The Handmaid's Tale season two is set to premiere on Hulu on April 25. The new season will have 13 episodes (following the 10 from season one), with Elisabeth Moss returning as the show's fearless protagonist Offred Here's what the cast, showrunner Bruce Miller, author Margaret Atwood, and others shared.
1. Things are going to get worse. This, according to Moss, who told The Pool that season one will be a walk in the park compared to what’s to come. “Season two is going to be bad too, really dark.” Darker than all the ceremony scenes everyone cringed over? Darker than Commander Putnam’s punishment in the operating room?
Moss also revealed in a pre-Emmys event in August 2017 (via Variety) that she "got full body chills" after reading the outline of season two. "Give up trying to guess what happens."
2a. Atwood will be heavily involved. As Offred’s storyline continues in season two, Atwood, who started writing The Handmaid’s Tale in 1984 while living in West Berlin, will step up for an even bigger role. “I think it will be more involving in the second season because we will be in uncharted territories so more invention will have to take place,” she told Entertainment Weekly. No word on whether or not she’ll make another cameo though.
2b. Like season one, season two will also deviate from the book, but within reason. “Season two will be exploring lots more to the world of Gilead, and luckily there’s lots to mine in the book, so even though we’re in some ways moving beyond the book, we can stay true to Atwood’s world and Atwood’s tone, which we all love so much,” according to Miller.
3. Offred will remain the show’s main focus. “The things you are seeing blooming in Offred are not going to go away,” Miller told EW. “Her spirit of rebellion and her careful march away from being a well-behaved handmaid and making some trouble is where the season is rolling towards. After that, season two is what happens after you become a little rebellious.” He added that the show will also continue focusing on Offred’s “journey through Gilead,” though he shared little on whether or not this journey takes place in prison, a Mayday gathering, or elsewhere.
4a. Alexis Bledel will be back. Following Ofsteven’s (formerly Ofglen’s) joyride-turned-guard decapitation at the market, Bledel's character has not been seen since season one, episode five. “She’s taken away, and you’re left wondering where she has gone. You can only assume the worst at this point,” Bledel teased in an interview with EW. She also offered this: “It sounds like I’m supposed to be in season two, but I don’t know what happens to my character.” In June 2017, Hulu confirmed that Bledel will indeed be back to reprise her role as Ofsteven, whose real name is Emily. In January 2018, executive producer Warren Littlefield revealed that Bledel is a "very critical part" of the new season and will appear in flashbacks as well as present-day scenes. "I think it's highly effective, particularly as we explore the character of Emily. Alexis is quite remarkable" (via TV Guide).
In March 2018, Hulu released the first image of Emily in the Colonies.
4b. Clea DuVall (Marjorie on Veep) will play Ofsteven's wife. According to The Hollywood Reporter, DuVall's guest-starring role as Sylvia will see her in a flashback with Emily and their young son attempting to escape to Canada as Gilead continues its downward spiral.
5. Samira Wiley will definitely be back. Speaking to Vanity Fair, Miller said Moira will "play a vital role" in the next season as she begins a new life in Canada with Luke. Of their emotional reunion at the refugee center, Miller said, "At the beginning, Moira's in the hands of strangers. She's in the hands of this person she doesn't know. But that person conveys her to Luke - someone who does care about her."
In an interview with Variety, Miller also said that season two will expand "Little America" with a "new permanent apartment set for Luke."
6. Expect more Rita. Amanda Brugel has been promoted to series regular for season two. In September 2017, she told PEOPLE "a lot of things" will be happening for Rita, but specifics are scarce. "I was having a conversation with Elisabeth a couple of days ago - all I know is that it’s going to make season one look like a walk in the park. So that’s really exciting.”
7. Offred might be in a love triangle, even though it’s difficult at this point to imagine everyone in the same room. Offred knows Luke is alive and well in Little America in Toronto, but she’s also been falling for Nick, who is definitely, maybe the father of her child at the end of season one. In an interview with Elle, Moss said Offred is in the unique position of possibly being in love with two people. “Honestly I think she does love Nick - if I can speak for her - but I don’t know if she knows that she does, yet. But she has a husband who she also loves, who’s the father of Hannah, who she also now knows is alive,” she said. “It’s the most complicated Real Housewives episode you’ve ever seen. The Real Housewives of Gilead is gonna have a great reunion after episode 10.” Clear your schedule, Andy Cohen.
8. Season two will address some of the “unanswered questions” between the book’s final chapter from Offred and the epilogue featuring Professor Pieixoto’s findings in 2195. In the book, it’s this professor who finds Offred’s story recorded onto several cassette tapes during a time well after the fall of Gilead. According to Moss in an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, while season one left out plenty of characters and storylines to give viewers “more time to fully explore a few things,” subsequent seasons will address the rest. “There’s so much that hasn’t been said in that book, and we’re looking to explore that with Margaret.”
9a. Offred’s mom is making an appearance. Per THR, theater legend Cherry Jones, whose TV credits include President Allison Taylor on 24 and Leslie on Transparent, will guest-star as Holly in at least one episode, as production for season two is still under way. Hulu describes the character as “an outspoken feminist and a judgmental but loving mother to June,” but it’s unclear if Holly will appear in a flashback or present-day storyline. Says Moss of the casting, “She's a terrific literary character who’s now going to come to life for the first time, and so it was important to me who that was” (via THR). According to Moss, she was “bothering everybody” about the role and Jones was actually her “fantasy choice” for the part. “We sent her the script, she wrote a lovely email back and she said yes almost immediately.”
9b. Speaking of moms, season two will focus on the theme of motherhood. This is expected, since season one ended with Offred finding out she's pregnant with Nick's baby (or The Commander's, but this is doubtful). As Miller explained at a pre-Emmys event in August 2017, "What does it mean to be a good mother? It's about the way we mother the people in our lives."
10. Marisa Tomei and Bradley Whitford will also be part of the season two cast. Miller announced during the 2018 Winter TCA Press Tour that Tomei will appear in one episode that will take her to the Colonies. Her role has largely been kept a secret, but Miller did reveal at the time that she'll be playing the wife of a commander. (Perhaps former wife, which could explain why she's at the Colonies?) Not a secret: Whitford joining the show in a recurring role as Commander Joseph Lawrence, the architect of Gilead’s economy. According to Variety, Lawrence is described as “gruff and intimidating with a disheveled mad genius vibe.”
11. You might get a glimpse of Aunt Lydia before she was Aunt Lydia. As Miller told The New York Times, "Aunt Lydia is one of my most fascinating characters. We would like to explore her back story, and what the lives of the aunts are like." He also hinted at looking at other storylines, including the Marthas and their networks and what The Commander's daily schedule is really like.
12. If all goes well, the show could enjoy 10 seasons. Speaking to IndieWire during the Television Critics Association press tour in May 2017, Miller made a case for future seasons. “I have an enormous plan in my head. There’s so many things that are mentioned in the book, so many worlds to explore,” he said, adding that the final section of the book - the professor’s section - will affect what happens to the show’s characters. He reiterated his plans to THR in January 2018, adding that he's "roughed it out to about 10 seasons" and maintaining that everything still relates to the book. "People talk about how we're beyond the book, but we're not really. The book starts, then jumps 200 years with an academic discussion at the end of it, about what's happened in those intervening 200 years. It's maybe handled in an outline, but it's still there in Margaret's novel. We're not going beyond the novel; we're just covering territory she covered quickly, a bit more slowly."
13. In January 2018, Hulu released two photos of the second season. The new images appear to be of a handmaid's funeral in Gilead. "Everything from the design of their costumes to the way they look is so chilling,” Miller said of the scene. "These scenes that are so beautiful, while set in such a terrible place, provide the kind of contrast that makes me happy.”
The other image is of the colonies-the radioactive wasteland where people are worked to death.
14. The first season two trailer dropped one day later. Things look BLEAK:
15. Hulu dropped a second trailer in March 2018. Is that Marisa Tomei praying at 0:37?
16. Season two will include "terrorism." According to Miller, the series will show "what it feels like to be a country in transition" (via Variety). "Big forces are fighting and you're just this one human being," he added. "So we have a lot of stuff with Mayday and the other rebel groups that are fighting. There’s also the people who are fighting from Canada to make things better. What it’s like to live in a place where there’s instability and what does that instability feels like? And for The Commander, what is it like to be in control of this, going from inexperience to a big role of leadership? Americans can definitely relate.”
Bonus: Atwood might be writing a sequel to The Handmaid’s Tale. As first discovered by Canadian website The Loop, Atwood possibly hinted to a sequel in the special edition of the book’s audiobook release on Audible in April. The key chapter is the last, “Historical Notes,” which includes 10 additional questions and answers between Professor Pieixoto and his audience. “We have indeed made some fresh discovered but not yet at liberty to share them,” he teases during the Q&A, before wrapping the session with, “I hope to be able to present the results of our further Gileadian investigations to you at some future date.” When The Loop approached Atwood about this discovery, she basically delivered a wink and a nudge. “I am in consultation with the Professor, but he is being very cagey about this. He evidently doesn’t want to make any promises before he has finished authenticating his new discoveries.”
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