Handmaid’s Tale: Why June Sends Fred’s Finger To Serena Joy

June Osborne sends Commander Fred Waterford’s finger and wedding ring to his wife, Serena Joy, in The Handmaid’s Tale season 4 finale, serving as something of a warning to her. The Handmaid’s Tale season 4, episode 10, « The Wilderness, » delivered one of the show’s biggest twists to date, as June and several other Handmaids killed Commander Waterford toward the end of the finale. It closed the book on much of the show’s story since season 1, but June’s business with the Waterfords is far from over.

After Fred’s death, June sent a package to the detention center where Serena was being held, and while she didn’t open it herself, the delivery got to her, in part, in The Handmaid’s Tale season 5. Inside the package were Fred’s finger and his wedding ring. The finger served as something of a taunt. It was very evident who it came from, so June was telling Serena she murdered her husband, and there was nothing she could do about it — or, at least, that was the gauntlet being thrown down. The ring, meanwhile, highlighted just what June took from Serena, just like Serena took so much from her. In that sense it served as a warning, too: Fred is dead, making Serena’s future uncertain, but that did not mean everything was even, or that June is done with Serena, whom she hates every bit as, if not more than, Fred.

June killing Fred in the Handmaid’s Tale season 4 finale was very much about justice, revenge, and how she copes with her trauma, but it was also about her attempt to build a better future — to tear down Gilead and all of those who helped build and uphold it. Fred was a key part of that, but only one piece of the puzzle; Serena Joy is another. Taking the finger as a warning, then it means June still wants to bring down Serena Joy and is not about to let her walk free despite Fred’s death. That also works in reverse, though, as Serena, while she’ll no doubt be scared by June’s actions and know what she’s capable of, may also want her own revenge and be prepared to fight. This was echoed by showrunner Bruce Miller, who told THR, « It’s now a June-Serena thing. »

The finger is also a callback to Serena Joy’s past. As punishment for reading, Serena had one of her fingers cut off — an action in part enforced by Fred. With Fred now losing a finger because of his own crimes, there’s a sense of how that rhymes and continues the idea of things coming full circle, or « what goes around comes around. » That’s also seen with the use of « nolite et bastardes carborundorum » in season 4’s finale, which itself connected to Fred’s actions and how far June’s story has come. The finger, then, feels poetic, and perhaps there’s part of Serena that would acknowledge that herself.

In the end, the action of June sending Fred’s finger to Serena has to do with the fact that she simply wanted to show her what she’s capable of. In a conversation with Luke, June admitted that she could’ve just murdered Fred and gotten away with it without anyone knowing. Luke began to question her on this, asking why she would bother sending the finger to Serena Joy, then, if no one would have been the wiser. In The Handmaid’s Tale season 5, June answered him: « I wanted her to know it was me. »

Ultimately this has led to an across-the-border skirmish between the two women, as June finds herself at a refugee camp and Serena mourns the death of her husband while trying to persuade Lawrence to marry her and raise her baby. As a result of the finger, Serena brought June into the mix at Fred’s televised funeral. So, while June’s vengeful bloodlust was met through her violent actions, the action has had far-reaching consequences. June is just now reaping those consequences in The Handmaid’s Tale season 5, and audiences will have to wait and see how far Serena Joy goes to get back at her.