The Handmaid's Tale Season 1 was a brutally too-close-to-home look at what could happen to our society if we stop paying attention and bury our heads in the sand. It ended on a terrifying note, as Offred (real name June, played by Elisabeth Moss) was packed into a truck, perhaps betrayed to the Eyes, her fate unknown. But just as terrible was the story of Ofsteven, formerly Ofglen (real name Emily, played by Alex Bledel) whose fate was completely unknown. Now, new The Handmaid's Tale Season 2 photos give us a horrifying glimpse of where she wound up.
Fans knew that Emily would be back this season. Bledel was originally cast as a guest actress in the series. (Hence her winning the Best Guest Actress Emmy for her turn in the role last year.) For Season 2 she was promoted to a series regular, which meant that we would be spending a decent amount of screentime with her. But where? Emily is part of the Mayday rebellion, a known troublemaker, and "deviant" for her sexual orientation. If Offred is being taken off for questioning by the Eyes, the chances that Emily was safe were practically nil.
The good news is Emily is still alive, but it may not be for long.
This is a new segment of the country of Gilead, one that was talked about in hushed tones but never seen in Season 1 (or in the original novel the series is based on.) It's the place known as "The Colonies," and as we can see, they too have their own uniform color of a drab blue-grey.
"The Colonies" are west and south of Gilead, which is (at least in the novels and as far as we know also on the show) centered around the New York/Boston/New England area of the former United States. The Colonies are the northern mid-western states, large swaths of land that were once farmland but have been rendered uninhabitable via radioactive material — assumedly the remnants of a nuclear device going off, and part of what caused the United States to collapse.
Technically, going out to "work in the colonies" is not a life sentence. But the radiation is such that those who are sent out for a five-year term don't last for one.
Emily isn't the only one who is out in the Colonies, for the record. As we see in the Season 2 trailer, Ofwarren (real name Janine, played by Madeline Brewer) also was sent out there after the Handmaid rebellion that refused to stone her to death in the finale.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, there will also be a brand new character involved in the Colonies storyline:
Marisa Tomei will be playing the wife of a commander, appearing in the second episode of the season, focused largely on the Colonies.
When asked by Entertainment Weekly earlier this week if living in the Colonies was worse than living in Gilead, Bledel responded that both are soul crushing.
Being forced to exist in either Gilead or the Colonies threatens to destroy a person’s soul in different ways. Handmaids are forced to follow an extremely limiting set of rules to comply with the mandates of the Gileadean regime, including the horrific monthly ceremony. Anyone in Gilead would be terrified to be sent to the Colonies. Everything from the soil the unwomen turn over to the water they use to wash is toxic in the Colonies, so a person’s health begins to rapidly deteriorate as soon as they get there. They know they will die there, all the while forced to do hard labor without decent food to eat or clean living conditions.
The Handmaid's Tale Season 2 will arrive on Hulu on April 25, 2018 with two episodes, before changing over to a more traditional weekly episodic release every Wednesday.