The Handmaid’s Tale: What’s The Deal With Alanis Wheeler?

Genevieve Angelson as Mrs. Wheeler in The Handmaid's Tale
(Image credit: Hulu)

Spoilers ahead for The Handmaid’s Tale Season 5 episode 6 “Together.”

The Handmaid’s Tale Season 5 has been a wild one so far, with most of the action taking place in Toronto, rather than Gilead. While fans have been missing Alexis Bledel’s Emily since her unexpected departure, the season has introduced some intriguing newcomers. That includes the Wheelers, who are Gilead sympathizers hosting Serena Joy in Canada. And after seeing more of them in Episode 6, I have to wonder, what is the deal with Alanis Wheeler?

Actress Genevieve Angelson plays Mrs. Wheeler in Season 5 of The Handmaid’s Tale (opens in new tab), first debuting in the fourth episode “Dear Offred.” While she first was a fascinating character who responded viscerally to Serana Joy’s pregnancy, she felt far more insidious in the most recent episode “Together,” as the Wheeler’s power over their guest felt even stronger– almost like they’re treating her like a Handmaid herself.

In the last episode of The Handmaid’s Tale, Mrs. Wheeler tried to play matchmaker, encouraging Serena Joy’s gynecologist to ask her to dinner. When Yvonne Strahovski’s character rejects this notion, she quite literally sends her to her room. What’s more, the Wheelers are now controlling what she eats, and refusing to let her leave the house or even take a walk. Are they really turning her into a Handmaid, or does Alanis have another plan for Mrs. Waterford?

The Handmaid’s Tale is a show shrouded with mystery, but Genevieve Angelson did speak to E! News about her character, specifically how emotionally she reacted to Serena Joy’s pregnancy. She opened up about Mrs. Wheeler’s motivations and reality, saying:

I think 'creepy' is deeply caring in the wrong circumstances. The reason, I think, people would describe the way that I'm behaving towards Serena Joy as 'creepy' is because I have met someone who was chosen by God to save humanity. Because we're in the fifth season, I think people sometimes forget that the grounding premise of the show is that there is an infertility crisis internationally that is threatening the human race. We may be extinct.

Touche. The story in The Handmaid’s Tale show and Margaret Atwood’s novel makes infertility a global concern. Those with a Hulu subscription have watched as Gilead used the Handmaid program and the nation’s rising fertility rate as a bargaining tool with other countries. And as a result, characters like Mrs. Wheeler haven’t seen a pregnant woman in years before Serena Joy.

Which raises the question: are the Wheelers hoping to try and take Serena’s baby as their own? That’s how it would work in Gilead with a Handmaid, although she hasn’t been given red robes or the title. Genevieve Angelson remained tight-lipped about that fan theory when asked by E! News, but further explained how the world’s infertility has shaped her views, saying:

There's an intensity to that that comes off in my character as really creepy. But you can imagine, being in those circumstances, that a person would act in a way that seems unhinged. It's an unhinged reality.

Given the “unhinged” nature of Mrs. Wheeler, I have to wonder how she might react to the wild cliffhanger of the last Handmaid’s Tale episode. In it, Serena Joy pulled the gun on Ezra and left with June to places unknown. Given what a tight leash she was on, one can only imagine how Alanis will react to the news. Elisabeth Moss previously described Season 5 as “June versus Serena”, so the next episode will likely be an explosive one.

The Handmaid’s Tale airs new episodes Wednesdays on Hulu. In the meantime, check out the TV premiere list to plan your next binge watch.

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.