6:00 pm EDT, July 13, 2018

‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ season 3 speculation: 7 burning questions

With season 2’s shocking conclusion still fresh in our minds, we’re laying out all the answers we need in The Handmaid’s Tale season 3!

Question 1: Where will June go?

The closing moments of The Handmaid’s Tale season 2 saw June making a choice that shocked many viewers. Instead of escaping with Emily and her infant daughter to freedom in Canada, June chose to stay behind in Gilead — presumably determined to save her older daughter Hannah.

But this leaves June in a rather sticky position. The entire Waterford household knows that she has fled (for the third time!) and multiple Marthas have risked their lives to escort her to safety. If she is found (without the baby, no less) it seems hard to imagine that June would not be due for some intense punishment as Gilead clamps down on what it believes it is due.

Still, there is always the possibility that the allure of June’s fertility will overpower Gilead’s worst instincts. We may next find June recaptured and returned to the Waterfords, tasked with providing them with another child. Or perhaps June might land at a new posting, suffering the attentions of a new Commander.

But a more interesting option also exists. The early episodes of season 2 offered a glimpse of the underground network of resistance in Gilead. Perhaps, though she has not escaped the cruel regime, June’s days as a Handmaid are over — perhaps we will next see her joining Mayday and the scattered collective of fighters who hope to put the dark days of Gilead behind them.

Question 2: What’s next for Serena and Fred?

Whether or not June returns to the Waterfords, Fred and Serena Joy are certain to incubate plenty of drama in The Handmaid’s Tale season 3. By the end of season 2, the Waterfords struggled to communicate at all without collapsing into hateful invective — and that was before Fred called the Guardians on Serena for reading the Bible in public.

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With “their” daughter now whisked away to Canada and June having mounted yet another escape attempt, it’s difficult to imagine that all will return to even the icy normalcy that characterized the Waterford household. There is no guarantee that Fred, who has struggled so mightily with keeping “his women” in line, will be allowed to advance in Gilead’s most powerful leaders. Could the Commander see a serious (and for the audience, quite satisfying) reduction in rank? And where will he turn now that June, ever the object of his lust and anger, may well be out of the picture?

Serena Joy’s circumstances are even more enigmatic and compelling. The true believer, the inspiration for so much of Gilead’s existence, has finally confronted the fact that her holy world is governed by men who care less for God than they do for power. (Serena has the missing pinky to remind her, should she forget.)

Without baby Nicole to distract her from the evil, steaming mess of her life, where does Serena send her energy and attention? Back to the garden? Invested in the torture of another Handmaid? Or could letting go of Nicole be a turning point for Serena, marking her transition from evil queen to redemptive heroine?

We’re not holding our breaths for the latter, but hey, you have to admit it’s a possibility.

Question 3: What are Nick and Rita’s next moves?

Of course, even if Serena toes the line, the Waterford house still fosters more than one subversive element.

Rita’s (totally badass) network of Marthas is primed and ready to help the helpless flee Gilead. But will she commit to further action, or does she view saving June as the fulfillment of her moral obligation? And if Rita and the Marthas do engage in true rebellion, just how high can their aspirations go?

Meanwhile, Nick remains a wild card. What will become of his alliance with Mayday in The Handmaid’s Tale season 3? Is Nick’s quiet rebellion contingent on his knowledge that June is in Gilead, or might the memory of Eden encourage him to continue his role as double agent regardless? And just how long can Nick keep up the appearance of a loyal guard to Fred — and what kind of disaster awaits if that long-maintained illusion finally shatters?

Question 4: Will Emily make it to Canada? And what will she find there?

It’s hard to think of a character on The Handmaid’s Tale who has suffered quite as much trauma and pain as Emily, so it’s especially sweet to watch the doors open for her escape. But of course, this is The Handmaid’s Tale, and we can’t take for granted that Emily will arrive safely in Canada in season 3 — there remains plenty of Gileadian torture that she could yet experience.

Hopefully, though, The Handmaid’s Tale season 3 really will bring Emily to safety in Canada, a tantalizing possibility that opens the door to many questions. On a personal level, how will Emily adapt to freedom after enduring so many horrors? Will she be able to reunite with her wife and son? And even if she does, how will she cope with returning to a normal marriage to a woman who can’t fathom what she has been through?

(Yeah, Emily’s story might get heavy next season.)

Once in Canada, Emily also has the opportunity to give the story north of the border some much-needed juice. Though it was through no fault of their own, inaction and helplessness characterized Luke and Moira’s storylines in Canada. If we’re lucky, Emily will collide with Luke and Moira (she does have to return the baby, after all) and her position as a living avatar of Gilead’s darkest realities might just be enough to get Canada’s ass in gear when it comes to Gilead.

Be cautious with your hopes, however. Emily’s fate in Margaret Atwood’s novel (she takes her own life in Gilead) still hangs over her television counterpart. She may be free from physical danger in Canada, but that doesn’t mean that Emily’s demons will disappear in The Handmaid’s Tale season 3.

Question 5: Is Aunt Lydia alive?

Aunt Lydia’s fate is a dark corollary to the questions about Emily. Stabbed in the back and neck by a silent, vengeful Emily, Aunt Lydia wasn’t looking all that great the last time we saw her. But it seems almost impossible to imagine The Handmaid’s Tale without Aunt Lydia’s formidably patronizing presence, and if we had to hazard a guess, it would be that Aunt Lydia survives and returns to work… but hell hath no fury like an Aunt stabbed from behind with a kitchen knife.

Question 6: Will we see the Lawrences again?

The final two episodes of The Handmaid’s Tale season 2 introduced Emily’s new master, the bizarre and bewildering Commander Lawrence. After an endless cascade of mixed signals, Lawrence delivered Emily to her ride out of Gilead — which means that he must have connections in the resistant underworld beneath the religious mania.

Will Lawrence’s story end there? The Handmaid’s Tale has hosted prominent cameos before (Oprah’s voice appeared this past season, and Marissa Tomei starred in one episode as well) so it’s possible that Bradley Whitford may be serving the same function.

But it feels like Commander Lawrence and his unhinged wife still have a story to tell. How did a man so pivotal to the creation of Gilead come to turn on it so thoroughly? Is he a true member of Mayday, or does he merely tolerate the budding resistance?

With June’s fate in The Handmaid’s Tale season 3 so wide open, it seems like the perfect opportunity to seed in more of the Lawrences. Perhaps June, if captured, could be assigned to that creepy house (Lawrence quite notably does not mind disobedient Handmaids) or else she might hide out there somehow. Either way, somebody has to show us what’s up underground in Gilead, and we’re hoping that Commander Lawrence and his wife can lead the way.

Question 7: Will Gilead EVER fall?

Margaret Atwood’s legendary epilogue to The Handmaid’s Tale, set hundreds of years later in a world recovered from Gilead, is a reminder that this particular hell (probably) won’t last forever. But with showrunner Bruce Miller planning enough material for ten (yes, ten) seasons, it seems like fans should, for now, set our sights a bit lower.

Hannah 4 Canada 2019, people — let’s make it a thing!

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