Emily's return from the Colonies earlier this season on The Handmaid's Tale was a miracle born of necessity. Ofglen 2's terrorist attack killed off two and a half dozen handmaids, leaving a shortage in the area. But Emily knows her time out in the rougher parts of Gilead changed her, and she's not the sort of top prize broodmare anyone wants. But though she murdered one person already, is Emily likely to do so again? Because the scene between Emily and Aunt Lydia in The Handmaid's Tale Season 2 finale suggests Emily has evolved into a much more dangerous woman than anyone realized. Warning: Spoilers for The Handmaid's Tale's Season 2 finale follow.
Emily's mental state was already questionable when she got the knife from the kitchen and walked into Commander Lawrence's study. Was she thinking of killing him? His wife? Herself? When she revealed it was the night for the Ceremony, it seemed more likely the knife was for him. But Lawrence wasn't having any of this Ceremony nonsense. (I mean, it's not like his wife was going to participate in the farce.)
He sends Emily away in irritation. Of all people, he's not going to do that with her.
When Lydia bustles in the next morning, it's clear she hasn't one clue how this household operates and is planning to poke and prod at a maybe-already-pregnant Emily. Lawrence lied and said it went splendidly, most likely assuming Lydia would go away.
But Emily has a moment of dissociation when Lydia tells her this is a warning sign. Lydia, not actually aware of anything other than her own assumptions, thinks Emily's recalcitrance is ingratitude. She sneers at Emily in frustration, thinking someone who is so degenerate cannot see a good thing. She walks away, practically throwing up her hands, grumbling like she cut out Emily's tongue.
And that's when Emily pulls out the knife and stabs Lydia in the back.
Emily punches Lydia in the head as she falls backward, knocking her over the second floor railing and down the curved stairwell. Emily follows after Lydia, kicking her in rage until she rolls all the way down to the marble foyer, bleeding and groaning.
The one-eyed Martha races in and sees Lydia bleeding out on the floor. She calls to Lawrence to phone for an ambulance, and then herds Emily back upstairs to her room, locking her in.
Of all the moments, this last one is probably the most odd. It's one thing for Emily to have just stabbed and killed the head of the Red Center and the woman in charge of the handmaids in this sector. It's another to hide her off in her room and tell her to stay, instead of arresting her like Commander Waterford would.
Emily is bizarrely jubilant even after being locked back up. Punishing the Wife in the Colonies was a proxy kill. Aunt Lydia is the real person she blames for much of what's happened to her. She's the figurehead for everything Gilead has done, even though Lydia, one could argue, is merely a servant working to maintain the world Commander Lawrence came up with.
Of course, killing Lydia won't bring America back. It won't even stop handmaids being created in their little corner of Gilead. All it's done is made it so Emily will be sentenced to hang or drown.
Or, it would, if Lawrence wasn't someone desperately attempting to atone. The moment he puts her in the car and they start driving, it's obvious she won't be arrested for her crimes. Lawrence has arranged to get her to Canada. After everything he did to make Gilead, it's the least he can do.