Season 1 of Hulu’s The Handmaid’s Tale ends on a cliffhanger, just like Margaret Atwood’s novel does. It also ends Offred’s story where the novel does, which leaves the upcoming second season as a blank slate.
Spoilers ahead for the end of The Handmaid’s Tale Season 1.
The end of Season 1 sees Elisabeth Moss’s June, better known as Offred, carted off by the secret police. Neither June nor the viewer has any idea where she’s going or what will happen next. Will they place her in another household? Punish her? Spirit her away to join the resistance in Canada? Nobody knows, in part because the book doesn’t answer it.
But now Season 2 will. Aside from the simple question of where the story will go after the book, here are the main questions Season 2 needs to answer.
1. How screwed is the rest of the world?
Season 1 introduced a normal-seeming society in Canada, where refugees can flee and customs officers are actually friendly. In the Season 1 finale, Moira was nonplussed to find an official who was being nice to her. It also included a glimpse of Mexico in the form of the Mexican ambassador. She was fascinated by Gilead’s rules, but as she explained, her home hasn’t had children in years. These glimpses into other countries beg the question of how the rest of the world has adapted to infertility. Is every society out of whack? Is anywhere as insane as Gilead, or has America gone extra per usual?
2. What will Rita do with those letters?
At the end of Season 1, Elisabeth Moss’s Offred opens the package Moira secretly smuggled to her. It turns out to be notes and cries for help from previous Handmaids. When the Eyes cart her away, she gives the notes to Rita, the Martha in the Waterford household. What can Rita do with those letters — mail them to another country? Leak them to journalists?
3. What do the Colonies look like?
The Colonies are a detail in the novel that didn’t make it into the first season of the show. They’re places where disgraced exiles from Gilead are sent to live harsh lives of manual labor managing toxic waste. The only reason Moira was working at Jezebels was because it was a better alternative than the Colonies. Elisabeth Moss has indicated that the Colonies will appear in Season 2. Since the novel only discusses them in passing, even Atwood herself has not provided a visual. What will this miserable place look like?
4. Is the first Ofglen, aka Emily, alive?
After Alexis Bledel’s Ofglen stole a car and went on her joyride at the market, it seemed certain that the Guardians who caught her executed her. But the first rule of television is that if there’s no body onscreen, there might not be one. The Handmaid’s Tale has already used this method when Janine turned up after her seemingly fatal bridge-jump. If the Colonies appear on-screen, it’s reasonable to assume that Emily could be there. Rather than executing her, the authorities might have sent her there.
5. Where is June’s badass mom?
In the novel, June’s mother plays a significant role in her old life. June remembers her as a take-no-prisoners warrior on the front lines of feminism. She frequently laments not taking her mother’s causes seriously until it was too late. Season 1 of the show dedicated most of its flashbacks to June’s family life: her husband, daughter, and Moira. Especially now that she’s expecting, where are the flashbacks of her mom?
6. What exactly is Serena Joy’s background?
Serena Joy helped craft the very society that leaves her out of its meetings. She helped make rules stating that women can’t read and fertile women must be subject to sexual slavery. Although the first season expanded upon her relationship with her husband, it didn’t go into detail about her own background. In the book, she’s a former televangelist. Will this detail be explored or changed in Season 2?
7. How does Little America work?
The end of Season 1 leaves Luke and Moira reunited in Little America, a community in Canada. Since a significant part of Season 2 will be set there, the show will need to reveal what the society is like. Is it a democratic society? Socialist? Authoritarian in its own way? The Handmaid’s Tale is set at an unspecified date in the near-future, and a more “normal” version of America will provide a fascinating window into this world.
The Handmaid’s Tale has been renewed for a second season on Hulu, but no word is out yet on a release date.