Spoiler alert: This article contains spoilers for Season 4 of The Handmaid’s Tale.
Content warning: This article covers depictions of sexual assault and abuse.
After her capture by Gilead in The Handmaid’s Tale, June Osborne (Elisabeth Moss) wanted to know what happened to Esther Keyes, and she’s not alone. Viewers also want to know what became of the new character, who made her debut in the current fourth season of the Hulu drama.
What happened to Esther Keys on 'The Handmaid's Tale'?
Viewers meet 14-year-old Esther in the Handmaid’s Tale Season 4 premiere, “Pigs,” as she agrees to host June and the other escaped Handmaids on the estate she shares with her much older husband, the ailing Commander Keyes. Esther eventually tells June about her husband’s abuse: He sexually assaulted Esther and had other men rape her, as well.
In Episode 2, “Nightshade,” June learns that Esther has been poisoning the commander with nightshade, and June learns how to use the poison to kill commanders at a nearby brothel.
But later in that episode, June is captured by Guardians loyal to Commander Nick Blaine (Max Minghella), and in Episode 3, “The Crossing,” Nick reveals to June that Esther has been captured, too. It's unclear where she, exactly, she's being held — or if like, June, she was also tortured for information.
Mckenna Grace says Esther is more mature than a typical 14-year-old.
Mckenna Grace — a young actress known for her roles in the TV shows Designated Survivor, Fuller House, and The Haunting of Hill House, and the films Gifted and Captain Marvel — recently dished to Entertainment Tonight about playing Esther on The Handmaid’s Tale.
“Although she is the wife and the mistress of this household, she has been having to grow up and mature so quickly in this whole Gilead place,” she told the outlet. “So, she’s still childish, but already her maturity is above the regular 14-year-old.”
The actress enjoys playing Esther’s “split personality.”
On the show, Esther alternates between anxious and aggressive, even forcing Janine to eat pork from one of the pigs with which Madeline Brewer's character bonded. “Something great about Mrs. Keyes that was really fun to play was her split personality,” Mckenna told ET.
“It was really fun to play the different moments, where one minute I’m standing up and I’m smacking my hand across Janine’s mouth. Like, ‘Don’t spit that out.’ And then the next, where I’m crying and just telling June all these things that have happened to me.”
Esther Keyes will make a “dark and dramatic” return to the plot line on 'The Handmaid's Tale.'
The actress went on: “[Esther] has this deep, complex story, and she’s doing all of these things to figure it out for herself. She has been fending for herself all this time alone in Gilead, stuck with this commander and all of these different men.”
Also, Mckenna said that viewers haven’t seen the last of her on the Emmy-winning series. “I’m very excited for my return. It’s quite dramatic,” she teases. “In true Handmaid’s Tale fashion, everything is dark and dramatic.”
The Handmaid’s Tale is currently streaming on Hulu, with new Season 4 episodes released on Wednesdays.
If you need support, The National Sexual Assault Hotline is available 24/7 at 1-800-656-4673. You will be connected with a trained staff member in your area. Or visit RAINN.org to chat online with a support specialist at any time.