The Handmaid's Tale Season 2 ended with several massive shockers, but none perhaps so wild as Emily's story. After Season 1 saw her forced to undergo FGM and then run over a Guardian in a desperate attempt to escape Gilead, she was sent to the Colonies to die of radiation exposure. But a shortage of handmaids meant she was brought back, and once again under the care of Aunt Lydia, as her sanity began to snap. What happened to Aunt Lydia in Handmaid's Tale Season 2? She finally got what was coming to her.
Aunt Lydia was first introduced in flashbacks by June, recalling her time in the Red Center being trained for Handmaid duties. The Aunts are the women put in charge of those who are forced into fertility servitude, religious true-believers who see their job of "rehabilitating fallen women" to the role of "serving God and the state" by bringing wanted children into the world to be raised by those with the means to support them.
Aunt Lydia is the truest of true believers, not only pushing women like June and Emily to knuckle under to the ways of Gilead but also pushing those like Serena Joy to behave as well, as fans saw at the beginning of Season 2 after June fails to escape to Canada.
Lydia spends most of Season 2 monitoring both Serena Joy and June as June's pregnancy progresses. For a couple of months, June seems to have lost the will to fight or run, obeying Lydia at every turn. June and Lydia even find common ground, after another Wife, Naomi nearly loses the baby she was provided with by the handmaid Janine, and both June and Lydia are instrumental in getting the child the help it needs, as well as Janine access to her child.
But these things are short lived. After Lydia continues to put June down and reminds her of the place in the pecking order, June once again runs away. Meanwhile, Lydia is dealing with the return of Emily. The terrorist attack at the Red Center meant several disgraced Handmaids have returned and need placements. Emily is assigned to Commander Joseph Lawrence.
It's actually the best place Emily could have landed. Commander Lawrence may be "the architect of Gilead's economy," but he's no true believer. He's a man who wrote academic books where he treated people as widgets, and now he's lived to see those theories be put into practice as a way for religious zealots to enslave those they see as beneath them.
He's not going to touch Emily, he's not going to rape her, and he's not going to force her to bare his children. In fact, when Lydia asks how "the ceremony" went, he lies and said, "Splendidly."
But Lydia can't leave well enough alone. Like with June she has to make sure Emily knows her place, telling the handmaid how lucky she is a Commander would sleep with someone "as perverse and degenerate" amongst god's flock. And with that Emily snaps, stabbing Lydia in the back and kicking her over the railing and down the stairwell.
Is Lydia dead? The trailers for Season 3 show she survives. But how the experience changes her remains to be seen.