The Handmaid's Tale (TV series)

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The Handmaid's Tale
The Handmaid's Tale intertitle.png
Genre
Created byBruce Miller
Based onThe Handmaid's Tale
by Margaret Atwood
Starring
Composer(s)Adam Taylor
Country of originUnited States
Original language(s)English
No. of seasons3
No. of episodes28 (list of episodes)
Production
Executive producer(s)
Producer(s)
Production location(s)
Running time47–64 minutes
Production company(s)
  • Daniel Wilson Productions, Inc.
  • The Littlefield Company
  • White Oak Pictures
  • MGM Television
Release
Original networkHulu
Picture format
Audio format
Original releaseApril 26, 2017 (2017-04-26) –
present (present)
External links
Website

The Handmaid's Tale is an American dystopian drama web television series created by Bruce Miller, based on the 1985 novel of the same name by Margaret Atwood. It was ordered by the streaming service Hulu as a straight-to-series order of 10 episodes, for which production began in late 2016. The plot features a dystopian future following a Second American Civil War wherein a totalitarian society subjects fertile women, called "Handmaids", into child-bearing servitude.[3]

The first three episodes of the series premiered on April 26, 2017; the subsequent seven episodes were released every Wednesday. In May 2017, the series was renewed for a second season which premiered on April 25, 2018.[4] In May 2018, Hulu renewed the series for a third season,[5] which premiered on June 5, 2019.[6]

The Handmaid's Tale has received critical acclaim and its first season won eight Primetime Emmy Awards from thirteen nominations, including Outstanding Drama Series. It is the first show produced by Hulu to win a major award as well as the first series on a streaming service to win an Emmy for Outstanding Series.[7] It also became the first streaming series to win the Golden Globe Award for Best Television Series – Drama. Elisabeth Moss was also awarded the Golden Globe for Best Actress.

Plot[edit]

In the near future, fertility rates collapse as a result of sexually transmitted diseases and environmental pollution.[8] With this chaos, the totalitarian, theonomic government of Gilead establishes rule in the former United States in the aftermath of a civil war.[9][10][11] Society is organized by power-hungry leaders along with a new, militarized, hierarchical regime of fanaticism and newly-created social classes, in which women are brutally subjugated, and by law are allowed to work only in very limited roles - and disallowed to own property, handle money, or read.[11]

According to an extremist interpretation of the Biblical account of Bilhah, worldwide infertility has resulted in the conscription of the few remaining fertile women in Gilead called Handmaids.[11] They are assigned to the homes of the ruling elite, where they must submit to ritualized rape by their male masters in order to become pregnant and bear children for those men and their wives.

Alongside the Handmaids, much of society is now grouped into classes that dictate their freedoms and duties. Women are divided into a small range of social categories, each one signified by a plain dress in a specific color: Handmaids wear red, Marthas (who are housekeepers and cooks, named after the biblical figure) wear green, and Wives (who are expected to run their households) wear blue and turquoise.[12]

Econowives, the lower-class women who still have minimal agency, are a sort of mixture of all these categories, and they wear gray (a departure from the book in which Econowives wear clothing striped with the aforementioned colors). Women prisoners are called Unwomen and are worked to death clearing toxic waste in the Colonies.

Another class of women, Aunts (who train and oversee the Handmaids), wear brown. Additionally, the Eyes are a secret police watching over the general populace for signs of rebellion, Hunters track down people attempting to flee the country, and Jezebels are sex workers in secret brothels catering to the elite ruling class.

June Osborne, renamed Offred (Elisabeth Moss), is the Handmaid assigned to the home of the Gileadan Commander Fred Waterford (Joseph Fiennes) and his wife Serena Joy (Yvonne Strahovski). Offred is subject to strict rules and constant scrutiny; an improper word or deed on her part can lead to brutal punishment.

Offred, who is named after her male master, Fred ("Of Fred"), like all Handmaids, was married and had a daughter, a job, a bank account, and her own name and identity in the "time before," but all she can safely do now is follow the rules of Gilead in hopes that she can someday live free again and be reunited with her husband and daughter. The Waterfords, key players in the rise of Gilead, have their own conflicts with the realities of the society they have helped create.

Cast and characters[edit]

Main[edit]

  • Elisabeth Moss as June Osborne / Offred / Ofjoseph, a woman who was captured while attempting to escape to Canada with her husband, Luke, and daughter, Hannah. Due to her fertility, she is made a Handmaid to Commander Fred Waterford and his wife, Serena Joy as "Offred". Now she is with Commander Joseph Lawrence as "Ofjoseph".
  • Joseph Fiennes as Commander Fred Waterford, a high-ranking government official and June's master. Both he and his wife played an instrumental role in Gilead's founding. He wishes to have more contact with June outside of what is lawful between a Handmaid and her master, and starts inviting her to play nightly games of Scrabble.
  • Yvonne Strahovski as Serena Joy Waterford, Fred's wife and a former conservative cultural activist. She appears to have accepted her new role in a society that she helped create. She is poised and deeply religious, but capable of great cruelty and is often callous to June. She is desperate to become a mother.
  • Alexis Bledel as Emily / Ofglen / Ofsteven / Ofroy / Ofjoseph, June's shopping partner. Although June is initially wary of her, it is revealed she is not as pious as she seems, and the two become friends. Emily has a wife and son living in Canada, and was a university lecturer in cellular biology. Being homosexual is punishable by death in Gilead, and while most intellectuals and "gender traitors" are worked to their deaths in the Colonies, Emily, as "Ofglen", was spared and later converted into a Handmaid, due to her having "two viable ovaries". She was later captured and cruelly punished for her lesbian relationship with a Martha, and is sent to another household where she becomes "Ofsteven". She is involved with a resistance movement called "Mayday." She was in the process of being worked to death in the toxic fields of the Colonies until the attack on the Red Center had her, Janine, and several others returned to handmaiden duty. After attacking Aunt Lydia at the Lawrence household, she as "Ofjoseph" fears execution, until Commander Lawrence sends her away in a truck with the baby Nichole, who June hands to her before ditching them to free her other daughter Hannah. Both Emily and Nichole manage to flee to Canada, where she is soon reunited with her wife and son.
  • Madeline Brewer as Janine / Ofwarren / Ofdaniel / Ofhoward, a Handmaid who entered the Red Center for training at the same time as June and considers June a friend due to her kind treatment. Initially non-compliant, Janine's right eye is removed as a punishment. She becomes mentally unstable due to her treatment and often behaves in temperamental or childlike ways. She gives birth to a child for Warren and Naomi Putnam, whom they name "Angela", but Janine insists the baby's name is "Charlotte". Janine is later reassigned and becomes "Ofdaniel". She was temporarily assigned to the Colonies until a bombing at the new Rachel and Leah Center.
  • Ann Dowd as Aunt Lydia, a woman in charge of overseeing the Handmaids in their sexual reeducation and duties. She is brutal and subjects insubordinate Handmaids to harsh physical punishment, but she also cares for her charges and believes deeply in the Gileadean mission and doctrine. She appears to have a soft spot for Janine, and even goes so far as to address her by her given name on occasion.
  • O. T. Fagbenle as Lucas "Luke" Bankole, June's husband from before Gilead. Because he is divorced (he and June began their relationship before his divorce from his first wife), their union is considered invalid in the new society. June is considered an adulteress and their daughter, Hannah, is considered illegitimate. Initially, June believes he has been killed, but it is later revealed Luke managed to escape to Canada.
  • Max Minghella as Nick Blaine, Commander Waterford's driver and a former drifter from Michigan who has feelings for June. June and Nick develop an intimate relationship and she eventually discovers that he is an Eye, a spy for Gilead.
  • Samira Wiley as Moira, June's best friend since college. She is already at the Red Center when June enters Handmaid training but escapes before being assigned to a home. She is recaptured and becomes "Ruby", a Jezebel. She seems to have given up hope of ever being free, but on meeting June again regains the conviction to escape. She is now living her life in Canada as a refugee.
  • Amanda Brugel as Rita (recurring season 1, main season 2–present), a Martha at the Waterford house. She had a son named Matthew, who died fighting in the civil war when he was 19 years old.[13]
  • Bradley Whitford as Commander Joseph Lawrence (recurring season 2, main season 3), the founder of the Colonies and architect behind Gilead's economy.[14][15]

Recurring[edit]

  • Stephen Kunken as Commander Warren Putnam. He's the first known Commander of Janine. He had his left hand amputated by the Council after being found guilty of adultery.
  • Ever Carradine as Naomi Putnam, Commander Warren Putnam's wife.
  • Tattiawna Jones as Lillie Fuller / Ofglen (season 1–2), who replaces Emily in the position after Emily is captured by the Eyes. She initially follows the rules and does not wish to upset the status quo, but this is because she believes her life as a Handmaid is better than the difficult, impoverished life she led prior to Gilead, rather than out of religious piety. After refusing to stone Janine, she was clubbed with a rifle by a guardian, her tongue was cut out according to Alma. After that, she sacrifices herself to bomb a new Red Center on the day of its christening. 26 Commanders and 31 Handmaids were killed as a result.
  • Nina Kiri as Alma / Ofrobert, another Handmaid who trained at the Red Center with June, Moira, and Janine. She is frank and chatty, and often trades gossip and news with June. She is also involved with Mayday and becomes June's first contact with the resistance group.
  • Jenessa Grant as Dolores / Ofsamuel, a local Handmaid with a friendly and talkative nature.
  • Bahia Watson as Brianna / Oferic, another local Handmaid who is friends with June.
  • Jordana Blake as Hannah Bankole, June and Luke's daughter. She is later renamed Agnes.
  • Kristen Gutoskie as Beth (season 1, 3), formerly a Martha at Jezebel's. She had an arrangement with Nick whereby she traded illegal alcohol and other contraband for drugs, which the Jezebels use. She has a casual sexual relationship with him and is aware that he is an Eye. She later becomes a Martha in Joseph Lawrence's household.
  • Erin Way as Erin, a young, apparently mute, woman who was being trained to become a Handmaid but managed to escape to Canada.[16]
  • Clea DuVall as Sylvia (season 2–present), Emily's wife.[17]
  • Cherry Jones as Holly Maddox (season 2–present), June's mother, an outspoken feminist.[18]
  • Sydney Sweeney as Eden Spencer (season 2), a pious and obedient girl who was married off to Nick during a ceremony in episode 5 of season 2.[19]
  • Sam Jaeger as Mark Tuello (season 2–present), a mysterious stranger who Serena encounters in Canada.
  • Greg Bryk as Commander Ray Cushing (season 2)
  • Rohan Mead as Isaac (season 2), a Guardian assigned to the Waterford home.
  • Julie Dretzin as Eleanor Lawrence (season 2–present), Joseph's wife.
  • Ashleigh LaThrop as Ofmatthew (season 3), a devoted Handmaid whose loyalty to Gilead causes divisive tensions amongst her peers.[20]
  • Jonathan Watton as Commander Matthew Calhoun (season 3), the assigned Commander of Ofmatthew.

Guest[edit]

  • Marisa Tomei as Mrs. O'Conner (season 2), a Commander's wife who is exiled to the Colonies as punishment for committing a sin to the flesh.[21]
  • Yahya Abdul-Mateen II as Omar (season 2) a man who helps June attempt to escape.
  • John Carroll Lynch as Dan (season 2), Emily's boss at the university where she worked.
  • Kelly Jenrette as Annie (season 2), Luke's ex-wife who was after June for cutting her out of her marriage to Luke prior to Gilead's rise.
  • Rebecca Rittenhouse as Odette (season 2), a Doctor and Moira's deceased fiancée.
  • Oprah Winfrey (uncredited) as Newsreader (season 2) on a car radio.[22]
  • Amy Landecker as Mrs. McKenzie (season 3), Hannah's placement mother during the existence of Gilead.
  • Laila Robins as Pamela Joy (season 3), the mother of Serena Joy.
  • Christopher Meloni as Commander Winslow (season 3)[23]
  • Elizabeth Reaser as Olivia Winslow (season 3),[23] the wife of Commander Winslow.

Episodes[edit]

SeasonEpisodesOriginally released
First releasedLast released
110April 26, 2017 (2017-04-26)June 14, 2017 (2017-06-14)
213April 25, 2018 (2018-04-25)July 11, 2018 (2018-07-11)
313[24]June 5, 2019 (2019-06-05)August 14, 2019 (2019-08-14)[24]

Season 1 (2017)[edit]

No.
overall
No. in
season
TitleDirected byTeleplay byOriginal release date
11"Offred"Reed MoranoBruce MillerApril 26, 2017 (2017-04-26)
A family is pursued by a group of armed men. The woman is caught, and separated from her young daughter and husband as shots are fired in the distance. She is now known as Offred, the Handmaid to Commander Fred Waterford. While walking with another Handmaid, Ofglen, they pass by a wall on which men have been hanged for crimes such as being gay, working in an abortion clinic, and being a Catholic priest.[25] In a flashback, various women are indoctrinated into their Handmaid roles by Aunt Lydia, and Offred notices her best friend Moira among the Handmaids in training. Handmaid Janine taunts Aunt Lydia and is shocked with a cattle prod, later her right eye is removed as punishment. In the present, Commander Waterford rapes and tries to impregnate Offred during "the Ceremony" as she lies in the lap of his wife, Serena. The next day, the Handmaids are encouraged to beat a man to death after Lydia announces he raped a pregnant Handmaid. Janine, now known as Ofwarren, tells Offred that Moira is dead. On the way home, Ofglen tells Offred that she had a wife and son, and warns her there is an Eye in the Waterford house. Offred affirms to herself that her true name is June and that she intends to survive to find her daughter.
22"Birth Day"Reed MoranoBruce MillerApril 26, 2017 (2017-04-26)
June and Ofglen go shopping, and they reveal more personal information about themselves to each other. While they are walking, they see St. Paul Catholic Church, their local church, being destroyed by the new régime.[26][25] Ofglen tells Offred that the régime also bulldozed St. Patrick's Cathedral in Manhattan to try to "erase" the fact that it ever existed. When June asks how Ofglen knows this information, she reveals that she is part of a resistance movement against the government, but June declines to join.[27] Commander Waterford's driver, Nick, tells June that the Commander wants to see her alone later that night, which is forbidden, and warns her that Ofglen is dangerous. June and other Handmaids visit Janine/Ofwarren at the Putnams' home to witness the birth of her child, named Angela by the Putnams, but Charlotte by Janine. In flashbacks, June remembers the birth of her and her husband Luke's daughter, Hannah. At that time healthy births were already rare, and a woman who tried to kidnap baby Hannah was arrested. In the present, June warily goes to the Commander's office, but he just wants to play Scrabble, to her relief. The next day, when June prepares to tell Ofglen what happened that night, a different woman introduces herself as Ofglen.
33"Late"Reed MoranoBruce MillerApril 26, 2017 (2017-04-26)
In flashbacks, the rise of Gilead is detailed through June's eyes: June and all the other women at her office were fired, and the government froze women's bank accounts and ruled they could no longer own property. In the present, Serena takes June to see Janine and the baby, and June fears Janine is delusional. Back home, June is interrogated by an Eye and Aunt Lydia about her knowledge of Ofglen. June eventually reveals she knew Ofglen was gay, and for this, Aunt Lydia shocks June with a cattle prod. Before she can leave the room, June quotes one of the Beatitudes from the Bible, which would have earned her a much more serious beating, but Serena intervenes, believing that June is pregnant. When June later tells Serena that she's not pregnant, Serena angrily locks her in her room. In a flashback, June and Moira attend a protest against the new laws amidst automatic gunfire and explosives. In the present, Ofglen and the Martha she's in a relationship with are charged with "gender treachery" which violates Romans 1:26. The fertile Ofglen receives a lesser sentence called 'redemption', but the Martha is hanged by a crane at a construction site as Ofglen watches, sobbing and horrified. Later, Ofglen (referred to by her "old" name, Emily) awakes to find, to her grief and anger, that she has undergone female genital mutilation surgery, as explained by Aunt Lydia.
44"Nolite Te Bastardes Carborundorum"Mike BarkerLeila GersteinMay 3, 2017 (2017-05-03)
Banished to her room for almost a whole night, June retreats to her closet where she finds what appears to be a Latin phrase, Nolite Te Bastardes Carborundorum, scratched discreetly into the wall. When Rita, the Martha assigned as the Commander's housekeeper, finds June lying on the closet floor, June (in a desperate attempt to be able to leave her room) tells her that she fainted. Serena then has June sent to the hospital for a check-up. During the examination the physician remarks that the Commander is most likely sterile, as is common. He offers to personally impregnate June, but she declines. In flashbacks, Aunt Lydia teaches the Handmaids about The Ceremony in which a Commander endeavors to fertilize a Handmaid. Later, June and Moira assault Aunt Elizabeth, and Moira takes her outfit. June and Moira plan to escape via train to Boston, which has safe houses. Moira manages to catch the train without June, who from a distance lets Moira know it's okay. June is later caught and punished by having her feet whipped. In the present, Commander Waterford has an unsuccessful Ceremony night with June, but later that night, they engage in another game of Scrabble. She asks him about the Latin phrase, and he tells her it means, Don't let the bastards grind you down. When she inquires about the previous Offred, he tells her that she killed herself because life was unbearable. He then releases June from her solitary confinement.
55"Faithful"Mike BarkerDorothy FortenberryMay 10, 2017 (2017-05-10)
Serena suggests to June that she have sex with Nick in case Commander Waterford is sterile. Later that day, Serena leads June up to Nick's room and waits by the door while June and Nick have detached sex. Flashbacks detail June and an already married Luke's first meeting and courtship. In the present, at the grocery store, June talks to Emily, who has been assigned to a new post and is now called Ofsteven, but she is not as responsive as she used to be. During a Ceremony night, the Commander touches June's thigh, which she later tells him never to do again, in the process also confronting him about what happened to Emily. In their ensuing conversation, the Commander admits that while they thought they were building a better world, they knew that "better never means better for everyone." June also confronts Nick, and he reveals to June that he is indeed an Eye. At an open-air market, June questions Emily about the resistance group (which is called Mayday). Emily then jumps behind the steering wheel of a security car and drives erratically around the plaza. She hits a guard, and is caught and put into a black van. June returns to Nick's coach house alone, and they have passionate sex.
66"A Woman's Place"Floria SigismondiWendy Straker HauserMay 17, 2017 (2017-05-17)
Mexican trade delegates visit the Waterfords' home to evaluate the effects of the Gilead cultural movement. The female head of the delegation questions June about her experience, but she lies, saying that she is happy. June visits the Commander's office later, but there is tension. She reluctantly obeys his demand to kiss him, but ferociously brushes her teeth afterward. The Handmaids and children are then taken to a function to demonstrate Gilead's success, illustrated in part by a parade of Commanders' children to whom the Handmaids in attendance had given birth. June's friend and fellow Handmaid Alma remarks that the delegates are only interested in fertile women. The next day, as the delegates are leaving, June tells them the brutal truth about Gilead. She pleads for their help, but in response, the Mexican ambassador explains her own country's dire situation and declines to do anything. However, the ambassador's assistant quietly claims Luke is alive and that he can deliver a message to him. A flashback details Serena and Fred's life at the beginnings of the Gilead movement, when Serena was a conservative cultural activist with passion and intelligence equal to her husband's. It is revealed that she wrote a book about her beliefs, titled A Woman's Place. The Waterfords are also shown to have been involved with the movement since the beginning, and during a date at the movies, Fred gets a message that the movement will attack the U.S. government in three weeks. After the takeover, Serena is completely shut out of the new government planning and accepts her new limited role in the society she helped create. A copy of her book is seen being thrown out with the trash.
77"The Other Side"Floria SigismondiLynn Renee MaxcyMay 24, 2017 (2017-05-24)
A flashback chronicles Luke's story after he becomes separated from June and Hannah. Luke is shot by Gileadan guards, but he escapes when the ambulance crashes, and he takes some medical supplies. He reaches a small abandoned town and, after passing out from his wounds, is rescued by a resistance group traveling to Canada. The survivors include a Roman Catholic nun, a mute escaped Handmaid, a gay man, and a daughter of a US Army soldier.[28] Initially reluctant, Luke joins them after one of the survivors, Zoe, shows him that Gileadan authorities hanged townspeople from the rafters of their church for resisting.[29][30] As they board a boat, Gileadan guards open fire, killing several members of the group, but Luke and Erin, the escaped Handmaid, survive. A further flashback shows Luke, June and Hannah before they were separated. June and Luke are helped by Mr. Whitford, a man who knew June's mother. He leaves them at a secluded cabin in the woods while he arranges documentation for them to escape to Canada. Later, a local hunter tells them Whitford has been caught and hanged, but the hunter helps them attempt to cross the border. Three years later, in the present, Luke and Erin live safely in "Little America", based in Toronto. While in the main administrative office, Luke receives the letter from June that the visiting Mexican diplomat offered to deliver for her, which reads "I love you so much. Save Hannah."
88"Jezebels"Kate DennisKira SnyderMay 31, 2017 (2017-05-31)
Commander Waterford gifts June with makeup and a dress, as he is taking her out for the night. Nick drives them to Boston to an underground brothel, where sex workers (known as "Jezebels") work. June spots Moira working in the club, and they briefly reunite. Nick trades drugs and pregnancy tests for alcohol with Beth, one of the brothel's Marthas (whom he also has a sexual relationship with, though he declines to sleep with her now). June goes to see Moira again, and she explains to June how Quakers tried to help her escape but were caught.[31][32] Moira had the choice of being sent either to the colonies or one of the brothels.[32] Moira tells June, "Forget about escaping. This is Gilead. No one gets out." June then reveals to Moira that she knows Luke got out. Flashbacks detail how Nick, struggling with unemployment and a troubled family, got involved with the Sons of Jacob and subsequently the Gilead movement, and how he became an Eye after reporting a Commander for breaking protocol with his Handmaids. There are other flashbacks to the suicide of the previous Offred, with Serena pointedly saying to her husband, "What did you think was going to happen?" In the present, after Nick drives Waterford and June home, he ends his relationship with June, which upsets and angers her. The episode closes with June etching "You are not alone" into the closet wall.
99"The Bridge"Kate DennisEric TuchmanJune 7, 2017 (2017-06-07)
Janine's daughter is handed over to Commander Putnam and his wife, and she is transferred to another couple and renamed Ofdaniel. However, June is worried about Janine's mental state. During the first Ceremony night with her new Commander, Janine forcefully stops the proceedings. At the market, Alma pulls June aside, tells her that she is involved with Mayday and requests that June retrieve a package from the bar at Jezebel's. June convinces Waterford to take her to Jezebel's again that night. After June and Waterford have sex in their room, Waterford presents June with Moira, as he believes they share a sexual attraction. June privately asks Moira to retrieve the package, but she refuses, seemingly resigned to her fate. The next day June is taken to a bridge where Janine is standing on the edge with baby Charlotte, while Gileadan guards, the Putnams, the Waterfords, and Aunt Lydia stand fearfully by. Janine shouts that Commander Putnam promised to leave his wife for her. June convinces Janine to give her the child, and Janine then jumps into the icy water below. Later, while Janine lies comatose in the hospital, Commander Putnam is led away by guards. When Serena tries to offer comfort to Mrs. Putnam, the latter bitterly reminds Serena of the first Offred's fate, causing Serena to doubt her husband's loyalty. At the market, June is given a package by the butcher, sent by Moira from Jezebel's. At the brothel, Moira kills a client and takes his clothes, then jubilantly drives off in his car.
1010"Night"Kari SkoglandBruce MillerJune 14, 2017 (2017-06-14)
A flashback shows June's capture and indoctrination by Aunt Lydia at the Red Center. In the present, after Serena discovers Fred's trips to Jezebel's, she slaps June hard and forces her to take a pregnancy test. It is positive. Serena then angrily accuses her husband, telling him the child is not his. Upon learning the news, Nick shares a brief, tender moment with June. Serena takes June to where Hannah now lives, but June is kept in the car and unable to attract her daughter's attention. Serena warns a distraught June that Hannah will be cared for as long as her unborn child is safe. Fred participates in Commander Putnam's trial advocating leniency, but Mrs. Putnam wants the harshest punishment possible, and ultimately Putnam's left arm is amputated at the elbow. The package from Jezebel's contains letters from women who have lost family members and been enslaved in the Gilead takeover. Later, an emotional Aunt Lydia gathers the Handmaids for the execution of Janine and instructs them all to stone Janine. The Handmaids hesitate, and Ofglen No. 2 is brutally beaten when she voices her angry refusal. June, and then the other Handmaids, drop their stones. One of the guards threatens to kill June, but Aunt Lydia saves her, although assuring the Handmaids that there will be consequences. Not long afterward, a black van comes for June. Nick urges her to trust him and go with them. June's transfer is unusual, as neither of the Waterfords have any idea this would be happening. As June leaves, she whispers to Rita where to find the hidden letters. In a side story, Moira reaches Canada, is granted asylum there as a refugee, and is reunited with Luke.

Season 2 (2018)[edit]

No.
overall
No. in
season
TitleDirected byTeleplay byOriginal release date
111"June"Mike BarkerBruce MillerApril 25, 2018 (2018-04-25)
June and other handmaids are taken to an abandoned but still recognizable Fenway Park, where they are made to believe they will be hanged, but it turns out to be a scare act used by Aunt Lydia to frighten them. During another punishment, June is freed after Aunt Lydia is told of her pregnancy. When she rejects a meal Aunt Lydia gives her, she is shown another pregnant handmaid, Ofwyatt, chained in a prison room due to her attempt suicide by drinking drain cleaner. June agrees to eat, and during her meal Aunt Lydia – who had told her that her friends would be punished for their disobedience, but her pregnancy meant that she would be exempted – brings the other handmaids into the room. One by one they are burned with a gas flame. Later, June is taken to a doctor for a pregnancy check-up, where she is visited by the Waterfords. Afterward, however, she finds a key in one of her boots, which she uses to escape to a van parked underneath the hospital. The van drops her off to a safe house in Back Bay, where she meets Nick, while Fred authorizes a highly resourced search for her. Nick tells her to change out of her Handmaid clothes and to cut her hair. After stripping off her handmaid's dress, she burns it before cutting the red cattle tag out of her ear. In flashbacks throughout the episode, Hannah is admitted to the hospital for having a fever while in school; June is questioned by one of the hospital workers about giving Hannah medication to bypass the school's fever policy, as well as about June and Luke's fitness as parents. Later, they arrive home to a news story about the Capitol Building and the White House being attacked.
122"Unwomen"Mike BarkerBruce MillerApril 25, 2018 (2018-04-25)
June has been transported to the abandoned former headquarters of The Boston Globe, another safe place arranged by Mayday.[33] Emily has been taken to the Colonies, where disobedient and lower-class infertile women ("unwomen") are forced to dig on highly toxic land.[34] Many of the unwomen are becoming sick, and Emily is doing what she can to help them. A commander's wife arrives at the Colonies and is not welcomed by the unwomen. Emily befriends the woman and finds that she was taken to the Colonies for committing a "sin of the flesh." Emily gives her tablets that turn out to be poison, which leads to her death; she blames the wife for "holding a woman down while her husband rapes her".[33] Janine arrives at the Colonies, where she is briefly greeted by Emily. Nick visits June, and she gets upset when he tells her she needs to wait for several weeks before she can leave because everyone is looking for her. Nick ends up giving her the keys to a car and a gun but she decides to stay, and they have sex. In a flashback, after the attack on the Capitol Building and the White House, Emily is told by her boss, Dan, that she will not be teaching the following semester at the university, giving her a lower profile to avoid attracting criticism for her sexual orientation. Dan is later seen hanged at the university with the word "faggot" spray painted underneath him. When Emily, along with her wife Sylvia and son Oliver, attempt to emigrate to Canada, she is unable to leave the country because their same-sex marriage is no longer recognized, and it becomes known that she is the biological mother of Oliver. In the present, June makes a news-clipping memorial for The Boston Globe employees who were executed at the newspaper's former headquarters and prays to God to send an angel to watch over it.[33]
133"Baggage"Kari SkoglandDorothy FortenberryMay 2, 2018 (2018-05-02)
Having spent two months at The Boston Globe offices, June has found evidence in their archives of the early emergence of the Sons of Jacob/Gilead movement. Nick visits occasionally. She is abruptly moved to a different place where she meets Omar, who tells her he is bringing her to a safe house near an airstrip in order to fly to Canada. He then receives a message that the safe house has been compromised, and tries to leave without her, but she stands in front of his van to make him take her. He takes her to his apartment in a community of Econopeople, where she meets his wife, Heather, and their son, Adam. Left alone when the family goes to church, June finds a hidden Qur'an and prayer rug under the bedsprings. Omar and his family do not return, and June dons Heather's Econowife outfit and leaves the apartment, blending in with other Econowives. After a train ride, June runs into the woods. She realizes she has no way of rescuing Hannah and advances to the airstrip that Omar had told her about; however, the plane is intercepted before take-off, the pilot is executed, and June and another fugitive are apprehended by the Guardians. Meanwhile, Moira, now living with Luke and Erin (who is no longer mute) in Canada, gives a tour to a new co-worker, but he has a breakdown, traumatized by what he did as a Guardian. In a flashback, June as a child is taken to a Take Back the Night rally by her mother, Holly. When June grew up, Holly was disappointed at her daughter’s career choices and plan to marry Luke, hoping that she would have been an activist. Later, Moira and June learned during their training at the Red Center that Holly had been declared an Unwoman and was sent to the Colonies to be worked to death.
144"Other Women"Kari SkoglandYahlin ChangMay 9, 2018 (2018-05-09)
June is recaptured and chained in a room where Aunt Lydia explains that she must choose between this imprisonment, followed by execution after the birth of her child, or return as a Handmaid to the Waterfords. She chooses the latter and is under close supervision from Aunt Lydia. The Waterfords, who still employ Nick, publicly treat June's disappearance as a kidnapping, but privately Serena is furious and grabs June by the throat. Rita returns the letters she found and tells June that she will no longer be involved. A baby shower is held for Serena, incorporating prayer and a ritual binding of June to Serena. June learns from Alma that Ofglen No. 2's tongue was removed for speaking up to save Janine, and that Mayday has now gone silent. Aunt Lydia takes June out to show her what is presumed to be Omar's hanging corpse. She tells June that Omar's wife, Heather, is now a Handmaid and that their child, Adam, was given away to another family. Aunt Lydia tells June that this was her fault, and June accepts the blame. Aunt Lydia encourages June to distinguish between Offred's identity and June's, saying June is to blame, not Offred. In a flashback, June is harassed by Luke's first wife Annie, who tells her that they made wedding vows before God and that June should back off, but Luke rejects her attempts to come between him and June. A few years later, Annie sees Luke and June in a restaurant with an infant Hannah. In the present, June has collapsed emotionally under the knowledge of Omar's family's fate. June prays that Hannah will forget her. Ignoring Nick the following day, June appears to be conforming to the expectations of a Handmaid.
155"Seeds"Mike BarkerKira SnyderMay 16, 2018 (2018-05-16)
June is very subdued, and starts to burn the letters she had been keeping for Mayday. She notices vaginal bleeding, which continues and gets worse but does not inform anyone, although Rita notices her unsteadiness. Nick notices June's apparent depression and lets Serena know about it. Serena becomes alarmed at Nick's interest in June and informs Fred, who arranges for him to be married at a Prayvaganza where, in a mass wedding, loyal Guardians are issued a wife as a reward for their work. Nick's new bride, the teenage Eden, moves into his room. Nick later finds June near-death, unconscious and drenched in blood in the bushes outside the Waterfords' house, and she is taken to the hospital. June awakens in the hospital, still pregnant, and promises her baby that they both will escape Gilead. Meanwhile, in the Colonies, Janine assures Emily that God is protecting them through their struggles in Gilead, and helps to arrange a small wedding for a dying worker, officiated by another Unwoman who is a rabbi. Emily, who has begun to lose her teeth, argues with her for attempting to bring brightness to a place that otherwise seems so bleak. When the newlywed Unwoman dies, the rabbi officiates at the burial as she is lowered into her grave in a cemetery adorned with crosses.
166"First Blood"Mike BarkerEric TuchmanMay 23, 2018 (2018-05-23)
Advised by a doctor that a harmonious household would be good for the child, Serena shows increased care for June, giving her the sitting room as a bedroom and inviting her Handmaid friends to have brunch with her. When Serena shows June the nursery for the baby, June asks to see Hannah, upon which Serena moves her back to her previous room and sets about humiliating her. Eden reveals to June that she fears Nick may be a "gender traitor" due to his reluctance to have sex with her, so June warns him and he has sex with Eden to avoid suspicion, but only after he tells June that he loves her. Fred visits June in secret and gives her a photograph of Hannah; he wants to have sex with her, but June refuses. At the opening of the Rachel and Leah Center, a construction and ceremony overseen by Fred, Nick asks the high-ranking Commander Pryce to reassign him and ensure June's protection, to which he agrees. During the ceremony, Ofglen No. 2 runs toward the stage and detonates a bomb: only Handmaids are seen to have escaped. Flashbacks throughout the episode show the beginning of the Gilead movement with a nervous Serena being verbally attacked while promoting her book A Woman's Place. After being booed off stage, Fred forces Serena to finish her speech, which is met by jeers and clapping, escalating when a protester shoots Serena. Seeing Serena's mistrust in the local police, as well as her disbelief in her husband's ability to be a strong leader, Fred oversees brutal punishment and execution of those students he believed to have been involved in his wife's shooting.
177"After"Kari SkoglandLynn Renee MaxcyMay 30, 2018 (2018-05-30)
31 handmaids and 26 commanders, along with an unspecified number of civilians, have been killed in Ofglen No. 2's attack on the Rachel and Leah Center; Commander Pryce is among the dead, while Fred is seriously injured. Following the attack, Commander Cushing takes Commander Pryce's role, instituting an increased number of checkpoints and having numerous people summarily executed. He questions June, asking who aided her when she tried to flee the country. June responds that she was kidnapped, an answer that Commander Cushing does not believe. Serena is alarmed at the possibility of her household being targeted and angry at his heavy-handed response to the bombing, so she forges orders from her husband to have Commander Cushing arrested for treason and apostasy. Because so many Handmaids were killed, some fertile women are taken back from the Colonies and are made to serve as Handmaids once again, including Janine and Emily. Both reunite with June in the grocery store, with Janine happily telling her that it was God's plan that she be rescued. June, who had been sad to discover that none of the Handmaids had known Ofglen No. 2's name, tells her real name, June, to Emily; following this, several of the Handmaids whisper their real names to one another, which Eden overhears. Later, Serena enlists June's help in illicitly performing the Commander's work for him while he is in the hospital. At the refugee center, Moira looks through records to try to find out what happened to her fiancée, Odette. Through flashbacks Moira is revealed to have been a surrogate for a couple before the war. She met Odette, an obstetrician, during this process. In the present, Moira eventually finds photographs showing Odette was killed. Later, Luke and Moira attend a meeting about the bombing to find out if June is alive. When the list of the deceased is read out, Ofglen No. 2's real name is revealed to be Lillie Fuller.
188"Women's Work"Kari SkoglandNina Fiore & John HerreraJune 6, 2018 (2018-06-06)

June has been helping Serena to complete Fred's work for some months while he is too ill from his bomb injuries to do so himself. Serena gives June a music box and a fresh flower as a "thank you" for all of June's help in completing Fred's work while he is in the hospital. But as soon as Fred returns home, he excludes Serena from his office. Serena tells June that the Putnams' child is sick. June advocates for Janine to be able to see the baby in the hospital, and Serena agrees to ask about it for the baby's sake. Naomi Putnam dislikes the idea, but she is overruled by her husband, Warren; his former illicit relationship with Janine is a subtext. Serena petitions Fred to allow the sick child to be seen by a Martha who, prior to the Sons of Jacob coup, was one of the nation's top neonatologists. Fred denies the request, saying that whatever happens to the child must now be left to God's will. A dismayed Serena forges Fred's signature to a written order that transfers the Martha to the hospital for a day. Aunt Lydia tells June that she will hold her personally responsible if anything goes wrong with Janine's visit to the hospital. The neonatologist can find no physical explanation for the child's deterioration and can recommend no further treatment. She advises them to unplug the baby from all of the machines and help her to feel safe and warm. When Fred discovers that Serena forged his signature on an order to temporarily transfer the Martha, he beats Serena with his belt as June is forced to watch. Serena later tearfully rejects June's offer of sympathy. Meanwhile, Eden is working hard to please Nick, but after she rearranges his garret and uncovers the bundle of handmaids' letters he recovered from June, he becomes angry, demanding that she never touch his belongings. The episode ends in the hospital with Janine, partly undressed and holding Angela/Charlotte, singing "I Only Want to Be with You" to her child and bouncing her as the seemingly healthy baby gurgles happily.

This is the first episode in the series that does not have scenes from before the formation of Gilead.
199"Smart Power"Jeremy PodeswaDorothy FortenberryJune 13, 2018 (2018-06-13)
Fred and Serena travel to Canada on a diplomatic mission accompanied by Nick, while a Guardian, Isaac, is left to be responsible for the household. Much to June's distress, Serena tells her that she will be transferred to a new home as soon as the baby is born. In Toronto, Serena gazes from her limousine window at Canadian women, leading unrestricted lives, and is reminded of the time before Gilead. The Waterfords are ambivalently greeted by Canadian officials and Serena is given a tour of a garden by a Canadian woman who talks about how busy she is, balancing her career and her interests. Later, Serena is approached by Mark Tuello, who works for the remnant of the U.S. government in Hawaii, and offers to help her defect from Gilead if she will publicly denounce the regime, but Serena declines. Back in Gilead, at the Waterford residence, June tells Rita that when Hannah was baptized, she and Luke chose godparents for her, and that she wishes for Rita to be the godparent of her expected child as soon as it is born.[35] Rita states that she will try her best, though the government of Gilead has prohibited baptisms and severely restricts Marthas. June makes a similar request to Aunt Lydia, prompting her to reveal she was previously godparent to her sister's baby, who died in infancy.[35] At a protest in Toronto, Luke confronts Fred. Afterwards, Nick finds Luke and tells him June is pregnant by Fred, but safe, and gives him the bundle of letters from women enslaved in Gilead. Luke, Moira and Erin make the letters public, causing an outcry that prompts the Canadians to cancel the rest of the summit. Moira holds a sign up to the Waterfords' car that says "My name is Moira," and Fred recognizes her from Jezebel's. Back in Gilead, Serena burns the book of matches from a Hawaiian bar that Mark left for her. Nick gives June news of Luke and Moira, adding that the letters were instrumental in getting the talks curtailed. Nick tells June that he loves her. He kisses her, but she does not reciprocate. June reveals that Moira is Hannah's godmother.[36]
2010"The Last Ceremony"Jeremy PodeswaYahlin ChangJune 20, 2018 (2018-06-20)
The commander to whom Emily is newly assigned as Handmaid collapses and dies during the Ceremony. June suffers contractions while shopping, forcing her home and to endure a "birthing ceremony" as everyone awaits the birth of the child. However, it turns out to be a false alarm, and everyone is dismissed. Following the false alarm, June pleads to Fred to be positioned closer to her daughter Hannah after the eventual birth. After Fred denies this request, June implies that the child she is carrying is not his and that he will never have a biological child of his own. Later, Fred violently rapes June with Serena holding her down, under the guise of inducing the labor. Eden finds herself attracted to Isaac, and meets with him late at night. They kiss, but she breaks off once she sees Nick watching. She begs his forgiveness, which he readily gives with a detachment that infuriates her. She accuses Nick of liking June. Fred then arranges for Nick to take June to an empty, remote house for a short visit with Hannah, now renamed Agnes. Hannah is initially frightened and detached, but quickly embraces June as her true mother, and the two have a brief but emotional reunion. After they are once again separated, Guardians take Nick captive, and June is left behind, having hidden in the house.
2111"Holly"Daina ReidBruce Miller & Kira SnyderJune 27, 2018 (2018-06-27)
After Nick is taken away from the house, June finds a 1975 Chevrolet Camaro in the garage and car keys and is able to start the car, but she returns to the house and gets a man's coat. Flashbacks throughout the episode show her first pregnancy, and Hannah's birth and childhood. Fred and Serena arrive at the house in a panic, looking for June and end up arguing, with Serena telling Fred she gave up everything for him and the cause, and only ever wanted a child in return. June finds a gun, and prepares to shoot them, but desists. They are unable to find June and decide to leave, feeling both angry and concerned. After she's certain they're gone, June, having contractions, gets back into the car, but cannot get it out of the garage, which is frozen shut. June is exhausted and in pain, and lies down in front of the fire, finally going into labor and passing out. When she wakes, she's covered in blood, but the baby still hasn't come. She crawls outside and discharges the gun to attract attention, then she ends up delivering the baby by herself. She whispers that her name is Holly, after her mother. Light comes in through the windows, indicating that a car has arrived at the house.
2212"Postpartum"Daina ReidEric TuchmanJuly 4, 2018 (2018-07-04)
Some weeks after the birth, the baby, now named Nichole by the Waterfords, is cared for by Serena, while June is providing milk through a breast pump. She is unable to pump enough milk and is brought to see her baby in order to induce lactation. June requests to nurse her herself, but Fred rejects the idea. Given that June's lactation increases during the meeting, Aunt Lydia convinces Fred to allow June back in the house for the baby's health. Serena becomes enraged and demands that June stay away from the baby. Nick, who is back in the Waterford household and presented as having been key to the rescue of June and the baby, suggests lightheartedly that he, June and the baby should flee, and Fred attempts to renew the illicit elements of his relationship with June. Emily is reassigned to a new household as a handmaid after being rejected by four couples. Commander Lawrence, the "architect of Gilead's economy," seems suspicious, and his household is an eccentric space. His unstable wife, Eleanor, reveals to Emily that Lawrence was the creator of the Colonies. Lawrence interrogates Emily, revealing that he knows much about her past. Meanwhile, Eden and Isaac elope but are soon caught. Eden and Nick admit their faults and ask forgiveness of each other. Eden and Isaac are brought to a diving board above a swimming pool with chains and weights attached to each of them. They stand convicted of 'infidelity in violation of Exodus 20:14', which is punishable by death by drowning. Both refuse to repent as forced, and Eden instead begins to recite a biblical paean to love. They are both pushed off the diving board and drown to death in front of a terrified and devastated crowd.[37] Distraught by the events, Serena and June come to an understanding, and Serena allows June to nurse the baby herself.
2313"The Word"Mike BarkerBruce MillerJuly 11, 2018 (2018-07-11)
It is revealed that Eden's father was the one who turned Eden and Isaac in, leading to their execution. Their bodies are also hung over the wall. While searching through Eden's belongings, June discovers a Bible that Eden read from and annotated, despite it being illegal for women and girls to read in Gilead.[38] June argues with Serena about her daughter's future in Gilead, stating that baby Nichole won't be able to know God unless she is eventually able to read his word.[38] Serena and a number of wives propose an amendment to the council that girls be taught to read the Bible, and Serena reads from the Bible to make her point. She is punished by having one of her fingers cut off, a punishment Fred does not stop.[38] Emily reluctantly prepares for her first ceremony with Lawrence, but he dismisses Emily without going through with it. The next day, Emily is visited by Aunt Lydia and, as she is leaving, Emily brutally attacks Lydia by stabbing her in the back with a kitchen knife. Emily continues to kick Aunt Lydia down the stairs, leaving her gasping for breath. Lawrence's Martha, Cora, finds Aunt Lydia and sends Emily back to her room and locks the door. Fred suggests to June that he could arrange for her to remain as his handmaid, and when she rejects the proposal, he suggests that future meetings with Hannah/Agnes could be arranged. As a fire consumes a house across the street, Rita tells June that she and her daughter, Holly, have this chance to get out and need to leave immediately. Fred tries to arrange their capture but is prevented by Nick, who threatens him with a gun. Serena catches her mid-escape, but after a tearful goodbye to the baby, she allows June to take the baby and flee, assisted by several Marthas. June is reunited with Emily, who is dropped off at the escape truck by Lawrence, who says he is getting himself "in deep shit" when asked why he's allowing them to leave. At the last second, June decides to stay behind and gives the baby to Emily. She tells Emily to call her Nichole, and to tell her she loves her.

Season 3 (2019)[edit]

No.
overall
No. in
season
Title [39][40]Directed byWritten byOriginal release date [41]
241"Night"Mike BarkerBruce MillerJune 5, 2019 (2019-06-05)
After a treacherous journey, Emily escapes into Canada with June's baby Nichole where she is granted asylum. Nichole is taken into the care of Luke and Moira. Back in Gilead, June visits her older daughter Hannah before she is recaptured by the Guardians and is returned to the Waterfords. In order to hide June's involvement in the "kidnapping" of Nichole, Fred pins the blame on Emily, but Serena defiantly pins it on herself by telling him and an agent of the Eyes that she was the one who gave away Nichole to an "unrepenting sinner". After being punished at the Red Center, June is reassigned to Commander Lawrence, who is responsible for facilitating Emily and Nichole's escape to Canada.
252"Mary and Martha"Mike BarkerKira SnyderJune 5, 2019 (2019-06-05)
June meets her new shopping partner, Ofmatthew, who is deeply devoted to Gilead. At the Lawrence household, June joins an underground resistance cell consisting of the Marthas Beth, Cora, and Alison. The latter is a former chemistry teacher who wants to join the resistance in order to make bombs to clear Gilead from the map forever. It is also revealed that she made the bomb that blew up the new Rachel and Leah center. Later, Alison returns with a wounded woman, whom they hide in the Lawrence household. Commander Lawrence reluctantly harbors the fugitive from the Guardians, who dies from her injuries. Commander Lawrence's wife, Eleanor, who has been seemingly insane, appears to immediately snap out of it and helps June and the Marthas hide their crimes. After the Guardians have left, he orders June to bury the fallen woman and dismisses Cora for lying. Eleanor is also seen planting flowers over where June buried the body. In Canada, Emily is staying with Luke, Moira and Erin, who eventually convince Emily to re-establish contact with her wife Sylvia. When Sylvia answers the phone to her, she stops her car in the middle of a busy street and causes a traffic jam.
263"Useful"Amma AsanteYahlin ChangJune 5, 2019 (2019-06-05)
June resolves to search for "allies with power" to survive Gilead. The Commanders meet at Commander Lawrence's house to discuss the fighting in Chicago including an incoming shipment of female captives. June meets Nick, who has been promoted to Commander, and the two share a tender moment together. Commander Lawrence enlists June's service in recruiting five Chicago women to serve as "Marthas" with the rest being shipped to the Colonies to be exterminated upon arrival. While unwilling to be complicit in Lawrence's crimes, June eventually decides that the five Marthas would make good recruits for her resistance cell and selects an engineer, an IT technician, a journalist, a lawyer, and last but not least, a thief. Meanwhile, a despondent Serena goes to stay with her mother Pamela, and is chastised by her for losing her surrogate child, which never belonged to her, and not realizing her place in Gileadean society.
274"God Bless the Child"Amma AsanteEric TuchmanJune 12, 2019 (2019-06-12)
June convinces Fred to give his wife Serena a "voice behind the scenes" in order to give her a useful place in Gilead's society. June and some other handmaids attend a reception at the Putnam household. Flashbacks throughout the episode show June and Luke's baptism of Hannah before the hostile takeover. June learns that Ofmatthew has given birth to three babies in Gilead and she and the others are dismayed at her pious attitude. Janine pleads with the Putnams to invite her back into the house so that she can produce a sibling for baby Angela. Aunt Lydia furiously rejects her plea, and then savagely beats her until June throws herself between a beaten Janine and Lydia. Aunt Lydia then apologizes to everyone except Janine for what happened, and then leaves. She later privately breaks down in tears at home. June and the Waterfords later receive video footage of Nichole with Luke in Canada during a demonstration condemning Gilead's hostile assault on Chicago, while June herself is forced to confirm her husband's identity. In Canada, Emily reunites with Sylvia and their son Oliver. Luke and Moira also have Nichole baptized by a priest, believing that the "little one should be absolved of their sins."
285"Unknown Caller"Colin WatkinsonMarissa Jo CerarJune 19, 2019 (2019-06-19)
At the request of Serena, June contacts her husband Luke by telephone in order to arrange a meeting between the Waterfords and Nichole. Luke agrees to the meeting on the condition that only Serena attend the meeting and not Fred. During their tense meeting at Toronto Pearson International Airport, Serena reassures Luke that June is safe and that both she and June gave up Nichole so that she could get a better life in Canada. Serena also passes Luke a tape containing a recorded message from June, revealing Nichole's true name (Holly) and that Nick is her biological father. Later, June is picked up by Guardians and forced to take part in a televised broadcast in which the Waterfords, who are pretending to be a family in mourning, are forcing the Canadian government to return Nichole, as well as the escaped fugitive that had her, to Gilead.

Production[edit]

Hulu's straight-to-series order of The Handmaid's Tale was announced in April 2016, with Elisabeth Moss set to star.[42] Based on the 1985 novel of the same name by Margaret Atwood, the series was created by Bruce Miller, who is also an executive producer with Daniel Wilson, Fran Sears, and Warren Littlefield.[42] Atwood serves as consulting producer, giving feedback on some of the areas where the series expands upon or modernizes the book.[42][43] She also played a small cameo role in the first episode.[44] Moss is also a producer.[45] In June 2016, Reed Morano was announced as director of the series.[46] Samira Wiley, Max Minghella, and Ann Dowd joined the cast in July 2016.[47][48][49] Joseph Fiennes, Madeline Brewer, and Yvonne Strahovski were cast in August 2016,[50][51][52] followed by O. T. Fagbenle and Amanda Brugel in September 2016.[53][54] In October 2016, Ever Carradine joined the cast,[55] and Alexis Bledel was added in January 2017.[56]

Filming on the series took place in Toronto, Mississauga, Hamilton, Burlington, Oakville, and Cambridge, Ontario, from September 2016 to February 2017.[57][58] Hulu released the first full trailer of the TV series on YouTube, on March 23, 2017.[59] The series premiered on April 26, 2017.[60]

On May 3, 2017, The Handmaid's Tale was renewed for a second season to premiere in 2018.[61] Moss told the news media that the subsequent episodes would cover further developments in the story, filling in some of the unanswered questions and continuing the narrative already "finished" in the book.[62] The second season consists of 13 episodes and began filming in fall 2017. Alexis Bledel returned as a series regular.[63] Showrunner Bruce Miller stated that he envisioned 10 seasons of the show, stating, "Well, you know, honestly, when I started, I tried to game out in my head what would ten seasons be like? If you hit a home run, you want energy to go around the bases, you want enough story to keep going, if you can hook the audience to care about these people enough that they're actually crying at the finale."[64]

Season 2 was filmed in Ontario, primarily in Toronto, but some scenes were shot in Hamilton and Cambridge.[65]

Season 3 started production in Toronto in October 2018.[66][67] Scenes for season 3 were also filmed in Cambridge and Hamilton, Ontario as well as in Washington, D.C.[68][69][70]

Broadcast and release[edit]

The first three episodes of the series premiered on April 26, 2017; the subsequent seven episodes were released on a weekly basis.[60][71] In Canada, the series is broadcast weekly by Bravo and the streaming service CraveTV; the first two episodes premiered on April 30, 2017.[72] In Scandinavia, the series is available on HBO Nordic.[73] In the United Kingdom, the series premiered on May 28, 2017, on Channel 4.[74] In Ireland, the series premiered on February 5, 2018 on RTÉ2, with a showing of the first two episodes.[75] RTÉ also became the first broadcaster in Europe to debut Season 2 following its broadcast in the US and Canada.[76] In Brazil, the series premiered on March 7, 2018, on Paramount Channel.[77]

In New Zealand, the series was released on the subscription video on demand service Lightbox on June 8, 2017.[78] In Australia, the series premiered on the TV channel SBS's video streaming service SBS on Demand, on July 6, 2017.[79]

The first season was released on Blu-ray and DVD on March 13, 2018.[80] The second season was released on Blu-ray and DVD on December 4, 2018.[81]

Reception[edit]

Critical response[edit]

Season Critical response
Rotten Tomatoes Metacritic
1 94% (121 reviews) 92 (41 reviews)
2 89% (98 reviews) 86 (28 reviews)
3 84% (44 reviews) 67 (13 reviews)

Season 1[edit]

On Rotten Tomatoes, the first season has an approval rating of 94% based on 121 reviews, with an average rating of 8.72/10. The site's critical consensus reads, "Haunting and vivid, The Handmaid's Tale is an endlessly engrossing adaptation of Margaret Atwood's dystopian novel that's anchored by a terrific central performance from Elisabeth Moss."[82] On Metacritic, it has a weighted average score of 92 out of 100 based on 41 critics, indicating "universal acclaim".[83]

Daniel Fienberg of The Hollywood Reporter called it "probably the spring's best new show".[84] Jen Chaney of Vulture gave it a highly positive review, and wrote that it is "A faithful adaptation of the book that also brings new layers to Atwood's totalitarian, sexist world of forced surrogate motherhood" and that "this series is meticulously paced, brutal, visually stunning, and so suspenseful from moment to moment that only at the end of each hour will you feel fully at liberty to exhale".[85]

There was much debate on whether parallels could be drawn between the series (and by extension, the book it is based on) and American society during the Presidency of Donald Trump.[86][87] A comparison has also been made to the Salafi/Wahabbi extremism of ISIL, under which enslaved women of religious minorities are passed around and utilized as sex objects and vessels to bear new jihadis.[88][89][90]

Season 2[edit]

On Rotten Tomatoes, the second season has an approval rating of 89% based on 98 reviews, with an average rating of 8.33/10. The site's critical consensus reads, "Beautifully shot but dishearteningly relevant, The Handmaid's Tale centers its sophomore season tightly around its compelling cast of characters, making room for broader social commentary through more intimate lenses."[91] On Metacritic, it has a weighted average score of 86 out of 100 based on 28 critics, indicating "universal acclaim".[92]

However, other critics perceived the second season's depictions of violence as excessive. Sophie Gilbert wrote: "There came a point during the first episode where, for me, it became too much."[93] Lisa Miller of The Cut wrote: "I have pressed mute and fast forward so often this season, I am forced to wonder: 'Why am I watching this'? It all feels so gratuitous, like a beating that never ends."[94] And The Daily Telegraph's Rebecca Reid admitted she had an anxiety attack watching an episode of the show.[95]

Season 3[edit]

On Rotten Tomatoes, the third season has an approval rating of 84% based on 44 reviews, with an average rating of 6.82/10. The site's critical consensus reads, "The Handmaid's Tale's third season reins in its horrors and inspires hope that revolution really is possible – if only the story would stop spinning its wheels and get to it already."[96] On Metacritic, it has a weighted average score of 67 out of 100 based on 13 critics, indicating "generally favorable reviews".[97]

Kelly Lawler of USA Today gave it a positive review, scoring it three out of four stars. She claimed it is an improvement over the second season, "that rights many – though definitely not all – of Season 2's wrongs." Overall, she wrote, "The new season is more propulsive and watchable, although it doesn't quite reach the heights of that first moving season. But Handmaid's regains its footing by setting off on a new path."[98]

Daniel Fienberg of The Hollywood Reporter wrote a generally positive review, praising Elisabeth Moss' performance and the cinematography, but criticized the plot "that has become frustratingly repetitive." Overall, he wrote, "Still occasionally powerful, but rarely as provocative."[99]

Awards[edit]

Year Award Category Nominee(s) Result Ref.
Season 1
2017 Primetime Emmy Awards Outstanding Drama Series Bruce Miller, Warren Littlefield, Daniel Wilson, Fran Sears, Ilene Chaiken, Sheila Hockin, Eric Tuchman, Frank Siracusa, John Weber, Kira Snyder, Elisabeth Moss, Joseph Boccia, and Leila Gerstein Won [100]
Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series Elisabeth Moss (for "Night") Won
Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series Ann Dowd (for "Offred") Won
Samira Wiley (for "Night") Nominated
Outstanding Directing for a Drama Series Reed Morano (for "Offred") Won
Kate Dennis (for "The Bridge") Nominated
Outstanding Writing for a Drama Series Bruce Miller (for "Offred") Won
Primetime Creative Arts Emmy Awards Outstanding Guest Actress in a Drama Series Alexis Bledel (for "Late") Won
Outstanding Casting for a Drama Series Russell Scott, Sharon Bialy, and Sherry Thomas Nominated
Outstanding Cinematography for a Single-Camera Series (One Hour) Colin Watkinson (for "Offred") Won
Outstanding Period/Fantasy Costumes for a Series, Limited Series, or Movie Ane Crabtree and Sheena Wichary (for "Offred") Nominated
Outstanding Production Design for a Narrative Contemporary or Fantasy Program (One Hour or More) Julie Berghoff, Evan Webber, and Sophie Neudorfer (for "Offred") Won
Outstanding Special Visual Effects in a Supporting Role Brendan Taylor, Stephen Lebed, Leo Bovell, Martin O'Brien, Winston Lee, Kelly Knauff, Zach Dembinski, Mike Suta, and Cameron Kerr (for "Birth Day") Nominated
Gold Derby TV Awards Drama Series The Handmaid's Tale Nominated [101]
Drama Actress Elisabeth Moss Won
Drama Guest Actress Alexis Bledel Won
Television Critics Association Awards Program of the Year The Handmaid's Tale Won [102]
Outstanding Achievement in Drama Won
Outstanding New Program Nominated
Individual Achievement in Drama Elisabeth Moss Nominated
American Film Institute Awards Top 10 TV Programs of the Year The Handmaid's Tale Won [103]
2018 American Cinema Editors Awards Best Edited Drama Series for Non-Commercial Television Julian Clarke and Wendy Hallam Martin (for "Offred") Won [104]
Art Directors Guild Awards One-Hour Contemporary Single-Camera Television Series Julie Berghoff (for "Offred", "Birth Day", "Nolite Te Bastardes Carborundorum") Won [105]
Andrew Stearn (for "The Bridge") Nominated
Casting Society of America Television Pilot and First Season – Drama Sharon Bialy, Sherry Thomas, Russell Scott, Robin D. Cook, and Jonathan Oliveira Won [106]
Cinema Audio Society Awards Outstanding Achievement in Sound Mixing for Television Series – One Hour John J. Thomson, Lou Solakofski, Joe Morrow, and Don White (for "Offred") Nominated [107]
Costume Designers Guild Awards Excellence in Contemporary Television Series Ane Crabtree Won [108]
Critics' Choice Television Awards Best Drama Series The Handmaid's Tale Won [109]
Best Actress in a Drama Series Elisabeth Moss Won
Best Supporting Actress in a Drama Series Ann Dowd Won
Directors Guild of America Awards Outstanding Directorial Achievement for a Drama Series Reed Morano (for "Offred") Won [110]
Golden Globe Awards Best Television Series – Drama The Handmaid's Tale Won [111]
Best Actress – Television Series Drama Elisabeth Moss Won
Best Supporting Actress – Series, Miniseries or Television Film Ann Dowd Nominated
Location Managers Guild Awards Outstanding Locations in Contemporary Television John Musikka and Geoffrey Smither Nominated [112]
Peabody Award Entertainment, children's and youth honoree The Handmaid's Tale Won [113]
Producers Guild of America Awards Outstanding Producer of Episodic Television, Drama The Handmaid's Tale Won [114]
Satellite Awards Best Drama Series The Handmaid's Tale Nominated [115]
Best Actress in a Drama / Genre Series Elisabeth Moss Won
Best Supporting Actress in a Series, Miniseries or TV Film Ann Dowd Won
Saturn Awards Best New Media Television Series The Handmaid's Tale Nominated [116]
Screen Actors Guild Awards Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Drama Series Madeline Brewer, Amanda Brugel, Ann Dowd, O. T. Fagbenle, Joseph Fiennes, Tattiawna Jones, Max Minghella, Elisabeth Moss, Yvonne Strahovski, and Samira Wiley Nominated [117]
Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Drama Series Elisabeth Moss Nominated
USC Scripter Awards Best Adapted TV Screenplay Bruce Miller and Margaret Atwood (for "Offred") Won [118]
Writers Guild of America Awards Dramatic Series Ilene Chaiken, Nina Fiore, Dorothy Fortenberry, Leila Gerstein, John Herrera, Lynn Maxcy, Bruce Miller, Kira Snyder, Wendy Straker Hauser, and Eric Tuchman Won [119]
New Series Won
BAFTA Television Awards Best International Programme The Handmaid's Tale Won
Season 2
2018 Primetime Emmy Awards Outstanding Drama Series Bruce Miller, Warren Littlefield, Elisabeth Moss, Daniel Wilson, Fran Sears, Mike Barker, Sheila Hockin, Eric Tuchman, Kira Snyder, Yahlin Chang, Frank Siracusa, John Weber, Dorothy Fortenberry, and Joseph Boccia Nominated [120]
Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series Elisabeth Moss (for "The Last Ceremony") Nominated
Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series Joseph Fiennes (for "First Blood") Nominated
Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series Alexis Bledel (for "Unwomen") Nominated
Ann Dowd (for "June") Nominated
Yvonne Strahovski (for "Women's Work") Nominated
Outstanding Directing for a Drama Series Kari Skogland (for "After") Nominated
Outstanding Writing for a Drama Series Bruce Miller (for "June") Nominated
Primetime Creative Arts Emmy Awards Outstanding Guest Actress in a Drama Series Kelly Jenrette (for "Other Women") Nominated
Cherry Jones (for "Baggage") Nominated
Samira Wiley (for "After") Won
Outstanding Casting for a Drama Series Sharon Bialy, Sherry Thomas, Russell Scott and Robin D. Cook Nominated
Outstanding Cinematography for a Single-Camera Series (One Hour) Colin Watkinson (for "June") Nominated
Outstanding Fantasy/Sci-Fi Costumes Ane Crabtree and Natalie Bronfman (for "Seeds") Nominated
Outstanding Makeup for a Single-Camera Series (Non-Prosthetic) Burton LeBlanc, Talia Reingold and Erika Caceres (for "Unwomen") Nominated
Outstanding Production Design for a Narrative Contemporary Program (One Hour or More) Mark White, Elisabeth Williams, Martha Sparrow, and Caroline Gee (for "June") Won
Elisabeth Williams, Martha Sparrow, and Rob Hepburn (for "Seeds", "First Blood", "After") Nominated
Outstanding Single-Camera Picture Editing for a Drama Series Wendy Hallam Martin (for "June") Won
Outstanding Sound Mixing for a Comedy or Drama Series (One-Hour) Joe Morrow, Lou Solakofski, and Sylvain Arseneault (for "June") Nominated
Outstanding Special Visual Effects in a Supporting Role Stephen Lebed, Brendan Taylor, Kelly Knauff, Kelly Weisz, Kevin McGeagh, Anderson Leo Bovell, Winston Lee, Xi Luo, and Cameron Kerr (for "June") Nominated
2019 Satellite Awards Best Drama Series The Handmaid's Tale Nominated [121][122]
Best Actress in a Drama / Genre Series Elisabeth Moss Nominated
Screen Actors Guild Awards Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Drama Series Alexis Bledel, Madeline Brewer, Amanda Brugel, Ann Dowd, O. T. Fagbenle, Joseph Fiennes, Nina Kiri, Max Minghella, Elisabeth Moss, Yvonne Strahovski, Sydney Sweeney, and Bahia Watson Nominated [123]
Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Drama Series Joseph Fiennes Nominated
Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Drama Series Elisabeth Moss Nominated
Golden Globe Awards Best Actress – Television Series Drama Elisabeth Moss Nominated [124]
Best Supporting Actress – Series, Miniseries or Television Film Yvonne Strahovski Nominated
Visual Effects Society Awards Outstanding Supporting Visual Effects in a Photoreal Episode Brendan Taylor, Stephen Lebed, Winston Lee, Leo Bovell for "June" Nominated [125]
Outstanding Created Environment in an Episode, Commercial, or Real-Time Project Patrick Zentis, Kevin McGeagh, Leo Bovell, Zachary Dembinski for "June" – Fenway Park Nominated
Outstanding Compositing in a Photoreal Episode Winston Lee, Gwen Zhang, Xi Luo, Kevin Quatman for "June" Nominated
Writers Guild of America Awards Dramatic Series Yahlin Chang, Nina Fiore, Dorothy Fortenberry, John Herrera, Lynn Renee Maxcy, Bruce Miller, Kira Snyder, and Eric Tuchman Nominated [126]
Episodic Drama Eric Tuchman (for "First Blood") Nominated
GLAAD Media Awards Outstanding Drama Series The Handmaid's Tale Nominated [127]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

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