The journey of Offred continues in Season 2 of Hulu’s “The Handmaid’s Tale” and things are about to get a whole lot darker.
In the new season, which begins streaming Wednesday, April 25, with two episodes, Offred (Elisabeth Moss) moves forward with her fight to free her unborn child from the dystopian horrors of Gilead as Aunt Lydia’s (Ann Dowd) favorite saying, “Gilead is within you,” proves haunting for her and all the handmaids.
That point is driven home in the season premiere, which opens with Offred, aka June pre-Gilead, in the darkened back of a prison van, from which she is unloaded to be punished with dozens of other handmaids for their refusal to stone Janine (Madeline Brewer) in Season 1. The punishment: An apparent death by hanging on a gallows set up in center field at a rundown Fenway Park.
But when the execution turns out to be a ruse designed to teach the women a lesson, June offers a darkly humorous prayer in voiceover that sums up their plight: “Our Father, who art in heaven … seriously? What the actual f…?”
“There’s a certain horror and cruelty and dread in this situation, but there’s also a lot of absurdity,” says executive producer/writer Bruce Miller to a recent gathering of journalists in Pasadena, Calif. “I always feel like June is this close to turning to the camera and saying, ‘Really? Honestly?’ ”
“When June’s voice is heard, she’s us,” he continues. “She’s looking at this situation, going ‘this is messed up.’ And once you lose that perspective, which is something June’s always fighting to hold on to, you kind of lose yourself and you stop recognizing how horrible this place is. So I think that we always try to make sure that June is alive and well in there somewhere.”
Without going into specifics or spoilers, both Miller and Moss say the tone of Season 2 will be even darker than it was in Season 1 and that June’s voice will be strong throughout.
“My favorite thing about the voiceover is that it’s Margaret’s voice,” Moss says of Margaret Atwood, on whose 1985 novel the series is based. “You know, it’s that very specific tone that she hits in the book. So we love using it, because that’s our way to get that tone into some very dark moments and have that perspective, that sort of dark sense of humor that Margaret has in the book. So it’s become June’s voice, and it’s important to us. But yeah, there are moments when it’s just dark and maybe she should just shut up.”
Also among the returnees for Season 2 are Joseph Fiennes as the Commander, Yvonne Strahovski as Serena Joy, Samira Wiley as Moira, Alexis Bledel as Ofglen/Emily and Max Minghella as Nick, joined by guest stars Marisa Tomei (“My Cousin Vinny”), Bradley Whitford (“The West Wing”) and Clea DuVall (“Argo”).