Everyone has an opinion about how The Handmaid’s Tale ended last season: with June (Elisabeth Moss) — on the verge of safely escaping Gilead — suddenly deciding to send her infant daughter, Nichole, with Emily (Alexis Bledel) while she stays behind to rescue her firstborn, Hannah.
The divisive reaction “didn’t surprise me because it had been exactly the same with us discussing it,” admits showrunner Bruce Miller. “Even for myself, it was very hard. In your heart you’re like, ‘How the hell could she go?’ but then, if she stays, you’re like, ‘How the hell could she stay?’”
But stay June did, and now she’s on a mission. “You have to fight fire with fire,” Moss teases. “That’s become [June’s] journey in season 3. To fight against the people she has to fight, she has to become more like them.” Adds Miller: “We’re not doing a montage of June being radicalized — it’s 13 episodes. To see someone go through this process of becoming ruthless was a real challenge. We didn’t want to sensationalize it, or make it too morally easy, either.”
One immediate test June faces? The looming presence of Commander Lawrence (Bradley Whitford, now a series regular), who was introduced last season as a shadowy figure helping Emily flee. But as we saw in season 2’s final episodes, Lawrence is hardly so saintly — he’s known, in fact, as Gilead’s architect.
“He has a big brain, and it has overwhelmed his humanity,” says Whitford. “But his humanity is trying to fight back.” Lawrence’s dynamic with June is sure to keep viewers — and June — off-balance. “He’s testing her,” Whitford explains. “Is he going to open up to her? Is she going to be a partner in something I don’t think he even understands?”
Also still in Gilead is Serena Joy (Yvonne Strahovski), who has given up the baby she believes is hers in order to save its life. Now she must unexpectedly face June again and grapple with the consequences of their (partly) successful ploy. “They know one another too well,” Strahovski says of the two. Moss adds that the newly activist June sees in Serena a “power” that could change everything: “Together? Oh my God, they could topple the whole thing. Unfortunately, nothing is that simple.
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