The first season of Hulu's The Handmaid's Tale ended with Offred (Elisabeth Moss) being removed from Commander Waterford's (Joseph Fiennes) house and carted off in a dark van. But that leaves a lingering question: is she being transported to safety or to her doom?
We'll have to wait until the dystopian drama's second season, premiering Wednesday, April 25, to find out whether Nick (Max Minghella) betrayed Offred or somehow engineered her escape — not to mention what her husband Luke (O-T Fagbenle) and best friend Moira (Samira Wiley) will do now that they've reunited in Canada. But here's what we know about what to expect when the show returns with two all-new episodes later this month:
Offred is on a mission: In the Season 1 finale, Offred realized her daughter Hannah has been practically under her nose the whole time. Her motivation in Season 2 will be escaping and reuniting with Hannah. Of course, Serena Joy (Yvonne Strahovski) threatened Offred that Hannah's safety depended on the safety of Offred's unborn child, so whether that agreement still stands after Offred is gone remains to be seen.
She's also on the run: Based on the trailer for Season 2 (above), it looks like Offred is finally on the path to freedom, but the rogue handmaid isn't so sure she'll ever be able to escape Gilead completely. This ties in to what we know about Moira's journey in Season 2...
Moira might have escaped to Canada, but she's not free: According to executive producer Warren Littlefield, the theme of the second season is that Gilead is within you. "Moira may be out of Gilead," he says." It doesn't leave her. I think that becomes a powerful touchstone for many of the characters, but certainly for her and for Luke and the world we present in Toronto."
Pregnancy is a complicated thing for Offred: It's unclear how much time Season 2 will span, but it's a safe bet that we'll see Offred giving birth to her baby — a baby that may be handed over to the Commander and Serena Joy. But honestly, that's just one of the many issues Offred will be facing when it comes to her second pregnancy.
"Coming to terms with being a mother to that child that's growing inside her is its own journey. It's very complicated," Elisabeth Moss told TV Guide in January. "Does she accept this child? Does she want this child to be born in this world? Does she want this child to be raised in Gilead? This child is also going to get taken away from her regardless, if she can't get the baby out. So that's very, very complicated. Then again, does she love Nick? Is that something that might actually be her future and so this would be their child together? That's very complicated as well."
We'll finally see the Colonies: We heard a bit about the infamous Colonies — a toxic wasteland where infertile, lower-class women are sent and forced into hard labor — during the show's first season, and now we're finally going to see them through the eyes of Emily (recently promoted series regular Alexis Bledel). "For Emily, I think [her time in the Colonies] really exposes some survival instincts in her that she didn't know were there," said showrunner Bruce Miller. "Her ability to survive, her ability to be cruel to other people who she thinks don't deserve any kindness. Also, her ability to live day-to-day and still have friendships and interactions and mark the passages of life and how even in a terrible situation she can do that."
It's possible that one of Emily's new friends in the Colonies will be Janine (Madeline Brewer), who will have been banished there after kidnapping her child last season. And it seems as though Janine won't be the only friendly face to resurface in Emily's life in Season 2. Miller also teased that Emily and Offred's paths will cross yet again, although it's unclear whether this will be in the Colonies or not.
We'll also learn a bit more about Emily's backstory: According to Littlefeield, the show will make use of its many flashbacks to go back into [Emily's] past. It also sounds like that past will include Emily's relationship with her wife Sylvia, played by Clea DuVall.
The Resistance will play a bigger role: In the first season, one episode was devoted to exploring what happened to Luke after he and Offred were separated, and she was captured. Similarly, the show gave us snippets of Moira's story after she escaped from Gilead, but mostly in relation to Offred, until we saw her successfully make it to Canada. The show's second season will explore the Resistance — as well as how people resist — in a much bigger way.
We'll be introduced to Offred's mother: Offred's mother Holly plays a large role in the book, but she didn't appear once in the show's first season. In Season 2, we'll finally see her when Cherry Jones steps into the all-important role. Holly is an outspoken feminist whose beliefs were too extreme for June before the war that led to the United States becoming Gilead, but that make a lot more sense to her when she thinks about them now. Jones will make her first appearance in the third episode of Season 2.
There are a number of other new characters: There are a number of new cast members joining the series in Season 2. The West Wing alum Bradley Whitford will play Commander Joseph Lawrence, the architect of Gilead's economy. He is described as "gruff and intimidating, with a disheveled mad genius vibe," but his character description also says that his "sly humor and flashes of kindness make him a confusing, mysterious presence for his newest Handmaid." Elsewhere, Marisa Tomei is joining the cast in a mysterious role. We know she'll be playing the wife of a commander, so one has to wonder if her character is married to Whitford's Lawrence.
Season 2 of The Handmaid's Tale premieres Wednesday, April 25 on Hulu.