The Handmaid's Tale begins with the story of June Osborne, a woman who is clearly supposed to be your average American girl that any woman in the audience could easily relate to. But the woman that we initially meet at the beginning of the series is a far cry from the woman that June has become today. June has evolved from an ordinary woman to a legitimate rebel hero, and it's been an amazing journey every minute.
But no one instantaneously evolves like a Pokémon. June's transformation from the woman she was to the woman she's become has taken a lot of time and energy. She wouldn't be who she is now without a lot of intense and terrifying experiences, or without the choices that she's made that have formed her path through the nightmarish totalitarian world of Gilead. So, which moments were June's most badass moments so far that have made her into who she is today?
The fundamental basis of Gilead is hypocritically using the Bible in order to control, abuse, and even kill its own citizens. This bizarre religious fascism has infiltrated every aspect of Gilead society, and it's no surprise that someone like Aunt Lydia is can be one of the most simultaneously righteous and cruel people in the entire oppressive system. But one of June's most brilliant clap backs came when Aunt Lydia reminded her to remember her scripture, because "blessed are the meek". June retorts by quoting a Biblical passage that states "blessed are those that suffer for the cause of righteousness". It earned her a hit across the face, but it was worth it.
The June that we see before the rise of Gilead is drastically different from the June that we see afterward. Pre-Gilead June seems like a generally liberal but also slightly passive woman who thinks that the kind of oppression Gilead is about to bring is something that could never happen here.
But of course, it does. So after some violent and frightening indoctrination at the red center, it would be understandable if June just tried to blend in and survive. But she doesn't. She eventually tries a pretty daring escape with Moira, and even though she fails it was still something most of the other women were too afraid to do.
In case anyone was unaware, Fred is literally the worst. The abuse that he heaps upon June is intense, insane, and seems to never end. But after June sees Eden executed for her dumb teenage crush she's not willing to let sleeping dogs lie. She confronts Fred, demanding to know what he would do if they were to come for "his" daughter like that. In response, Fred slaps her across the face and tells her to watch her mouth. But finally, FINALLY, June slaps back. Hard. Hard enough to seriously injure her hand. And she even follows up the slap with a "come at me bro" stare down.
June has spent years suffering under the oppression of Gilead, but it's not until she's been in the Waterford home for a good amount of time that she decides that she'd better do something about it. And it's certainly not the most badass thing that June has ever done, but often times taking that first step is the hardest. Volunteering to transfer contraband from the Jezebels was a bold move, and it was even bolder of her to basically strong-arm Fred into taking her back there so suddenly. And of course, another face to face with Moira where she could remind her BFF to never let them grind her down was a fantastic bonus.
In a world where every word and thought seems to be managed by the rules and laws of Gilead, sometimes speaking truth to power is truly the most powerful form of rebellion that anyone can engage in. After the Mexican delegation arrives in Gilead June is forced to repeat the obvious lie that she's a willing participant in this insane system of slavery.
She beats herself up for her dishonesty even though she had no choice, but at the very last moment, she decides to choose another way. She tells the Mexican ambassador the truth. And although the ambassador horrifically does nothing, June does discover that her husband is actually alive, which she may not have if she hadn't her last-minute change of heart.
Dear god, talk about the home birth from hell. After getting stranded in the frozen vacation home of Hannah's new "parents" June is aiming to escape Gilead for good, but she ever so inconveniently goes into labor instead. With zero medication, assistance, or even comfort, June delivers Holly alone in this house. Most women would be terrified to experience something like that and undoubtedly June was too, but there is one silver lining to this harrowing experience. June dreamed of having her child outside of Gilead, and in a roundabout way she did, and she at least robbed Serena Joy of the moment of literally ripping her just-born daughter out of her arms.
June's torment within Gilead and within the walls of casa de Waterford seem to literally never end, so most people think that she'd be fleeing Gilead the very first moment she had the opportunity. But most people would be wrong. June has the opportunity to escape with Emily and baby Holly, but at the last moment, she decides not to. And there's only one reason why.
Hannah. Hannah has been June's driving force for the entire series, and June is literally willing to suffer and possibly die for the mere chance that she could find Hannah and ensure that she never has to suffer under Gilead's eye like June has.
In the criminal justice system, sexually-based offenses are considered especially heinous. And in this world, the criminal justice system is named June. June has had many satisfying moments of rebellion, but nothing has ever come even close to her absolutely destroying Commander Winslow. After evil Elliot Stabler assaults her it seems that June has finally had enough and she starts fighting back. Harder than probably June even knew she was capable of. After stabbing him seemingly dozens of times with a pen (oh, the poetic justice of that one) she finally bludgeons him to death. June is hardcore, but it will be hard to match the thrill and satisfaction of this moment ever again.
If you've managed to stop crying after the season finale of The Handmaid's Tale then congrats. June's role throughout the course of the show has transformed half a dozen times over, but nothing in the world can top the badass liberator of child slaves version of June. June has consistently demonstrated her willingness to sacrifice herself for Hannah, but now she's willing to sacrifice herself for any kid like Hannah too. There were times where it looked like things might go sideways, but June (and the rest of the Marthas and handmaids!) made sure that all of those kids would get out even if it meant that she wouldn't.