Ask Luke how he’s doing in The Handmaid’s Tale Season 4, and the answer is not well. Luke Bankole actor O-T Fagbenle shared how his character’s holding up in the Hulu original’s newest season. And he didn’t mince words. While he might have escaped Gilead’s clutches, being separated from his wife and child for so long has pushed the limits of his sanity.
[Spoilers for The Handmaid’s Tale Season 4 ahead.]
What happens to Luke in ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’?
Luke has been separated from June Osborne and their daughter, Hannah, for the entirety of the series. The only times they’re seen together is in flashback, and fans have long been waiting to see him reunited with June. Whether she’ll choose him or Nick Blaine (if she even does choose) if/when she’s safely out of Gilead has been a constant question on viewers’ minds. And in season 4, it’s also on Luke’s.
The first episodes of season 4 show Luke and Moira raising June and Nick’s daughter, Nichole, together. They’ve also become advocates trying to raise money and awareness to help those who have escaped Gilead, like the 86 children June helped smuggle out at the end of The Handmaid’s Tale season 3. Rita helps them on that front, sharing stories of her time as a Martha. He’s also actively searching for June with the help of the Canadian government. But he learns June has been caught by Gilead again after she was in hiding at Esther Keyes’ farm.
June has been able to get sparse updates on Hannah while in Gilead, but Luke has gotten less. When he met Nick in season 2, Nick didn’t give him any information about his daughter, but did inform him June was pregnant with Nichole.
Are June and Luke reunited?
Later on, June records a tape telling Luke Nichole was born out of her and Nick’s love. Luke eventually hears the tapes, finally learning about the love triangle he’s in. When he learns June has been captured again in season 4, he starts to wonder if she’s making choices that will keep her in Gilead. Although he doesn’t say it flat out, he’s clearly scared she will choose Nick over him.
Did she choose this? Because she chose to stay in Gilead, right? And she knew she’d probably get caught. It’s just she knew she’d probably never see me again, right? She’d probably never see either of us again, and that’s a choice that she made. And you know, I gotta respect it. I gotta respect her. I can’t ask God for something that she didn’t want.
As of season 4 episode 4, “Milk,” which came out May 5, June is still in Gilead but is on the run with Janine en route to Chicago. She is very much trying to get out of Gilead. Nick, on the other hand, is the commander who captured her at the farm. He’s trying to keep her alive, but it also seems he thinks the best way to keep her alive is to keep her in Gilead with him.
It’s a heartbreaking moment from Luke, and one that hints at his mental state. He’s doing everything in his power to help his wife, but he really can’t do much.
Luke Benkole actor O-T Fagbenle says Luke is close to losing it
Having close to no updates about Hannah has traumatized him deeply as well. In an interview with Gold Derby, Fagbenle said Luke’s been traumatized by Gilead from afar for years. He said:
“Nobody gets out of ‘Handmaid’s Tale’ unscathed. All the characters are going through a terrible trauma, and I think Luke is no exception to that. is wife and child are in mortal jeopardy, as is his sanity. We really get to see Luke be put through the wringer on this in a completely different way than other seasons.”
Luke’s monologue about June possibly choosing to stay in Gilead was prompted by Moira asking him to attend a vigil in honor of those trapped by the oppressive regime. He thinks lighting candles is pointless in light of June’s recapture.
“What would you do if you had an entire nation holding your partner and child captive?” Fagbenle said in regard to this. “He feels a great sense of incompetence.”
The actor also admitted Luke didn’t take the threat of Gilead seriously enough in the beginning, which adds to his guilt. He said Luke’s “paying the price” for that inaction now. But he also noted Luke, in his depression, is assuming June’s choice to stay behind in Gilead was an active choice against him. In reality, she stayed to save Hannah. And then, she stayed to fight Gilead. He said:
“She did make that choice. A lot of times, the thing that makes us most anxious as human beings is uncertainty. Not knowing. We sometimes fill the void of our ignorance with our worst fears, and I think that’s what Luke has done. All the nagging worries of what may be are the reality that he lives in.”
The Handmaid’s Tale airs new episodes Wednesdays on Hulu.