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The Handmaid’s Tale Season 4 Episode 6 Review: Heartbreak & Hope

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The Handmaid’s Tale Season 4 Episode 6 was perhaps one of the best episodes in the series in a long time. Gut-wrenching heartbreak overlayed scenes of celebration, painting a beautiful and haunting picture. While we are still left with questions, the journey has opened the door to many new and fresh storylines.

This is a review of The Handmaid’s Tale Season 4 Episode 6, and will have major spoilers for the episode.

The Ending Was a Joyous Reunion & a Haunting Reminder

I want to start out this review by jumping straight to the ending, since that is the scene haunting my brain the most. After Moira had to constantly fight June to get her on the boat and then keep her there, they finally arrive in Canada. June isn’t ready to leave the boat just yet, so she stays behind for a moment. That’s when we hear Luke’s voice outside. He was told that June was coming and is there, waiting for her.

Throughout the episode, we were treated to scenes from June and Luke’s past. We were reminded of the shaky ground their relationship started on, when they had an affair while Luke was married. Moira, always the good friend, even warned June at the time that Luke might leave her too for the same reasons. This got into June’s head, who began to worry that if they couldn’t have a child, she would lose Luke just like his first wife did. But Luke assured her and then, in the final flashback, we saw them rejoicing over her pregnancy.

Luke proved himself to be far more of a rock than June could have ever guessed. He has fought for her and stayed by her side no matter how long it took for her to come home, and even when she stayed in Gilead to continue fighting. He’s raising the child she bore under Gilead’s laws. Luke’s goodness paints a stark contrast to the men who control Gilead — and the men who have controlled June’s life ever since Gilead took control of the United States.

Luke and June’s reunion was raw and authentic. Elisabeth Moss and O-T Fagbenle knocked the acting out of the park in their reunion scene. We had just scene the two celebrating June’s pregnancy. We saw a free, joyous, and unencumbered June from yesteryear. And now we’re seeing just how much Gilead has changed June. Luke can’t rush forward and immediately hug her, like you might normally do when someone was gone for a long time. He has to approach her with care. She’s been abused. She’s suffered trauma. Even in their reunion, he approaches her with utmost respect, responding to her cues.

Then June says the most heartbreaking words. She tells Luke: “I’m sorry it’s just me.” She’s sorry she couldn’t bring Hannah back. She’s sorry she’s the only one there.

This scene broke me. While we’ve seen June choose to stay in Gilead for Hannah before, this was the first time we understood the depth of why she didn’t just want to do that, but needed to do that. Luke embraces her and assures her that she is enough. But I can only imagine there are hard times ahead for this couple.

Moira Was the MVP of the Episode

Moira, portrayed by Samira Wiley, was the MVP of the episode. She did whatever it took to bring June back to Canada. She betrayed her girlfriend, manipulated June’s emotions, and took whatever steps were necessary to ensure her friend’s freedom. June was shaken from the bombing, possibly suffering a concussion, and not in her right mind. Although her desire to stay was mirrored in previous seasons, it was never fully clear if she was thinking clearly. She was very confused when Moira first found her, and Moira knew that she had to look out for her friend no matter what.

The NGO was clearing out as fast as possible and leaving refugees behind. But considering the awful trick that Gilead just pulled by bombing a safe region just moments before a ceasefire started, I have to wonder if the NGO’s desire not to rock the boat was well-founded anymore. They were going to be inspected by a much larger Gilead ship before entering safe waters, so there was no way they could hide all the refugees on their boat. But the conflict over saving June was understandable, if not perhaps a bit misguided considering what they had just seen Gilead do. However, the show did a great job of explaining why they didn’t want to save her, and I’m sure some viewers will be 100% on their side.

My heart broke for the refugees. They knew that if they were left they might die. But there was no way to save them. It was heartbreaking. 🙁

Then throughout the boat trip, I was never quite sure if June would actually make it to Canada. When she faced the Gilead inspector and Moira had to step in with an explanation of what happened to her, things looked precarious. When she tried to take the life boat and escape, I assumed she was still not thinking straight. Moira had to emotionally manipulate her once again to get her to stay, but she did the right thing. June had no business getting on that tiny boat in the middle of the ocean. And she had no business going back to Gilead. The Gilead forces now know that all they have to do is threaten June and she will do whatever they want. She’s more of a liability to the rebellion and to Hannah within Gilead at this point. She can do far more in Canada.

While Luke and June’s love story was a focal point of this episode, I’ve heard others say that the true love story was Moira and June. They have a friendship that has survived the most horrific catastrophes, and Moira was willing to risk everything to save her best friend.

June and Moira's friendship is the true love story of #TheHandmaidsTale's new episode. Share on X

I did miss seeing Rita, Serena, and Fred’s stories in this episode,  butthe full focus on June was a wise choice. I’m still worried about Janine’s ultimate fate, but I can’t wait to see what plays out next in June’s journey. For the first time in a long time, she has a fresh, new story to tell.

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    Stephanie Dwilson started Post Apocalyptic Media with her husband Derek. She's a licensed attorney and has a master's in science and technology journalism. You can reach her at [email protected].

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