Throughout the award-winning first season of Hulu's The Handmaid's Tale, Offred a.k.a. June (Elisabeth Moss) was thrown into situations in which she had no control. And according to creator Bruce Miller and executive producer Warren Littlefield, that's only going to get worse for her when the series returns for Season 2. The two showrunners along with star Moss revealed at the 2018 Winter Television Critics Association press tour on Sunday that The Handmaid's Tale Season 2 will feature major changes when new episodes begin streaming on April 25, and it all centers around June.
"One difference [between Season 1 and Season 2] is June is on the run and you haven't seen that before," Littlefield says. "That narrative is where we begin the season. And then lots of surprises [are coming]."
When Season 1 ended, June had just discovered she was pregnant — although whether her unborn child was fathered by her secret boyfriend Nick (Max Minghella) or her rapist Commander Waterford (Joseph Fiennes) is unclear. She was also being taken away by Gilead officials — although once again, she had no idea if they were really from Gilead and coming to punish her for refusing to stone fellow handmaid Janine (Madeline Brewer) or if they were rebels coming to help her escape. "It is a dark season," Moss says. "I would say arguably darker than Season 1 – if that's possible."
When it comes to June's pregnancy, Moss says that the overarching theme of Season 2 is motherhood. "You could say the first season was as well, but I think we've locked onto the idea of motherhood in Season 2 in a whole new way," she says. "The impending birth of the child is a bit of a ticking time bomb. If she does have the baby, the baby gets taken away from her and she can't be its mother. It makes for good drama and it's a very big part of the season."
Meanwhile, June's "eyes have been opened a little bit" to the growing rebellion within Gilead, and fans can expect that storyline to grow even more this season. "It had a big influence on the first season and it will have a big influence on the second season," Miller promises. "June's perspective on what's going on and her level of awareness has grown."
That will actually end up inspiring June to rebel more in a personal way, which is teased heavily at the very end of the trailer Hulu just debuted for Season 2, in which June is seen throwing a lit match onto something with grim determination.
"There's more than one way to resist, which is something that June finds," Moss says. "There's resistance out in the world with Mayday, but there's also resistance within her and that's something that is a big part of this season."
And while Miller and Littlefield didn't want to reveal too many details about Season 2, they did have some teases to share about how they are "expanding the world" of Margaret Atwood's novel. The series had a bigger budget to bring new locations to life this time around, and they'll also use different timelines to show in flashbacks how Gilead came about. All of this means that in Season 2, Handmaid's is "a bigger show," according to Littlefield.
But despite the fact that the show is moving into uncharted territory now that they've touched on all of Atwood's source material, Miller is confident the new season is still faithful to her vision. "I don't think we're beyond the story that [Atwood] was telling," Miller promises. "She's very much the mother of the series." And one way that they're building upon the source material is finally taking viewers to the mysterious Colonies.
"Atwood describes the Colonies and it's a very forbidding world but she never goes there," Littlefield says about the place where people are sent for punishment. "In episode 2 we go there." And to help tell the story of the Colonies in episode 2, The Handmaid's Tale has cast Oscar winner Marisa Tomei as a Commander's wife. But that's all that Miller could reveal about her role. As for the fate of Ofglen (Alexis Bledel), who was last seen stealing a car and hitting a guard, Miller was even more tight-lipped.
"I'm not just being cagey," Miller says when noting that he can't really talk about Ofglen's role in Season 2. "One of the fun things about TV is that you don't know what's going to happen. People can seek out spoilers if they want to, I just don't want to be the one to spoil it." Thankfully, we only have to wait until April to find out.