The Handmaid’s Tale will continue in 2018 when Hulu rolls out a second season starring Elisabeth Moss as the show’s fearless protagonist Offred. Production for the new season's 13 episodes will begin in the fall, and 2017 Emmy winner Reed Morano will return as director. It's unclear if the show will continue for a third, fourth, or 10th season, but here's what the cast, showrunner Bruce Miller, author Margaret Atwood, and others have shared so far.
1. Things are going to get worse. This, according to Moss, who told The Pool that season one will be a walk in the park compared to what’s to come. “Season two is going to be bad too, really dark.” Darker than all the ceremony scenes everyone cringed over? Darker than Commander Putnam’s punishment in the operating room?
Moss also revealed in a pre-Emmys event in August (via Variety) that she "got full body chills" after reading the outline of season two. "Give up trying to guess what happens."
2a. Atwood will be heavily involved. As Offred’s storyline continues in season two, Atwood, who started writing The Handmaid’s Tale in 1984 while living in West Berlin, will step up for an even bigger role. “I think it will be more involving in the second season because we will be in uncharted territories so more invention will have to take place,” she told Entertainment Weekly. No word on whether or not she’ll make another cameo though.
2b. Like season one, season two will also deviate from the book, but within reason. “Season two will be exploring lots more to the world of Gilead, and luckily there’s lots to mine in the book, so even though we’re in some ways moving beyond the book, we can stay true to Atwood’s world and Atwood’s tone, which we all love so much,” according to Miller.
3. Offred will remain the show’s main focus. “The things you are seeing blooming in Offred are not going to go away,” Miller told EW. “Her spirit of rebellion and her careful march away from being a well-behaved handmaid and making some trouble is where the season is rolling towards. After that, season two is what happens after you become a little rebellious.” He added that the show will also continue focusing on Offred’s “journey through Gilead,” though he shared little on whether or not this journey takes place in prison, a Mayday gathering, or elsewhere.
4a. Alexis Bledel will be back. Following Ofsteven’s (formerly Ofglen’s) joyride-turned-guard decapitation at the market, Bledel's character has not been seen since episode five. “She’s taken away, and you’re left wondering where she has gone. You can only assume the worst at this point,” Bledel teased in an interview with EW. She also offered this: “It sounds like I’m supposed to be in season two, but I don’t know what happens to my character.” On June 22, Hulu confirmed that Bledel will indeed be back to reprise her role as Ofsteven, whose real name is Emily. Praise be.
4b. Clea DuVall (Marjorie on Veep) will play Ofsteven's wife. According to The Hollywood Reporter, DuVall's guest-starring role as Sylvia will see her with Emily and their young son attempting to escape to Canada as Gilead gets worse.
5. Samira Wiley will definitely be back. Speaking to Vanity Fair, Miller said Moira will "play a vital role" in the next season as she begins a new life in Canada with Luke. Of their emotional reunion at the refugee center, Miller said, "At the beginning, Moira's in the hands of strangers. She's in the hands of this person she doesn't know. But that person conveys her to Luke - someone who does care about her."
6. Expect more Rita. Amanda Brugel has been promoted to series regular for season two and as she told People in September, "a lot of things" will be happening for Rita, but specifics are scarce. "I was having a conversation with Elisabeth a couple of days ago — all I know is that it’s going to make season one look like a walk in the park. So that’s really exciting.”
7. Offred might be in a love triangle, even though it’s difficult at this point to imagine everyone in the same room. Offred knows Luke is alive and well in Little America in Toronto, but she’s also been falling for Nick, who is definitely, maybe the father of her child at the end of season one. In an interview with Elle, Moss said Offred is in the unique position of possibly being in love with two people. “Honestly I think she does love Nick — if I can speak for her — but I don’t know if she knows that she does, yet. But she has a husband who she also loves, who’s the father of Hannah, who she also now knows is alive,” she said. “It’s the most complicated Real Housewives episode you’ve ever seen. The Real Housewives of Gilead is gonna have a great reunion after episode 10.” Clear your schedule, Andy Cohen.
8. Season two will address some of the “unanswered questions” between the book’s final chapter from Offred and the epilogue featuring Professor Pieixoto’s findings in 2195. In the book, it’s this professor who finds Offred’s story recorded onto several cassette tapes during a time well after the fall of Gilead. According to Moss in an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, while season one left out plenty of characters and storylines to give viewers “more time to fully explore a few things,” subsequent seasons will address the rest. “There’s so much that hasn’t been said in that book, and we’re looking to explore that with Margaret.”
9a. Offred’s mom might make an appearance. “We've been thinking about her a lot. June's mother is a big character in the book and representative of an interesting kind of feminism that was seemingly more of that time," Miller told THR. "June's memories of her mother and her activism are very vibrant in the book, so we've been talking about her from day one of season one, and it just didn't seem like enough time to do her justice. In season two, we mention her a little bit, but we just don't want to short-shrift her story." At this point, introducing Offred’s mom either in a flashback to June’s childhood or in a video played at the Red Center would still be appropriate to the show’s tone and pace. Does this mean a present-day scene of June’s mom at the colonies, if she's really there, is out of the picture? So far, Miller has only hinted at this: “The seasons moving forward, we have so much stuff to do: the stories of the colonies, the red center, there are so many worlds to explore," he told EW.
9b. Speaking of moms, season two will focus on the theme of motherhood. This is expected, since season one ended with Offred finding out she's pregnant with Nick's baby (or The Commander's, but this is doubtful). As Miller explained at a pre-Emmys event in August, "What does it mean to be a good mother? It's about the way we mother the people in our lives."
10. You might get a glimpse of Aunt Lydia before she was Aunt Lydia. As Miller told The New York Times, "Aunt Lydia is one of my most fascinating characters. We would like to explore her back story, and what the lives of the aunts are like." He also hinted at looking at other storylines, including the Marthas and their networks and what The Commander's daily schedule is really like.
11. If all goes well, the show could enjoy multiple seasons. Speaking to IndieWire during the Television Critics Association press tour in May, Miller made a case for future seasons. “I have an enormous plan in my head. There’s so many things that are mentioned in the book, so many worlds to explore,” he said, adding that the final section of the book — the professor’s section — will affect what happens to the show’s characters.
Bonus: Atwood might be writing a sequel to The Handmaid’s Tale. As first discovered by Canadian website The Loop, Atwood possibly hinted to a sequel in the special edition of the book’s audiobook release on Audible in April. The key chapter is the last, “Historical Notes,” which includes 10 additional questions and answers between Professor Pieixoto and his audience. “We have indeed made some fresh discovered but not yet at liberty to share them,” he teases during the Q&A, before wrapping the session with, “I hope to be able to present the results of our further Gileadian investigations to you at some future date.” When The Loop approached Atwood about this discovery, she basically delivered a wink and a nudge. “I am in consultation with the Professor, but he is being very cagey about this. He evidently doesn’t want to make any promises before he has finished authenticating his new discoveries.”
This post will continue to be updated as more season two details are released.