This story contains spoilers for The Handmaid’s Tale Season 1. To refresh your memory of where we left off, check out our highlights recap.
There’s just about one guarantee for the second season of The Handmaid’s Tale: No one is safe.
The cast and executive producers of Hulu’s hit show made that abundantly clear during the panel at PaleyFest on Sunday, March 18. They revealed some tantalizing details about where the characters are going when we return to Gilead on April 25.
“Anyone could die,” said executive producer Warren Littlefield. But, like the show’s world, it isn’t just all darkness. Showrunner Bruce Miller also revealed that at least one person will escape Gilead’s clutches, and well, we’re certainly pulling for June over Serena.
The end of Season 1 left off on an ambiguous note (to say the least), with many of characters left to hang in a freefall of uncertainty. So where will they be in Season 2?
Thankfully, Alexis Bledel will return as Emily, despite the horrors she faced. EW revealed that Season 2 Emily even gets her own flashback scenes to pre-Gilead life with her wife, played by guest star Clea Duvall.
But in the here and now, Emily finds herself stuck in the most desolate of places.
Only hinted at in both the book and Season 1, the colonies are like Gilead’s concentration camps: a radioactive wasteland where the “unwomen” are sent to work until they die. Bledel mentioned it as a place where one’s physical health immediately deteriorates. Miller said the colonies are, “an extrapolation of the way [Gilead] thinks about women — as disposable.”
Perhaps the most tragic yet oddly uplifting character of all, the handmaids’ refusal to stone her does not save Janine from punishment. She’s sent to the Colonies for endangering her child, but actress Madeline Brewer said it isn’t all bad. “She’s just grateful that’s she’s alive, after so many brushes with death.”
For Aunt Lydia, Offred’s pregnancy is the victory she’s been working toward. But as we’ve seen, even a happy and determined Aunt Lydia is a terrifying Aunt Lydia. In Season 2, Miller said we’ll see her “sense of duty to make sure Offred’s baby is healthy and comes into a loving household — even if it kills her and most of the people around her.”
While Moira’s escape to Canada might be the best ending a handmaid can hope for, Samira Wiley said there’s no escaping the trauma left behind. In Little America (Toronto’s safe haven for Gilead refugees) her and Luke deepen their relationship through a common love for June.
Wiley also hinted that we’d see Moira’s life not only before Gilead, but outside of June. In Season 1, she mentions the love of her life, Odette — who was reclassified as an “unwoman.” Will Moira get another reunion? Or is Odette with Janine and Emily now in the Colonies?
O-T Fagbenle echoed Wiley’s sentiments, saying that they both have PTSD to deal with. But also, Season 2 explores the parts of Luke and June’s relationship that were less than rosey. Don’t forget: He left his first wife to marry her. So we’ll see the more “contentious” parts of their coupling.
Actor Max Minghella gave some assurance to audiences that the shift we see in his character after learning about June’s baby is genuine. “His primal feelings for her have not shifted for her,” he said. “Nick’s constantly making decisions that negate his self-preservation [for her.]”
“Serena’s pissed,” said Yvonne Strahovski. And, boy, we know how dangerous that can get.
When it comes to Commander Waterford, “They’ve come to an incredibly uneasy peace,” said Miller. “[The loss of June] hollowed out their marriage… but I don’t know if you’d see that from the outside. They seem like a united front [against June.]”
The poor Martha left to deal with the repercussions in the Waterford household after June’s departure, “is in the most perilous state she’s ever been in,” said actress Amanda Brugel.
For obvious reasons, Season 2 will focus on the theme of motherhood. But we’ll get a full scope of this through Offred/June’s character. In flashback scenes, we’ll see one of the most interesting relationships from the book’s that has yet to be explored in the show: June’s own mother.
Relating it back to the conversations about #MeToo — and the shift between second and third wave feminism — producer Warren Littlefield suggested that June’s relationship to her mom will exemplify that.