1 Episode 5 ‘Faithful’

A pivotal episode: Serena Joy (the wife of Offred’s commander), makes a desperate proposition that changes everything. Offred recalls the unconventional beginnings of her marriage.

S1, Episode 6 ‘A Woman’s Place’

The concept of Gilead is glorified to visiting world leaders. Learn about Serena’s role in the inception of the Republic.

S1, Episode 10 ‘Night’

One of the most emotional episodes yet: Serena confronts Offred and Commander Waterford. Moira (June’s best friend from childhood, now a handmaid), has a breakthrough. The handmaids unite against Aunt Lydia (more or less a handler for the handmaids).

S2, Episode 1 ‘June’

Offred faces consequences for her decisions and recalls the violent beginnings of Gilead. New friends attempt to help her.

S2, Episode 4 ‘Other Women’

Offred struggles in isolation and recalls the choices that led to her becoming a handmaid.

S2, Episode 10 ‘The Last Ceremony’

A power struggle between Offred and the Waterfords comes to a violent head. The Commander tries to make amends with Offred. WARNING: this episode contains content that may be extra sensitive for some viewers.

S2, Episode 12 ‘The Word’

Offred and Serena see eye-to-eye. The wives initiate change in Gilead. Offred faces an unimaginable decision.

S3, Episode 1 ‘Night’

June goes to new lengths to reunite with Hannah (her daughter from her pre-Gilead life). Emily (fellow handmaid) and Nichole (June’s daughter conceived in Gilead) complete a miraculous journey. June is welcomed to her new posting.

S3, Episode 5 ‘Unknown Caller’

Word spreads of Nichole’s arrival to Canada. The Waterfords make a surprising request. June finds herself in the back of a van, leading to a pivotal incident.

S3, Episode 11 ‘Liars’

The Waterfords embark on a devious road trip. A return to Jezebels jeopardizes the resistance.

S3, Episode 13 ‘Mayday’

Tensions rise as June’s season-long efforts come to a head. Canada welcomes Gilead fugitives, but what about June?

The Handmaid’s Tale Season 5

In case you need one more reason to get started on The Handmaid’s Tale, the Golden Globe® Award-winning series® has already been greenlit for season 5.

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