After a year of patiently waiting, Hulu's new flagship series has finally returned. This week brought the highly anticipated second season of The Handmaid's Tale, after making history by winning a slew of Emmys this past award season. The most harrowing show on TV is back, and its two part premiere certainly didn't pull any punches when it came to terror and gut wrenching tension. Season 2 has already gone full tilt into the craziness that is Gilead, and is expanding the universe with new settings. There were plenty of crazy scenes in the first two episodes, but there are 5 moments in particular that may tease an interesting season. WARNING: Spoilers ahead for the first two episodes of The Handmaid's Tale Season 2.
The Opening Sequence
Season 1 of The Handmaid's Tale (opens in new tab) ended with June/Offred being taken away in a black van to an unknown fate. It turns out all of the Handmaids had been rounded up, as they were to be punished for disobeying Aunt Lydia and not stoning Janine to death. The girls are rounded up, gagged, and transported to Fenway Park for their apparent execution via hanging. The sequence was truly horrifying, and show characters like June and Alma attempt to silently communicate and offer each other some comfort. While it ended up being a fake out and attempt at emotional manipulation, it's clear that the Handmaids aren't untouchable, and that Gilead might not be so forgiving if they misstep again.
Emily/Ofglen Kills Marisa Tomei
The second episode, "Unwomen" brought a new setting and set of horrifying circumstances to The Handmaid's Tale. We traveled to The Colonies, which is the toxic wasteland where unwanted women are brought to work until they eventually die of radiation poisoning. This is where Emily (Alexis Bledel) was sent after she ran over that guard back in Season 1, and she's playing a nurse of sorts for the other women. She seemingly helps a newcomer, a former wife played by Marisa Tomei (!!), but her true intentions quickly become clear. Instead, Emily kills the newcomer as penance for being apart of Gilead, and the monthly sexual assault that is The Ceremony. While Emily's seriously down on her luck, it's exciting to see her find some power. Since she's now taken two lives, could the former Mayday member orchestrate some sort of uprising from within The Colonies? We'll just have to wait and see.
June Is Free... Almost
Season 2's premiere episode turned the entire series on its head by having June escape captivity after a doctor's appointment. While being left temporarily alone in the examination room, she was slipped a key by a member of Mayday and made a run for it. This was what Nick meant when he said everything would be fine in the finale; he planned a rescue mission for when she inevitably went to the hospital. While she's out of the Waterford home, it's clear that June is going to be en route to freedom for quite some time. This will no doubt be her story for Season 2, a bold departure from the show's format in Season 1. She's already shown having the grit to do what it takes, as she brutally freed herself from the tag on her ear. And with Luke fighting for her from Canada, it's going to be a thrilling season.
Gilead's Anti-LGBT Agenda
The Handmaid's Tale is made terrifying by the actions and policies of the puritanical regime Gilead. Because the show picks up a few years into the takeover, audiences must wait for flashbacks to fill in the gaps. Episode 2 did just that by showing how homophobia began to rise in the times leading up to Gilead, and how it ultimately stopped Emily from escaping the country with her wife and child. Her marriage was deemed invalid in front of her eyes, and we saw as Emily's openly gay colleague (American Horror Story's John Carroll Lynch) was hanged for his sexual orientation. Gilead's various levels of bigotry has been teased to be a focus this coming season, as we learn how many citizens fell victim to the group's violence. Could Emily's wife (Clea Duvall) join Luke and Moira in the fight from Canada? Let's hope so.
Aunt Lydia's Revenge
When the Handmaids refused to kill Janine in the Season 1 finale, Aunt Lydia promised there would be consequences-- and she wasn't kidding. After threatening to kill them, the girls were forced to kneel in the rain with the stones they so bravely dropped in the finale. Eventually they were also brought inside and their hands were brutally burned on a gas flame-- all while June was exempt. This will no doubt have major ramifications among the Handmaids, as well as the resistance Mayday. Will this break their spirit? Or will Alma and the rest of the girls be doubly inspired to find a path to freedom? They'll now be carrying physical and emotional scars as a result of rising up, and Aunt Lydia's mind games seem to pit them against June for leading them into disaster.
The Handmaid's Tale premieres new episodes Wednesdays on Hulu. In the meantime, check out our midseason premiere list to plan your next binge watch. Plus our superhero premiere list and Amazon premiere list to ensure you don't miss a single episode.
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.