It feels like only yesterday that I sobbed my way through the first episode of The Handmaid's Tale, and now the season finale of the Hulu series is already here. In these past seven weeks, the show has spared no expense and pulled no punches whole exploring the gritty depths of a fundamentalist American dystopia — and it’s going to do it all over again when it returns for its second season. But now that the show has reached the point where Margaret Atwood’s novel ended, what will happen in Season 2 of The Handmaid’s Tale?
Fans who’ve read the book know that the show will be in completely new territory when it returns; the actual plot of The Handmaid’s Tale is rather thin, and the show has already covered most of that ground. But all this means is that the show will be able to spread its wings and create all new stories. "There's a huge gap between the epilogue and the end of the book where there's a lot of unanswered questions," Elisabeth Moss told TV Guide when discussing what Season 2 of The Handmaids’ Tale might bring. "There's so much that hasn't been said in that book and we're looking to explore that with Margaret [Atwood]."
Obviously this makes predicting where the show will go from here difficult—with no more source material to return to, how do you guess at where things will go next? With that in mind, I’ve got a few ideas of some elements Season 2 might introduce:
The final few moments of the season finale when Offred is led into the Eye’s truck feels like it was ripped right out of the ending of the book, almost word for word in some places. However, the context is radically different, as it’s implied Offred is actually being ushered out by Mayday, and Nick has been part of the resistance the whole time. In the show, Offred has disobeyed Gilead’s laws and she’s currently with child, which complicates, matters. I’m going to wager a guess and say that she’s actually being punished and not rescued, but that it’ll put her right back at the Waterfords where she was before. This is a TV show, after all; they can’t have Offred running off to Canada just yet if they want this series to run for a couple more seasons.
Conspicuously absent throughout the first season was Offred’s mother, who in the book features as a prominent character in Offred’s flashbacks of the world before Gilead. A staunch second-wave feminist who participated in “Take Back The Night” rallies, pro-choice rallies, and pornography burnings, Offred’s mother is meant to represent a more radical side of feminism that Offred ultimately takes for granted. I suspect that she was dropped from Season 1 to make time for the many added side-stories that don’t center around Offred, but it would be nice to bring her in next season, especially now that Offred has been positioned as a particular brand of feminist heroine.
The Other Handmaids
Shows like Orange Is The New Black and Lost may have pioneered the character-informing flashback, but there’s no reason why The Handmaid’s Tale can’t pick that ball up and run with it. What was Alma like before she was made into a handmaid? What about the new Ofglen? Answering these questions could definitely fill a lot of time in Season 2.
The Rest Of Gilead
All we see of Gilead from Offred’s perspective is the world of handmaid’s and commanders, but there are tons of other people struggling to get by. In the book, there’s an entire class of women known as econowives who are classified as the wives of poor and working-class men, and who basically perform all the duties a ‘50s housewife is expected to take on — raising children, cleaning the house, cooking, and doing the shopping. I could totally see how, if your life already looked like that before Gilead took over, it wouldn’t seem like such a bad place, which might be a really interesting concept to explore for at least an episode.
Lydia is an imposing presence in the novel; her words echo around Offred constantly as she remembers her Red Center training and what was said to her to break her down. But in the show, the character has become an even more active presence in interesting ways. I don’t know that I’d necessarily want to see her life before Gilead, but I’d definitely love to see what it’s like now, when she’s not taking care of her “girls.” Now that she’s the most prominent villain for the handmaid’s to rise up against, odds are she’s not going away anytime soon.
Luke and Moira
Hands up, who else started crying the second they saw Luke waiting for Moira outside the Canadian refugee center? In the book, Luke is still missing and Moira is stuck at Jezebel’s, so there are plenty of new and interesting directions in which the show could take both of their storylines now that they’re safe across the border. And, of course, there’s also the quiet handmaid who was rescued along with Luke, who might be able to open up more to a woman who’s shared so many horrific experiences with her.
Regardless of what Season 2 of The Handmaid's Tale becomes, one thing is for sure: it's definitely going to mess me up all over again when it finally arrives.