The Handmaid’s Tale Creator Hints At What Emily Might Have Done In Season 5 If Alexis Bledel Didn’t Depart The Series

Alexis Bledel as Emily in Season 1 of The Handmaid's Tale
(Image credit: Hulu)

Spoilers ahead for the Season 5 finale of The Handmaid's Tale.

Every streaming service has a few breakout hit shows. And for Hulu one of those is definitely the dystopian drama The Handmaid’s Tale, starring Elisabeth Moss as the title character. The fifth season recently ended, and creator/writer Bruce Miller spoke to CinemaBlend about all things Gilead. And he also hinted at what Emily might have done in Season 5 if Alexis Bledel didn’t depart the Emmy winning series. Because who doesn’t miss the former Handmaid?

The Handmaid’s Tale Season 5 was a doozy, and followed as tensions in Canada rose while June and Luke attempted to find their daughter Hannah in Gilead. The premiere also addressed the departure of Alexis Bledel’s Emily, revealing that she’d returned to Gilead with Mayday to hunt down Aunt Lydia after helping to kill Waterford in No Man’s Land. I had the privilege of speaking with Bruce Miller about all things Handmaid’s Tale (opens in new tab), where I asked what might have happened to Emily if the Gilmore Girls alum stayed for the fifth season. While not going into specifics, he told me:

What I will say is that the same person that left to go off for the fight because she was consumed with the fight was the same person she was going to be moving forward. We changed her decision, but I think if she had been in our show all season you would have been thinking ‘She could just drop out and go to Gilead any second and go after Aunt Lydia.’ So it’s the same woman even if it’s a character that may have done a lot of different things.

There you have it. This comment has the potential to give some much-needed closure to Handmaid’s Tale fans who were disappointed with watching Season 5 without fan favorite character Emily. While the premiere handled her exit well with a strong performance featuring Clea DuVall as her wife Sylvia, this vague tease helps to show what Alexis Bledel might have been up to in the latest series of episodes made available with a Hulu subscription.

Bruce Miller didn’t get into the details of where Emily’s story would have gone in Season 5 of The Handmaid’s Tale, but it sounds like the macguffin that took her out of the series would have factored in. Namely the character’s lust for more blood and violence, especially for Aunt Lydia aka the woman who ordered her mutilation.

While Alexis Bledel was absent throughout the show’s fifth season, the finale episode “Safe” did feature a nod to her signature character. Because when Janine was taken away by The Eyes alongside one of Waterford’s Marthas, the scene played out a lot like Emily’s abduction back in Season 1. Later in our conversation I asked Bruce Miller is this was a purposeful choice, and he confirmed, saying:

I think it is a show of mirrors. Because the people who are in it are having so many similar experiences, and some of them end so terrifyingly that they’re in a world of mirrors. So when they get in the van they don’t know if they’re going to a party or to a hanging. They have no idea. And since that experience is common to all of them, what I want you… to feel what Janine is feeling in that scene you have to know what Emily went through.

Points were made. It’s unclear where Janine was headed in the Season 5 finale of The Handmaid’s Tale. But she stood in her power after confronting Naomi, and took time to comfort the crying Martha who was in the same van. Emily did something similar with the unnamed Martha she had an affair with, comforting her before she was hanged in one of Season 1’s most chilling sequences. 

Indeed, there were a ton of cliffhangers in the final episode of The Handmaid’s Tale Season 5. So unfortunately for fans like myself, we’re going to have to wait a while before any answers are provided by the folks at Hulu. Although with Season 6 already announced as the final installment and the spinoff The Testaments looming, anticipation is high. In the meantime, check out the TV premiere list to plan your next binge watch, although I doubt most shows will provide the same level of anxiety as June’s journey. 

Corey Chichizola
Movies Editor

Corey was born and raised in New Jersey. Double majored in theater and literature during undergrad. After working in administrative theater for a year in New York, he started as the Weekend Editor at CinemaBlend. He's since been able to work himself up to reviews, phoners, and press junkets-- and is now able to appear on camera with some of his famous actors... just not as he would have predicted as a kid.