Season 1 of Hulu’s Emmy-winning series The Handmaid’s Tale was a study in slow-motion dread, as our Handmaid heroine Offred (Elisabeth Moss) felt the proverbial noose tightening around her neck as the theocratic Republic of Gilead asserted its self-imposed authority over her life and body. Based on the just-released trailer for the show’s sophomore year, events are going to get real bad, real fast. (Watch the trailer above.)
Premiering on April 25, Season 2 will take the story well beyond what celebrated author Margaret Atwood outlined in her groundbreaking 1985 novel. “We are going to delve into stories that expand the world of Gilead,” Handmaid’s Tale showrunner Bruce Miller promised Yahoo Entertainment last year, adding that Moss will remain the show’s central character and voice even as its canvas widens. Based on the trailer, here are the five developments we’re most anticipating in Season 2.
Serena Joy in the spotlight
Offred’s former jailer is seen striking a familiar pose in the trailer: This is the same window where the Handmaid often sat in Season 1, counting down the hours and minutes to the ritual in which the Waterfords — Fred (Joseph Fiennes) and Serena Joy (Yvonne Strahovski) — essentially rape her in the name of procreation. “It’s a cross between a breeding and a sexual assault,” Moss said of this harrowing sequence. With Offred now gone, the Waterfords are turning on each other at the same time that Gilead’s rulers start to suspect that their house might be a nest of spies. While the republic’s guiding theology establishes Fred as the head of household, it was strongly implied last season that Serena Joy is the true authority in their partnership. Her heightened presence in this trailer suggests that she’s not content to be the docile spouse any longer.
The republic strikes back
Offred and her fellow Handmaids scored a moral victory when they defied Aunt Lydia (Ann Dowd) and refused to murder one of their own, Janine, for the “crime” of wanting to be with her daughter. But every action has an equal and opposite reaction, so Aunt Lydia is using the power vested in her by the Republic of Gilead to make life more hellish than it already is for the women. Foreboding shots of torture and other trials (like two prisoners being pulled underwater with weighted chains around their legs) culminate in a glimpse of a mass Handmaid hanging, all in a concentrated effort to snuff out any sparks of rebellion.
When women have outlived their usefulness to Gilead, the Republic exiles them to life (and certain death) in the Colonies. Atwood only hinted at the devastating conditions that awaited arrivals to these far-flung territories, but in Season 2 we’ll actually visit them alongside new arrivals Ofglen and Janine. This shot indicates the hard work and poor living arrangements that await them. We’re thinking that actual pioneers may have had a more luxurious life than these exiled colonists.
Mother and child reunion … denied
Offred learned that her daughter is alive at the end of Season 1. Unfortunately, she now has to fight every protective maternal instinct she has in order to ensure her child’s continued survival. “She left me once, now I have to leave her,” she ruminates in the trailer. Still, there is one reunion that’s potentially in the offing: Offred is highly likely to cross paths with her own mother — who is a very strong presence in the book but remained unseen in the first season — in Season 2. “Remember: At the end of this season, Offred is pregnant and she also gets to see her child,” Miller teased. “It’s safe to say that themes of motherhood are going to be strong in Season 2. And Offred has a mother, so it seems like stories with that person would make a lot of sense.”
You will know their names
Names carry power within Gilead in that the republic takes them away from its female citizens, and those women have to fight to reclaim them. And no one fights harder to hold on to her name than Offred’s friend Moira (Samira Wiley), who rejected her identity as “Ruby” and escaped across the Canadian border and joined a teeming community of Gilead refugees at the end of last season. Her example inspires Offred to continue to keep her real name close to her heart, even if she can’t utter it out loud. “My name is June Osborne,” she says at the end of the trailer. “I am free.” We’ll soon see what freedom looks like in Gilead.
The Handmaid’s Tale Season 2 premieres Wednesday, April 25 on Hulu.
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