Now that you’ve finished binging ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ – the TV adaptation of Margaret Atwood‘s iconic 1985 dystopian novel – there’s a few things you may need and/or want to know.
If you haven’t finished the season yet, TURN BACK NOW. SPOILERS INCOMING.
Yes, Season Two is coming.
The book left things off pretty much exactly where the show did: with a fearless Offred / June (Elisabeth Moss) being bundled into the back of a black van, not knowing if she’s being taken by the Eyes or Mayday, but not really caring either way. In the novel, we jump to the historical notes, which envisions a society some 200 years into the future speculating on a series of recorded tapes they have dubbed, ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’. We never find out what happened to Offred.
The series, however, is likely to answer that all-important question: what happened next?Showrunner Bruce Miller told The Hollywood Reporter that he’s been working with Attwood closely to figure out what that looks like.
“We had lots of discussions about what would happen to the characters after Season One in small and big ways. We’ve been talking about it ever since the middle of Season One,” he said. “There are things Margaret thought about a lot because over the years, and that’s one of the biggest questions she’s been asked, is what happens next to these characters. So it wasn’t a question that I was bringing up to her for the first time … We have had and continue to have extensive, deep and really fun discussions about what would happen in the future, what happens next.”
And it looks like Emily / Ofsteven (formerly Ofglen) survived her joyride.
The last we see of Emily (Alexis Bledel), she had stolen a car and run over a guard. In the novel, Emily hangs herself before the Eyes can get her, but in the show, it’s not clear what happens to her. Is her status as Handmaid (and therefore owner of working reproductive organs) enough to spare her capital punishment?
The good news is: it’s basically been confirmed she survives. Bledel has been confirmed for Season 2 and upgraded from “guest star” to “series regular”, but whether she’s been shipped to the colonies or forced to undergo some other horrific surgery is to be seen.
June’s hitherto unseen mum will almost definitely be making an appearance.
June’s mum was a major character in the book, albeit only through June’s flashbacks. She was an active feminist in the time before Gillead, yet was derided by her daughter for being ‘too radical’; June mistakenly believed that men and women were equal and that ‘the fight’ was done, while her mum knew otherwise.
Miller basically confirmed she’s going to be a big part of the show in the future, whether that’s Season 2 or beyond.
“June’s memories of her mother and her activism are very vibrant in the book, so we’ve been talking about her from day one of Season One, and it just didn’t seem like enough time to do her justice,” he told THR. “In Season Two, we mention her a little bit, but we just don’t want to short-shrift her story. It’s a story we want to tell — she was one of the most memorable characters.”
Season 2 is going to be monumentally more fucked up than Season 1.
Season 1 was already dark as hell. Imprisonment, rape, mutilation, abuse, unimaginable violence – it’s one of the darkest tales to ever air on television. And yet, Season 2 doesn’t look like it’s getting any sunnier, despite the hopeful note it ended on.
“Wait till you see what’s coming!” Miller told The Pool, shortly after the first episode aired. “It’s going to get worse. Season two is going to be bad, too, really dark.”
He later told the New York Times:
“Mayday is not the Handmaid rescue organisation – it’s the anti-Gilead organisation. And the anti-Gilead organisation is not necessarily a friend to June or a friend to Handmaids. If I was going to try to hurt Gilead, the first thing I might do is kill all the Handmaids. You’re trying to weaken the state.”
There’s a secret vagina hidden in the Aunts’ collars.
And yes, this information IS marked ‘vital’.
Costume designer Ane Crabtree put a whole lot of thought into the costumes that viewers would never pick up on (at least during the first viewing), but the best by far is the secret, inverted vagina in the Aunts’ collars.
“If you look subtly, you’ll see that,” she told Vanity Fair. “It’s sort of my way of saying, ‘Fuck you’. I have to design this in a way to oppress women, but I can give them their own pleasure – whether it’s metaphorical of real, physically. I had to oppress women, but I wanted to free them, mentally, through design.”
And if you look closely, you’ll see the Handmaids aren’t wearing shoelaces.
“I gave the Handmaids lace-up boots that were modelled after a pair I have, but then I took away their laces so that they can’t even consider killing themselves,” said Crabtree. “We sewed the grommets down, and then on top of that we did a boot cover, so they can’t even be reminded that they used to have laces. It’s just a sleek cover. That was a way of oppressing them mentally.”
Somebody had to explain to Margaret Atwood who a “carpet muncher” was.
The term makes an appearance in the second episode. It’s apparently the one question Atwood asked about the entire episode.
“She asked, ‘What’s a carpet muncher?'” executive producer Reed Morano told THR. “One of the writer’s assistants had to call Margaret and explain it. I wish I could have heard that.”
‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ is available from SBS On Demand.
Photo: The Handmaid’s Tale.