Nearly one year ago, a serial adaptation of The Handmaid’s Tale premiered on Hulu, capturing both the essence of the classic Margaret Atwood novel from which it originated and the interest of millions of viewers across the world.
Even if you know every word of the book, it wouldn’t be easy to step into the series’ second season without a generous refresher. So, without further ado, here’s what you missed (or forgot) from the first season of The Handmaid’s Tale.
How Did We Get Here?
In the show, a super religious Christian fundamentalist group called the Sons of Jacob destroys Congress and takes over America as we know it, instilling new legislation that’s all based on the Bible. Both the constitution and martial law are suspended, and soon women are stripped of their rights as well. Society reverts to outdated norms, positioning women as powerless subjects unable to work, earn money, or own land. It’s important to know that the country is experiencing an infertility crisis, which eventually will explain a lot. Specifically, women who are not considered pious are snatched from their lives to serve, essentially, as trapped surrogates. Because of this, people flee to Canada, but many were caught before they reached the border. Enter: June a.k.a., Offred, the character portrayed by Elisabeth Moss.
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Who Is Offred?
Offred is the series’ titular handmaid. Each white-bonnet-wearing handmaid is assigned to live in a family’s home and then forced to serve her “commanders” in a region renamed Gilead. They live with a man (the commander) and his wife, and act as a sexual surrogate for the couple, engaging in a monthly copulation ritual called The Ceremony. The handmaids are each named after their respective commander’s name with an “of” before it. Examples include Offred (Moss’s name), Ofglen, and Ofwarren. Yes, it’s the handmaids who are all forced to wear those red-caped costumes, and they do so in order to be easily identified by police and the government.
Before Offred came to Gilead (she was previously known as June), she had a husband and a young daughter. She believes her husband to be dead (spoiler: he isn’t), and is hopeful for her daughter’s safety. Her story is reflective of other handmaid’s all of whom were regular woman snatched from their personal lives by the Sons of Jacob and forced to serve.
Offred’s commander has broken the rules of commander-handmaid relations and regularly invites her to enjoy a game of Scrabble (and occasional flirting) in his office.
Here’s where we left things:
Offred Is Pregnant
Unable to conceive a child with her commander, the commander’s wife Serena Joy (Yvonne Strahovski) sends Offred to have sex with Nick, a member of Gilead’s secret police, known colloquially as The Eyes.
Serena Joy learns of Offred’s off-hours dealings with her husband and is, to say the least, NOT HAPPY.
In the finale’s final moments, Serena Joy and the commander are seen arguing as Offred is taken away in a black van—this is the note the novel ended on as well.
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Moira Is Alive
June’s friend from home, Moira (Samira Wiley), escaped from Gilead and made it across the border to Canada, where she and June’s husband, Luke, have reunited.
Ofglen’s Fate Is Unclear
Offred’s former shopping partner, Emily Ofglen (Alexis Bledel) is castrated after she and a Martha (a household maid) are caught having sex. She returns to Gilead briefly, only to run over one of the land’s “Guardians” with a car. Ofglen is then sent to “The Colonies,” an area of toxic waste inhabited by those who have committed the gravest of sins. Things weren’t looking great for the rebel handmaid, but we know that she’ll appear in season two in some regard.
Season 2 of The Handmaid’s Tale premieres on April 25 exclusively on Hulu.