What Is The Handmaid's Tale's Plan For Samira Wiley's Moira?

Moira in The Handmaid's Tale being scared of June
(Image credit: Hulu)

We’re currently in the midst of The Handmaid’s Tale Season 5, and it’s been a doozy so far. The latest chapter of the dystopian drama has been slowly unfolding for those with Hulu subscriptions, which follows the violent events of the Season 4 finale and is largely set from the safety of Canada. While I’m having a great time this season I have to wonder: what is The Handmaid’ Tale’s plan for Samira Wiley’s Moira?

Orange is the New Black fan favorite actress Samira Riley has played Moira in The Handmaid’s Tale (opens in new tab) since back in Season 1. She was one of the first characters to find asylum in Canada, and fans were thrilled to see her rescue June from Chicago last season. But throughout Season 5 so far it feels like she’s mostly a non-factor.

Moira is arguably the most stable of the various survivors we’ve seen after their escape from Gilead. She doesn’t seem to have the same violent tendencies as other Handmaids like June or Alexis Bledel’s departed character Emily. And as such, she’s mostly been a caretaker for baby Nichole and a voice of reason for Elisabeth Olsen’s protagonist throughout this season's episodes. And because of that reason she’s fading into the background of the ensemble show, especially as we’re introduced to compelling newcomers

Of course, Moira isn’t totally without plot line in Season 5 of The Handmaid’s Tale. She’s got connections with Mayday at the Gilead border, which has seemingly opened a story for the Emmy winning series. We’ll just have to wait and see if she gets into more of the show’s action, or continues to be a tertiary presence.

I have to wonder if Moira’s lack of major plot lines has anything to do with Alexis Bledel’s exit from the show shortly before Season 5 began filming. A ton of rewrites were presumably needed in order to write out Emily and her planned plot line, so perhaps her scene partner was Moira. The two characters previously connected over their shared trauma, and protested against the Waterfords’ visit to Canada. It’s a total mystery as to where Emily’s story would have gone if the Gilmore Girls alum stayed on for the new season, I’m just spitballing here.

Of course, it’s more than possible that Moira will finally get her moment in the spotlight later on during Season 5 of The Handmaid’s Tale. Episode 5 premiered today, which marks the halfway point for this batch of episodes. As such, there’s still lots of time to see the character have a bit more agency and screen time.

As previously mentioned, actress Samira Wiley is perhaps best known for her role as Poussey Washington in Netflix’s Orange is the New Black. She played one of the most beloved characters of the entire series, in no small part due to Wiley’s starpower. Moira was a compelling force throughout the first four seasons of Handmaid’s Tale, so let’s hope that the character is served better in the back half of Season 5.

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.