June’s New Backstory Makes Her Gilead Fate Even Worse


June’s new backstory in episode 6 of Handmaid’s Tale offers an extra look at her old life with Luke. But it also makes her Gilead fate even worse.

Season 4, episode 6 of The Handmaid’s Tale reveals more of June’s backstory, and this new information makes her Gilead fate even worse. As usual with the series, this season has pushed its tenacious main character (played by Elisabeth Moss) to her limits. And though she’s been through a great deal, she’s also made some impressive strides against Gilead. She spearheaded the mission that got 86 children out of the country, as well as the act of rebellion where Mrs. Keyes helped her poison a group of debaucherous Commanders.

But the piece of her life revealed in episode 6 is an eerie foreshadowing of June’s future time as a handmaid. The show flashes back to when she and Luke were moving in together and set to be married. Moira was concerned for June, saying she worried about him recreating his history of marital infidelity and leaving his wife “when she can’t reproduce” with her best friend. Granted, the circumstances of Luke’s prior marriage were presumably more complicated than that. But, even so, a seed of fear was planted in June’s mind. Though she shared these worries with Luke and he attempted to assuage her, it’s painfully sad to watch her seem so worried about disappointing her soon-to-be-husband if she couldn’t have kids.

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Related: Handmaid’s Tale Hints At Why Aunt Lydia Eventually Turns Against Gilead

This information only makes her eventual fate as a handmaid in Gilead (which makes her feel like, as she says early in the series, “a womb on legs“) all the more tragic. Even before The Handmaid’s Tale‘s main timeline, when she still had autonomy, freedom, and sexuality that was on her own terms, June already felt pressure to “give” a man a baby. Sure, she loved–and still loves–Luke, and it seems she also wanted a child in the past. And he seems to genuinely love her back. But there could be some element of truth to what Moira said. Having a child could have been so high on his priority list that he would have been willing to discard certain relationships for the idea of a stereotypical and biological family. Not only that, but June began her relationship with Luke while she was the other woman. Though viewers don’t learn the exact details regarding the dissolution of his previous marriage, it’s clear he’s not opposed to seeking out romance outside of a relationship if he’s not finding it meaningful or satisfying enough.

In addition to Luke and June loving Hannah because she’s their daughter, this episode also illustrates how much she meant symbolically, especially to their relationship. Flashbacks to the family’s old life in previous seasons already made their dynamic seem warm and fulfilling, and episode 6’s scenes only reinforce the beauty of how they seemingly built a loving family. For June to then lose Hannah despite doing everything she could to not reach that tragic inevitability, it’s another brutal blow. Not only does she lose her daughter, who was taken from her years prior, she most likely loses having the young girl in her life forever. And she has to face Luke, finally unable to bring him a child–their child–because she’s stuck back in Gilead.

June’s circumstances were abhorrent to begin with, but like the rest of season 4 of The Handmaid’s Tale so far, episode 6 paints an even bleaker picture. June felt as though she had to give a man a baby in her old life. Then, her daughter was ripped away while June was thrust into years of sexual servitude and used as a vessel to give other couples children. June’s fate looks darker every week, and it makes her undying resilience and persistence all the more astounding.

Next: Handmaid’s Tale: June’s Escape Can Fix Two Of The Show’s Biggest Problems 

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