‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ star OT Fagbenle in June and Luke’s Complex Reunion


Although he was never inside Gilead, Luke (OT Fagbenle) walked through the wringer on The Handmaid’s Tale. After being separated from his wife and daughter for years, he learned that June (Elisabeth Moss) was alive but had been forced into sexual bondage by the regime. She had also started a new relationship with Nick (Max Minghella) and had her baby. Although June told Luke last season that he should get on with his life and not feel guilty, he never gave up hope of finding her.

In last week’s episode, Luke’s hope finally paid off after June crossed the Canadian border. But their reunion, although joyful, was also complex. For one thing, June doesn’t have Hannah and is consumed with guilt over it. On the other hand, June is deeply traumatized in a way that has fundamentally changed who she is, and despite her best efforts, Luke is overwhelmed. At the end of the episode, after a deeply disturbing sex scene in which Gilead’s psychological impact on June becomes clear, June and Luke’s future looks uncertain. It goes even further in this week’s episode, as Luke watches June recount, in detail, the horrors she experienced in Gilead.

Below, Fagbenle discusses Season 4’s description of trauma, Luke’s tireless optimism regardless, and his pitch for a June / Luke / Nick beach trio (you’re welcome).


What was it like filming these very emotionally intense reunion scenes with Elisabeth Moss?

It’s no revelation to say that she’s a really special artist, and every time I do scenes with her I get excited because I don’t know what’s going to happen. She’s a very intuitive actress, and we work in a way that really follows what’s happening in the moment more than married to a specific line of the script or a prescribed movement. These scenes were therefore very moving. I mean, there were a lot of takes where we had to take out tissue boxes because when we finished the scene the tears would continue and you had to reset for another take. One of the great joys of acting is being able to do things like this.

Luke had to deal with a lot in June’s absence – learning that she had this relationship with Nick and that she had a daughter, learning that she became this revolutionary leader. What happens to him, once he’s finally reunited with her?

I think a lot of times our minds fill in the blanks, the things we don’t know, and often times it’s the worst case scenario. There’s a lot that Luke doesn’t know, and so there’s a lot of worry about who his love has become, but there’s a lot of hope in that as well. And it wobbles a bit between these two places. Will he get his marriage back? Will she be mad at him for not saving her? Will they be able to fight to get their daughter back? There are so many conflicting emotions and desires, it’s great Servant writing.

ot fagbenle and elisabe th moss in the handmaid's tale

OT Fagbenle and Elisabeth Moss in The Handmaid’s Tale.



The sex scene between June and Luke towards the end of the episode is truly disturbing, as it seems inherently non-consensual on Luke’s part. I felt like June was using it in some way to regain a sense of power. How do you see this scene?

I think one of the things that Handmaid’s Tale does really well is to show that people react to trauma in unexpected ways and that people react to traumas in their lives in ways that are very unique to them – often in pathological ways and in ways that they can hurt themselves. , hurt others. And the journey to come to terms with the traumatic event or events is bumpy.

I think one of the things that they’ve managed to do in a big way this season is that a lot of the women who’ve come out of Gilead all have their own response to the trauma they’ve been through. And indeed, Luke himself, while not a direct victim, suffered the trauma of being separated from his wife and child for years and hearing reports that her child could have been tortured. Everyone has their own response to the trauma they have suffered. There isn’t this cookie-cutter version of what post-trauma looks like.

There is an enormity and weight to what June went through that Luke simply cannot comprehend. It almost seems futile at the end of the episode.

Yes, and I think a lot of people who live with people who have mental health issues or traumas feel that sense of helplessness and that sense of the unknown of what’s really going on inside someone. .

There isn’t this cookie-cutter version of what post-trauma looks like.

Does he still have hope?

Well, I think one of Luke’s main attributes as a character is his optimism in the face of some pretty damning evidence that he shouldn’t be optimistic. I mean, at the end of the day, he hasn’t started another relationship. He didn’t go “Well, you know what, my wife was captured by one of the most brutal diets ever, which doesn’t look like she’s about to fall, and so I should go on with my life. “He hasn’t moved. And that’s because he has tireless hope and resilience. That doesn’t mean it’s not difficult for him, it doesn’t Not to say that maybe it won’t break him, in the end. But it does mean he’s going to do whatever he can to save his wife and daughter to the best of his incompetent ability.

Much of this season is about the idea of ​​justice and what that looks like to different people – for June, it looks like revenge, but for other characters, it feels like being able to move on and live a life. normal. What does Luke’s version of justice look like?

I don’t think there is, from Luke’s point of view, any redress for the wrong. In a way that almost resembles a mentality based on the past. I think for him what he wants is to start his life with June, get his daughter back, and build from there and help them recover and potentially help other community members get over it. this trauma. I think the paradigm of erasing or rebalancing the scale is not his way of thinking.

the servant

Moss and Fagbenle on the set with Joseph Fiennes and Yvonne Strahovski.


This season, more than any other, has some very cathartic and long-awaited moments. Is there a scene that pops into your mind while filming this season?

I really like the scene where June and Luke have that first conversation and June tells Luke about the last time she saw Hannah, when they are on the hotel bed. I mean, she’s lying to him so it’s a complicated moment, but I was so moved by the writing the first time I read it. Tears may have flowed from my face. This scene still moves me.

Luke and Nick have met, and Luke is aware of Nick and June’s relationship. Is it safe to assume that the triangle will reappear in the future?

I’ve been pushing the writers for mojitos on the beach for over a year, the three of us sunscreen… You know, but they don’t respond to these emails.

I mean, that sounds like post-Gilead justice to me.

This is the kind of justice Luke loves! [Laughs] He just can’t believe June kept Nick to herself.

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