The Handmaid’s Tale Season 4 Episode 6: Vows Recap

Handmaid's Tale S4Ep6 Flashback June & Luke1

Episode 6, Vows, follows the adventures of June and Moira, beginning moments after Moira found June wandering in post-bombing Chicago with a head injury at the end of episode 5. Moira’s vow that she won’t leave June behind again conflicts with June’s vow that she won’t leave Gilead without Hannah. Through flashbacks, we’re reminded of how close the friendship is between the two women. We also learn more about what June and Luke expected from each other going into their marriage, versus June’s current worry that he’ll blame her for losing Hannah.

Though June’s insecurities and trauma are at the forefront in this episode, the exploration of her relationships with Luke and Moira are also a reminder that she had an entire life before Gilead. She, and thus the audience, have been more and more consumed with the people and events in Gilead as time has gone on, putting the rest of her life and loved ones on the backburner, as Luke has noted. On the way to Canada, she begins to confront the issues in her life that she’s set aside for five years.

Parallels with episode 2:3, Baggage, the episode when June almost escaped Gilead in a plane, run throughout this episode. But now, June is no longer baggage that Mayday is reluctantly getting out because Nick called in favors. She’s the most important person in the world to Moira, who’s right there, taking risks with her, and that makes all the difference for both of them.

Recap

In Chicago, it’s still snowing ash from the bombing. Moira tries to get through to June, who is concussed and in shock. Her mind wanders back to a snowy day from years ago, before she and Luke were married, when she and Moira were still roommates. They stayed in, cosy under blankets on the couch, and drank mimosas.

The car she’s standing next to catches fire and June comes back to the present day, but she’s still too out of it to process Moira’s presence. She says out loud, to Moira, “Moira got out,” and continues searching for Janine, who disappeared in the bombing. June registers that Moira is an aid worker and asks her to help find Janine. Moira tries to convince June to go to the hospital for herself, since her head is bleeding and she so clearly has a brain injury, but June ignores her. Moira changes tactics, suggesting that Janine has probably been taken to the medical tent.

Handmaid's Tale S4Ep6 June & Moira in RubbleHandmaid's Tale S4Ep6 June with Flaming CarHandmaid's Tale S4Ep6 Moira & June in TruckHandmaid's Tale S4Ep6 Oona & Moira

She gets June into a truck that’s heading to the main aid station for the NGO Moira is traveling with, a group run by her girlfriend, Oona. When they were having dinner on the front steps at the end of episode 2 and Oona asked Moira to come with her, Moira must have said yes.

Moira holds June as they drive. A medic checks the injured in the truck and confirms June’s concussion. When Moira tells June that they’ll get her medical help and she’ll be okay, June rises a little further into normal consciousness and recognizes Moira. But then she gets upset that Moira has put herself in danger again. Moira is ecstatic that her trip into the war zone paid off and she found June. She holds June even closer and tells her over and over “I found you” and “I got you.”

When they reach the NGO’s aid center, Oona announces that the aid center is now closed and tells the desperate crowds outside the fences to disperse for their own safety. Oona tells Moira that they have to leave now because they’ve received word that the bombing is about to start up again.

The ceasefire was supposed to last for 24 hours. How long was June unconscious? Or is Gilead pulling the trick Gale created in The Hunger Games trilogy- drop bombs, wait for aid workers and the injured to congregate, then bomb the same spot again to purposely take out those populations.

Oona tells another aid worker to pack up all of the food and medical supplies they brought, instead of leaving them behind, because the refugees will just kill each other for them anyway.

It would be a shame to waste relief supplies on unorganized refugees who are just going to die in a few minutes anyway, after all. At this rate, Oona can probably get credit for distributing those supplies several times over, then sell them on the black market.

Moira tells Oona that she’s found June, who’s injured. Oona tries to act sympathetic for 2 seconds, but it’s clear she doesn’t care or is maybe a little jealous. She tells Moira that they aren’t allowed to take refugees out with them and if they get caught then they won’t be able to bring anymore lifesaving supplies to all of these other needy people.

I would agree with this speech, if Oona hadn’t also just refused to leave supplies for the starving people she’s now accusing Moira of trying to murder. Oona seems to be very good at taking care of herself, not so much at actually providing aid.

Oona stands in front of the razor wire topped fences separating the aid station/port from the war zone, which seems to officially be considered Gilead even though it’s actually disputed US territory, and listens to refugees begging her to help them. She promises them she’ll be back and walks away.

It will almost certainly be too late for them, but I’m sure her meaningless promise was comforting to her.

Moira drags June between two shipping containers and tries to explain to her that they’re going to quickly sneak onto the boat. June has fallen back into her obsession with finding Janine and resists Moira. Moira tells June that Janine is probably dead and she’s not leaving June again now that she’s found her. She begs June not to do that to her.

June switches tactics and says she won’t leave without Hannah. Moira asks where Hannah is, but June doesn’t know. June is still in shock and basically raving at this point, unable to make a rational decision. For so long, she’s worked so hard to keep so many people alive and clung to the dream of saving Hannah. Now most of them are dead and Hannah is out of her reach.

It’s up to Moira to save her and she does. Moira tells June the truth- there’s nothing more that June can do for Hannah in Gilead right now. If she stays, they’ll kill her in front of Hannah. June needs to keep fighting from Canada, where the government and the people who love her will help her. And Nichole needs her mother. If for no other reason, June should “come back for her baby daughter.”

Moira gets through to June and they race for the boat at the last moment. Moira hides June alone in a supply closet. The crowds break through the fencing just as the boat leaves the dock. The bombers can be heard in the sky, returning to start the next round.

Handmaid's Tale S4Ep6 Moira Convinces JuneHandmaid's Tale S4Ep6 Moira on Boat

Okay, everybody just stop and breathe for a minute while we go to a flashback. Then we can start Samira Wiley’s Emmy campaign. Moira wins the best friend of all time award, no contest. 😭 ❤️

As June packs her things in preparation for moving in with Luke before their wedding, she tries to convince Moira that their friendship won’t change much. She also mentions that her mother made her promise to keep her own last name.

Moira expresses her own misgivings about June’s marriage to Luke: he cheated on his first wife, then left her when she proved infertile. June doesn’t think that will happen to her and Luke, because Luke and Annie’s problems were bigger than just infertility. They fought all the time, while she and Luke never fight.

As if that can’t change on a dime.

June starts to pack the pitcher they used for mimosas earlier in the episode, but Moira stops her, saying the pitcher belongs to her.

In the present, Oona stops Moira on the boat and asks how she’s holding up, after seeing “all that” up close.

Moira: “I’ve seen suffering up close before.”

Oona; “The hardest part is when you’re the one with the power. I’m so sorry we couldn’t bring her.”

Moira: “Yeah.”

Oona: “Look, we’re nearly home. After this port inspection, it’s only about ten more hours to Canada.”

Moira: “Port inspection?”

Oona: “Before we leave their waters, they’re going to come aboard. They’re gonna check the boats, stem to stern. It shouldn’t be that bad. I mean, once at this checkpoint in Aleppo, we had…”

Moira: “Oona, I need to tell you something.”

That line about it being hardest to have the power was idiotic. Oona clearly likes to feel like she’s helping people, but doesn’t actually get close enough to those who are in trouble to have any idea what their lives are like. Does she seriously think that leaving Chicago was harder than staying behind to get bombed, then have no food or medical treatment if you survived??

When Oona asked Moira to come along, did she even consider the fact that her girlfriend is an illegal refugee from Gilead who’s wanted for murder? Never mind June’s presence on the boat- Moira’s presence could be enough to get them in trouble with the Gilead soldiers if they discover her identity. Did it even occur to the great and powerful Oona to warn Moira that she’d face Guardians searching the boat and checking her ID before she could come home?

And where does Oona get off assuming Moira, who lived through the war in Gilead, then lived through the literally torturous handmaid training, then was forced to become an enslaved prostitute, and then got herself out of Gilead alone, without any help, wouldn’t know what it was like to watch people suffer or be able to handle herself in a crisis?

Oona didn’t mention that the boat is inspected when it returns to Canada, so why does anyone even have to know that they were the ones who brought June back? June could just show up near the border somewhere that it’s plausible for her to have made it on her own, the way Emily and Moira did, and turn herself in to the Canadian authorities. Or Tuello could find her the way he “found” Serena and Fred. Nobody in the international community seemed too upset that he made Gilead angry by luring them over the border and arresting them.

But wouldn’t Oona’s NGO get credit for risking their lives to save the famous dissident, June Osborne, from the oppressive regime that wanted to imprison and eventually execute her? That’s what happens in the real world when a famous dissident defects. Oona can take public credit for getting June out.

Oona calls a meeting of the crew, June and Moira to discuss their options. June sits in the center, surrounded by hostile strangers. It feels a lot like one of Aunt Lydia’s finger pointing sessions.

Oona presents the situation in the worst light possible, paying grudging respect to June but making the meeting about herself and the price she’ll pay due to Moira’s betrayal. She encourages the crew who want to turn June in to speak and cuts off those who think they should help June. She continues to make long speeches that emphasize helping large groups of people over individuals.

But where is the help for anyone in Gilead? The only help that we’ve seen work has been with individuals or small groups. Even Angels’ Flight was tiny by Oona’s standards.

Moira argues that there must be a way that they can hide June or make her look like one of the crew. Oona and the medic keep piling on blame (“Your fault”) until June finally tells them to turn her in. “My life isn’t worth more than anyone else’s.”

Moira tells Oona not to listen to June, who’s still bordering on suicidal, as she has been since season 3. June says she’ll tell the soldiers she’s a stowaway and that no one helped her. June is telling Oona what she wants to hear, so of course Oona listens and even thanks June for her sacrifice.

At least they don’t stone her to death.

Moira is distraught. As the boats from Gilead approach and everyone assembles on deck, she begs June not to turn herself in.

Moira: “No, no! June, you can’t do this, June. That’s it? After everything you’ve been through, after every battle you’ve fought, you’ve just given up? Look at me!”

June stares straight ahead, still dazed from her concussion and in shock, until Moira demands that she look at her. Then June turns toward Moira, but she’s still not fully there.

I don’t think it can be emphasized enough that June has recently been through physical and emotional trauma that would flatten most people. Despite the fact that they have a medic and medical supplies on board, they haven’t given her any medical attention- shining a light in her eyes in a moving truck isn’t an exam. These people aren’t acting like humanitarians, they’re acting like smugglers who are worried June’s presence will spur the authorities into a more thorough search of the boat than usual. And June is in an altered state of consciousness because of her injury- she’s not capable of making any decisions.

June and Moira join the rest of the crew on deck to wait for the boats from Gilead to reach them. Moira turns to Oona and makes one last plea to save June. Oona finally shows she has some sort of heart and says, “Elena, print her an ID. Clean her up. Get her a vest. Make sure she doesn’t F this up.”

WHAT? All along, it was as simple as that and instead we went through all of that nastiness about June not being worth saving, despite how many people she’s saved? Apparently, they could be smuggling out a few people on every trip, but aren’t willing to take the risk.

Moira thanks Oona. June looks unhappy. She really wouldn’t mind dying.

As the soldiers search the boat we hear some of their radio transmissions: “Narcotics in evidence, but likely classified as medical supplies.”

This is part of what makes me wonder if they are also smugglers. For one thing, they should have distributed the narcotics in Chicago, but purposely held them back. Maybe because their buyer didn’t show during all the chaos? It’s possible that they bribe certain Guardians to overlook the amount of narcotics and other contraband on board. Anything that disrupts the normal routine could mean that the wrong Guardian finds the contraband.

During the search, Oona is on one of the Gilead boats with another official, going over paperwork. It’s the perfect time to pay someone off. The Guardians are in a rush to get through the inspection and hurry each other along throughout, which is very unprofessional behavior for Guardians.

One Guardian checks the crew’s IDs. Elena and Moira get through without issue. Moira has fake papers that say she’s from Toronto. When it’s June’s turn, she takes a second to say her new name, Rachel Smith. The Guardian gets a message to finish up quickly, so he lets June slide through, even though Moira answers his question about how June got hurt, saying she fell and hit her head in the rubble in Chicago.

They pass the inspection. Moira tells June, “You made it. We’re going to Canada.” June doesn’t look happy. Oona is still angry with them.

Flashback to June and Luke unpacking her car as she moves her stuff to the apartment they’ll share together. He jokes about how strong she is, which leads to them talking about wedding vows. That turns into June asking about his wedding to Annie. Luke is reluctant to talk about it, but says it was a traditional wedding without many personal touches, which was what Annie wanted.

Luke cuts off June’s questions about his marriage to Annie and asks what’s really bothering her, assuring her that their marriage won’t be the same as his first marriage. He shifts a box which holds the pitcher Moira told her not to take. She tells Luke to be careful with the box, because it holds a stolen pitcher (Moira’s stolen heart). June clutches the box to her as she tells Luke that she’s worried their relationship will suffer if she can’t get pregnant, just like what happened between him and Annie.

June phrases her concern that they won’t be able to have children as worry that she won’t be able to get pregnant, as if the infertility will definitely be her fault and not his. It doesn’t seem to occur to her that would mean he’d failed to get two different women pregnant, so it’s more likely that he’d be the infertile one.

But even here, she uses the thought of Moira as her constant while worrying Luke won’t be there for her.

Luke assures her, again, that their marriage is a different marriage and he’s changed since he married Annie. June still worries that she’ll disappoint him.

Luke: “Look, I don’t know if we’re gonna be able to have kids, but either way we’re gonna be okay.”

June: “You really want kids, though.”

Luke: “Yeah, and I really want you. Like, you’re not gonna disappoint me.”

June: “Well, I mean, you don’t know that. Everyone has a line, you know, something that’s unforgivable. What if I’m not who you think I am?”

Luke: “Then I’ll just love whoever you turn out to be.”

As we know, they did have a child, but June is returning home without her. We’re seeing this flashback because she’s worried that during her time in Gilead, she crossed that unforgivable line and he won’t be able to love the person she turned out to be.

I can’t tell for sure what Luke might have done to make her feel so insecure with him, I can only see that she isn’t insecure with Moira and Nick. Her mother, Holly, had high expectations for her and was critical when she didn’t meet them. We’re shown in S2Ep3 that Holly was disappointed in June’s choice to live a traditional lifestyle rather than become an activist. Luke reads June’s moods really well, but despite his accepting words, he also triggers the same feelings in June that Holly does, of needing to live up to his expectations rather than simply being herself with him.

In this episode, Oona treats Moira in a similar way, being condescending and assuming that she’s the more experienced and knowledgeable one in the relationship, which means she’s always right. Maybe Luke subtly did something similar with June, always assuming he knew best for various reasons and slowly undermining her confidence. Now June also has 5 years of Gilead’s degradation in her head, with chants of “your fault” and the attitude that her only value is her fertility. That’s enough to undermine her confidence as she enters a foreign country, metaphorically and literally.

Moira and Oona argue over Moira’s decision to sneak June on board the ship. Oona accuses Moira of putting her in the position of either killing June or saving her- it’s very telling that Oona doesn’t understand that she was always in that position. June would have died if they’d left her behind in Chicago, but Oona wouldn’t have felt personally responsible for her death, because she would have followed the rules. Oona is simply unable to understand what June means to Moira and to see the people left behind as real people who matter. She says the right words about hard choices, blah, blah, blah, but she never shows an ounce of believable compassion for anyone in this entire episode. She only worries about herself.

The argument ends with them breaking up and Oona dramatically saying that Moira will cause the entire organization to be shut down. I might feel bad about that if it seemed like they actually helped anyone and if other organizations, with other people who want to feel like heroes, couldn’t step right in to take their place. Steven’s group was starving until they stole food from Gilead- neither Oona’s NGO nor any other outside organization were doing anything for the people of Chicago, since they’re apparently so dedicated to following Gilead’s rules.

Moira goes to check on June, but she’s not in her room. She finds June trying to steal a lifeboat so that she can return to Gilead for Hannah.

Like I said, June isn’t in her right mind.

Moira stops June. She says that whether June intends to die in the water or die in Gilead, she’s going with her. “We’ll die together.”

June: “Stop it!”

Moira: “No. I did not bring you all this way, just to leave you behind!”

June: “I told you I needed to stay for Hannah, and you manipulated me.”

Moira: “I didn’t manipulate you. I saved your life.”

June: “You tricked me into leaving my daughter.”

Moira: “I’m sorry.”

June: “If I don’t go back now, she is gone forever! Hannah is gone forever.”

Moira: “What happened? With Hannah? You said they took her. What happened? I’m not gonna force you to stay. I just wanna know.”

June explains that she saw Hannah, but she couldn’t help her and Hannah was scared of her. Her own daughter didn’t recognize her. June blames herself for everything that’s happened to Hannah. “How can I go back without her?”

Moira: “June, no one expects you to have her. They’re waiting for a person, not a superhero. Even if you did get all those kids out.”

June: “But not her. Not my Hannah. I didn’t have her. I tried. I really did. I did everything I could, but it wasn’t enough. I was supposed to save her. ‘Cause I’m her mommy. I’m her mother. And it’s my job to protect her. And I failed. How can I face him? How can I tell him that everything that has happened to her is because of me?”

June has held all of that in for 5 years, with it building over time, as the “your faults”, the hurts and the loneliness accumulated. Now that she’s safe in Canadian waters and with Moira, she can begin to let it out, but the flip side is that she has to face Luke, Hannah’s father. The last time they saw each other, Hannah was with her, so she feels like it was her responsibility to keep Hannah alive and safe and with her.

It’s your most basic responsibility as a parent- don’t lose the kid. June lost the kid, though clearly through no fault of her own. She’s gone to superhuman lengths to get her back. But she’s in such rough mental and physical shape right now that she can’t see reason, though Moira tries.

Moira: “No. That’s not true. That’s Gilead talking. You know that’s not true… All these years he has waited for you. And he has never given up on you. You need to have a little faith now too.”

June: “I know him. I know what he can take.”

Moira: “How about you find out.”

June agrees and they hug.

Handmaid's Tale S4Ep6 Luke & June

Flashback to June waiting on the sidewalk outside their apartment for Luke. When she tells him she’s pregnant, he’s ecstatic and shouts it out to the whole neighborhood. Then we watch a brief montage of happy family memories from Hannah’s childhood.

When the montage ends, the boat has docked, but June stands alone inside the main cabin. Moira comes in and asks if she’s okay. June says she’s alright, she just needs a minute. Moira leaves, then June looks in a mirror and tries to primp a little.

Outside, we hear the sound of running footsteps, then Luke asking where June is. June looks hopeful as she waits for him to find her. A moment later, he rushes in, stopping a few feet in front of her to assess her mood. They have a silent conversation, both of them tearing up. But then June’s face falls and Luke looks confused. She apologizes for returning alone, without Hannah. She says it over and over. Luke finally grabs her and tells her no, no, it’s okay. He holds her as tight as he can and tells her she’s okay, kissing her head.

He didn’t think he was ever getting her or Hannah back. He’s thrilled to see her, not blaming her for anything in this moment.

Luke walks her to the gangplank, then he walks off the boat and waits for her at the bottom. June stops before she steps off onto Canadian soil. The final step will make it real. She’ll have escaped Gilead’s clutches, but she’ll also have left Hannah behind. She takes a deep breath, looks into the camera, and takes the leap of faith.

The show’s title card appears for the first time in the episode, signaling that this is a new a beginning. June is free.

Handmaid's Tale S4Ep6 Luke Sees JuneHandmaid's Tale S4Ep6 June's Leap of Faith


Commentary

I can’t remember the last time I cried so much during an episode of TV. June’s rescue was so totally earned. It was perfect to have Moira be the one to risk everything to go back for her and to stand up to the supposed heroes to do it. 

Now where’s Mark Tuello to welcome June home? I had never considered the possibilty of those two together before, but I think they’re each what the other is looking for in a co-conspirator. Mark manages to look like he’s following the rules while luring people into all sorts of situations. June takes those situations to the next level. She is who he hoped Serena would be and he is who she hoped Lawrence would be. Together, they can take this counter revolution all the way! Hopefully with Moira and the rest of the squad that made it to Canada on board as well, but some of them may decide to stay in retirement.

Gilead has already broken their word to the international community, so who cares what they think about June’s rescue or whatever plans may come out of it? There is no point in negotiating with a partner as untrustworthy as them. With the escalating human rights violations that are very visible to the international community, Putnam is pushing Gilead toward another major war, rather than just these skirmishes on the borders. I expect it’ll be fought almost like a proxy war, with worsening sanctions, espionage and the addition of special ops teams who make incursions into Gilead territory on very targeted secret missions, continuing the progress in destabilizing the government that Mayday and the handmaids made with their poison and bombs.

Moira is June’s person, her platonic life partner. If we’ve learned one thing from this episode, combined with season 1 episode 8, when June finds Moira in Jezebels and wakes her up from her Gilead malaise, reminding her of who she is so that she can find the strength to escape, it’s that while boyfriends and girlfriends may come and go, June and Moira are there for each other no matter what, through life and death and children and rape and abandonment. Unlike June and Luke, neither June nor Moira had any concerns that the other wouldn’t want them any more, no matter what they’ve fought about or been through. 

A small, evil part of me also needs to point out again that June hasn’t shown any doubts about Nick. And his only doubts were that she might be mad at him for letting her be tortured or for using Hannah to get her to talk, which she quickly brushed aside, because she understood the position he was in.

It’s as if June has seen into the souls of Moira and Nick and trusts them in a way she doesn’t trust Luke, despite how long they were together and his reassurances to her. She clearly doesn’t feel that he’ll accept her no matter what, the way she instinctively does with Nick and Moira, no matter how long they’re apart or what truly terrible thing happens. The focus on June’s insecurities, combined with Luke’s recent doubts, feels like foreshadowing for the future of their relationship, but maybe it just means they’ll need to work harder to stay together.

Luke has some pretty great chemistry with Rita, though. They could have a stable relationship and be Nichole’s primary caregivers while June is off being a revolutionary and having an epic, sweeping romance with Nick.

So much drama on the part of Oona and her right hand man, the medic, when all they needed to do was print a fake ID.

It’s significant that Oona was introduced in season 4 episode 2, Nightshade, as a nameless character who embarrassed Moira in front of Emily and breezed through scenes as if she were a VIP who couldn’t possibly be expected to alter her life for a mere mortal like Moira. That episode was about the true costs of freedom, which means taking responsibility for your own life and often includes getting your hands dirtier than you planned on.

Oona enjoys the appearance of being a heroic freedom fighter, but when the chips are down, she blames others and takes the easy way out. In the end, she probably had the false ID made for June because she realized it would look really bad for her to be the humanitarian who turned June Osborn over to be killed by Gilead. But Oona could take the credit for saving June, making her a hero too. 

I understand Oona’s argument that breaking the rules to help June could cost many people their lives because Oona won’t be there to help them. But I’m wary of this argument because it’s essentially the same one, in reverse, that’s used to blame June for deaths in Gilead she isn’t actually responsible for. Every time we hear this argument, June’s positive contributions are downplayed, while she gets the blame for every negative event that’s happened anywhere near her- for the millionth time, she didn’t kill Omar.

Aunt Lydia or the Marthas saying something doesn’t make it true. June doesn’t control Gilead’s reactions. And Oona’s NGO wasn’t going to save the world or even Chicago. The show made that very clear.

Bets on how long it takes before a character blames June for the carpet bombings and every death they caused? Putnam and Lawrence probably wanted to kill Janine and June so badly that they were willing to practically nuke the city. Sooner or later, someone in universe will say that everyone who dies in Chicago and all of the Gilead borderlands from now on dies because Moira saved June, so Oona’s NGO can’t save them/Gilead has to punish them. 

The flashback to Moira’s objections to June and Luke’s marriage is a callback to the scene in S2Ep3, Baggage, when June’s mother, Holly, told her she shouldn’t marry Luke. In that episode, it also snowed ash, similar to the beginning of this episode, when June remembered a time Holly brought young June to a protest against rape. In Baggage, June was pregnant with Nichole and staying at the abandoned Boston Globe office until Nick found her a way out of Gilead. She eventually managed to board a small plane that was supposed to fly her out, before they were caught and everyone involved in the escape attempt, except her, was murdered on the spot. She saw Omar on the wall in a later episode.

Baggage is also the episode when June remembers her mother saying that women can adapt to anything and Aunt Lydia saying that normal is whatever you’re used to, so Gilead would eventually feel normal to them. As June thinks about this she wonders what she’s already gotten used to without realizing it. In Vows, we begin to see how Gilead’s thinking has gotten under her skin, even though, as Serena said, she’s one of the strong ones.

Just like Janine, she’s not sure she’s worth anything beyond her fertility. The flashbacks with Luke show she already felt that way within the relationship before Gilead had become the oppressive religious state it is now. Though Luke tries to convince her that she’s more than a baby machine to him, the infertility crisis and the Sons of Jacob messaging were already affecting society. Fertile women were already valued more, solely for their fertility.

It’s interesting that both Holly and Moira were against June’s marriage to Luke because they didn’t think he was good enough for her or that he would stay with her through thick and thin. In this episode, Moira defends Luke’s devotion to the marriage, but it’s worth noting that he’s been devoted to a memory, not the woman June has become. Be that as it may, he’s waited for June for 5 years and even taken in the child she had with another man. I don’t think we can question his commitment.

But in the years they’ve been apart, June has committed acts that are much harder to accept than just having an affair and she’s endured unspeakable suffering. Luke might not be able to relate to either side of that equation. We’ve already watched versions of this play out with Oona and Moira, Tuello and Serena and Sylvia and Emily. Tuello and Oona rejected Serena and Moira. Both seemed unable to grasp the intensity of life in Gilead and how that could drive Serena and Moira to extremes they wouldn’t normally consider. As far as we’ve seen so far, Sylvia and Emily are doing okay, but Emily was worried Sylvia wouldn’t be able to relate to her experiences. I suspect COVID cut their storyline short this season.

As with Sylvia and Emily, Luke knew June before Gilead and they have a child together. But unlike them, Hannah is lost and Luke tends to be a traditional, rule-oriented guy. Nichole may or may not serve as glue to bond them together again. Probably the bigger question is whether he can understand why June went as far as the mass murder of Commanders, encouraging a teenager to become a murderer and why she stayed in Gilead as long as long as she did.

For June, settling back into everyday routine for a while and being surrounded by people who don’t feel the same urgency to stop Gilead that she does may ultimately be the hardest thing about escaping to Canada.

Images courtesy of Hulu.

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