This article contains spoilers for The Handmaid’s Tale season four.
After four seasons of The Handmaid’s Tale, fans of the dystopian series will know that some scenes are harder to view than others. But, as audiences tuned in to watch “Home”, the seventh episode in its fourth season, what many thought would depict the long-awaited reunion between protagonist June Osbourne (Elisabeth Moss) and husband Luke Bankole (O. T. Fagbenle), what creators offered up instead was arguably the series’ most graphic and unnerving scene yet—and fans had a lot to say.
After having finally fled her life as a handmaid in Gilead, surviving rape, torture, and committing countless murders to survive, June finally finds her way across the border to Canada, to the husband she hasn’t seen in seven years, Luke. However, while viewers were hoping the reunion of the couple would mean a change in the show’s violent streak, it was a haunting look at surviving trauma.
The series shows June and Luke’s first sexual encounter, following June’s late-night confrontation with Serena Joy Waterford (Yvonne Strahovski), who is being held in jail by the United States. Arriving back home and seemingly energised by the confrontation of her former torturer, June begins to have sex with a sleeping Luke, who wakes and is confused by the situation.
Creator and showrunner Bruce Miller spoke with Decider, revealing the show’s team “did a lot of research” about how to depict June’s re-entry into normal life after the past years of trauma. “I think the first thing you have to do is ask yourself the limits of your own imagination and be comfortable with the fact that you do have limits,” he said. “After that, you have to start speaking to people who’ve gone through these things, or at least people who deal with people who have gone through these things directly.”
“I think that’s the key,” Miller continued. “To not say, here’s the one [way people process trauma]. Otherwise, you end up sending the message that whatever you’re going through, someone happens to see it is not valid. That’s not something we’re trying to say.”
If you or someone you know is impacted by sexual assault or family violence, call 1800-RESPECT on 1800 737 732 or visit www.1800RESPECT.org.au.