The TV adaption of the “Handmaid’s Tale,” originally a novel by Margaret Atwood, has been an enormous success. The dystopian drama’s first season was praised by both critics and viewers alike. The success of the show has been mirrored in its expansion into everyday life, from excellent Halloween costumes to political protests. Sadly, avid fans and casual viewers have to wait until April 2018 to find out what’s happening in Gilead. To tide you over though, here is everything that audiences know about the second season so far.
A quick refresher for those who finished the first season a while ago: June is told by Nick to get in a van of Eyes, and it is completely unclear whether they are on her side or not. June is pregnant with Nick’s baby, which Serena Joys takes a particular interest in along with the cheating Commander, hissing that he’s too weak to make his own. The Commander sees the ice under him cracking as he watches a colleague’s wife call for his hand to be amputated as punishment for sleeping with his handmaid. Moira has successfully escaped to Canada and is now with Luke. And Janine is still alive after the Handmaids collectively refuse to stone her to death.
What’s the main focus?
Hulu released a description of the second season—will have thirteen episodes, so a bit longer than the ten-episode first season—and it looks like the already-bleak circumstances are going to get even bleaker.
“The Emmy-winning drama series returns with a second season shaped by Offred’s pregnancy and her ongoing fight to free her future child from the dystopian horrors of Gilead. ‘Gilead is within you’ is a favorite saying of Aunt Lydia. In Season 2, Offred and all our characters will fight against—or succumb to—this dark truth.”
In a pre-Emmys panel discussion, showrunner Bruce Miller says the theme will be motherhood, focusing on what it means to be a mother, and not just in the sense of biological motherhood. He says, “It’s the way we mother our good friends and the people in our lives.” Speaking about the tone of the season, Elizabeth Olsen, who plays June, ominously says, “It’s going to get worse, girl. Season 2 is going to be bad too, really dark.”
What new subjects/people will be explored?
So far, pretty much all of the show’s beloved (or reviled) characters will be back. June, Moira, Emily, Serena, Fred, Nick, Aunt Lydia and Rita are all set to reappear. Both Emily and Rita are joining Season 2 as series regulars, which hints that we will be seeing much more of them. This is particularly exciting in the case of Emily, who we last saw dragged away by police after stealing one of their cars and going for a thrilling, doomed drive.
In addition to the returning characters, actress Samira Wiley, who plays Moira, says we’ll finally get to see the Colonies (the place where infertile women, LGBTQ people and those who won’t follow Gilead’s rules are sent), which are talked about in the first season but never really shown. Wiley told Bustle, “We’ve heard of them, but what are they? For a person who’s been classified as an ‘unwoman,’ what is their life like there? What do they look like? What’s their day-to-day? So we’re gonna really be able to see that.”
Another dynamic to be explored is of Moira and Luke. Moira made a daring escape from Jezebel’s into Canada where she was reunited with Luke. We’ll eventually see their dynamic, as Moira attempts to recover from her horrifying ordeal and Luke continues the search for June and Hannah.
The Marthas are set to play a bigger role as well according to Miller. Their role was largely of background characters in the first season, but Rita, Serena and Fred’s Martha, was shown to not only be growing fond of June, but in the finale June even tells her where the letters from other handmaids are hidden so she can make sure they’re passed on.
Miller also said we could finally see June’s mother, a character heavily referenced in the show and a major part of the novel. Another new character to be introduced is Emily’s wife. In Season 1, Emily says that her wife escaped to Canada with their son, but audiences never learn about their current status.
How does it connect with the book?
Those who have read the book know that the show has already diverged in several ways (i.e. Moira escaping, Emily hijacking a police vehicle etc), but overall it has held true to the spirit of the novel. However, the book ended after June stepped into the Eye’s vehicle. Season 1 ended in the same way, and now it must continue forward without the guidance of a book. Though, it will have the guidance of author Margaret Atwood. Miller said in an interview to The Hollywood Reporter that they will work closely together to map out what happens next, saying, “There are things Margaret thought about a lot because over the years, and that’s one of the biggest questions she’s been asked, is what happens next to these characters.”
Elizabeth Moss, who plays June, had this tantalizing bit to say to EW about the first episode of the second season, “There is literally no way that anyone can guess what happens. You can try, but you won’t do it…we have no intention of doing anything else than being even more balls to the wall than we were in Season 1. You will never get it, and I mean that objectively as a viewer. You just won’t guess, and I love that so much.”