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[This story contains spoilers for the season two finale of Hulu’s The Handmaid’s Tale, “The Word.”]
“Blessed be the fight.”
That’s the phrase that best defines what’s ahead when The Handmaid’s Tale returns for its third season, according to several people in the know: star and executive producer Elisabeth Moss, as well as creator and showrunner Bruce Miller, just to name two.
The Hulu drama, currently nominated for 20 Emmy Awards, stands ready to plunge headlong into a fight between those in power within Gilead, and those in resistance within Gilead. June, formerly known as Offred, stands firmly on the second side of the battle line — and the result, at least according to what Moss tells The Hollywood Reporter: “She is no longer alone. She has an army, and she’s going to fight.”
June’s intentions for the future are known — active resistance against Gilead, while simultaneously seeking to save her daughter Hannah (Jordana Blake) and others still at the mercy of this fascist regime — but many questions about the future of the show remain in place, such as…
1. What does Serena have left?
Serena Joy (Yvonne Strahovski) finally spoke out against the men in charge of Gilead in the season finale, and she lost a finger for it. The physical damage is nothing compared to the wounds she sustained when June ran away with her infant daughter, who still retains the name given to her by Serena, Nicole. Given her own role in Nicole’s escape, not to mention her shifting attitudes toward Gilead, one has to wonder if Serena’s finally about to turn her back on the nation she helped create. She stands out as someone with very little left to lose. Might her arc in season three center on escaping Gilead? In that regard, Bruce Miller offered an ominous response: “That would be interesting to watch, wouldn’t it?”
2. What horrors will Commander Waterford unleash next?
Fresh off his Emmy nomination, Joseph Fiennes spoke with THR and wondered about that very question. Without revealing too much, here’s what Fiennes offered about his predictions for Fred’s future: “It’s going to be interesting going into the aspect of a loss of a child, potentially. I think that has massive ramifications for both the Waterfords emotionally, and for Fred in terms of the hierarchy, because it’s such a big thing to be a commander with a family and a child, and to have that ripped away.”
3. How can both Fred and Nick survive for much longer?
Given the precarious way in which both men ended the season — with Nick (Max Minghella) keeping Fred on lockdown, hand hovering near the gun on his hip — it’s very hard to see how they get out of their current dilemma. Handmaid’s has a way of clawing its way out of close corners, so one imagines both characters will still be in the mix for some time yet, especially given what Moss told THR about June’s resources now that she’s seeking to lead a rebellion against Gilead — a list of resources that very much includes Nick himself.
4. What’s the extent of the Martha network?
The season finale’s climactic final act was only possible thanks to the extensive work of the Marthas who risked life and limb to safe June and her baby, a group that includes Rita (Amanda Brugel). According to Moss, a big part of why June chose to stay behind was realizing the Marthas were such an organized unit, one that could prove quite useful in the effort against Gilead. With any luck, season three will see a huge rise in prominence for Rita, as well as other members of the Martha community, including Dr. Hodgson (Karen Glave), the neonatologist who tried to save baby Angela in “Women’s Work.”
5. Speaking of baby Angela…
…or “Charlotte,” as her birth mother would prefer, what’s going to happen to Janine (Madeline Brewer) in light of the season finale’s events? There’s little doubt that June would want to reach out to Janine as she seeks to find ways to fight back — but for all of her tremendous qualities, Janine isn’t exactly the most subtle person on the show. Exactly how Janine continues to factor into the series remains as much of a question as any.
6. Aunt Lydia isn’t dead, right?
That’s one question we can consider answered: Ann Dowd will return to The Handmaid’s Tale for its third season, as confirmed by Bruce Miller. “When I sent her the script,” he tells THR, “I sent her an email along with it where the subject line was, ‘No, Aunt Lydia’s not dead.'” So no, she’s not dead, but she’s certainly going to be filled with even more righteous fury than usual whenever she recovers from the knife wound and huge fall she sustained in the finale.
7. Where will Emily turn up next?
She’s not only the woman responsible for nearly killing Aunt Lydia, but also the woman currently responsible for caring after June’s infant daughter. This latest escape from Gilead looked as sure a bet as any featured in Handmaid’s Tale thus far, but who’s to say that Emily (Alexis Bledel) and baby Nicole will make it to safety after all? Here’s hoping they show up next in Little America, both because poor Emily needs a break from the endless barrage of misery, and also because her interactions with Luke (O-T Fagbenle) and Moira (Samira Wiley) would be a guaranteed boost for all three characters’ season three arcs.
8. What’s up with Commander Lawrence?
Bradley Whitford’s unhinged commander was largely responsible for Emily’s escape, and June knows all about it. It’s a good bet that June and Lawrence will cross paths again in the season ahead, potentially as allies, but the possibility exists for something a bit murkier. As Miller describes Lawrence: “He seems a little gone, with a glint in his eye. So that makes him very tough to predict, what he’s going to do. He can be helpful, or not so helpful. That’s the kind of character we like, someone who is interesting and consistent, but in the end, unpredictable in some really basic and important ways.”
9. When will it end?
As it stands, The Handmaid’s Tale already has one full season under its belt beyond the story scope of the original work of Margaret Atwood — even though Miller and the creative team insist that the feeling of “Atwoodness” remains a north star for the series. But the way in which the finale ends, keeping June in Gilead despite the apparent opportunity to escape, does leave one to wonder when exactly this story will end. Don’t expect the third season to be the final act of the Hulu drama, even though Miller insists he’s very much keeping the inevitable closing act in mind.
“When we get to the end of Handmaid’s Tale,” he says, “I want it to be a beautiful piece of fiction, like the book, that you put a little bow around and you can put it on your shelf next to the book, and that it feels like a story well told from beginning to end. Going beyond that time? I’m not interested. I’d like it to be something as close to finished and feel like a complete piece of work as possible.”?
Keep checking THR.com/HandmaidsTale for more coverage.
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