It's been a long wait for season four of The Handmaid's Tale, but the dystopian drama will finally return for UK fans tomorrow night on Channel 4.
When we last caught up with June/Offred, she'd managed to board all of the children out of Gilead and into Canada before being shot in a scuffle with a Gilead soldier and carried to safety by her fellow handmaidens.
With season four's premiere set to carry on from season three's gripping cliffhanger, I'm sure we're all eager to find out whether June makes a full recovery and manages to escape Gilead once again to join her family.
Judging by critics' reactions, the long wait for season four was worth it, while the drama's executive producer described the new series as "patience rewarded" – so make sure to avoid all of the internet spoilers until tomorrow night!
Make sure to check out our The Handmaid's Tale season 4 review and read on for everything you need to know before the current series (and there are no season four spoilers here!).
When is The Handmaid's Tale season 4's UK release date?
CONFIRMED: The Handmaid's Tale season four will debut on Channel 4 on Sunday 20th June at 9pm.
The Handmaid's Tale season four began on Hulu in the US on 28th April. However, the first three episodes debuted a day early on the Disney-owned streamer, in a surprise move for fans.
Channel 4 previously confirmed that UK viewers can catch up with Offred's journey on All 4, prior to the June release date.
Unfortunately, The Handmaid's Tale season four premiere was pushed back to 2021 due to the coronavirus pandemic, after it was originally planned for autumn 2020.
Whitford confirmed in late August 2020 that production was restarting, but only after a mandatory "hardcore" two-week quarantine period for everyone involved.
The Handmaid's Tale season 4 trailer
Hulu released a trailer for season four, with lots of exciting hints about what's to come. We see June in a yellow jumper and blue baseball cap, rather than her red handmaid's dress, and we hear talk of the resistance over the radio. Everything suggests this is the series in which June's fight back ramps up.
This trailer is the follow-up to the first season four teaser, which showed us that June is still alive, despite being shot last season, and is ready to rescue more children from Gilead's oppressive regime.
"We're just getting started," a determined June says in the trailer as she attempts to round of a crew of handmaidens to wage war on the country.
It looks as if Aunt Lydia is prepared to put up a fight though, with her declaring June "beyond redemption" in the trailer.
What will happen in The Handmaid's Tale season 4?
Inspired by Margaret Atwood's novel of the same name, The Handmaid's Tale is set in a dystopian future version of the United States and centres around Gilead, a totalitarian society where women are forced to become "handmaids" and bear children for its leaders.
**Spoilers ahead for The Handmaid's Tale season 3**
At the end of season three, June (Elisabeth Moss) managed to help a group of children escape Gilead by plane, but was seriously wounded in the process and carried away by her fellow handmaids at the end of the final episode.
Serena Joy also conned her husband Fred Waterford into travelling to Canada to be charged for war crimes — but in response, he exposed her own wicked deeds (and in the process revealed that Nichole isn't his biological daughter, her real father is Nick).
From the trailer, it looks as though season four will continue to follow the rising resistance in Gilead, while also delving into the devastating fallout for the Waterfords.
Fans shouldn't expect June's story to come to an end with the upcoming series however, as the show is returning for a fifth season, throwing uncertainty on whether June will actually make it out of Gilead and into the safe territory of Canada.
However, the show's star Elisabeth Moss did recently hint at June's eventual escape, telling The Times that the dystopian drama "can't keep June in this place where she's tortured all the time", adding: "It's boring."
With the state of Gilead being turned upside down by June's revolutionary efforts, season four isn't looking good for Aunt Lydia (Ann Dowd).
Speaking on This Morning, Ann Dowd said that Lydia has "got a lot to prove".
"The Commanders cannot wait to place blame on anyone but themselves and Lydia of course, is front and centre to receive that blame and I’m sure she blames herself," she said.
"How could she have missed this? She had all the signs that the girls were acting strangely. I knew that June was up to something and yes, I did not act. So yes, I think she’s got a lot to prove."
Series creator Bruce Miller also hinted at a potentially unhappy fate for heroine June. Speaking to TV Guide, he said: "All the people in Toronto are showing us what June has waiting for her if she does ever get out. You're kind of telling those stories of possible routes for June, but it's not all going to be sunshine and lollipops.
"We are following June, and June lives in Gilead, and Gilead is not a nice place. And it will continue to be not a nice place. And we try to be very realistic about what would probably happen and how things work."
It also sounds like June's husband, Luke (O-T Fagbenle), will seek revenge on Fred Waterford, his wife's rapist. The actor said of his character to Express, “Oh, I think his hope is increasing. I think, more than ever before, there are signs of cracks in the wall of Gilead." He later added: “And he’s ready to smash through that — if he could muster a way.”
Whitford, has also hinted that he had no idea which side his character would "land" on, in an interview with TV Line.
"Lawrence is clearly conflicted, and the reason he’s able to be conflicted I think is because of Eleanor, his wife — and Julie Dretzin, by the way, was just, like, absolutely perfect… I really don’t know where he’s going to land. I honestly don’t. I’m not trying to be cute, and I have a sense that Bruce isn’t sure either, and that just makes it more terrifying for June."
Will season 4 be the final season of The Handmaid's Tale?
Speaking at the Television Critics Association press tour, executive producer Warren Littlefield implied that several more seasons of The Handmaid's Tale could be on the way. Series five has already been confirmed.
"We have not planned season four to be the end, but we also look to Margaret [Atwood]'s book The Testaments and know that that story takes us 15 years into the future," he told TV Guide. "We don't see ending it in [Season 4], and I can honestly say to you, we don't have a definitive out. But I think we want to keep the bar high, and it would not be a bad thing to leave the audience wanting more and then we could ideally shift into The Testaments."
Who's in the cast for The Handmaid's Tale season 4?
It's not yet confirmed which of the original cast will return, but it seems likely that we'll see central cast members reprise their roles - including Elisabeth Moss as June.
Although she suffered a potentially lethal wound during the season three finale, the trailer for season four reveals that June is in fact alive and ready to continue her mission of rescuing the children of Gilead.
Jospeh Fiennes, Yvonne Strahovski, Samira Wiley, Alexis Bledel, Max Minghella, O-T Fagbenle, Amanda Brugel and Bradley Whitford are to set to return as well as Ann Dowd who plays a terrifying Aunt Lydia.
We also have a brand new recurring cast member: McKenna Grace (The Haunting of Hill House) as Mrs. Keyes, the intelligent teenage wife of a much older Commander, according to Deadline, who uses her calm and pious exterior to mask "turmoil, even insanity, on the inside".
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Why are there delays to The Handmaid's Tale season 4?
Prior to the coronavirus pandemic, The Handmaid's Tale had already faced delays which had seen it move down the calendar from summer to autumn.
Speaking to Digital Spy about the initial delay, Moss revealed: "Part of the reason why it's taken a little bit longer, besides just timing, is that we are making it a bit of a bigger season this year. We're really stretching the limits of our capabilities, production wise, and we're on the move a lot."
She added: "We're not sitting in a studio between four walls very much, so it really is a bigger season and that's taken a little [longer]. I've been in Toronto since mid-January prepping."
These delays in combination with the halt in production caused by the coronavirus pandemic have pushed series four to 2021.
The Handmaid’s Tale season four was released in the US on 28th April, on Hulu. Channel 4 will broadcast the drama in the UK in June. While you’re waiting, take a look at the rest of our Drama coverage, or check out what else is on with our TV guide.