The end is coming.
When The Handmaid’s Tale was initially announced on Hulu, most assumed the streaming series would only go one season, as the book it’s based on is not very long. Five seasons later, the story has gone further than anyone could have imagined. Now, with one season left to wrap up the show (and a sequel in the works), these Handmaid’s Tale Season 6 theories hint at just how much more there is to explore.
Warning: Spoilers for The Handmaid’s Tale Season 5 finale follow. Viewers assumed if June left Canada, it would be to return to Gilead for Hannah. Her fleeing to America with Nichole, on the same train Serena Joy and her new baby are also on, was a twist almost as shocking as Janine being taken by the Eyes at the word of Commander Lawrence. But for those who have read author Margaret Atwood’s follow-up novel, The Testaments, these reveals make sense.
After The Handmaid’s Tale’s success on Hulu, Atwood was inspired to write The Testaments, which provides a blueprint for where these characters are headed onscreen: Since The Handmaid’s Tale showrunner, Bruce Miller, is adapting The Testaments for Hulu as a sequel, it seems like he’s setting the characters up for their fates on the page.
The Testaments does not directly reveal the fates of June, Serena, or Janine. However, rumors suggest June never made it to America. That leaves Season 6 open for speculation, and the theories about what could happen are all over the place.
Janine Will Get Out Of Gilead
June burning her last bridge with Lawrence, followed by Nick’s fist to his face at the wedding, would lead most to assume Commander Lawrence is now fully Team Gilead. He even married the terrible Mrs. Putnam! But Lawrence’s promise to make Gilead a better place was never to June or Nick. It was to his first wife, Eleanor, and he doesn’t seem likely to break it just because others aren’t on board.
That’s good for Janine, who is already discovering the backbone June always knew was in her. Lawrence may very well be calling the Eyes in an underhanded attempt to help Janine get to Canada. And if so, the moment Lawrence gives her the opportunity, Janine will be out of Gilead for good.
Luke Will Be Executed
The Testaments never reveals what happens to Luke, though it suggests he didn’t disappear with June. That makes their separation at the end of Season 5 seem possibly permanent. It also suggests Luke won’t make it out of prison alive, though whether it’s a fellow inmate who shanks him, Canadian officials who off him, or he’s secretly handed over to Gilead remains to be seen.
Naomi Will Murder Lawrence
A theory that didn’t play out in the Season 5 finale, but viewers aren’t ready to let go of, is Naomi Putnam taking out Lawrence. There are an easy half-dozen motives. Lawrence ordered Commander Putnam’s execution; he stood impassively and watched it happen. There’s also that hilariously gross marriage proposal, not to mention how he acted at the wedding itself.
All it would take is Namoi discovering the truth about his promise to Eleanor to send her over the edge, or even better, uncovering that he was helping June for the majority of the show. Perhaps she’ll find out he even helped Janine get out. Any of those would quickly drive Naomi to do it for the good of Gilead.
Nick Will Abandon Gilead
The show has thrown everything in the way of June and Nick being together, but with Rose walking out on him, there’s nothing left for Nick in Gilead.
It’s high time Nick went to Canada. If Luke is removed from the picture, nothing is standing in the way of him tracking down June, giving the two their sort-of happily ever after.
Gilead Will Demote Aunt Lydia
Poor Aunt Lydia spent all season trying to reconcile her belief in Gilead’s system with the reality of how “her girls” are treated. Janine being taken from her by the Eyes at Lawrence’s command looks like the last straw.
However, as other aunts have pointed out, Lydia’s behavior hasn’t gone unnoticed, and her attachment to “her girls” is not considered dignified. If she tries to rescue Janine, others could use it against her, leading to the ultimate humiliation: Lydia being demoted, or worse, forced into early retirement.
Serena Will Make It To America
There are a lot of reasons June might fail to get to Hawaii — Luke going on trial, for example, or Nick sending her a message that he’s coming to Canada. Heck, she might even turn back to rescue Janine. Serena betraying June still seems the most likely outcome, forcing June and Nichole to stay in Canada while Serena and Noah fly away.
But there’s one other possibility: Serena’s complete redemption. June may turn back, but as Luke did with her, she may force Serena to take Noah and get on that plane. Serena could wind up in America and spend the rest of her life knowing she never deserved this second chance at freedom, but deciding to live up to June’s vision of her as someone who did.
The Handmaid’s Tale Seasons 1 through 5 are streaming on Hulu. Season 6 is expected in 2023.