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Pop CultureMay 21, 2021

The Handmaid’s Tale recap: Moira row the boat ashore, hallelujah

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Praise be, June Osborne finally makes it out of Gilead – but it’s not all smooth sailing.

We thought it would never happen. They said it could never be done. We’ve endured four gruelling seasons of dystopian horrors where our handmaid heroine has escaped Gilead and been caught, time and time again, but this week was different. Episode six made everything worth it, because June Osborne finally put her feet on Canadian soil.

Do it. DO IT.

Okay, it was Canadian concrete, but who cares? Not June, who tried her hardest to stay in a warzone by refusing to leave without Hannah or Janine, until best friend Moira shouted sense into her. Not Moira, who found June when the rest of Gilead couldn’t and rescued her at the cost of her relationship with girlfriend Oona, and definitely not Luke, who welcomed June to Canada with a hug to end all hugs, even though her first words to him were “I’m sorry it’s just me.”

June shouldn’t be sorry, because after such a torturous build up, it only took a few short steps to make her escape. Moira rescued June after Gilead bombed the crap out of Chicago’s insurgent areas, taking her to the relief aid camp and smuggling her onto a departing ship. There were no complications, no last-minute train smooshings. June and Moira made a quick sprint up a gangway and Bob’s your uncle, Lydia’s your aunt, welcome to the cruise of a lifetime. 

TFW you find your best mate in a warzone.
TFW your best mate doesn’t want to leave the warzone.

But in true Handmaid’s Tale style, June’s escape never felt certain. Oona was fuming that Moira had smuggled June on board, and wanted to turn June over to the authorities to protect future humanitarian missions to Gilead. Oona is a real mood killer, and if she tried binge watching seasons one to four during a wet weekend, she’d probably have a different attitude. Oona also didn’t know June had spent the last few days hiding in a milk train, and that June would have no problem disappearing under a floorboard or disguising herself by pretending to be a toy fish and singing ‘Take Me to the River’ like a dystopian Billy Bass, just to avoid being sent back to Gilead. 

Oona? Oono.

Escaping hell is an emotional process, and June was all over the place. One minute she wanted to leave Gilead, the next she was desperate to return even though it would mean certain death. She even offered to hand herself over to Gilead authorities when they checked the ship at the…water border? Sure, why not. Eventually Oona relented and printed June some fake identification, presumably with a big moustache and a set of wacky glasses on the photo, just to make it look super legit. Canada loves a practical joke, right? Democracy is always good for a laugh. 

This was the worst charter the Below Deck crew had all season.

June became Canadian aid worker Rachel Smith, but fooling the authorities bought her no joy. Leaving Chicago means June will never see Hannah again, and as the boat sailed into Canadian waters, June began to process her guilt. Elizabeth Moss and Samira Wiley are always so good together, and combined with flashbacks to their pre-Gilead friendship, this was a powerful episode. Their reunion was full of regret and relief, as June worried how Luke would react to her return and Moira became desperate to protect her friend. Flashbacks showed Luke vowing to love the person June turned into, no matter what, which is exactly how I feel about Billy Bass every time he sings when his batteries are going flat.


Praise be for Moira, as the only person who can ever talk sense into June. Their friendship is the true love story of this show, and it was heartwarming to watch someone take care of June without any ulterior motive or deceit. Moira was all of us when she told June how dumb she was being by wanting to return to Gilead, that there were people in Canada who needed her more than Hannah. Luke. Nichole. Jason Priestley. Everyone needs a bit of June Osborne in their lives. 

June stayed on the boat. She said goodbye to Hannah to save herself. She reunited with Luke, and she took her first steps towards freedom. A blessed day, indeed. 

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