This Is What Really Happened To Luke In "The Handmaid's Tale" (2022)

Photo: Courtesy of Hulu.

Last week ended on a pretty major cliffhanger: Could Luke actually have been alive all this time? This week, we learn that the answer to that question is a resounding yes. In fact, "The Other Side" is almost entirely devoted to finding out what happened to Luke after the ominous gunshot which seemed to signal his death, back in the show's premiere episode.

This episode opens much in the same way as the first one in the series: With Luke and June's car running off the road, halting their escape. Only this time, the action is seen from Luke's perspective. As June and Hannah disappear into the woods, Luke fumbles with a revolver and bullets, presumably to hold off the Guardians.

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There was indeed a shot, but it wasn't fatal. The bullet went into Luke's gut, staining his fuzzy knit cardigan blood red. (Of course Luke is a cardigan guy.) He wakes up in an ambulance, but it's icy and the vehicle crashes. Luke ends up hanging upside down, still strapped to his gurney, and manages to escape with a bag loaded with pain meds. Determined to get back to where he left his wife and child, he goes on his own personal version of The Revenant, braving the elements, and gritting his teeth through his injury. While he does manage to find the car, there's no sign of June, or Hannah. Further along in the woods, Luke finds Hannah's backpack, the contents strewn about, and assumes the worst. (He has no idea.)

After some more walking, Luke wanders into a seemingly abandoned town. This isn't the first time we've seen the immediate aftermath of the Gilead takeover, but it's definitely the creepiest. "Gender traitor," is scrawled on a wall in red graffiti, which brings to mind old pictures of Nazi Germany with "Jude" painted in yellow on Jewish-owned shop windows. Shit has gone down here.

After finding refuge in a deserted shop a la Walking Dead, he settles in to rest, and we flash back to what I'm guessing is a couple of weeks earlier.

Photo: Courtesy of Hulu.

Luke and June are driving through Boston, with Hannah sedated in the backseat. Under the guise of a casual breakfast outing, they are attempting to escape. This is early days, yet. The streets are lined with Guardians holding machine guns, but people still seem to be doing their thing, walking around in civilian clothing. There are no pairs of Handmaids, no tell-tale white wings in sight. Through their conversation, we learn Moira has already left, to cross the Canadian border on foot. (Since she ends up in the Red Center with June, my guess is she got caught in much the same way as June), while they chose to wait until proper visas came through. (Big mistake. Huge!) All this time, I assumed that June and Luke's mad dash from the Guardians happened on the same day they decided to escape. But I was wrong: The two meet with a man (a friend of June's mother? This is the first mention of her we've had in the show, even though she has a big impact on Offred in Atwood's book), who is tasked with taking them to some sort of safe house, where they'll wait to cross into Canada. There's a catch: In order to get out of the city, the whole family has to squeeze into the trunk. In a typical man move, Luke pigheadedly refuses to give up his photo album, but forgets the extra Benadryl in case Hannah wakes up.

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After a very tense checkpoint moment (a bribed guard ultimately lets them pass —good to know corruption is alive and well), our merry band of travelers arrive at a quaint little cabin. The neighbors are miles away in every direction, so they should be safe here, free to warm up by their fireplace and wait for rescue. But just in case, their savior shows Luke how to fire a revolver. (I don't care how adorable he is, I would not trust him in an emergency, and his later gun fumble proves me right.) As it turns out, waiting for the visas was useless, because a "U.S. passport doesn't mean shit anymore, bud. That's over."

Back in the present, Luke is discovered by a band of fellow refugees fleeing the Gilead regime. They mistake him for a Guardian because of his stolen coat, but after he convinces them that he's on their side, they take him with them to treat his wound. The eclectic group —which includes "an Army brat, two strays, a gay, and a nun" —is heading to Canada, something Luke is not pleased to hear. He wants to go back and find June. Real talk, Luke: Your guts are literally spilling out of your belly, your glasses are broken, and there are patrols everywhere. Stay in the damn bus.

One of the women is clearly still traumatized from her experience —she hasn't said a word since they picked her up. Later, we learn that she was found in what sounds like a version of the Red Center, which suggests she was a handmaid in training. Rumors are starting to circulate about fertile women getting rounded up, but nobody quite knows why yet.

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In a series of flashbacks, we get more insight into how June and Luke came to be rushing towards the border. The family was enjoying some fun times skipping rocks on the frozen lake near their cabin when a man discovered them while walking his dog. It's amazing how naive they still are, frolicking around like that —of course they got caught.

In another flashback, Luke shows June how to fire the revolver, just in case. (I feel like this will become significant at some point. Will Offred get her hands on a gun? Maybe through Nick?) The guy with the dog shows up, to tell them that the Guardians are already looking for them. The man who helped them earlier is dead; they have to leave. When they thank him, he shrugs: "No worries. This is pretty fucked up." Thank you, Captain Obvious.

Photo: Courtesy of Hulu.

In the present, Luke and the gang arrive at the coast. Luke decides to try to head back towards Boston, but Zoe, the woman who used to be in the Army, accosts him. "Let me show you something," she says, taking him inside a nearby church. When the two enter, they recoil. Something smells.

"The town fought back," Zoe explains. "They tried to hide the fertile women here. The Guardians took them and strung every one of them up."

The ceiling is full of strung up dead bodies. It's funny how even though we've seen so many of these on the show, getting a fresh look through Luke's eyes is like seeing it all for the first time.

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"There's one of these in every town," Zoe says. "This is what they do to people who fight back."

Rather than head back to a certain death, Luke can go to Canada. The U.S. government, or what's left of it, has a presence there. They can help.

But the great escape doesn't exactly go as planned. The captain of the dinky boat supposed to ferry them down the coast demands payment for Luke to come aboard. In a heartbreaking move, he hands over his wedding ring. The delay causes the group to be ambushed by a Guardian patrol, and Zoe is shot dead. The visuals of this are striking: As the United States moves to tighten its own borders, seeing a group of American refugees risking everything to board an unknown boat to cross into a safe haven is particularly disturbing. While watching the news earlier last week, I saw a report about a town in Manitoba struggling to cope with the influx of refugees walking across the border from the United States, in an attempt to flee the Trump administration's immigration policies. And having seen this episode, all I can say is I've never been more grateful for my dual citizenship. Good job, mom and dad.

Three years later, we catch up with Luke in "Little America," the center of American refugee life in Toronto. Unnamed Almost Handmaid is with him. She's still pretty silent, and we still don't know her name. What we do know is that they appear to be living together. Other things we find out about our friendly neighbor to the North: There's rationing; refugees from Gilead live in public housing; and the power goes in and out. Luke still has his broken glasses, so it doesn't seem like he's got cash to spare.

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And then, he gets a call to report to the U.S. consulate. Guys. What a scene. The missing persons posters coating the hallways of this building give you a hint that Luke is not alone in searching for his family. It's so eerie because it's a scene that's at once very familiar, and strangely foreign —something The Handmaid's Tale excels at. Familiar, because I imagine that thousands of refugees are experiencing something similar as I type this. Foreign, because the concept of an American refugee doesn't exactly roll off the tongue.

Luke thinks he's been brought here because of the research he's been doing on facilities that could be used to round up fertile women. His information is about 3 years too late. But then, the official speaks: "Do you know a woman named June Osborne?" Yes. Yes, he does.

She hands him June's handwritten note, which was written three weeks ago. We never see what's written, but in the last scene, in which June is sitting at her windowsill smiling, we hear the words: "I love you so much. Save Hannah."

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FAQs

Does June ever see Luke again? ›

Finally, after four long seasons, June has made it out of Gilead on The Handmaid's Tale. Last week, we saw her make her escape and reunite with her long-lost husband, Luke (O-T Fagbenle), as she (reluctantly) arrived in Canada.

Does JUNE love Nick more than Luke? ›

She's in love with Nick." This underlines June's thinking in The Handmaid's Tale season 4 finale: while Luke can offer her so many great things like a safe, happy family life, Moss herself admits that June belongs with Nick.

What does Offred imagine happened to Luke? ›

Offred is wretched not to know what has happened to Luke. In chapter 18 she gives us three possible versions: He may have been shot dead during their escape attempt, and she prays that his death was quick. He may have been captured and is now rotting in prison, tortured and starving.

Do June and Luke stay together? ›

The Handmaid's Tale Season 4 Episode 6, “Vows,” did what viewers felt would never happen: June and Luke were reunited. Yes, June finally made it out of Gilead.

Did Luke cheat on Annie June? ›

Back in Season 2 of The Handmaid's Tale, June came face-to-face with Luke's wife at the time. He had not only cheated on Annie with June, but he eventually married June and had a baby with her too. The latter was something Annie hadn't been able to do and it was arguably what led to the downfall of their marriage.

Does Luke forgive June? ›

The most emotionally difficult scene to write was the first truly intimate conversation between June and Luke when Luke apologizes for having failed June for not getting her or their daughter out of Gilead.

Who did Serena Joy sleep with? ›

Because of this, it was always hinted that Serena could possibly conceive a child while her husband Commander Fred Waterford (Joseph Fiennes) was sterile. Fred admits to Serena in season 3 episode 11 of The Handmaid's Tale that he knows he is the reason the two cannot have a baby, and the two sleep together.

Does June ever get Hannah back? ›

And at the center of the tug of war between them is Hannah. Always Hannah. “I'm sorry I don't have her,” June tells her husband, Luke (O-T Fagbenle), when the couple is finally reunited after her rescue in Season 4.

Why does Nick put on a wedding ring? ›

In Season 4 Episode 9, towards the end of June and Nick's reunion, he puts on a wedding ring as June goes back to her waiting car. Nick and June are romantically involved in the show and have to face various obstacles to be together.

How did Luke get out of Gilead? ›

Luke was shot and captured by Gilead forces and was on his way to a hospital when the ambulance got turned over and the soldiers within died. Luke escapes and tries to find medical care for himself when he runs into an underground railroad group trying to help smuggle defectors out of Gilead.

Is Luke alive in The Handmaid's Tale book? ›

Lucas "Luke" Bankole is the husband of June Osborne and the father of their daughter before Gilead's formation. He is separated from his wife and child when they are captured trying to flee the country. In the book, it remains unknown whether he is alive or dead. In the series he successfully escapes to Canada.

Is Luke Black in The Handmaid's Tale? ›

June's husband Luke (O-T Fagbenle) and her friend Moira (Samira Wiley) are black, and several of the other Handmaids are also women of color.

Did June go to jail for killing Fred? ›

Is June really going to prison? Of course not. Apparently, Fred's murder was committed in a sort of no-man's-land of disputed territory between Gilead and Canada, so technically, June has broken no laws.

What did June say to Luke at the end? ›

As her final words of the season indicate when she tells husband Luke (O-T Fagbenle), “I'm sorry. Just give me five minutes with her [Nichole] and then I'll go,” she has potentially risked her freedom in order to further her war on the fascist regime of Gilead.

Why did June say give me 5 minutes? ›

Rather than needing five minutes before she faces the authorities, five minutes before she goes on the run, or five minutes before her and Luke's marriage is over, Miller says that final moment was June wanting to remember her past self.

Is Nick an eye? ›

The first Offred's death led to Nick becoming an Eye

While she was only briefly seen in The Handmaid's Tale Season 1 Episode 8, “Jezebels,” the first Offred changed the Waterford house forever.

Why is June A handmaid if she was married? ›

June, for instance, relates that she was forced to become a handmaid because Gilead outlawed divorce and invalidated any marriages in which one of the partners was divorced; she was thus deemed to be an adulteress because her husband, Luke, divorced his first wife to marry her.

Who lives with Luke and Moira? ›

Present time. Erin is seen three years later in Little America, Canada. She lives with Luke and Moira in a small apartment and is in much better shape mentally, but is initially still mute. Moira returns home from a party early in the morning and snaps at Erin who is already breakfasting with a bowl of cereal.

Does Serena Joy get Nicole back? ›

Does Serena Joy leave Gilead? Serena helped get Nichole out of Gilead at the end of season 2. Through the help of June and Commander Bradley, Emily and Nichole were whisked off to Canada.

Is June in Gilead for 7 years? ›

What is this? But while June has escaped what was once America, Gilead is still very much within her. June has spent the last 7 years of her life in a constant struggle for survival, enduring countless sexual assaults, beatings, tortures, and watching her friends and allies murdered before her eyes.

What happens to Eden in Handmaid's Tale? ›

In season 2, episode 12 of The Handmaid's Tale, Eden is publicly executed for infidelity. She and her lover Isaac are drowned in the community pool is punishment for attempting to control their own lives.

Who impregnated Serena? ›

In Gilead, Commander Fred Waterford and his wife Serena Joy had June as their Handmaid. As a Handmaid, it was one of June's duties to conceive for a seemingly infertile Serena.

Who impregnated Serena Joy in The Handmaid's Tale? ›

Following the pregnancy announcement, some Handmaid's Tale fans wondered whether Mrs. Waterford cheated on Fred. But it's likely Fred is the father of Serena's baby. In an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, showrunner Bruce Miller explained why Fred and Serena were finally able to conceive.

Why does Fred Call Nick son? ›

With this in mind, Fred's use of "son" may have been just another way to emotionally manipulate Nick. He may have been trying to keep Nick on his side and make him feel as if there was still a close bond between them both. However, with Nick and June bound together by love, he would have always taken her side.

Why is Hannah scared of June? ›

However, having been separated from June for too long in Gilead's indoctrinative system, Hannah no longer recognizes June and runs to the corner of the cage when she approaches. Seeing her daughter brainwashed into fearing her more than Gilead crushes June, and she reveals the location of her fellow Handmaids.

Does Gilead fall? ›

After the collapse of Gilead, the United States seemingly regains control over the continental United States. As previously mentioned, the United States in the television series maintains direct control over only two states, with the implication that Gilead nominally controls the other forty-eight.

Is there going to be Season 5 of the handmaids tale? ›

When was The Handmaid's Tale season 5 confirmed? A first look of the fifth season was teased by Hulu on Instagram in June 2022, along with its release date. In the post June was seen dressed in white looping up, while Serena looked down, smiling, while dressed in a black veil.

Does Nick stay with Eden? ›

Nick is married to child bride Eden in Season 2. She's executed when she admits to having an affair, however, which leaves Nick single. We learn at the end of Season 4 that Nick is married, which is customary for a commander at his level.

What was Nick before Gilead? ›

June's current lover and the biological father of Nicole, Nick Blaine (Max Minghella) is a mysterious character that isn't offered much screen time in The Handmaid's Tale series. Prior to the establishment of Gilead, Nick worked at a steel mill with his father and brother, until they all lost their jobs.

Does Nick sleep with Eden? ›

When Nick runs into June soon after, she insists he has to deflower his wife, because she could make trouble if he does not do something soon. That night, Nick and his new bride have sex for the first time.

Do they bring Nicole back to Gilead? ›

Once again, however, she makes the decision to return to Gilead, and for her efforts she is shot by a Guardian while running through the woods. She is able to return fire and ends up killing him, watching the plane fly over her as she grows weak from her bullet wound.

What happens to Nick in Handmaid's Tale book? ›

Nick stays in Gilead in The Testaments, but he joins the underground resistance and becomes a Mayday operative. June also joins Mayday. The book suggests both of them eventually made it to Canada, although not together and at different times.

Does JUNE get back with Nick? ›

June and Nick's reunion in Episode 9 is a very tender, intimate scene that makes clear how happy they are together. It's probably the longest they spend together in a couple of seasons.

Does JUNE get the children out? ›

June got 86 kids out of Gilead.

Possibly the biggest moment of the season was in the last episode when June, with the help of other Handmaids and Marthas, successfully got a plane full of 86 children out of Gilead and into Canada.

When did Offred and Luke run away? ›

Season 1, Episode 1 "Offred"

When their car crashes, June and Hannah Bankole escape into the nearby woods, leaving Luke behind.

What year is Handmaid's Tale set? ›

Setting. The novel is set in an indeterminate dystopian future, speculated to be around the year 2005, with a fundamentalist theonomy ruling the territory of what had been the United States but is now the Republic of Gilead.

Why did Janine lose an eye? ›

She was forced to have one removed after entering the “Red Center.” During season 1 of this season, Janine exhibited her rebellious spirit, especially when she learned what the handmaids would be doing in Gilead. As a result, she's taken out of the room and “corrected” by having her eye removed.

What is Offred real name? ›

Naming Specifics. In the television series, Offred's real name is June; her real name in the movie is Kate. In the novel, her real name is never revealed. Due to an assumed (but actually coincidental) "clue" in the text, the author later welcomed readers to name Offred June "if they wish".

Who kills Fred in Handmaid's Tale? ›

After four seasons, the series' big, bad Commander Fred Waterford (Joseph Fiennes) dies at the hands of June Osborne (Elisabeth Moss), his former handmaid, along with several other women who had been under his tyrannical rule.

What was written under Fred on the wall? ›

In a brief flash, Fred's headless body is shown hanging from a wall — like so many Gilead victims at his hand — with the key Handmaid's Tale phrase written in blood below him: “Nolite te bastardes carburondorum.” His ring finger was also mailed to his pregnant wife, Serena Joy (Yvonne Strahovski).

Who is Nick's new wife in Handmaid's Tale? ›

In a telling scene in the premiere, Nick returns home from his exchange with June at the border, and for the first time, we're introduced to his new wife, Rose (Carey Cox), who was only hinted at last season. Right off the bat, it's clear she's very different than Nick's first wife, Eden (Sydney Sweeney).

Why is there a hole in the sheet Handmaid's Tale? ›

In the sequel novel, new Wives are not automatically given Handmaids and have to try for children themselves for a good amount of time before they can get one. Remember when Eden and Nick had sex shortly after getting married? They did this using a white sheet with a hole in it in between their naked bodies.

What was June holding in her left hand? ›

She's holding a gun in one hand and a whistle in the other. “Choose,” she instructs him. Fred says she won't shoot him. “All right,” she says, smiling, and blows the whistle, which summons a group of former handmaids — including Emily — from the woods behind her.

Why does Nick sleep Offred? ›

After Offred's night at Jezebel's, Serena Joy secretly arranges for Offred to visit Nick in his rooms and sleep with him to conceive a child. Offred sleeps with Nick willingly. She quickly develops feelings for him and he seems to reciprocate.

Where was June going at the end of Handmaid's Tale? ›

The Truck, The Choice And The 'Handmaid's Tale' Finale

During its fourth season, the series made perhaps its most important shift in perspective when June left Gilead. She escaped through Chicago and was accepted into Canada as a refugee.

What is the tag on June's ear? ›

The number on June's ear tag is an Easter egg.

On the show, each Handmaid is given an ear tag with an ID number. June's tag number is 1985, which was the year Atwood's book was originally published.

What started The Handmaid's Tale? ›

Following a military coup in which the president and most members of Congress were killed, the country became the Republic of Gilead. One day the protagonist was fired from her job at the library because women were no longer permitted to work.

What episode does JUNE see Luke again? ›

Luke and June being reunited hasn't been an easy homecoming. But in the scene on the boat, when the two of you lay eyes on each other (in episode six), the unspoken love was palpable. What was it like to step back into that relationship?

Is June in Gilead for 7 years? ›

What is this? But while June has escaped what was once America, Gilead is still very much within her. June has spent the last 7 years of her life in a constant struggle for survival, enduring countless sexual assaults, beatings, tortures, and watching her friends and allies murdered before her eyes.

Is Offred ever reunited with her daughter? ›

In The Testaments, Offred is revealed to be alive. She successfully escaped the Commander's household, and gave birth to Nick's daughter, Daisy, who was brought up in Canada by adoptive parents. Offred went underground in Gilead and, fifteen years later, was reunited with both her children.

Does June and Hannah get out? ›

Always Hannah. “I'm sorry I don't have her,” June tells her husband, Luke (O-T Fagbenle), when the couple is finally reunited after her rescue in Season 4. “I'm sorry it's just me.” In Season 5, June grapples with those last three words — “it's just me” — and finds that they won't do.

How did Luke get out of Gilead? ›

Luke was shot and captured by Gilead forces and was on his way to a hospital when the ambulance got turned over and the soldiers within died. Luke escapes and tries to find medical care for himself when he runs into an underground railroad group trying to help smuggle defectors out of Gilead.

Does Nicole come back to Gilead? ›

Once again, however, she makes the decision to return to Gilead, and for her efforts she is shot by a Guardian while running through the woods. She is able to return fire and ends up killing him, watching the plane fly over her as she grows weak from her bullet wound.

Who lives with Luke and Moira? ›

Present time. Erin is seen three years later in Little America, Canada. She lives with Luke and Moira in a small apartment and is in much better shape mentally, but is initially still mute. Moira returns home from a party early in the morning and snaps at Erin who is already breakfasting with a bowl of cereal.

Why was Hannah afraid of June? ›

While fans may have been hoping for a heartfelt reunion, Hannah's reaction to seeing June is fear. It's hard to conceive that Hannah doesn't recognize June, but it speaks to how easily Gilead has indoctrinated children like Hannah into the totalitarian regime.

What did June say to Luke at the end? ›

As her final words of the season indicate when she tells husband Luke (O-T Fagbenle), “I'm sorry. Just give me five minutes with her [Nichole] and then I'll go,” she has potentially risked her freedom in order to further her war on the fascist regime of Gilead.

What was Emily's punishment in Handmaid's Tale? ›

With their mouths muzzled forcibly, they are both taken to a sham trial and immediately convicted. While the Martha is sentenced to the Common Mercy of the State via death (with Emily being forced to watch her be hanged), Emily is sentenced to a so-called "Redemption" where her genitals are surgically mutilated.

Is Hannah June's biological daughter? ›

As a fertile woman, June was assigned a posting as a handmaid. And then another posting. All the while, she was kept separate from her biological daughter, Hannah, to not confuse the child, according to Fred Waterford. Hannah was a member of a new family — a commander's family.

How does the book The Handmaid's Tale end? ›

At the end of the novel, Offred is ushered out of the Commander's house by Eyes, who may or may not be members of the rebel group Mayday. In the final “Historical Notes” section, we learn that the Eyes were indeed members of Mayday.

Does Serena Joy give birth? ›

As the story goes in the totalitarian society of Gilead, Offred, or as we know her best as by now — June Carter — is the one that actually gave birth to baby Holly in the final episodes of season 2, but it is Serena Joy who is crowned as the mother of the baby.

What happens to Nick on Handmaid? ›

First, after a tender reunion between June (Elisabeth Moss), Nick (Max Minghella), and their daughter, Nick slipped on a wedding band, revealing to the audience — but not June! — that he's now married.

Is Serena's baby Fred's? ›

For Serena to have been surprised by the news means she was probably around 12-16 weeks pregnant when she found out. Although Fred hasn't been particularly faithful in their marriage, Serena has been, which means that there's little to no doubt that Fred is the father of Serena's baby.

What happened to June's first daughter? ›

Hannah was born prior to the rise of Gilead, and was separated from her parents after the regime came to power. In later episodes we learn that Hannah lives an hour away from her mother's place of assignment, and her foster parents are Commander and Mrs. MacKenzie. She's later revealed to be renamed Agnes MacKenzie.

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