Yesterday was the PaleyFest L.A. session for Hulu’s The Handmaid’s Tale, and the highlight of the event was the footage they screened from the upcoming season. In it, we got a glimpse of where June’s story ended up after being loaded into the back of a black van, and Emily not faring too well in the Colonies. Season Two is gonna be amazing. [SPOILERS FOR THE HANDMAID’S TALE]
The three scenes that were screened were prefaced by a video greeting from Elizabeth Moss who, unfortunately, couldn’t attend the event, because she was still shooting for the last couple of episodes of Season Two. Still, she seemed excited that we were getting to see the new footage.
Handmaids Punished for Their Defiance
So, remember when Janine (Madeline Brewer) was about to be stoned by the Handmaids for kidnapping her own child, but then June/Offred (Elizabeth Moss) led a moment of resistance when she dropped her stone to the ground saying “I’m sorry, Aunt Lydia,” inspiring others to do the same? You didn’t think that was going to go unpunished, did you?
The first scene screened was one in which Aunt Lydia (Ann Dowd) has the Handmaids outside in a circle on their knees. In the rain. She has forced them each to hold a stone out the way they did when they dropped them to the ground in support of Janine, but not drop it. As she circles the women, randomly poking them with her electric baton at will, she preaches to them about the dangers of thinking they know better than God. As we watch the women shivering, their arms straining with the weight of their stones, their clothes drenched, we come to Offred’s face, and she is furious.
Suddenly, another Aunt arrives and whispers something to Aunt Lydia, changing her mood completely. She has just been told that Offred is pregnant! She stops her punishment because she’s so overjoyed by this miracle. As she helps Offred to her feet, she demands that the other Handmaids shout praise to the Lord’s mercy.
Offred looks at Aunt Lydia with disgust…but now she has a card to play.
Emily in The Colonies
We’ve already gotten a preview image of Emily (Alexis Bledel) in the Colonies, but PaleyFest got to see her introduction play out. While it’s unclear what work these banished women are actually doing, it’s clear they’re doing so under terrible conditions and are miserable. Guards on horses stalk the perimeter as the worker/prisoners dig in the thick, seemingly gaseous mud. Their faces are worn and blistered and peeling.
The guards and their horses are wearing gas masks. The women are not.
At a certain point, the guards call the women to attention, and they all kneel in the mud to say prayers. We then close in on Emily, who repeats the prayers by rote and looks heartbreakingly broken and resigned to everything happening around her. She looks tired and afraid.
Serena Joy Brings Offred Anything But
In the final scene screened at PaleyFest, Offred is laying down at the hospital, her feet in stirrups, waiting to be examined. As she lies there, a splash of red in an otherwise oppressively white room, Serena (Yvonne Strahovski) enters and towers over her. Serena attempts to be threatening, telling Offred that she will never do anything like what she did last season again.
Offred coolly replies, “Serena, don’t get mad. It’s bad for the baby,’ playing into all of Serena’s insecurities about being unable to carry a child. The moment elicits unexpected laughter in support of Offred’s justified moment of defiance, and in the knowledge that for the next few months, Offred is basically untouchable.
Then the doctor and Commander Waterford (Joseph Fiennes) come in, and the doctor gives Offred an ultrasound. Waterford calls Serena over to the screen where they see the beginnings of “their” child, and Serena gets really emotional. Is she filled with actual joy?
The men leave, and before Serena leaves, she goes to Offred, kisses her forehead, and says “God bless you.” As Serena exits, Offred looks a bit confused as far as how to feel about that.
Meanwhile, there was a guard in the room who is the last to leave. As he leaves Offred to change, he says “May the Lord open,” She says, “Thanks. By his eye.” Then the guard says, “Goodbye, June.” He knows her name? She registers that.
As she’s putting her boots back on, she notices something planted inside one of them: a key with a red square on it. What does it open? Was that guard in on a plan for June with Nick?
I have no idea about that or the answers to the million other questions I have about this show, but I do know I’ll be excited to find out when The Handmaid’s Tale returns April 25th with two episodes and airs thereafter with one episode a week for a total of thirteen episodes!
(Featured image: Brian To for the Paley Center)
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