Spoilers ahead for Episode 8, from Season 4 of The Handmaid’s Tale.
After an unexpected delay, The Handmaid’s Tale returned to Hulu for its fourth season. Diving back into Gilead didn’t disappoint, as Season 4 has been just as emotionally grueling as its predecessors. But one character didn’t have much screen time ahead of this week’s episode “Testimony.” Namely, Alexis Bledel’s Emily. Luckily, Episode 8 finally delivered for the beloved character.
Alexis Bledel made her debut in the first season of The Handmaid’s Tale, winning an Emmy Award for playing Ofglen/Emily. But she has been mostly missing in Season 4, living safely in Canada and working with Moira. That is until Emily came face to face with her Gilead trauma in “Testimony.” Literally.
In the most recent episode of The Handmaid’s Tale, the story finally focused back on Emily. When a former Aunt named Irene tries to make amends, we learn that she was the one who sold her out to The Eyes back in Season 1. This resulted in a Martha’s death, and Emily’s horrifying mutilation at the hands of Aunt Lydia. While Alexis Bledel’s character has seemingly withdrawn after finding safety in Canada, her rage is still bubbling within.
The Handmaid’s Tale has obviously changed greatly since Season 1, but Emily remains a fan favorite for many-- especially those of us who know Alexis Bledel from Gilmore Girls. Her story is one of the show’s most tragic, from being mutilated to her time barely surviving in The Colonies. As such, it was overdue for her to finally unpack a bit more about the trauma she’s struggling with.
This past episode showed how different June is from the woman Luke married, and Emily has similarly changed forever. She killed multiple people while trying to survive in Gilead, and has suffered unimaginable emotional and physical abuse. And it’s still affecting her ability to go back to work and get close to her wife Sylvia (Clea Duvall). Each one of them women in Canada is coping differently, including Moira and Rita.
Rather than feeling bad for Aunt Irene, Emily admits that she’s happy she ended up hanging herself. The support group unites in their rage, at least partly thanks to June’s encouragement. It was an emotional scene, and it fixed Season 4’s ongoing issue with Alexis Bledel’s character. We’ll just have to see how much screen time Emily gets in the final two episodes of The Handmaid’s Tale Season 4.
I’m definitely eager to see acclaimed actress-filmmaker Clea Duvall return to the series as Sylvia sometime in the future. Smart money says she’s absent from Season 4 since so much of it was filmed under strict new COVID safety protocols. It certainly makes it harder to fly in guest stars.
The Handmaid’s Tale releases new episodes Wednesdays on Hulu. In the meantime, check out the 2021 summer premiere list to plan your next movie experience.