In the previous episode, June learned that Luke was still alive—the episode ended with a visiting Mexican diplomat pressing a notebook into her hand so that she could write her husband a note.
It follows, then, that this episode focuses entirely on Luke’s story. We learn that he was, indeed, shot when they were trying to flee to Canada, but that he survived and later escaped from a crashed ambulance. We also learn how the family came to be traveling on that remote road. They had previously escaped from the city and were living in a cabin owned by a friend, but learned they were being sought and that the friend who helped them escape was killed.
The episode opens just as the series opened—Luke, June, and Hannah’s car skids off the road. June runs through the woods with Hannah. This time, however, the camera stays with Luke rather than following June. He waits at their car and retrieves a revolver from the trunk. When the guardians pull up, he fires at them but they have better aim and he is shot. He loses consciousness and flashes back to a scene of June and Hannah singing karaoke. Meanwhile, he’s loaded into an ambulance. The ambulance ends up skidding off the icy road and flipping into a creek, killing everyone onboard except Luke, who is strapped into a gurney. Now conscious, he unstraps himself, takes medical supplies and a gun, and puts on one of the guardians’ jackets to disguise himself. Still wounded, he flees and makes it back to their car. There, he follows June’s path into the woods and finds his daughter’s stuffed bunny and a shoe. He knows they’ve been taken.
We flash back to the morning they left Boston—they pretended to be going out to brunch so as not to arouse suspicion, but they talk and agree that they probably should have left when Moira did rather than wait on visas. They drive outside the city and meet a man who is going to smuggle them out of city limits. Luke, June, and Hannah all get in the trunk of the car and the leave. They are stopped once, but their driver has paid off the guardian who checks the trunk, so they’re allowed to pass. They arrive at a cabin, and the man recommends they stay there rather than try to cross the border alone.
We flash forward. Injured Luke manages to make it to a town, and hides in an abandoned home. He is found by other people who are also fleeing, and they take him onto their bus and treat his wound. He recalls making pancakes together with his family, but quickly snaps back to the present. Then, the others in the bus tell him that the guardians appear to be rounding up fertile women.
We flash back to their time spent at the cabin (post-escape from the city, pre-capture by guardians). While there, a neighbor discovers them. He seems friendly enough, but June and Luke are clearly nervous.
We flash forward. In the refugee bus, Luke keeps trying to leave so that he can find his daughter and wife, but the others prevent him until finally he is threatened into staying. They tell him that, once they reach the port, he can go back to Boston if he wants. He agrees.
We flash back again: Back at the cabin (post-escape from the city, pre-capture by guardians), the neighbor they met arrives to warn them that the guardians know their car and are searching for them. He advises them of the route to take and says he has a friend who will meet them at the border.
We flash forward again: The refugee bus arrives at its destination, where they are set to catch a boat that will take them to Canada. Before they meet the boat, a fellow refugee takes Luke to a church full of hanging bodies, and warns him that if he goes back, he will die. He decides to come along to Canada, and barters passage onto the boat using the medication he took from the ambulance earlier in the episode, along with his wedding ring. He boards the boat, but they are shot at before the whole group can get on. The boat pulls away into the darkness as they are fired upon.
The episode moves to the present—the actual present, in which Luke is living freely, June is a Handmaid, and their daughter is in the hands of Guardians. Luke appears to have stuck with the one member of the refugee bus crew who made it, a woman who doesn’t speak because she is so traumatized by what she endured. Luke is apparently searching for Hannah. He is summoned to a building full of flyers about missing women; the flyers coat the hallways. The place appears to be a law firm or some kind of consulate, as there are American flags around, but no explanation is given. Luke enters a room and is prepared to give the woman there a folder full of information when the woman stops him and asks him if he knows June. He says that’s his wife. He is handed an envelope, inside which is a note from June, written three weeks prior and passed on by the Mexican official. We learn that Luke thought June was dead, just as she thought he was dead. At first, he cries tears of joy, but in a terrific bit of acting, the tears turn sorrowful.
The episode ends with a shot of June in her bedroom at the Waterfords’ house. They are thinking of each other, across a great distance.
Though this episode takes some risks with timeline—flashbacks within flashbacks within flashbacks—it’s never unclear where you are while you’re watching (an impressive feat). It also provides more background into how the country got to the state it’s in. Luke and June tried to operate as though the usual rules apply by going the visa route to leave the country, but it’s clear that denial and the expectation that the usurpers had compassion beyond their own self-interest played a role in the break-up of the status quo. Luke and June—and others—behaved as though the recourses they would have used in the United States could still work for them. Staging protests, applying for visas—but these things were protected by a government that no longer exists.
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