That moment between Luke and June in 'The Handmaid's Tale' season 3 episode 5 is heartbreaking but also explains Nick's role
'The Handmaid's Tale' episode 5 was a let down in many ways, but one thing that did make a mark was the recording that June Osborne (Elisabeth Moss) recorded for her husband Luke Bankole (O-T Fagbenle). The first conversation in a long time between Luke and June is a timed call where she tried to convince him to meet Serena Joy (Yvonne Strahovski) and her husband Fred Waterford (Joseph Fiennes) with Nichole at the Toronto airport.
A lot was left unsaid and all the pent up emotions within June couldn't really be expressed on a recorded call. So she decided to use one of the tapes at Commander Lawrence's (Bradley Whitford) residence to record a message for Luke and sent it across through Serena.
The love June has for Luke hasn't changed and the initial moments of the call, when she hears the voice of the man she loves proves this. She also tried to convince him to do something that goes against everything they have tried to achieve so far, which is to protect themselves from Gilead. While the call itself achieved that, she needed the recording to help him move past the guilt he still felt for not trying harder to save her. She also needed to explain that Nichole, the baby he is now protecting, was born out of love.
She tells him about Nick Blaine (Max Minghella), about needing to build a life in Gilead so as to be able to move past the horrors that take place in life, and has a hard time communicating all of this. She breaks down, says she feels ashamed to even say it, but expresses that it was necessary for her to build a life.
She tells Luke to do the same and stresses how it is not his fault. That none of what happened is. It is true that she is still very much in love with Luke and as she recalls how life with Luke used to be, their relationship is something to envy, but it was Nick who helped her live and move past the horrors in Waterford's residence.
When June speaks of Nick to Luke and tries to jog his memory of the man that he had met, that is an attempt at wanting to be understood for her choice and still be trusted to make the necessary choices to survive. So now that she has had her say, what role will Luke play in her life? This is answered through the conversation that June has with Mrs. Lawrence before recording her thoughts for Luke.
She expresses how it is sometimes okay to hold on to a sliver of a man, especially when that is all you have. This is a reference to how Commander Lawrence has changed over time from the man who used to woo Mrs. Lawrence with mixed music tapes to the man he has become. In June's case, she can only hold on to the sliver of Luke that she holds in her memories.
The sixth episode of 'The Handmaid's Tale' season 3 will air June 26 on Hulu.