The Handmaid's Tale Season 4 Episode 6 Review: Vows

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June is officially a free woman.

After three and a half seasons of a never-ending loop, going from imprisoned handmaid to a fugitive on the run, again and again, June has managed to escape Gilead.

By the end of The Handmaid's Tale Season 4 Episode 6, she is safe from the evil clutches of Gilead -- for now -- and reunited with her best friend and husband. Not bad for a day's work.

June and Moira long - The Handmaid's Tale Season 4 Episode 6

Of course, just because June is free doesn't mean all of her problems are magically solved.

Being in Canada doesn't erase the endless torture and trauma she's been carrying since the beginning, along with the crippling guilt she must be feeling over leaving Hannah behind.

Moira: What happened with Hannah? You said they took her. What happened? I’m not gonna force you to stay. I just want to know.
June: They showed her to me. I saw her. There was nothing I could do for her. There was nothing I could do to help her. She didn’t recognize me. She didn’t know who I was. She was scared of me.
Moira: Oh god.
June: Everything that has happened to her is because of me.
Moira: No, that is not true.
June: How can I go back without her? How can I show up without her?
Moira: June, no one expects you to have her. They’re waiting for a person, not a superhero, even if you did get all those kids out.
June: But not her, not my Hannah. I didn’t have her. I tried, I really did. I did everything I could, but it wasn’t enough. I was supposed to save her because I’m her mother. I’m her mother, and it’s my job to protect her. And I failed. How can I face him? How can I tell him everything that’s happened to her is because of me?
Moira: No, that’s not true. That’s Gilead talking. You know that’s not true.
June: No, he is never going to forgive me. He’s never gonna forgive me.
Moira: All these years, he has waited for you, and he has never given up on you. You need to have a little faith now too.
June: I know him. I know him. I know what he can take.
Moira: How about you find out?

Hannah has always been June's motivator for staying in Gilead, to the point where others, myself included, wondered if there were other reasons why she refused to leave a country that's done nothing but cause her pain when repeatedly given a chance.

However, we did get a little more insight into why June has fought so hard to save her daughter.

June after the bombs - The Handmaid's Tale Season 4 Episode 6

Her willingness to endure endless suffering on the slim possibility of saving her daughter goes farther than motherly love.

Yes, her love for Hannah is an important reason why June has continued to search for her eldest child, and she feels like a failure over not being able to save Hannah.

And yet, she also feels like she can't leave Gilead empty-handed, believing if she arrives in Canada without Hannah, Luke will somehow never forgive her.

Given everything June has pulled off, getting her daughter out of Gilead shouldn't be some herculean task like it might be for other parents.

June and Luke together - The Handmaid's Tale Season 4 Episode 6

She's June freaking Osborne, the fugitive handmaid who got 86 children and nine Marthas out of Gilead. From her point of view, getting one more child out should be as easy as one-two-three.

June holds herself to a higher standard than those around her and believes reuniting with Luke without Hannah is unforgivable.

June: What if we can’t get pregnant?
Luke: What?
June: You and Annie had a hard time having kids. What if that happens to us?
Luke: You are not Annie, OK, and I am a very different person that I was back then.
June: But you don’t know what’s going to happen. What if I end up disappointing you.
Luke: Come on. I don’t know if we’ll be able to have kids, but either way, we’re gonna be OK.
June: You really want kids, though.
Luke: Yeah, I really want you. You’re not gonna disappoint me.
June: You don’t know that. Everyone has a line, something’s that unforgivable. What if I’m not who you think I am?
Luke: Then I’ll just love whoever you turn out to be.

She assumes she's already crossed certain lines in their marriage, such as having a second daughter with another man and arriving without her first daughter would add insult to injury.

Like she cared enough or was capable enough to get Nichole out but not Hannah.

June and freedom - The Handmaid's Tale Season 4 Episode 6

It's not a fair comparison, but as June sails into Canadian waters, all she can think about is how she abandoned Hannah.

What kind of mother, she thinks, would willingly leave her daughter behind in such a corrupt and horrific country so that she could escape to freedom?

For June, it's very black and white, but for those who love her, it's plenty of shades of gray.

Luke would love nothing more than to have June and Hannah back, but that doesn't mean he wants to see his wife face certain death to do so.

Luke and unfulfilled promises - The Handmaid's Tale Season 4 Episode 6

Getting June back is enough for now, and together, they can continue the search for Hannah from Canada.

Gilead has already taken away years of their lives, and Luke doesn't want to lose any more time.

June: I’m sorry I don’t have her, OK. I’m sorry. I’m sorry it’s just me. I’m sorry it’s just me. I’m sorry. I’m sorry. I’m so sorry. I’m sorry.
Luke: You’re OK.

The adjustment to life in Canada is bound to be challenging, but hopefully, June will make it through with the support of her loved ones.

Moira, Emily, and even Rita have all been through this, so let's hope June decides to lean on them for strength rather than engage in self-destructive behaviors.

June and Moira cuddle - The Handmaid's Tale Season 4 Episode 6

For so long, her driving force has been to rescue her daughter and for them to get out of Gilead.

However, now that she's "failed," where does she go from here?

June isn't the type to sit back and let others fight the good fight; no, she'd want to be on the front lines, doing whatever possible to tear Gilead down to the ground.

It wouldn't even be that surprising if June, once settled, makes the rash decision to sneak back into Gilead, possibly disguised as a Martha or an aunt, to try to rescue Hannah.

Nick talks - The Handmaid's Tale Season 4 Episode 5

I'm not necessarily a fan of that plan, but at least it's a way to continue the Gilead-centric plotlines.

With all the main characters except Nick, Aunt Lydia, and Commander Lawrence in Gilead, there's not much of an incentive to spend time in the former United States.

Moira: Do you really think this is a good idea?
June: Which part?
Moira: All of it. All the parts.
June: Wait, so you think marrying Luke is a bad idea?
Moira: Look, I just think it would be a lot easier to end an engagement than a marriage.
June: And you know this how? Because of all the marriages you’ve ended.
Moira: Never mind.
June: No, no, no, no. I’m curious. Tell me why you think I shouldn’t marry a kind, smart, loving man who has a good job and nice shoulders.
Moira: Because he cheats on his wives, and he leaves them when they can’t reproduce.
June: Wife, one prior wife, and I’m not Annie.
Moira: Not yet.
June: Our marriage is not going to be like that marriage. They fought all the time about all kinds of stuff. We never fight.

That's not to say the writers won't try to entice us with storylines set in Gilead, but there's little reason to care what's going on south of the US-Canada border when all the best characters are in the Great White North.

From June's re-entrance into a non-Gilead society and her reunion with Luke to the Waterfords' upcoming trial, there is more than enough material to keep us Canada-bound for the rest of the season.

Commander Lawrence address - The Handmaid's Tale Season 4 Episode 5

Unfortunately, we'll likely divide our time between Gilead and Canada, which isn't exactly bad, but it's not great either.

With June in Canada, there should be a shift in the focus, but it may end up being a 50/50 split.

Nick's entire subplot for the past few seasons has been ensuring that June is safe, so with his baby mama out of Gilead, there's not much for him to do.

The alliance between Commander Lawrence and Aunt Lydia has potential, but if that storyline doesn't find a way to connect to a more general overarching plot, then it's unclear what the point of that is either.

June goes searching - The Handmaid's Tale Season 4 Episode 5

The show needs to follow where the characters and storylines need, not the other way around, so let's hope the writers do because now that June is in Canada, there are so many possibilities.

How does she adjust to a somewhat normal life? What does that transition look like?

June: You can’t make me leave without Hannah.
Moira: Hannah?
June: You can’t make me leave without her, Moira.
Moira: Where is she?
June: You can’t make me leave without her. I don’t know.
Moira: Hannah.
June: I don’t know. I have to get back to her.
Moira: You don’t know. What do you mean you don’t know? How are you going to get to her, huh? Look at you, you piece of shit. You don’t even know where she is. How are you going to find her?
June: They took her because of me. She was so scared. She was so scared.
Moira: She’s safer without you. They’re gonna look for you. They’re gonna hunt you down, and they’re gonna kill you. And they’ll kill you in front of her. You want to help her? You leave her the hell behind, and you come with me. You want to fight them? You fight them from Canada. We will help you. The Canadians will help you. The American government, whatever’s fucking left of it, is in Canada. They will help you. I’ll be there. Luke, Emily, Rita, everyone who loves you is there. Nichole, Nichole is there.
June: Is she OK?
Moira: Yes, she needs you. She’s growing up, and she’s amazing, but she needs you because you’re her mother. You’re her mother, OK. Come on, June. Come on.

What does her marriage with Luke look like now? Are they still together? And how does her past with Nick impact them as a couple?

How does June react to the Waterfords' upcoming trial and Serena's pregnancy? More importantly, what will happen at the trial?

There are so many exciting places the story can go from here, and I can't wait for the final four episodes of the season.

Moira talks - The Handmaid's Tale Season 4 Episode 6

This installment wasn't just about June, as Moira played a pretty significant role in getting her best friend out of Gilead.

It's understandable why Moira broke the rules and smuggled June out.

We all have people we would risk anything and everything for, and in Moira's shoes, most of us would do the same thing.

However, on a larger scale, it wasn't necessarily the right call.

June and Moira run - The Handmaid's Tale Season 4 Episode 6

Moira's actions put the NGO's future in jeopardy, and her stunt could mean no more food, medicine, or aid of any kind to the war-torn Americans.

As Oona rightfully pointed out, one person's life, even someone as remarkable as June Osborne, isn't worth the lives of everyone else.

Oona: When we get back we can work on trying to get her out.
Moira: No, no, fuck that.
Oona: I don’t have time for this.
Moira: Oona, she’s hurt. She’s not gonna last a week here.
Oona: Look, I get that this is hard.
Moira: No, not hard. It’s life or death.
Oona: For everyone, not just you and not just her.
Moira: She’s my best friend, Oona.
Oona: Gilead finds out we took her, no more missions, no more food, no more medicine, nothing for any of these people. You think June is more important than every one of them? I’m sorry.

In theory, Moira understands this, but when she came face-to-face with her best friend, she wasn't thinking about everyone else; she was thinking about how she couldn't leave June behind, not again.

Her best friend was standing right in front of her in desperate need of help, and there was no way Moira was going to leave Gilead once again without June.

Moira aid trip - The Handmaid's Tale Season 4 Episode 5

Moira had already done that once before, and it nearly broke her.

She could not go through that again, so she snuck June onto the boat and forced her former girlfriend to conceal June.

Again, it was something most of us would have done for a loved one, so it's hard to fault Moira.

There wasn't a clear-cut solution to this problem, but Moira did what was best for her and June.

Oona - The Handmaid's Tale Season 4 Episode 6

It may have dire consequences for the people in Chicago and beyond, but that didn't even register when Moira made her decision.

And if it had, it probably wouldn't have made a difference.

Moira: You’re the one who decided to save her.
Oona: Because you put me in a position where I had to either save her or kill her.
Moira: You couldn’t have expected me to leave her behind.
Oona: You don’t think I’ve ever had to leave anyone behind. Every mission, you don’t think I’ve had to make hard choices, choices that keep me up at night, that I regret every single day.
Moira: I’m sorry. I wish it didn’t have to be about us.
Oona: Let’s not make this last longer than it has to.
Moira: We can still talk at the office.
Oona: There’s not gonna be an office after this.

One life may not be worth hundreds or thousands or millions, but at that moment, none of that registers.

The potential impact of smuggling June out of Gilead is uncertain and off in the future, whereas June would probably die or be killed if Moira left her behind.

Moira's WTF Look - Tall - The Handmaid's Tale Season 3 Episode 1

It's too late for Moira and the others to play what-if now, and they'll have to learn to live with the consequences.

What that means for the NGO's future is unclear, but Moira and Oona's relationship is over.

Moira put Oona in a terrible position, even if it was for the right reasons. 

She put her own wants and desires before her girlfriend's, knowing could cost Oona everything she's spent years working toward.

It was the right decision for Moira but the wrong one for her relationship, so we can't blame Oona for ending things. Maybe in time, they'll reconcile, but for now, Moira and Oona are done.

June and Janine run - The Handmaid's Tale Season 4 Episode 4

Some stray thoughts:

  • Since June is a fugitive handmaid and responsible for rescuing all those children, are we supposed to believe the port authority inspectors had no idea what Gilead's most wanted looked like? Escaping on an aid worker boat to Canada may be a little farfetched, but wouldn't officials have circulated her photo?

  • What happened to Janine? Is she alive? Dead? Badly injured? We never found out, and inquiring minds want need to know. 
Janine tries - The Handmaid's Tale Season 4 Episode 5
  • Wouldn't the arrival of June Osborne on Canadian soil draw a crowd of some sort? Whether you love or hate her, the media would have a field day with her arrival. I can see the headline now: Angel Flight Leader Arrives in Canada.

  • It was heartbreaking to watch those Americans banging outside the barriers, begging the aid workers to save them. I don't think I could live with the guilt of leaving all those poor helpless people behind.

So what did you think Handmaid's Tale Fanatics?

What are your thoughts on June making it to Canada?

What do you want to see happen next?

Did Moira do the right thing?

Don't forget to hit the comments below to let me know your thoughts. If you missed the latest episode, remember you can watch The Handmaid's Tale online at TV Fanatic.

Vows Review

Editor Rating: 4.9 / 5.0
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User Rating:

Rating: 4.3 / 5.0 (31 Votes)

Jessica Lerner was a staff writer for TV Fanatic. She retired in October 2021.

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The Handmaid's Tale Season 4 Episode 6 Quotes

Oona: When we get back we can work on trying to get her out.
Moira: No, no, fuck that.
Oona: I don’t have time for this.
Moira: Oona, she’s hurt. She’s not gonna last a week here.
Oona: Look, I get that this is hard.
Moira: No, not hard. It’s life or death.
Oona: For everyone, not just you and not just her.
Moira: She’s my best friend, Oona.
Oona: Gilead finds out we took her, no more missions, no more food, no more medicine, nothing for any of these people. You think June is more important than every one of them? I’m sorry.

June: Why are you here?
Moira: Hey, shh, I came back.
June: Why?
Moira: I came back for you. I came back to help you, and I fucking found you.
June: It’s not safe Moira. You shouldn’t be here.
Moira: I fucking found you. I fucking found you.
June: You’re so crazy. You shouldn’t be here.
Moira: No, I found you. I’m going to take care of you. I got you. I got you.