So, what happened to Luke?
That’s the big question here. Margaret Atwood’s novel doesn’t really say what happened to him. Or at least I don’t think it does. Admittedly I only read it once twenty years ago, so my memory may not be perfect, but what I do recall matches up with the pilot episode: Offred/June were making a break for it to Canada when she was captured and he was killed We saw something like that in the pilot. They made a mad dash for the border when Luke crashed the car. June and their daughter Hannah headed off into the woods. Luke stayed behind, and not long after that, just before June and Hannah are caught, there’s a gunshot.
But then in the previous episode, the Mexican ambassador’s assistant said he knew Luke was alive and promised Offred he could get a message to him. How he knew Luke was alive given it was really random luck he met Offred at all is a mystery to me, but let’s move on.
While Offred is obviously suffering more directly and in a more long term manner, Luke didn’t have it easy either. We see some bits where he and his family attempted to get to Canada on their own, trusting a courier who sets them up in a cabin and seems to be killed later. We see Luke does get shot, but he was stabilized since he might know something and a lucky break of his ambulance flipping over while he was strapped down kept him more or less alive and killed the Guardians in the ambulance. He hooked up with a group headed for the border consisting of, among others, a nun, a gay man, and an escaped Handmaid who was so traumatized by what she went through she doesn’t really speak anymore. Luke is set to return to Boston, but then learns what happens when one of his escorts shows him a church full of hanged men who tried to protect their women from the Guardians. He’s then lucky to be, along with the traumatized woman, one of the first on the boat because the group is then ambushed and the ones on land are killed.
Three years later, Luke and the woman are living in “Little America,” in what seems to be Toronto, and that’s when Luke gets the message from June. What does it say? “I love you so much. Save Hannah.”
Neither of them are in any position to save Hannah, but the relief Luke gets that June at least is still alive is palatable. But Luke escaped, Luke is in a safe place. He wants his family back, but compared to what June is going through, his nightmare is over.
That said, one thing did jump out in this episode: there are a lot of people trying to resist and help each other out. The hunter who finds Luke, Hannah, and June could have turned them in. Instead, he gives them some advice of his own to get to safety.
Then again, June starts by saying they should have made a run for it when Moira did, since Moira seems to have gotten away.
We know that isn’t true either.