All season long, Serena Joy has had one goal: to have a child. The show goes as far as to suggest her building of Gilead was, in part, a reordering of the entire world just to have a baby placed in her arms. But in doing so, she's lost everything, including her purpose in life other than gardening, and every time she tries to claw back somehow even a fraction of power, it's torn out of her hands. What will happen to Serena in The Handmaid's Tale Season 3? Warning: Spoilers for The Handmaid's Tale's Season 2 finale follow.
Serena Joy spent all season pushing Offred down to raise herself up as the mother of the baby-to-be. While June fought back here and there, in the end, she mostly knuckled under to the point of agreeing to call her own baby by Serena's chosen name, Nicole. Serena Joy could be considered the winner here. But Eden's death changed everything, as the reality of this world she built flooded in, and what it could do to her child.
According to Yvonne Strahovski, Eden's death was the moment when Serena began to realize her own child would not be safe in Gilead. Speaking to The Hollywood Reporter, she said:
I think she sees Eden as everybody does, as someone who's very pure and pious who follows the rules and has a pure heart and believes in the society that we're living in.
She's not wrong. This is a world designed for someone like Eden, a young, fresh-faced, bible thumping, wannabe-baby-having innocent. She went into her marriage with Nick with no concept of how screwed up the entire scenario was, where underaged teen girls are handed, sight unseen, to men in their 30s as a form of promotion. And it killed her.
I think she imagines her daughter to be similar in a lot of ways, that similar attitude of this belief in this world, and to see that and see Eden be treated and punished in that way, and then reflect back on if someone like Eden can be treated that way and if someone like Serena, who's at the top of the hierarchy in where women stand in the society… if Serena can be treated that way and be punished and be beaten and lose a finger, then what is in store for my daughter?
Serena Joy has undoubtedly been ill-treated by her husband, beaten in front of Offred, and then dragged away and tortured for having the gall to ask to teach her child to read. It's not such a leap to decide her baby is safer in Canada, even though Serena was the one who built this world.
When it comes to Season 3, Strahovski realizes Offred's eventual choice to hand over the baby to someone else may change her view of allowing Nicole to go to Canada.
At the same time, would she think that it was for the best? I mean, sure, of course that would create a fight: 'I thought you were going with her!' It's such a weird thing to try and comprehend.
Throw in Aunt Lydia accusing Emily of trying to kill her, and then it's not just "Offred didn't go with the baby." Offred handed the baby off to a would-be murderer. With that to factor in, Serena Joy could find herself back on the side of Commander Waterford, fighting to get Canada to hand their baby back.
Will this be how it plays out? Or will Serena Joy break through her denial and start fighting to take down Gilead alongside Offred? The Handmaid's Tale Season 3 will return to Hulu next year.