Warning: Contains SPOILERS for The Handmaid’s Tale season 4, episode 10, “The Wilderness.”
June Osborne made some big decisions in The Handmaid’s Tale season 4 finale, and one of them was effectively choosing Nick Blaine over Luke Bankole. It was expected that June escaping Gilead to Canada would be bad news for anyone wanting her to end up with Nick, but that’s not quite how things have played out across The Handmaid’s Tale‘s Nick and June season 4 arc. A happy ending for June and Nick remains incredibly unlikely, especially after the events in The Handmaid’s Tale season 5. Nick remains entrapped within Gilead in a cell, and it’s hard to see any chance of him getting out alive. At the same time, though, June and Luke have struggled to make things work since she arrived in Canada, and the events of the season 4 finale, “The Wilderness,” which saw June and other Handmaids kill Fred Waterford, only served to exacerbate things in that regard.
June killing Fred was one of The Handmaid’s Tale‘s biggest season 4 moments, but it’s not where that storyline ends. In the closing moments of season 4, June says goodbye to Nichole and tells Luke she’ll be leaving. For his part, Luke looks completely broken by what June has done, and she herself is leaving because they need distance from each other and have different paths to walk right now, rather than being in any legal trouble for Fred’s death (at least as it stands, though that could change). June killed Fred out of her own thirst for revenge, and while it was also a decision made with Nichole in mind because it’s about ridding the world of dangerous men like Fred and the systems that uphold them, it also put Nick before Luke, giving him a key role in Fred Waterford’s death in The Handmaid’s Tale and showing what he gives June that Luke doesn’t. The Handmaid’s Tale‘s Nick and June season 4 ending, therefore, makes perfect sense.
June Left Luke Because He Doesn’t Know Her Anymore
Luke loves June and wants to understand and help her, but there’s a large part of her that he doesn’t know. It’s that part of June that drives her to kill Fred, and it’s that which Nick truly understands and appreciates better than anyone. For as long as June is on a quest to bring down Gilead, save her daughter, Hannah, and overcome her trauma, then it will always be difficult for her to be with Luke, while she will always be drawn to Nick. He is the one who can deliver what she wants in the season 4 finale, and also the person she would trust to do so.
It had previously felt as though the June and Nick season 4 romance ended with their meeting at the Maria Magdalena Academy in season 4, episode 9, “Progress,” which felt like a goodbye, but it seemed more clear their fates will remain entwined for a while longer, as seen in The Handmaid’s Tale season 5 when he visits June at the hospital. The pair share a kiss before Fred is chased to his death, which further highlights just how much they understand one another: it’s an otherwise dark moment and signifies how Nick understands this side of June because of his own experiences in Gilead and his empathy with June’s position.
Why June Had To Pick Nick In Handmaid’s Tale Season 4
Actress Elisabeth Moss has also supported the idea that the Nick and June season 4 storyline is inevitable, telling Elle: “She wants to be with Nick. She’s in love with Nick.” This underlines June’s thinking in The Handmaid’s Tale season 4 finale: while Luke can offer her so many great things like a safe, happy family life, Moss herself admits that June belongs with Nick. She has been changed too much by Gilead, and she and Nick share something different. Nick’s ultimate goal remains deliberately obscured by the show’s storytelling since he has to continue serving as a Commander in Gilead and hasn’t always done everything to help June, but it seems that he is shifting more fully to her side.
Nick is the one with whom June feels genuine electricity, even though she cares for and loves Luke, and the Gilead commander is also the one who can give her what she wants. Killing Fred is a choice that June makes despite knowing it’ll have major consequences for her relationship with Luke, and it’s also one that brings her closer to Nick once again – however fleetingly – further cementing them as the show’s primary romantic pairing.
Ultimately, The Handmaid’s Tale‘s Nick and June season 4 storyline illustrates that while June technically had a choice in who to be with, Nick was always destined to win out. Luke and June shared a genuine connection once. However, based on the path of revenge that June is currently on and the ways her trauma has changed her, Nick is the option that makes the most sense for her character. Being with Nick allows June to continue on her current trajectory, whereas choosing Luke would have meant moving past Gilead and trying to find a semblance of the peace she knew before. The Handmaid’s Tale season 6 could allow June this development eventually. However, for now, she’s still deeply embroiled in the fight against Gilead and has a continuing entanglement with Nick.
Nick And June’s Happiness Is Short-Lived
The Handmaid’s Tale‘s Nick and June season 4 arc did provide a glimmer of hope for the couple, but that has all but been squashed by the events of The Handmaid’s Tale season 5. For starters, Nick and June have only been in the same room once since her escape from Gilead. While Nick tries his best to keep June safe from within Gilead’s walls, now that he’s a Commander, it didn’t stop June from being run over and shot at. The attempt on June’s life leading up to The Handmaid’s Tale season 5 finale saw her in the hospital with Mark Tuello. He kisses June on the forehead, but she does no more than stir. The private conversation between Tuello and Nick reveals why Nick didn’t escape Gilead with June, as Nick states, “She has people who care for her. She doesn’t need me. I’m nothing.”
Obviously Nick is referring to Luke here, but nonetheless, his feelings of love for June are uncomfortably brought to the surface again by his pregnant wife Rose, who accuses him of never getting over her. He doesn’t tell Rose that she’s wrong, rather, he breaks down saying that he tried to let her go, but just can’t. Further, Nick really gets himself in trouble when he punches Commander Lawrence at his wedding for the latest attack on June — a misstep that ends with Nick locked up in a cell. Unfortunately, June and Nick are more separate than ever going into The Handmaid’s Tale‘s final season, but hopefully, they will somehow find each other again.