How The Handmaid's Tale Finale Changed Aunt Lydia, According To Ann Dowd

Aunt Lydia in the finale

Spoilers ahead for the season finale of The Handmaid's Tale. If you haven't finished binging the series, you may want to check back with this story at a different time.

Season 1 of Hulu's The Handmaid's Tale has been a sobering and fascinating adaptation of the novel of the same name. With the streaming service releasing the first three episodes at once, a fanbase of bingers was quickly established, and the show's pop culture relevance continued to skyrocket in the following weeks. The season finale was an explosive one that saw Offred and the other Handmaids find their voice against Aunt Lydia (Ann Dowd), and refuse to stone their fellow Handmaid Janine. And this moment of defiance will surely shake the terrifying Aunt moving forward.

CinemaBlend's Nick Venable recently spoke to Ann Dowd about her various acting projects, including her upcoming role in TNT's Good Behavior. Regarding Handmaid's Tale's season finale, Dowd discussed how shaken Aunt Lydia will be following the events of Season 1. She said,

Unfortunately, I think Lydia almost couldn't get up that morning to lead the stoning, and you could tell. However, it's her first obligation is to Gilead. And when she sees that those girls are not going to cooperate, I think she has entirely lost her footing and can't even believe what's happening. I think if you repress and keep a rigid platform and unhinge that platform in the right vulnerable spot, your life is going to turn into chaos because you've been repressing and confining and shutting out all other aspects of life. I think in that episode, God only knows what's going to happen with Lydia, and how long it will take her to recover her senses.

This is a pretty fascinating statement, especially considering Ann Dowd's fantastic performance as Aunt Lydia in the finale.

Aunt Lydia is an interesting character. While she seems to be as fanatical about Gilead's system of beliefs as Serena Joy, Lydia is also seen being occasionally compassionate to the Handmaids, particularly Janine. But she values her status and beliefs above all things, which is why she asks the Handmaids to stone Janine to death for endangering her child. Lydia even seems to shed a tear while instructing the girls to kill their peer.

But Aunt Lydia seems to have lost control of the Handmaids, as they've slowly become more confident and daring. Ofglen (Alexis Bledel) showed them their potential power with her escape attempt, and Offred encouraged the ladies to drop their stones and let Janine go free. Aunt Lydia's influence is becoming weaker, and she's unsure about her place in the world. Ann Dowd addressed Lydia's utter confusion, saying:

I think she's in a profound state of shock. And I don't think she knows what in the world to do. Honestly, what I felt in the final shooting of that was just a sense of huge confusion. And now what? What happened to my world? It just blew up. .... So I think what is the next step for Lydia? I don't know. The way she's controlled those girls, I don't think they feel a whole lot of love.

While confused, Aunt Lydia did vow to punish the girls for their actions, particularly Offred. And considering the finale's cliffhanger ending, she may have already gotten her revenge.

You can currently watch all of Season 1 of The Handmaid's Tale on Hulu.

Corey Chichizola
Movies Editor

Corey was born and raised in New Jersey. Graduated with degrees theater and literature from Ramapo College of New Jersey. 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 favorite actors... just not as he would have predicted as a kid. He's particularly proud of covering horror franchises like Scream and Halloween, as well as movie musicals like West Side Story. Favorite interviews include Steven Spielberg, Spike Lee, Jamie Lee Curtis, and more.