The Handmaid's Tale has generally focused on June. If it's not telling the story of her survival in Gilead, it's focusing on those who are thinking about June. That ranges from people who love her, like Luke, to those who hate her, like the Waterfords. But Season 4 has begun to widen that focus as characters start forming new relationships like Moira has with Oona. So who is Oona on The Handmaid's Tale and why is she suddenly so important?
Warning: Spoilers for The Handmaid's Tale Season 4, Episode 6 follow. When Moira appeared out of the dust and dirt at the end of Episode 5, it seemed like a dream. June, in her hour of need, looked up and saw her old friend who escaped the horrors of Gilead. Fans weren't even sure it was real. But it turned out Moira was very real. She was in Chicago, working to help those in need.
What fans might not have remembered is that back in Episode 2, the series had introduced Oona, a British subject living in Toronto, who worked for CERA. Viewers met her through Moira as the two had recently started dating. Moira had been feeling frustrated recently with her inability to help those in Gilead and Oona had suggested signing up to accompany her team on their next trip across the Great Lakes to deliver food and aid to those starving on the other side of the border.
She hadn't meant for Moira to find June or smuggle her back across the border.
When Oona refused Moira’s request to smuggle June into Canada, it might have seemed shocking. June exposed Gilead's human rights abuses and smuggled 86 children back to their rightful parents. She's a hero, a symbol of the American resistance.
But that's not how it works for those on the ground providing aid. These groups are in a delicate political situation. As Oona argued to Moira, this is the classic Star Trek "the good of the many outweighs the needs of the one." If CERA smuggled June out, it meant Gilead would cut them off. Hundreds, if not thousands, would die in Chicago from lack of basic supplies. Even June agreed Oona was right. When she was discovered after Moira snuck her on the departing ship anyway, June said her life wasn't more important than those starving in Chicago and that Oona should do the right thing and turn June in.
Moira was appalled. June was a political refugee, a woman who had sacrificed so much for so many. But more importantly, June was her friend. Friends don't leave friends behind.
Thankfully, when the moment came to hand June over to Gilead officers, Oona couldn't do it. Faced with the reality of sending a woman to certain death, Oona let the needs of the one outweigh the good of the many. Moira got June through the border patrol, saying June was concussed from a bomb explosion — which was true — and unable to answer the guards' questions.
Oona and Moira's relationship may be over now, with Moira choosing June over a new chance at love. But the choice was the correct one: Recognizing the needs of the individual despite the many is what makes us human.
The Handmaid’s Tale continues Wednesdays on Hulu.