Your Handmaid's Tale Refresher Ahead of Season 2's Return to Gilead

Because the idea of re-watching the season one finale of Hulu's hit series is simply too bleak...

By Billy Nilles Apr 24, 2018 9:25 PMTags
The Handmaid's TaleHulu

It's been nearly a year since the last new episode of The Handmaid's Tale aired on Hulu, so you'd be forgiven if your memory of where we last left Offred and the rest of the desperate denizens of Gilead is more than a little foggy.

With the two-episode season two premiere of the Emmy-winning series right around the corner, it's time to get caught up. But if the idea of re-watching the season one finale is too bleak for you to even consider, don't worry. We've got your back. We'll walk you through each of the show's major characters to jog that memory and get you ready for what's to come. After all, if you're going to have Gilead-induced nightmares, they might as well be new ones!

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Offred/June Osborne (Elisabeth Moss)

June has been through it, y'all. When we first met her in season one, we watched as she and husband Luke attempted to evade capture with their daughter Hannah. As we all know, they were not successful and June was separated from her husband (who she believed to be dead) and their child and enslaved as a Handmaid in the home of Commander Fred Waterford. Under Gilead's totalitarian Christian theonomic government, and in response to worldwide infertility, June and fertile women like her were subjugated into sexual slavery, where they were raped regularly to provide babies for the barren wives of the power-hungry leaders.

Waterford's wife Serena Joy, desperate for a child, suggests that June, now referred to as Offred, have sex with Nick, Waterford's driver who's also a spy for Gilead. They sleep together, as Serena Joy watches, and in the season finale, we learned that June was indeed pregnant. After June manipulated Waterford to taking her back to Jezebels, an underground brothel, where she discovered her friend Moira had been forced into servitude, Serena Joy grew jealous and retaliated by taking June to the home where Hannah was being kept. After proving her daughter was alive, but refusing to let her make any contact, Serena Joy told June that Hannah would be cared for as long as the unborn child was. 

June receives a package from the butcher sent her way from Moira, which she discovered to contain letters from women who have lost family members and been enslaves in Gilead, letters that could prove to the world what's really happening in the former United States. She and the rest of the Handmaids were then gathered to execute one of their own, Janine/Ofdaniel. They all refused, with June dropping her stone first, and before the guards could kill them all, Aunt Lydia, one of the women who train and oversee the Handmaids, intervened and saved them, promising there would be consequences. Soon after, a van arrived at the Waterford residence for June, with no explanation of where she was being taken or why. As June told Rita, Waterford's Martha (housekeeper) where to find the letters, Nick whispered in June's ear to trust him and go with the van. The last image of June in season one was her riding off to an uncertain fate.

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Fred and Serena Joy Waterford (Joseph Fiennes and Yvonne Strahovski)

As we learned in season one, this high-ranking official and his barren wife were instrumental in the formation of Gilead. Through flashback, we learned that Serena Joy was a conservative cultural activist who wrote a book based on her beliefs, entitled A Woman's Place. However, once Gilead began to take shape, she was completely shut out of the new government planning because of her gender, forcing her to settle for her new, rather limited role in the government she helped create. 

As the Commander's relationship with June grew to involve clandestine Scrabble games and trips to Jezebel's—a relationship that mirrored his behavior with the previous Offred, who killed herself—so to did the one between Serena Joy and June, although once Serena found out about the trips, whatever good will there was between the two women was lost. We last saw them worrying about where their baby was being taken as June was carted off in the van.


Ofglen/Emily (Alexis Bledel)

June's shopping partner who she is initially wary of thanks to Emily's performative piety. The two eventually become close friends and confidantes, with Emily confiding in June that she had a wife and a son and was a university lecturer in her old life. A member of the resistance group Mayday, Emily invites June to join her and soon after is arrested, along with the Martha she's in a relationship with, for "gender treachery." The Martha is hung while Emily is forced to watch. Soon after, she was forced to undergo female genital multilation. She was then placed with a new Commander, earning her the title Ofsteven. After encountering June at an open-air market, Emily stole a security vehicle and drove erratically around the plaza, hitting a guard, before being caught and thrown in the back of a black van. That was the last we saw of her, though we know her behavior earned her a one-way trip to the Colonies.

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Moira (Samira Wiley)

June was reunited with her best friend since college when the two wound up at the Red Center at the same time. We learned in flashback that Moira and June hatched an escape plan, with only Moira making it away before being assigned to a home. Once Waterford takes June to Jezebel's, we learned that Moira had been recaptured and given a choice between the Colonies or the brothel. Seeing June and learning that Luke was alive gave her the courage to get over her resignation, prompting her to kill a client, steal his clothes and take off in his car. After a treacherous journey north, she finally made it to Canada and was reunited with Luke.


Luke (O-T Fagbenle)

After the Mexican ambassador's assistant broke the news to June midway through the season that Luke was, in fact, alive, we learned how her husband survived the gunshot we heard in the pilot and made it safely to Canada. Flashbacks revealed that, despite being shot, he escaped his captors after the ambulance crashed, making off with some medical supplies. He was rescued by a small group of survivors, including an escaped Handmaid named Erin. As they board a boat to safety, most of the resistance group is gunned down by Gileadan guards, but Luke and Erin survived, making it safely to "Little America" in Toronto. Once there, he receives a letter from June telling him she loves him and to save Hannah. In the finale, he's there to greet Moira once she arrives.

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Ofwarren/Janine (Madeline Brewer)

Janine met June and Moira at the Red Center, where her right eye was removed for being non-compliant. She becomes mentally unstable as a result, but is still placed in the Putnam residence, where she quickly becomes pregnant. After the child is born, she is to be transferred to a new home, but can't handle the emotional toll of giving up her child. During the first Ceremony night with her new Commander, she forcefully stops the proceedings and escapes. The next day, she abducts her baby and threatens to jump off a bridge, telling everyone that Putnam said he would leave his wife Naomi for her. June manages to convince her to hand over the baby before she jumps, placing herself in a coma. In the season finale, the Handmaids are gathered and ordered by Aunt Lydia to stone her to death. However, they refuse, leaving her fate undecided.


Aunt Lydia (Ann Dowd)

An extremely pious and devoted Gileadan, Aunt Lydia is one of the women who train and educate the Handmaids, viciously keeping them in line through harsh physical punishment. We last saw Lydia vowing that there would be consequences to pay for the Handmaids refusing to execute Janine under her orders.


Nick (Max Minghella)

The Waterford's driver remained something of a cipher for much of season one, as he was friendly to June, though she'd been warned that he was also a Gileadan spy placed in the Waterford home. He eventually confirmed that he was an Eye (a spy), but as his feelings for June grew, his allegiances seemed to shift. After learning he impregnated June, the pair shared a tender moment, which was followed up by him telling her to trust him as she was whisked away in a black van.

The Handmaid's Tale returns with two brand-new episodes on Wednesday, April 25 on Hulu.

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