June's Shelter In 'Handmaid's Tale' Season 2 Is A Major Symbol Of America's Dysfunction
There are spoilers for Season 2, Episodes 1-2 of The Handmaid's Tale ahead. The Handmaid's Tale Season 2 pulled a cruel fast one on audiences, reversing the hopeful cliffhanger ending from Season 1 with one of the most horrific scenes in the series thus far. However, after enduring a punishing series of tortures, all hope is not lost, and our hero is on the run again. Where did June escape to on The Handmaid's Tale?
Just because getting in the back of a truck without asking questions means you aren't getting rescued and you're part of Aunt Lydia's latest plan to be as evil and extra as possible, doesn't mean you shouldn't try, try again. At the end of the first episode, June follows a lead and actually escapes this time from the hospital, where she meets Nick in some kind of abandoned warehouse.
When asked where they are, Nick answers "Back Bay" — a neighborhood in Boston that is (or was, in the case of Gilead) affluent and known mostly for shopping and fancy brownstones. It's a large area, so mostly this information just serves to tell us that they haven't gone too far. This wasn't the only Boston landmark/name drops in the episode, actually. Logan International airport is featured in Emily's flashback. The afore-alluded to hanging scene took place in what used to be Fenway Park. It's a chilling reminder of the past, and maybe even a way to remind the audience that Gilead doesn't take place too far outside the realm of our own world today.
Then, in Episode 2, June relocates to another recognizable and abandoned locale in Beantown — the former offices of The Boston Globe. The exact location is uncertain, as IRL the Globe moved to a new office in downtown Boston just last year after having been headquartered for years in Dorcester, Massachusetts. It's unclear as to when The Handmaid's Tale exactly takes place, even though it often feels like it could be tomorrow.
June is still not out of Boston, and this new location provides a harrowing look at how the Sons of Jacob massacred members of the media when they took over the government. They didn't even try to repurpose the building. June may have escaped the Waterfords and Aunt Lydia, but she can't escape the truth of this dystopian world.
All of this, the warehouse in Back Bay and the abandoned free press, is presumably part of the "Underground Femaleroad," which is mentioned briefly in the epilogue of Margaret Atwood's novel The Handmaid's Tale. Two centuries after Gilead fell (praise be in a major way), Atwood writes of students studying a series of cassette tapes found in Bangor, Maine that detail June's story. According to the chapter, Bangor was part of the Femaleroad, which was run by Quakers. The Mayday underground, as a matter of fictional fact, was connected but not actually the same thing in Atwood's text. In the book, Moira also describes the underground tactics by which she almost escaped before being sent to Jezebel's, making it as far as Salem and then Maine before she was caught.
Will June have better luck in The Handmaid's Tale? The source material alleges that she ultimately made it out, so it's possible. So far, she's at least had a break from life as a Handmaid in the first two episodes of Season 2. Though, if the first episode proves anything, the other young women are certainly paying for her departure. While upsetting, it is interesting to see what the Republic of Gilead has done with Boston and other parts of the country. Hopefully June's journey continues and we're able to see more of her escape through this broken world.