6 ways that The Handmaid's Tale finale sets up season 3

Ian Sandwell
Photo credit: Hulu

From Digital Spy

Warning: Contains spoilers for The Handmaid's Tale season 2 finale.

The Handmaid's Tale has now wrapped up its second season in the US with some fans feeling frustrated by the final episode's cliffhanger ending.

However, there's no doubt it sets up an intriguing third season – which was already confirmed by Hulu – and with the show going past Margaret Atwood's seminal novel, all bets are off.

That doesn't mean we can't indulge in a bit of speculation though, but be warned, massive season two finale spoilers are ahead – and potential season three spoilers too.

1. Why did June (Elisabeth Moss) decide to stay in Gilead?

Photo credit: Hulu/George Kraychyk

Let's start with the biggie. Despite having the chance to escape Gilead with her newborn daughter, June instead hands her to Emily and heads back, although we can't imagine she'll get a warm reception at the Waterford house, even if Serena allowed her to leave.

Frustrating though it is for season two to have had June escape at the start, only to get captured and then give up the chance to escape again, it's important to remember that she still has a daughter, Hannah, in Gilead and has previously vowed to be reunited with her permanently.

"Whether she's going to help her daughter or whether she's going to try her hardest to injure Gilead, it really comes from two things. One is her mum saying you're stronger than you think, which is something she realised about herself throughout the season. The other is her daughter saying, 'Why didn't you try harder?'. And she's going to try harder," showrunner Bruce Miller told Deadline.

"Season three is really about blessed be the fight. It's about June rising up to either save Hannah or change the world. About her wanting to hurt Gilead, to knock Gilead back on the field so that she can weaken this place."

Basically, Gilead and the Commanders better watch out. June means business – and maybe she will have help.

2. Could Serena (Yvonne Strahovski) join the resistance?

Photo credit: Hulu

The season two finale was a notable one for Serena as she not only let June leave with the baby, but she also lost a finger for the heinous crime of reading a bible aloud in public. It was the culmination of a series of rebellious acts for Serena during season two as she realised that Gilead wasn't an ideal place to bring up a child (obviously).

Could it be that Serena teams up with June in season three to bring down the very society she helped to create? Or will the next season see her broken down by her husband with nothing left to live for? Either way, Serena's future doesn't seem all that bright.

"It really is such a raw place to be left in when you're standing in your life and you no longer have anything to hold onto. What do you do? It kind of forces you to look inside yourself and perhaps face other realities and truths that you haven't faced," Strahovski told The Hollywood Reporter.

"It would be nice to see her continue on this sort of breakdown path or maybe come to more realisation about the society that she's helped create and what that means and where she goes from there. But ultimately it's a negotiation with where she's stuck, because we see all these characters at the end and they're still in Gilead."

3. Has Aunt Lydia (Ann Dowd) survived?

Photo credit: Hulu

We won't tease it out – yes, yes she has. In the finale, Aunt Lydia was stunned by Emily who stabbed her in the back and kicked her down the stairs, and the last we saw of the fearsome character, she was bleeding out on the floor. It'll take more than that to kill her though.

"I don't think there are forces in the world strong enough to kill Aunt Lydia," joked Miller at a screening event. "Aunt Lydia doesn't die, [but] she's transformed by this event. The fact that one of her girls… has literally stabbed her in the back. I think that that alters your workplace feelings on a day-to-day basis… In her case, it makes her double down that she feels like she just wasn't strong enough in her discipline. So she, I think, has decided it's time to get tough."

We can't be the only ones worried about what a "tough" Aunt Lydia will mean for the Handmaids in season three...

4. Will Emily (Alexis Bledel) make it to Canada?

Photo credit: Hulu

After her bloody act of rebellion, Emily looked set to make her escape from Gilead with June's new baby, likely on the way to Canada which could lead to her meeting up with June's husband Luke (OT Fagbenle) and Moira (Samira Wiley) in Canada.

But as we should expect from the show, it might not be as simple as that, although we will definitely see Emily in season three. "I'm not going to tell you whether they get out or not but we are going to see Emily and baby Nichole again. They're certainly going to play a big role in season three," Miller told Deadline.

If Emily does make it to Canada though, she might find herself playing an active role in the fight against Gilead, especially after the Commanders visited Canada in season two, leading to a confrontation between Luke and Commander Waterford. "Gilead kicked the hornet's nest in getting Little American riled up. Certainly after they visited, Moira and Luke both feel like there's something that can do. They're much more effective," Miller noted.

5. Is Nick (Max Minghella) in danger?

Photo credit: Hulu

Oh Nick, what have you done? In the season two finale, he deliberately prevented Commander Waterford from leaving the house after he discovered the escape of June and the baby, a decision that Miller described as "impulsive".

"He's putting his life on the line... yes, there will be repercussions for Nick," he ominously added, but Nick's knowledge of Commander Waterford's secrets could save him.

"I don't think it's a hammer that the Commander can bring down so easily on Nick. It's certainly interesting 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," Miller noted.

6. Will Commander Lawrence (Bradley Whitford) play a major role?

Photo credit: Hulu

Emily received some unexpected help from Commander Lawrence in her escape and the good news is that Whitford will be sticking around for season three.

"He was exactly the kind of character we wanted to start building in season two. I think we're going to 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," enthused Miller.

"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 going to cross paths with him a lot more in season three."

So that raises the enticing prospect that June could team up not only Serena, but also Commander Lawrence in season three – although we'd remain wary whether she can actually trust him.

The Handmaid's Tale airs on Hulu in the US. Channel 4 airs the show in the UK.

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