The Handmaid's Tale Season 2 has been an exercise in worldbuilding beyond the page, as the series continues beyond the story as written in Margaret Atwood's novel. In doing so, it has to start considering details unnecessary on the page. For someone like Offred, who is without any sort of geopolitical perspective, what does it matter how much of America is in Gilead's hands? But with the Waterfords on a diplomatic mission to Canada, it becomes a question. What states are part of Gilead in The Handmaid's Tale? Is there anything left of America? Warning: Spoilers for The Handmaid's Tale Season 2 follow.
This past week's episode reveals there is indeed a diplomat "from the American government" in Canada along with the Waterfords, and he's very interested in talking to Serena Joy, offering her an escape. "We can have you on a flight to Hawaii in an hour," he says. There, she can write books, undergo fertility treatments, and have a child of her own — all the things she could ever want.
But is Hawaii all there is of America? For those who might have held out hope the American government still held sway over at least part of the 48 contiguous states, it's bad news. Speaking at the For Your Consideration event for The Handmaid’s Tale last week, executive producer Warren Littlefield revealed that America is now two states: Hawaii and Alaska.
Speaking to Variety, Littlefield clarified just how much of the country has fallen to Gilead's rule:
What we know, and we help define it when Serena Joy and Fred in episode nine go on a diplomatic mission in Toronto where they clarify, there’s basically Alaska and Hawaii are the only two states that are still America. So it’s been a pretty massive takeover.
As for Serena Joy's chance to fly the coop, Elisabeth Moss, who is both an executive producer and stars as Offred, says her co-star's character is not going to flip on a dime.
There’s no way that Serena can just turn into a resistance fighter, that’s just not the reality. But what we’ve always connected on, Yvonne and I, is the idea of there are these two women, polar opposites in this world, and they’re both unhappy, and they’re both not satisfied and they’re both victims in a lot of ways. And finding ways they can connect about that, obviously the big thing that connects them is the child growing inside June, which is my child, but also in a way, Serena’s. So that’s something that bonds them in a way that is very palpable.
Speaking of the baby, this week's trailer reveals Offred, despite all her hopes of escaping with her unborn child, will fail. Her body betrays her and she goes into labor while out shopping.
Moss talked about the decisions leading to Offred ultimately giving in earlier in the season, which leads to her having her baby in Gilead.
I think it’s really important to show her hitting rock bottom, because that’s what would happen, you know. And it’s important to show that vulnerability, that’s one of those things that I love about June in the book so much, is she’s not a perfect character and she has her weaknesses and there’s got to be a breaking point for everybody, but what happens after that breaking point is our story.
The question is now, what happens after the baby is born, or if the baby will even come with no problems. As is made clear in the series, the infertility problem isn't just conceiving. Baby who are born don't necessarily survive very long.
Perhaps we should all be blessing the fruit in hopes of the survival of both June and her child next week.