The Handmaid's Tale's O-T Fagbenle talks Luke and June's 'extreme' relationship, teases Nick's return
"Don't worry, Nick fans."
Warning: This article contains spoilers about Wednesday's episode of The Handmaid's Tale.
Finally, after four long seasons, June has made it out of Gilead on The Handmaid's Tale.
Last week, we saw her make her escape and reunite with her long-lost husband, Luke (O-T Fagbenle), as she (reluctantly) arrived in Canada. This week, June (Elisabeth Moss) must learn how to live in her new home and cope with the joy, pain, and rage she feels after finding herself in vastly different circumstances. Meanwhile, Luke has to figure out how best to love his wife, who has been through unimaginable trauma.
Here, Fagbenle details the "transformative" reunion and previews what fans can expect from the rest of the season, which is streaming weekly on Hulu.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: What came to mind when you first found out about the reunion between June and Luke?
O-T FAGBENLE: I was really blown away that they were going to do this. I thought the reunion between Luke and June was not going to happen until season "we're finished, we're not coming back anymore." And so to do it, knowing that there's at least one more season, I thought, wow, you guys are pretty brave. And it was so exciting. Also, working with Lizzie [Moss] is one of my favorite things, so I was happy about that.
Plus, can I just say what a pleasure it was to be directed by Lizzie [this season]. I directed a show on Hulu called Maxxx, and it was so challenging for me to kind of act and direct at the same time. And watching Lizzie do it, she had so much grace, and I learned so much from her in that process.
Was it very emotional to shoot the reunion scenes?
It's so funny, because obviously for the characters, it's really emotional and huge. These are overwhelming emotions. But for the actors — and this can't be said for every set — we really like each other. So for us, it's like, "Yay, I get to have a playdate with my friends," kind of. So I know it was very emotional for the viewers watching, but that day for us was just great — I get to connect to all these people that I love and respect and love acting with.
This week, we get to see the first full episode of June in Canada with Luke, and it's anything but a perfectly happy reunion. Where do you think Luke is at right now with her, and what's going through his mind?
The biggest challenge is trying to manage his expectations. Because obviously, getting June back is huge, that's an understatement. It's transformative, it's redemptive — but there's still the most important part of their relationship missing, which is Hannah. That's the biggest part. So with his love coming back to him comes the desperate need to know any information about their daughter. I think it's hard to manage all that — to look after this woman who you love, who has been traumatized, but also deal with the most desperate part of you, which is wanting your child to be safe, and trying to manage all of those emotions with the sensitivity needed.
I think it's interesting, too, that we've seen all of June's trauma, but so much of what Luke has had to deal with, we haven't been there to see him process all of it. Is Luke as put together as he currently seems?
It's funny. Someone once told me that some people's anger gets expressed towards themselves, and it becomes depression. And I think some people express it very easily externally. Then other people, they kind of cover it up, and I think Luke is a cover it up type of person. You definitely see their relationship get about as extreme as you can imagine.
So, what's next for Luke and June?
He struggles a lot with how to best be there for his partner, who was clearly traumatized, and his desperation to know more about their daughter, and to start that search again. His desperation to connect with June has some successes, and quite a few failures, and their relationship is really tested. Also, Nick.
Yes, Nick. I imagine that has to rear its head at some point, seeing as how Luke is raising his daughter.
Yeah, absolutely. Don't worry, Nick fans. Nick rears his tricky little face into our business.
Will Luke and June get their happy ending?
I've come to think that the writers of The Handmaid's Tale aren't overly enamored by happy endings. So I think at this point, I have dreams of an ambivalent ending, but I don't know. Luke definitely holds a candle in the wind for that type of ending, though.