Life for everyone in The Handmaid’s Tale is already at its most dystopian. But a few disastrous new monkey wrenches were thrown into the tale of “Offred” (Elisabeth Moss) — AKA June — in the latest episode, “A Woman’s Place." First, we find out the Mexican government is planning to enter a trade agreement with the Republic of Gilead involving actual human women. Then, we learn absolutely nothing can stop the politicians from bartering over handmaids like they’re oranges. And lastly, there’s one final jaw-dropper: June’s husband Luke (O-T Fagbenle) is actually alive.
That news should be totally positive, but it certainly doesn’t feel that way as our heroine’s romantic entanglements grow within the Waterford house of horrors.
It’s in “Woman’s” that we see June is getting closer and closer to Nick (Max Minghella), after their two sex scenes in previous installment, “Faithful.” At the top of the episode, the handmaid confirm she almost came three times while hooking up with her commander’s driver, who also happens to be an Eye. Despite Nick's status as a member of Gilead’s secret police, they continue their flirtation throughout the episode. Before June first meets the Mexican ambassador, she and Nick touch hands. The moment is almost elementary school sweet in its innocence.
In a far less chaste scene later, Nick pushes June up against a wall to kiss her, which she is definitely all for. It’s also proven there’s a real connection between these two, when June has a meltdown over the handmaid trade deal, since she lied to the international politicians and claimed to be happy as a subjugated woman who’s raped monthly. Luke tries to help June calm down, and doesn’t react when she says, “Fuck you, Nick. They don’t rape you, do they? He doesn’t come here once a month and read you a little scripture and stick his cock up your ass.”
Considering Nick’s status as an Eye, he could easily have retaliated for such a much-needed comment. Instead, he gets her a glass of water and holds her. In the exact moment June begins to find some solace in a world without her husband, the Mexican ambassador’s assistant Mr. Flores (Christian Barillas) says Luke is alive and well. At the very beginning of Handmaid’s Tale, we hear what sound like kill shots aimed at Luke as June tries to escape with their daughter Hannah. Yet, we never saw a body, which means anything could have happened. But this new information changes nothing for June.
She’s still trapped in a nightmare situation with the Waterfords, as a highly-armed and dangerous government protects this way of life. In fact, Gilead is about to get even more power as Mexico throws their support behind the mutinous government. Even June’s day-to-day is fraught as Fred The Rapist (Joseph Fiennes) decides in "Woman's Role" to further their already inappropriate relationship with by requesting the handmaid kiss him “like [she] means it” after an argument. Plus, she’s finally started the first healthy human connection — or as healthy as possible in this terrible world — since being kidnapped by Gilead.
The fact that Luke is alive can and should give June strength to survive this criminally awful world, but it shouldn’t change how she handles Fred, Luke, and Gilead at large. However, the good news is, at least we know someone out there can try to save Hannah. And that’s what June would really want.
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