Luke makes a difficult choice in The Handmaid's Tale Episode 7

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May 24, 2017

Overview:

In episode 1, Luke and June are separated. Here, in episode "The Other Side," we learn what happens to Luke.

The Story So Far:

Just as the previous episode, "A Woman's Place," was mostly framed through Serena, "The Other Side" takes place from Luke's point of view—almost entirely, save one brief moment at the end. It starts from the moment Luke tells June to grab their daughter Hannah and run.

Luke tries to hold off the Guardians of Gilead, who want both June and Hannah for their separate yet nefarious purposes. He is quickly shot. But just as he skidded off the road in the first episode, the ambulance that takes Luke away also slides on a wintry road. The Guardians are killed, and Luke slips away with a bagful of medicine.

He makes his way to the site where he had lost June and Hannah, then to a deserted town, where he collapses and is found by five rebels.

Flashbacks explain how Luke, June and Hannah come to be on the road: A smuggler friend of June's mother secretes them to his cabin in the woods and leaves them, explaining he'll return soon. Instead, they are found by a random hunter, who tells them that the smuggler is dead, strung up for his crimes. But the hunter is a kindly man with a friend who will meet them at the Canadian border. If only they can make it.

In the current present (I'll get to that), the rebels explain they're making their way to Canada, but Luke is determined to find June and Hannah. The leader shows him why he should reconsider: a dozen corpses strung up in the rafters.

It's a difficult choice, but he makes it. Luke agrees to stay with the small group. But as he boards a boat on his way to north, the group is ambushed by Guardians. Only he and one mute female survivor of a massacre (who is given the name "TBD") manage to escape.

Flash forward to what is actually the present.

Luke and TBD, who is still mute, are in the Toronto neighborhood of Little America when Luke is summoned to the embassy of the former United States. It is here he learns that June is still alive … and that she has sent him a message.

In the show's only present-day shot of Offred, we hear her words as she has written them: "I love you. So much. Save Hannah."

Stellar Moment:

That flash forward to the present? It's three years. This means that June has been living as Offred for three. whole. years. It was a shocking moment, realizing how much time has past.

Not-So-Stellar Moment:

This was the least successful episode of The Handmaid's Tale. We know that Luke is alive in the present, because a Mexican trade delegate told Offred so. This means we know that each woe he suffers doesn't matter to the story. Because the episode is only concerned with Luke's survival — will he or won't he live — it has no real tension. "The Other Side" was borderline dull.

Sidenote: A show like Better Call Saul, a prequel to Breaking Bad, manages to make its series enjoyable by creating interesting, off-the-wall situations for its characters. Yes, we know the characters' outcomes. But their journeys are far from linear.

Quotes:

The nun to Luke: "I wasted a whole prayer on you. One of the good ones."