‘The Handmaid’s Tale’: Does June Escape Gilead in the Novel?

“The Handmaid’s Tale” on Hulu has been pretty good about Margaret Atwood’s novel on which it is based, but even early on, the show was expanding beyond the scope of the book.

In Season 2 of “The Handmaid’s Tale,” the story is stretching into all-new territory, following June (Elisabeth Moss) in the immediate aftermath of the big cliffhanger in Season 1. That cliffhanger left June’s life seemingly imperiled as she was placed in the back of a van with no explanation as to what was happening, raising the question of whether the authorities of Gilead had discovered her work with the insurgent Mayday organization.

In fact, though, June found herself safe, thanks to the fact that she was pregnant — seemingly with Nick (Max Minghella) as the father. That caused Nick to help June get away from Commander Waterford (Joseph Fiennes), hiding her at the former offices of the Boston Herald until someone could sneak her out of the country?

Also Read: 10 Hulu Originals You Should Be Watching, From ‘The Path’ to ‘Handmaid’s Tale’ (Photos)

But is June’s escape covered in the novel? The answer to that question is a resounding: no. In fact, Atwood’s book ends, or at least June’s story does, when she steps up into that van, unsure of her fate.

After the narrative portion, in which June tells her story, the book version of “The Handmaid’s Tale” changes, taking readers to an academic lecture in 2195. The frame presents June’s story as a recording recovered years after the fall of Gilead, but it makes clear that her story took place in the early portion of a regime that lasted for years.

The scholar giving the lecture, Professor James Darcy Pieixoto, explains that while June’s story provides a lot of information about the inner workings of Gilead, it’s incomplete. In fact, while the show makes it clear that the handmaid Offred is named June Osbourne, her real name is never explicit in the books, and is instead left open to interpretation by the reader. Pieixoto notes that it’s extremely difficult for historians to find out what happened to a lot of people, including Offred, because of the changes to their names.

Also Read: Top 25 Best Netflix Original Series, Ranked From Great to Phenomenal (Photos)

So right now, “The Handmaid’s Tale” is in off-book territory. While aspects of Season 2, like the portions that concern June’s mother, are largely adapted from material in the book, the show is expanding June’s story beyond what Atwood originally wrote. Fans won’t be able to look to the novel to predict where “The Handmaid’s Tale” is headed next.

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“The Handmaid’s Tale” on Hulu has been pretty good about Margaret Atwood’s novel on which it is based, but even early on, the show was expanding beyond the scope of the book.

In Season 2 of “The Handmaid’s Tale,” the story is stretching into all-new territory, following June (Elisabeth Moss) in the immediate aftermath of the big cliffhanger in Season 1. That cliffhanger left June’s life seemingly imperiled as she was placed in the back of a van with no explanation as to what was happening, raising the question of whether the authorities of Gilead had discovered her work with the insurgent Mayday organization.

In fact, though, June found herself safe, thanks to the fact that she was pregnant — seemingly with Nick (Max Minghella) as the father. That caused Nick to help June get away from Commander Waterford (Joseph Fiennes), hiding her at the former offices of the Boston Herald until someone could sneak her out of the country?

But is June’s escape covered in the novel? The answer to that question is a resounding: no. In fact, Atwood’s book ends, or at least June’s story does, when she steps up into that van, unsure of her fate.

After the narrative portion, in which June tells her story, the book version of “The Handmaid’s Tale” changes, taking readers to an academic lecture in 2195. The frame presents June’s story as a recording recovered years after the fall of Gilead, but it makes clear that her story took place in the early portion of a regime that lasted for years.

The scholar giving the lecture, Professor James Darcy Pieixoto, explains that while June’s story provides a lot of information about the inner workings of Gilead, it’s incomplete. In fact, while the show makes it clear that the handmaid Offred is named June Osbourne, her real name is never explicit in the books, and is instead left open to interpretation by the reader. Pieixoto notes that it’s extremely difficult for historians to find out what happened to a lot of people, including Offred, because of the changes to their names.

So right now, “The Handmaid’s Tale” is in off-book territory. While aspects of Season 2, like the portions that concern June’s mother, are largely adapted from material in the book, the show is expanding June’s story beyond what Atwood originally wrote. Fans won’t be able to look to the novel to predict where “The Handmaid’s Tale” is headed next.

Related stories from TheWrap:

Top 25 Best Netflix Original Series, Ranked From Great to Phenomenal (Photos)

34 Streaming TV Shows You Can Binge Watch on Your Snow Day (Photos)

15 Time Travel TV Shows You Should Be Watching Right Now, From '12 Monkeys' to 'Dark' (Photos)

10 Hulu Originals You Should Be Watching, From 'The Path' to 'Handmaid's Tale' (Photos)

TV Shows You Should Binge-Watch Right Now, From 'OITNB' to 'Better Call Saul' (Photos)

‘Handmaid’s Tale’ Star O-T Fagbenle Loves Luke and June’s Oh-So Messy Backstory (Video)

(Spoiler: Please do not read ahead unless you’ve seen “Other Women,” the fourth episode of Season 2 of “The Handmaid’s Tale.”)

June (Elisabeth Moss) may be the heroine of “The Handmaid’s Tale,” but she’s no saint.

Before our leading lady and her husband Luke (O-T Fagbenle) had an almost perfect life with their little girl Hannah — pre-Gilead, that is — he was married to another woman. We first learned this in Season 1, seeing in flashbacks how the pair fell in love and had an affair while Luke was still with his first wife.

Also Read: ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ Star Samira Wiley Explains Why Moira Just Became ‘Ruby’ Again (Video)

But Wednesday’s episode of the Hulu series second season, entitled “Other Women,” delved deeper into that backstory and didn’t shy away from the reality of the hurt the couple inflicted on Luke’s former spouse, Annie. And Fagbenle told TheWrap that was actually a good thing.

“I really love that storyline, to be honest,” Fagbenle said. “Because I think, so often, it’s so easy to kind of idolize people and to put them on some kind of pedestal, and then when you find out you’re ‘gods of clay feet,’ as they say, it can be devastating. And I think it’s really important that we kind of like, relate to characters who are real.”

“We have flaws, things go wrong, people’s hearts get broken, people make mistakes, people fall in love with other people,” Fagbenle continued. “And that’s hard, but that’s also part of life. And it shouldn’t stop us kind of from empathizing and loving people. And so I was really glad that we got to explore that, ’cause it kind of, in a way, humanized this special love that I think Luke and June have.”

Also Read: ‘Handmaid’s Tale’ Renewed for Season 3 by Hulu

Watch Fagbenle’s interview above and check back at TheWrap next Wednesday at 10:10 am PT for a new interview with another “Handmaid’s Tale” star about Episode 5.

New episodes of “The Handmaid’s Tale” stream Wednesdays on Hulu.

Related stories from TheWrap:

‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ Star Samira Wiley Explains Why Moira Just Became ‘Ruby’ Again (Video)

‘Handmaid’s Tale’ Renewed for Season 3 by Hulu

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‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ Chief Talks Going Off Book in Season 2 – With Margaret Atwood’s Blessing

(Spoiler: Please do not read ahead unless you’ve seen “Other Women,” the fourth episode of Season 2 of “The Handmaid’s Tale.”)

June (Elisabeth Moss) may be the heroine of “The Handmaid’s Tale,” but she’s no saint.

Before our leading lady and her husband Luke (O-T Fagbenle) had an almost perfect life with their little girl Hannah — pre-Gilead, that is — he was married to another woman. We first learned this in Season 1, seeing in flashbacks how the pair fell in love and had an affair while Luke was still with his first wife.

But Wednesday’s episode of the Hulu series second season, entitled “Other Women,” delved deeper into that backstory and didn’t shy away from the reality of the hurt the couple inflicted on Luke’s former spouse, Annie. And Fagbenle told TheWrap that was actually a good thing.

“I really love that storyline, to be honest,” Fagbenle said. “Because I think, so often, it’s so easy to kind of idolize people and to put them on some kind of pedestal, and then when you find out you’re ‘gods of clay feet,’ as they say, it can be devastating. And I think it’s really important that we kind of like, relate to characters who are real.”

“We have flaws, things go wrong, people’s hearts get broken, people make mistakes, people fall in love with other people,” Fagbenle continued. “And that’s hard, but that’s also part of life. And it shouldn’t stop us kind of from empathizing and loving people. And so I was really glad that we got to explore that, ’cause it kind of, in a way, humanized this special love that I think Luke and June have.”

Watch Fagbenle’s interview above and check back at TheWrap next Wednesday at 10:10 am PT for a new interview with another “Handmaid’s Tale” star about Episode 5.

New episodes of “The Handmaid’s Tale” stream Wednesdays on Hulu.

Related stories from TheWrap:

'The Handmaid's Tale' Star Samira Wiley Explains Why Moira Just Became 'Ruby' Again (Video)

'Handmaid's Tale' Renewed for Season 3 by Hulu

'Handmaid's Tale' Showrunner Bruce Miller Signs Overall Deal With Hulu, MGM

'The Handmaid's Tale' Chief Talks Going Off Book in Season 2 – With Margaret Atwood's Blessing

‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ Chief Talks Going Off Book in Season 2 – With Margaret Atwood’s Blessing

(Spoiler alert: Do not read ahead unless you’ve seen all of Season 1 of “The Handmaid’s Tale.”)

What do you do when your critically-acclaimed series runs out of source material after one season? Bruce Miller and Hulu faced that dilemma after the first hugely acclaimed season of “The Handmaid’s Tale.” Luckily, they had the greenlight from Margaret Atwood herself to keep going and build out the universe she created with the 1985 novel.

“Margaret is probably the biggest cheerleader we have,” executive producer Warren Littlefield told TheWrap ahead of the Emmy-winning drama’s Season 2 premiere Wednesday. “So Margaret is our greatest cheerleader to not worry about [continuing the adaptation]. And yet, I think each and every day in the writers’ room Bruce and our writers are always thinking about Margaret’s book. But, we go beyond.”

The freshman year of “The Handmaid’s Tale” was met with near-universal acclaim and lots of awards, but Hulu was ready to continue Offred’s (Elisabeth Moss) story even before those accolades rolled in. Heck, before it even dropped on the streaming service.

Also Read: ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ Boss Thinks World Would ‘Be a Better Place’ if Show Wasn’t so Relevant

“We were getting a lot of love and a lot of positive feedback from Hulu as we were in Season 1 and the signals we were getting was, ‘Hey, we have to wait till our premiere in April, but this looks really good and we feel really great about it,’” Littlefield said. “So we were already thinking about Season 2 in the new year and last spring.”

From its debut, the show helped define the Trump-era zeitgeist, as viewers made frequent mention of the parallels between the misogynist, totalitarian nightmare of Gilead (a fictional future version of the United States) and the actions and beliefs expressed by the president and members of his political party. The Moss-led series quickly became a widely-deployed reference for feminist political activists, which only intensified after the #MeToo and #TimesUp movements began.

While those elements of the series are still relevant going into Season 2 (even if Littlefield will tell you he wishes they weren’t) a new topic creeped into the discussion: How do you expand on a beloved classic after you’ve reached the end? Especially when the author, who was a supervising producer on Season 1, has now moved to consultant status and left her story in your hands.

Also Read: ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ Season 2: Alexis Bledel on That Marisa Tomei Cameo in the Colonies (Video)

“We left Season 1 with a pregnant Offred/June,” Littlefield said. “And so it was only natural that we would go beyond where Margaret took us. You know, Margaret is an active consultant. She reads out lines and reads out the drafts and then gives her thoughts and feedback. But she’s been wildly enthusiastic and has no fear about going beyond the book. You know some of that probably comes from having had her work adapted in plays and operas and I think she also has a tremendous trust in Bruce.”

“So we marched forward, always with the novel guiding us, but very much this year moving past it,” he continued. “And so our thematics for this year were motherhood for Offred/June, her unborn child, and also her daughter Hannah. Also, Serena Joy (Yvonne Strahovski) considers Offred’s unborn child to be hers. So motherhood is a powerful theme, as well as ‘Gilead is within you.’ And even as our characters may escape Gilead, Gilead is within you. You cannot fully escape Gilead. And those became two strong themes that you don’t get to play without everything that came before. Thank you, Margaret. [laughs]”

Also Read: ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ Star Ann Dowd Breaks Down That Horrifying Season 2 Opener (Video)

Atwood was not available when reached by TheWrap for comment for this story.

New episodes of “The Handmaid’s Tale” drop Wednesdays on Hulu.

Related stories from TheWrap:

‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ Season 2: Alexis Bledel on That Marisa Tomei Cameo in the Colonies (Video)

‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ Star Ann Dowd Breaks Down That Horrifying Season 2 Opener (Video)

‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ Boss Thinks World Would ‘Be a Better Place’ if Show Wasn’t so Relevant

‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ Star Madeline Brewer Tells Us Janine Pretends Gilead ‘Isn’t So F—ed Up’ (Exclusive Video)

(Spoiler alert: Do not read ahead unless you’ve seen all of Season 1 of “The Handmaid’s Tale.”)

What do you do when your critically-acclaimed series runs out of source material after one season? Bruce Miller and Hulu faced that dilemma after the first hugely acclaimed season of “The Handmaid’s Tale.” Luckily, they had the greenlight from Margaret Atwood herself to keep going and build out the universe she created with the 1985 novel.

“Margaret is probably the biggest cheerleader we have,” executive producer Warren Littlefield told TheWrap ahead of the Emmy-winning drama’s Season 2 premiere Wednesday. “So Margaret is our greatest cheerleader to not worry about [continuing the adaptation]. And yet, I think each and every day in the writers’ room Bruce and our writers are always thinking about Margaret’s book. But, we go beyond.”

The freshman year of “The Handmaid’s Tale” was met with near-universal acclaim and lots of awards, but Hulu was ready to continue Offred’s (Elisabeth Moss) story even before those accolades rolled in. Heck, before it even dropped on the streaming service.

“We were getting a lot of love and a lot of positive feedback from Hulu as we were in Season 1 and the signals we were getting was, ‘Hey, we have to wait till our premiere in April, but this looks really good and we feel really great about it,'” Littlefield said. “So we were already thinking about Season 2 in the new year and last spring.”

From its debut, the show helped define the Trump-era zeitgeist, as viewers made frequent mention of the parallels between the misogynist, totalitarian nightmare of Gilead (a fictional future version of the United States) and the actions and beliefs expressed by the president and members of his political party. The Moss-led series quickly became a widely-deployed reference for feminist political activists, which only intensified after the #MeToo and #TimesUp movements began.

While those elements of the series are still relevant going into Season 2 (even if Littlefield will tell you he wishes they weren’t) a new topic creeped into the discussion: How do you expand on a beloved classic after you’ve reached the end? Especially when the author, who was a supervising producer on Season 1, has now moved to consultant status and left her story in your hands.

“We left Season 1 with a pregnant Offred/June,” Littlefield said. “And so it was only natural that we would go beyond where Margaret took us. You know, Margaret is an active consultant. She reads out lines and reads out the drafts and then gives her thoughts and feedback. But she’s been wildly enthusiastic and has no fear about going beyond the book. You know some of that probably comes from having had her work adapted in plays and operas and I think she also has a tremendous trust in Bruce.”

“So we marched forward, always with the novel guiding us, but very much this year moving past it,” he continued. “And so our thematics for this year were motherhood for Offred/June, her unborn child, and also her daughter Hannah. Also, Serena Joy (Yvonne Strahovski) considers Offred’s unborn child to be hers. So motherhood is a powerful theme, as well as ‘Gilead is within you.’ And even as our characters may escape Gilead, Gilead is within you. You cannot fully escape Gilead. And those became two strong themes that you don’t get to play without everything that came before. Thank you, Margaret. [laughs]”

Atwood was not available when reached by TheWrap for comment for this story.

New episodes of “The Handmaid’s Tale” drop Wednesdays on Hulu.

Related stories from TheWrap:

'The Handmaid's Tale' Season 2: Alexis Bledel on That Marisa Tomei Cameo in the Colonies (Video)

'The Handmaid's Tale' Star Ann Dowd Breaks Down That Horrifying Season 2 Opener (Video)

'The Handmaid's Tale' Boss Thinks World Would 'Be a Better Place' if Show Wasn't so Relevant

'The Handmaid's Tale' Star Madeline Brewer Tells Us Janine Pretends Gilead 'Isn't So F—ed Up' (Exclusive Video)

‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ Season 2: Alexis Bledel on That Marisa Tomei Cameo in the Colonies (Video)

(Major spoiler alert: Please do not read ahead unless you’ve seen “Unwomen,” the second episode of Season 2 of “The Handmaid’s Tale.”)

The Colonies of Gilead — radioactive wastelands being cleaned up by condemned criminals — are not places women are meant to survive. And the fastest way to cut your life expectancy even shorter in these toxic prisons is to get on Ofglen/Emily’s (Alexis Bledel) bad side. Too bad no one told that to Marisa Tomei when she guest starred on “Unwomen,” the second episode of Season 2 of “The Handmaid’s Tale.”

“Well, Emily has been traumatized again and again to such a degree that you know, I think part of her spirit has broken,” Bledel told TheWrap in an interview ahead of the Hulu series’ sophomore premiere Wednesday.

“She’s really decided to take justice into her own hands. So when Marisa Tomei’s character arrives, a wife — which is very unusual in the Colonies — it does sort of trigger something in her mind and she does sort of formulate this, not so much a plan, but she makes a decision to kind of take her down. You don’t know that until the end of the episode.”

Also Read: ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ Star Ann Dowd Breaks Down That Horrifying Season 2 Opener (Video)

The installment saw Emily (Bledel) — a former handmaid banished to the Colonies for several acts of rebellion — meet a Wife (Tomei) who has also been sent there for cheating on her husband. Emily was a cellular biologist before the creation of Gilead and now serves as an ad hoc medic to her fellow prisoners. That background comes in handy when she decides to get her revenge on the Wife for the part she’s played in promoting and supporting Gilead’s misogynist nightmare.

Emily tells the Wife that the water in their barracks is full of E. Coli, and gives her pills to take to stave off infection, saying it’s because “a mistress was kind” to her once.

Later that night, Emily finds the woman vomiting and reveals that she has actually given the Wife poison. “Every month you held a woman down while your husband raped her. Some things can’t be forgiven.”

Also Read: 17 ‘Handmaid’s Tale’ Authoritarians, Ranked From Bad to Exceedingly Evil (Photos)

Bledel said that the episode had her on her toes as Emily, “has this care-taking energy one moment, and little do you know she’s plotting this violent act at the next. She’s an extremely complex character.”

Watch Bledel’s interview above and check back at TheWrap next Wednesday at 10:10 am PT for a new interview with “The Handmaid’s Tale” actress Samira Wiley about Episode 3, “Baggage.”

New episodes of ‘The Handmaid’s Tale” drop Wednesdays on Hulu.

Related stories from TheWrap:

‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ Star Ann Dowd Breaks Down That Horrifying Season 2 Opener (Video)

‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ Boss Thinks World Would ‘Be a Better Place’ if Show Wasn’t so Relevant

‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ Star Madeline Brewer Tells Us Janine Pretends Gilead ‘Isn’t So F—ed Up’ (Exclusive Video)

‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ Season 2: Ann Dowd Shares Her Theories About Aunt Lydia’s Backstory (Video)

(Major spoiler alert: Please do not read ahead unless you’ve seen “Unwomen,” the second episode of Season 2 of “The Handmaid’s Tale.”)

The Colonies of Gilead — radioactive wastelands being cleaned up by condemned criminals — are not places women are meant to survive. And the fastest way to cut your life expectancy even shorter in these toxic prisons is to get on Ofglen/Emily’s (Alexis Bledel) bad side. Too bad no one told that to Marisa Tomei when she guest starred on “Unwomen,” the second episode of Season 2 of “The Handmaid’s Tale.”

“Well, Emily has been traumatized again and again to such a degree that you know, I think part of her spirit has broken,” Bledel told TheWrap in an interview ahead of the Hulu series’ sophomore premiere Wednesday.

“She’s really decided to take justice into her own hands. So when Marisa Tomei’s character arrives, a wife — which is very unusual in the Colonies — it does sort of trigger something in her mind and she does sort of formulate this, not so much a plan, but she makes a decision to kind of take her down. You don’t know that until the end of the episode.”

The installment saw Emily (Bledel) — a former handmaid banished to the Colonies for several acts of rebellion — meet a Wife (Tomei) who has also been sent there for cheating on her husband. Emily was a cellular biologist before the creation of Gilead and now serves as an ad hoc medic to her fellow prisoners. That background comes in handy when she decides to get her revenge on the Wife for the part she’s played in promoting and supporting Gilead’s misogynist nightmare.

Emily tells the Wife that the water in their barracks is full of E. Coli, and gives her pills to take to stave off infection, saying it’s because “a mistress was kind” to her once.

Later that night, Emily finds the woman vomiting and reveals that she has actually given the Wife poison. “Every month you held a woman down while your husband raped her. Some things can’t be forgiven.”

Bledel said that the episode had her on her toes as Emily, “has this care-taking energy one moment, and little do you know she’s plotting this violent act at the next. She’s an extremely complex character.”

Watch Bledel’s interview above and check back at TheWrap next Wednesday at 10:10 am PT for a new interview with “The Handmaid’s Tale” actress Samira Wiley about Episode 3, “Baggage.”

New episodes of ‘The Handmaid’s Tale” drop Wednesdays on Hulu.

Related stories from TheWrap:

'The Handmaid's Tale' Star Ann Dowd Breaks Down That Horrifying Season 2 Opener (Video)

'The Handmaid's Tale' Boss Thinks World Would 'Be a Better Place' if Show Wasn't so Relevant

'The Handmaid's Tale' Star Madeline Brewer Tells Us Janine Pretends Gilead 'Isn't So F—ed Up' (Exclusive Video)

'The Handmaid's Tale' Season 2: Ann Dowd Shares Her Theories About Aunt Lydia's Backstory (Video)

‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ Star Ann Dowd Breaks Down That Horrifying Season 2 Opener (Video)

(Major spoiler alert: Please do not read ahead unless you’ve seen the Season 2 premiere of “The Handmaid’s Tale.”)

“The Handmaid’s Tale” began its sophomore season on Hulu Wednesday with a frightening execution fakeout at Boston’s Fenway Park.

Or what was once Fenway Park, but in dystopian Gilead is home to gallows where a pregnant Offred/June (Elisabeth Moss) and her fellow disobedient handmaids are brought to be hung to death by Aunt Lydia (Ann Dowd) within the first few minutes of the premiere.

Luckily, it turned out the whole thing was an elaborate ruse meant to scare them straight. And Dowd told TheWrap in a recent interview she thought the horrifying opener for “June” — Season 2’s first episode — was “perfect.”

Also Read: ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ Boss Thinks World Would ‘Be a Better Place’ if Show Wasn’t so Relevant

“That’s the way to get the job done, scare them almost to death,” Dowd said of how creator and showrunner Bruce Miller decided to pick back up with his adaptation of author Margaret Atwood’s novel, now that the book’s original plot has played out.

“The number of times I read the scripts, then put them down — and I had to write Bruce Miller, ‘Are you kidding me? Wow, there should be an award for extraordinary imagination and — I don’t even know,’” she added. “So I just sat there with my mouth open and thought, ‘Yup, that’ll work.’”

Also Read: ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ Season 2: Ann Dowd Shares Her Theories About Aunt Lydia’s Backstory (Video)

The Emmy winner said the gravity of the scene was highlighted by the fact it was filmed in the middle of the night, though not at the actual Boston baseball landmark.

“If people only knew [laughs],” Dowd said. “It’s 4 a.m. or 5 a.m., I’m walking across that baseball field and it just brought such… You know, when you surrender to the fact that it’s freezing, you should have been in bed hours ago and you surrender to that, it brings such power to it. Because the atmosphere, the location, was all extraordinary.”

Also Read: ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ Cast on Pressure to Match Critical Darling’s Success in Season 2 (Video)

Watch Dowd’s entire interview above and check back at TheWrap Thursday at 10:10 a.m. PT for another “The Handmaid’s Tale” interview with star Alexis Bledel about Season 2’s second episode.

New episodes of ‘The Handmaid’s Tale” drop Wednesdays on Hulu.

Related stories from TheWrap:

‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ Star Ann Dowd Breaks Down That Horrifying Season 2 Opener (Video)

17 ‘Handmaid’s Tale’ Authoritarians, Ranked From Bad to Exceedingly Evil (Photos)

‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ Boss Thinks World Would ‘Be a Better Place’ if Show Wasn’t so Relevant

‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ Star Madeline Brewer Tells Us Janine Pretends Gilead ‘Isn’t So F—ed Up’ (Exclusive Video)

(Major spoiler alert: Please do not read ahead unless you’ve seen the Season 2 premiere of “The Handmaid’s Tale.”)

“The Handmaid’s Tale” began its sophomore season on Hulu Wednesday with a frightening execution fakeout at Boston’s Fenway Park.

Or what was once Fenway Park, but in dystopian Gilead is home to gallows where a pregnant Offred/June (Elisabeth Moss) and her fellow disobedient handmaids are brought to be hung to death by Aunt Lydia (Ann Dowd) within the first few minutes of the premiere.

Luckily, it turned out the whole thing was an elaborate ruse meant to scare them straight. And Dowd told TheWrap in a recent interview she thought the horrifying opener for “June” — Season 2’s first episode — was “perfect.”

“That’s the way to get the job done, scare them almost to death,” Dowd said of how creator and showrunner Bruce Miller decided to pick back up with his adaptation of author Margaret Atwood’s novel, now that the book’s original plot has played out.

“The number of times I read the scripts, then put them down — and I had to write Bruce Miller, ‘Are you kidding me? Wow, there should be an award for extraordinary imagination and — I don’t even know,'” she added. “So I just sat there with my mouth open and thought, ‘Yup, that’ll work.'”

The Emmy winner said the gravity of the scene was highlighted by the fact it was filmed in the middle of the night, though not at the actual Boston baseball landmark.

“If people only knew [laughs],” Dowd said. “It’s 4 a.m. or 5 a.m., I’m walking across that baseball field and it just brought such… You know, when you surrender to the fact that it’s freezing, you should have been in bed hours ago and you surrender to that, it brings such power to it. Because the atmosphere, the location, was all extraordinary.”

Watch Dowd’s entire interview above and check back at TheWrap Thursday at 10:10 a.m. PT for another “The Handmaid’s Tale” interview with star Alexis Bledel about Season 2’s second episode.

New episodes of ‘The Handmaid’s Tale” drop Wednesdays on Hulu.

Related stories from TheWrap:

'The Handmaid's Tale' Star Ann Dowd Breaks Down That Horrifying Season 2 Opener (Video)

17 'Handmaid's Tale' Authoritarians, Ranked From Bad to Exceedingly Evil (Photos)

'The Handmaid's Tale' Boss Thinks World Would 'Be a Better Place' if Show Wasn't so Relevant

'The Handmaid's Tale' Star Madeline Brewer Tells Us Janine Pretends Gilead 'Isn't So F—ed Up' (Exclusive Video)

17 ‘Handmaid’s Tale’ Authoritarians, Ranked From Bad to Exceedingly Evil (Photos)

The dystopian, women-subjugating society of  “The Handmaid’s Tale” is full of people who willingly sign on with its evil. Whether they’re the leaders who created the place or just collaborators willing to go along, the show is full of people willing to watch others suffer every day — and even inflict that suffering. Here are 17 such folks, ranked by how much they sign on with Gilead’s evil agenda.

Nick (Max Minghella)
Nick’s not a bad guy, and he’s trapped in Gilead like a lot of people, but he’s still a cog in the machine. At most, he uses his position to help June (Elisabeth Moss) where he can. He’s mostly still standing by and letting everything happen to her, though, and as far as their relationship is concerned, she’s the one taking all the risks.

That One Aunt (Margaret Atwood)
The author of “The Handmaid’s Tale” only gets a quick cameo, but as an aunt at the Red Center, her character is undoubtedly embracing the awfulness of Gilead. And she gets to smack June while she’s there.

Also Read: 10 Hulu Originals You Should Be Watching, From ‘The Path’ to ‘Handmaid’s Tale’ (Photos)

The Boat Driver (Marvin Kaye)
When people were fleeing Gilead, this guy was willing to take them across the border in his boat. He was also willing to profit by the situation as much as possible, gouging Luke for whatever he could pay for his passage. He might not be a part of the government, but he’s bad enough to take advantage of its rise.

Jezebels’ Martha (Elena Khan)
Informing for the government is a good way to take care of yourself at the expense of everyone else. Nick’s Martha friend is willing to sell out the people around her — and people like her are essential to keeping the oppressive system working.

Ambassador Castillo (Zabryna Guevara)
The Mexican ambassador who meets with the Commander isn’t responsible for the way Gilead treats women, but she’s obviously willing to look the other way when it comes to its policies. Even when June tells her how bad things are, she’s unwilling to do much — and if Mexico is entering into trade with Gilead for handmaidens, she’s not only looking the other way on slavery, she’s about to facilitate it.

Burke (Jim Cummings)
The interrogator who questions June about Ofglen likes to start his discussions a certain way: with a cattle prod. A government lackey, a brutal interrogator and someone who persecutes women, Burke is an “investigator” whose clearly relishes his job and the power it gives him.

Also Read: Top 24 Best Netflix Original Series, Ranked From Great to Phenomenal (Photos)

Emma Monroe (Christy Bruce)
Mere hours after separating her from her child, Commander Monroe and his wife Emma have the handmaid Janine (Madeline Brewer) ready for another “ceremony.” It’s a reinforcement that even among the “nice” commanders and their wives, handmaids are seen as little more than animals.

Naomi Putnam (Ever Carradine)
Mrs. Putnam is the “wife” whose handmaid, Janine, actually has a baby, a somewhat rare occurrence. Like with June, Putnam is nice to her handmaid right up until the baby is born. After that, Naomi can’t wait to get rid of the other women and go back to treating her and the other handmaids like property.

The Doctor (Kristian Brunn)
The gynecologist June visits early in Season 1 propositions June, making it clear he’s regularly taking advantage of handmaids for sex. That makes him a guy who manages to take the extremely awful world he lives in and make it even more gross.

The Judge (Thomas Hauff)
When June’s friend Ofglen is discovered for being a lesbian with another woman, this guy sentences Ofglen’s lover to death and Ofglen to mutilation. Not only is he perfectly comfortable with those sentences and without even giving the women a chance to defend themselves, but it’s a look into the way Gilead systematizes women as lesser people.

Also Read: Top 20 Best HBO Original Series, From ‘Six Feet Under’ to ‘Game of Thrones’ (Photos)

Commander Monroe (Matthew Olver)
Monroe might be considered a “nice” commander, but he’s still a leader of the regime and must have played a part in both its coming to power and in its continuing terrible ways. Plus, like his wife, he’s instantly ready to treat Janine like someone who’s less than human.

Commander Pryce (Robert Curtis Brown)
Pryce seems like the paranoid commander, and other than Commander Waterford, he comes off as the most devout. But he’s still in the car with the others, coming up with the best way to brand the idea of all the commanders taking on concubines and making it sound biblical. Ultimately, the commanders don’t even believe their own lies, and Pryce is obviously just trying to consolidate his own power.

Commander Guthrie (Christian Lloyd)
Of the leaders of the movement, Guthrie seems to be the most truthful. He’s a jerk who doesn’t really care about the religion side, but it’s his idea to create the handmaids expressly for the purpose of breeding. Where the other leaders are hypocrites, they at least hide it well. Guthrie’s just in this for the gross, exploitative power.

Commander Putnam (Stephen Kunken)
Putnam has an extra layer of horrific to add to the usual awfulness of the commanders. He convinced his handmaid, Janine, that he was going to run away with her. His lie got him what he wanted from her, but it helped ruin Janine even more.

Aunt Lydia (Ann Dowd)
The scary thing about Aunt Lydia is she comes off like a true believer. She’s fully committed to forcing handmaids into a life of rape and servitude, and she seems to enjoy wrecking the women who don’t immediately respect her with her cattle prod. She and people like her are essential to making subjugation work because she buys in, and has no problem hurting anyone who doesn’t.

Also Read: 34 Streaming TV Shows You Can Binge Watch in a Weekend (Photos)

Serena Joy (Yvonne Strahovski)
Talk about your all-time backfires. Serena Joy got everything she ever thought she wanted. Her book touted the great world she would help create, and yet she seemingly didn’t realize that advocating to make women second-class citizens would include her too. That means she’s marginalized by the people she helped elevate, and she’s angry enough about it to use her own power to ruin the lives of the people below her. She just can’t stop being fully awful.

The Commander (Joseph Fiennes)
The worst thing about the Commander is that he plays nice. He invites June to his room for games of Scrabble and, in private, treats her like a real person. But even his acts of kindness are actually clear methods of enforcing his power over people — he knows June can’t really challenge him, and he likes to wield his ability to be nice to her as something he can easily take away. It’s almost worse that he sometimes treats her well, because every act of kindness comes with the tacit feeling of being in his debt, as well as under his whim.

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The dystopian, women-subjugating society of  “The Handmaid’s Tale” is full of people who willingly sign on with its evil. Whether they’re the leaders who created the place or just collaborators willing to go along, the show is full of people willing to watch others suffer every day — and even inflict that suffering. Here are 17 such folks, ranked by how much they sign on with Gilead’s evil agenda.

Nick (Max Minghella)
Nick’s not a bad guy, and he’s trapped in Gilead like a lot of people, but he’s still a cog in the machine. At most, he uses his position to help June (Elisabeth Moss) where he can. He’s mostly still standing by and letting everything happen to her, though, and as far as their relationship is concerned, she’s the one taking all the risks.

That One Aunt (Margaret Atwood)
The author of “The Handmaid’s Tale” only gets a quick cameo, but as an aunt at the Red Center, her character is undoubtedly embracing the awfulness of Gilead. And she gets to smack June while she’s there.

The Boat Driver (Marvin Kaye)
When people were fleeing Gilead, this guy was willing to take them across the border in his boat. He was also willing to profit by the situation as much as possible, gouging Luke for whatever he could pay for his passage. He might not be a part of the government, but he’s bad enough to take advantage of its rise.

Jezebels’ Martha (Elena Khan)
Informing for the government is a good way to take care of yourself at the expense of everyone else. Nick’s Martha friend is willing to sell out the people around her — and people like her are essential to keeping the oppressive system working.

Ambassador Castillo (Zabryna Guevara)
The Mexican ambassador who meets with the Commander isn’t responsible for the way Gilead treats women, but she’s obviously willing to look the other way when it comes to its policies. Even when June tells her how bad things are, she’s unwilling to do much — and if Mexico is entering into trade with Gilead for handmaidens, she’s not only looking the other way on slavery, she’s about to facilitate it.

Burke (Jim Cummings)
The interrogator who questions June about Ofglen likes to start his discussions a certain way: with a cattle prod. A government lackey, a brutal interrogator and someone who persecutes women, Burke is an “investigator” whose clearly relishes his job and the power it gives him.

Emma Monroe (Christy Bruce)
Mere hours after separating her from her child, Commander Monroe and his wife Emma have the handmaid Janine (Madeline Brewer) ready for another “ceremony.” It’s a reinforcement that even among the “nice” commanders and their wives, handmaids are seen as little more than animals.

Naomi Putnam (Ever Carradine)
Mrs. Putnam is the “wife” whose handmaid, Janine, actually has a baby, a somewhat rare occurrence. Like with June, Putnam is nice to her handmaid right up until the baby is born. After that, Naomi can’t wait to get rid of the other women and go back to treating her and the other handmaids like property.

The Doctor (Kristian Brunn)
The gynecologist June visits early in Season 1 propositions June, making it clear he’s regularly taking advantage of handmaids for sex. That makes him a guy who manages to take the extremely awful world he lives in and make it even more gross.

The Judge (Thomas Hauff)
When June’s friend Ofglen is discovered for being a lesbian with another woman, this guy sentences Ofglen’s lover to death and Ofglen to mutilation. Not only is he perfectly comfortable with those sentences and without even giving the women a chance to defend themselves, but it’s a look into the way Gilead systematizes women as lesser people.

Commander Monroe (Matthew Olver)
Monroe might be considered a “nice” commander, but he’s still a leader of the regime and must have played a part in both its coming to power and in its continuing terrible ways. Plus, like his wife, he’s instantly ready to treat Janine like someone who’s less than human.

Commander Pryce (Robert Curtis Brown)
Pryce seems like the paranoid commander, and other than Commander Waterford, he comes off as the most devout. But he’s still in the car with the others, coming up with the best way to brand the idea of all the commanders taking on concubines and making it sound biblical. Ultimately, the commanders don’t even believe their own lies, and Pryce is obviously just trying to consolidate his own power.

Commander Guthrie (Christian Lloyd)
Of the leaders of the movement, Guthrie seems to be the most truthful. He’s a jerk who doesn’t really care about the religion side, but it’s his idea to create the handmaids expressly for the purpose of breeding. Where the other leaders are hypocrites, they at least hide it well. Guthrie’s just in this for the gross, exploitative power.

Commander Putnam (Stephen Kunken)
Putnam has an extra layer of horrific to add to the usual awfulness of the commanders. He convinced his handmaid, Janine, that he was going to run away with her. His lie got him what he wanted from her, but it helped ruin Janine even more.

Aunt Lydia (Ann Dowd)
The scary thing about Aunt Lydia is she comes off like a true believer. She’s fully committed to forcing handmaids into a life of rape and servitude, and she seems to enjoy wrecking the women who don’t immediately respect her with her cattle prod. She and people like her are essential to making subjugation work because she buys in, and has no problem hurting anyone who doesn’t.

Serena Joy (Yvonne Strahovski)
Talk about your all-time backfires. Serena Joy got everything she ever thought she wanted. Her book touted the great world she would help create, and yet she seemingly didn’t realize that advocating to make women second-class citizens would include her too. That means she’s marginalized by the people she helped elevate, and she’s angry enough about it to use her own power to ruin the lives of the people below her. She just can’t stop being fully awful.

The Commander (Joseph Fiennes)
The worst thing about the Commander is that he plays nice. He invites June to his room for games of Scrabble and, in private, treats her like a real person. But even his acts of kindness are actually clear methods of enforcing his power over people — he knows June can’t really challenge him, and he likes to wield his ability to be nice to her as something he can easily take away. It’s almost worse that he sometimes treats her well, because every act of kindness comes with the tacit feeling of being in his debt, as well as under his whim.

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‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ Boss Thinks World Would ‘Be a Better Place’ if Show Wasn’t so Relevant

(Spoiler alert: Do not read ahead unless you’ve seen all of Season 1 of “The Handmaid’s Tale.”)

Hulu’s “The Handmaid’s Tale” Season 1 couldn’t have come at a better — or worse? — time in America.

Bruce Miller’s adaptation of Margaret Atwood’s dystopian novel struck a chord with fans and critics alike when it debuted in 2017. Viewers couldn’t help but see the parallels between the totalitarian regime in Gilead (a fictional future version of the United States) and the actions and beliefs expressed by then newly-elected President Donald Trump and people associated with his administration.

Then the #MeToo and #TimesUp movements began and the Elisabeth Moss-led series became a part of discussions about sexual misconduct and women’s rights.

Also Read: ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ Season 2: Ann Dowd Shares Her Theories About Aunt Lydia’s Backstory (Video)

Now, with the sophomore installment of “The Handmaid’s Tale” dropping on the streaming service Wednesday, TheWrap asked executive producer Warren Littlefield if the constant talk of how “relevant” the Emmy-winning drama is in our political and social climate keeps it from being appreciated on its own.

“I think Margaret’s book could have been adapted and been a good adaptation any time,” Littlefield said. “Any time in the last 30 years it could have been powerful television. It wouldn’t play on network. But it’s such a powerful conceptualization. And a brilliant one. And of course particularly with #MeToo and #TimesUp, the struggle for human rights and feminist rights is so much a part of the fabric of what Margaret created and what we’re doing and that’s a part of our every day existence — only magnified in a Trumpian world. So we get it! We wish that we weren’t so relevant, because the world would maybe be a better place. But we are.”

Also Read: ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ Cast on Pressure to Match Critical Darling’s Success in Season 2 (Video)

“We find ourselves a part of the conversation, we find ourselves part of the resistance,” Littlefield continued. “Women are dressing as handmaids and using that as a form of protest, all over the United States and now all over the world. So that’s pretty amazing to be a part of that, that our show is being talked about in such a powerful way. So first and foremost we better do a good dramatic television show. We’re not the news, we don’t want to mistake ourselves for the news. But I think if we’re good storytellers, we can’t escape the power of these themes.”

Littlefield says its possible the “relevancy” dissections will get in the way of fans just following Offred’s (Moss) story, but he has faith the two ways of watching can coexist.

“It may happen for some, I think that when our hours unfold I think we are pulled in by Offred/June. She is our rudder and I think that — I hope that — in some ways we’re just yanked into our world, our characters stories, their struggle and the drama that unfolds in each hour. And I’d like to think that the audience is completely enveloped by what we do. And yes, afterwards it can generate a very provocative and interesting and relevant discussion. But I like to think that what we’re offering the audience takes them on a journey.”

Also Read: ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ Season 2: Samira Wiley Tells Us Why Moira’s Newfound Freedom Isn’t All Sweet (Video)

“The Handmaid’s Tale” Season 2 will be shaped by Offred/June’s pregnancy and her ongoing fight to free her future child from the dystopian horrors of Gilead. In the sophomore installment, Offred and others will fight against — or succumb to — the dark truth that “Gilead is within you.”

New episodes of “The Handmaid’s Tale” drop Wednesdays on Hulu.

Related stories from TheWrap:

‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ Star Madeline Brewer Tells Us Janine Pretends Gilead ‘Isn’t So F—ed Up’ (Exclusive Video)

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‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ Cast on Pressure to Match Critical Darling’s Success in Season 2 (Video)

‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ Season 2: Samira Wiley Tells Us Why Moira’s Newfound Freedom Isn’t All Sweet (Video)

(Spoiler alert: Do not read ahead unless you’ve seen all of Season 1 of “The Handmaid’s Tale.”)

Hulu’s “The Handmaid’s Tale” Season 1 couldn’t have come at a better — or worse? — time in America.

Bruce Miller’s adaptation of Margaret Atwood’s dystopian novel struck a chord with fans and critics alike when it debuted in 2017. Viewers couldn’t help but see the parallels between the totalitarian regime in Gilead (a fictional future version of the United States) and the actions and beliefs expressed by then newly-elected President Donald Trump and people associated with his administration.

Then the #MeToo and #TimesUp movements began and the Elisabeth Moss-led series became a part of discussions about sexual misconduct and women’s rights.

Now, with the sophomore installment of “The Handmaid’s Tale” dropping on the streaming service Wednesday, TheWrap asked executive producer Warren Littlefield if the constant talk of how “relevant” the Emmy-winning drama is in our political and social climate keeps it from being appreciated on its own.

“I think Margaret’s book could have been adapted and been a good adaptation any time,” Littlefield said. “Any time in the last 30 years it could have been powerful television. It wouldn’t play on network. But it’s such a powerful conceptualization. And a brilliant one. And of course particularly with #MeToo and #TimesUp, the struggle for human rights and feminist rights is so much a part of the fabric of what Margaret created and what we’re doing and that’s a part of our every day existence — only magnified in a Trumpian world. So we get it! We wish that we weren’t so relevant, because the world would maybe be a better place. But we are.”

“We find ourselves a part of the conversation, we find ourselves part of the resistance,” Littlefield continued. “Women are dressing as handmaids and using that as a form of protest, all over the United States and now all over the world. So that’s pretty amazing to be a part of that, that our show is being talked about in such a powerful way. So first and foremost we better do a good dramatic television show. We’re not the news, we don’t want to mistake ourselves for the news. But I think if we’re good storytellers, we can’t escape the power of these themes.”

Littlefield says its possible the “relevancy” dissections will get in the way of fans just following Offred’s (Moss) story, but he has faith the two ways of watching can coexist.

“It may happen for some, I think that when our hours unfold I think we are pulled in by Offred/June. She is our rudder and I think that — I hope that — in some ways we’re just yanked into our world, our characters stories, their struggle and the drama that unfolds in each hour. And I’d like to think that the audience is completely enveloped by what we do. And yes, afterwards it can generate a very provocative and interesting and relevant discussion. But I like to think that what we’re offering the audience takes them on a journey.”

“The Handmaid’s Tale” Season 2 will be shaped by Offred/June’s pregnancy and her ongoing fight to free her future child from the dystopian horrors of Gilead. In the sophomore installment, Offred and others will fight against — or succumb to — the dark truth that “Gilead is within you.”

New episodes of “The Handmaid’s Tale” drop Wednesdays on Hulu.

Related stories from TheWrap:

'The Handmaid's Tale' Star Madeline Brewer Tells Us Janine Pretends Gilead 'Isn't So F—ed Up' (Exclusive Video)

'The Handmaid's Tale' Season 2: Ann Dowd Shares Her Theories About Aunt Lydia's Backstory (Video)

'The Handmaid's Tale' Cast on Pressure to Match Critical Darling's Success in Season 2 (Video)

'The Handmaid's Tale' Season 2: Samira Wiley Tells Us Why Moira's Newfound Freedom Isn't All Sweet (Video)