Talk about a killer finale. The second season ender to Bravo’s The Handmaid’s Tale was probably one of the most intense hours of television we’ve ever seen. The episode had it all — twists, turns, life-threatening moments and something of a happy ending.
It also left us with way too many questions about what the heck is going to happen next. Thankfully we were able to nab a little bit of time with the show’s creative mastermind, showrunner Bruce Miller. He answered all of our pressing questions ahead of the already-ordered third season.
Read them here… at your own risk.
Why did June ultimately stay behind?
[After June saw Hannah] we started to feel the kind of deep vein of regret that June was feeling at the prospect of leaving Hannah behind and how it was tearing her apart. And after she was faced with the idea of [getting] one child to safety, she had to decide what to do herself. I don’t think it’s a choice about whether you’re going to stay behind to try to rescue your child, I think it’s a need to. I wouldn’t be able to leave one of my children behind. When we got to it, it felt very natural to the character. It is an impossible choice but we are faced with those all the time, so it is interesting to see what she does.
Will Bradley Whitford return as Commander Lawrence?
Yes, Bradley’s coming back for season three. He was exactly the kind of character we wanted to start building in season two. We were hoping his schedule would work out that he could come back for season three. I think we’re gonna learn a ton about him. He’s our Oppenheimer character, the man who designed an atomic bomb and then saw what it could do. He’s a designer of Gilead and now he’s seen what it can do. So he is a mass of contradictions and dangers and you never know what he’s willing to do, what he’s not willing to do.
He’s been protecting himself for a very long time. And his adventure to keep himself alive certainly is not always an adventure that’s going to keep the people around him alive. But now that June has crossed paths with him, she’s gonna cross paths with him a lot more in season three.
How will Serena’s decision to let Nicole go affect her in season three?
In her own mind, Serena doesn’t have evil motives. Here she’s been left with this one thing that she’s allowed to want, which is a child. I mean everything else has been taken away from her. The desire to run a country… the desire to kind of serve God in the way that she wants to. So now that she’s made the choice of actually not being with the child that she genuinely loves—the child can’t grow up in Gilead—she has a choice to make. Is she gonna find something else to focus on? Is she going to stay bereft, and empty, and live in Gilead? Or is she going to find a way to get her daughter back? Is she going to change her mind about her daughter and try to get her hands on that child again? All those things are possible. Going forward with Serena, you want to follow that incredibly intelligent woman with a force of personality and tunnel vision that is unrivaled. I’m not sure whether she’d be so quick to let go of the idea of a child just because she made a decision in a moment.
Have we seen the last of Nicole and Emily?
We have not seen the last of Emily and Nicole. And I don’t know that we’re going to see Nicole going to her first prom very soon, or Emily for that matter. But we have not seen the last of them.
We’ll follow them on their journey after they leave Offred in the tunnel, in the finale. Both Emily is a fascinating character [and] Nicole is quite a popular young girl. There are lots of people who want her, including a whole country of Gilead if she happens to get out. It’s a huge, huge puzzle piece of our world. It’s June’s child and just as much as Hannah has been a huge part of our show, Nicole’s going to be a huge part of our show whether it’s in influence or in corporeal reality with someone holding them in our arc. She is the force to be reckoned with. She is the next generation that they’re all doing all of this for.
What kind of repercussions could Rita face following June’s escape?
She’s going to have to do some very deft dancing to get around her comeuppance for her complicity in this. And I don’t know whether she will, but she is our representative of this group of women who have been pushed into invisible domestic roles like so many women in real society, in our society. She is, but she is not invisible, and she’s not domestic. She is a woman in full, and you get to see the power that brings to bear. And I think, in season two, we’re going to see some of the results of her coming out of her shell and becoming a little more visible. But I think the key for me is that she is a very smart survivor, and that’s what she’s going to continue to be.
What about Nick?
Nick took a stand and impulsively, which is not his best, not a Crayola crayon he uses very often. He’s not an impulsive guy in general. It was such a measure of the closeness of his relationship with Fred and how much he was willing to risk. I mean, literally he’s putting his life on the line to break up with his girlfriend, that she is going one direction he is going the other, which is kind of a nice noble moment. But yes there will be repercussions for Nick. The interesting thing about Nick and Fred is that power dynamic between the two men and the two positions that they hold. One is kind of outwardly a leader of Gilead, and the other, Nick, is quite a powerful person behind the scenes because he’s a spy, and because he has dirt on people, and because he knows all the good and bad things people are doing, going to Jezebel’s and all those things.
So I don’t think it’s a hammer that the commander can bring down so easily on Nick, or would want to. Having a person like Nick on your side even he has, well, magic entanglements that cause him to be a little bit untrustworthy that doesn’t mean there aren’t things that they can do for each other. So I think it’s a more complicated conclusion than I might’ve expected. But it’s certainly interesting and the way these two men, who are so different from each other, tango with each other, and how they settle things out is absolutely fascinating to me. It’s taught me a lot about how men fight.
Is Aunt Lydia actually dead?
I don’t think Aunt Lydia can die. I don’t think there are forces in the world strong enough to kill Aunt Lydia. And by extension, the incredibly strong, fabulous Ann Dowd, I think is with us for a long, long time as well.
Aunt Lydia doesn’t die; she’s transformed by this event. The fact that one of her girls (she believed there’s a love between her and her girls) has literally stabbed her in the back, I think alters your workplace feelings on a day-to-day basis. There’s a lot of possible effects but I think in her case, it makes her double down that she feels like she just wasn’t strong enough in her discipline. So she has decided it’s time to get tough.