It’s official: The Handmaid’s Tale is coming back for a fourth season. Hulu announced the news on July 26, 2019, and now it’s time to look to what’s next for the people of Gilead and those who’ve escaped to Canada.
Here’s everything we know about Season 4 of The Handmaid’s Tale.
It will premiere in April 2021.
The first three episodes of the next season arrive on Hulu on April 28, 2021. New trailers reveal some seriously tense scenes, and teased what’s next for June and Gilead.
Hulu also shared an official synopsis for the new season.
“In the upcoming fourth season of The Handmaid’s Tale, June (Elisabeth Moss) strikes back against Gilead as a fierce rebel leader, but the risks she takes bring unexpected and dangerous new challenges. Her quest for justice and revenge threatens to consume her and destroy her most cherished relationships.”
There will be 10 episodes.
Scaling back from the 13-episode length of previous seasons, Season 4 will consist of only 10 episodes, just like Season 1. “Some storylines just seem to shake out as a 10-episode story, in my eyes,” show-runner Bruce Miller told IndieWire in January 2020.
The structure will allow the show to give ample time to delve into a smaller part of the story, as multiple arcs won’t be used this season, the outlet reported. “I feel like it gives us a little more freedom because you can rely more on one propulsive element,” Miller added.
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Elisabeth Moss will definitely be back.
Miller revealed to BAZAAR.com that the show is entirely from June’s perspective:
The show is all from June’s point of view—all of it, including scenes with other people. Those are scenes where either she knows those people well enough to piece together what would have happened, or at some point afterwards, someone who was there told her what happened. Every single thing we see is something she either knows or would know, because she’s telling us this story … The voiceover is her memoir.
It’s official: Without June (and by extension, Moss), there’d be no Handmaid’s Tale.
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Showrunner Bruce Miller wasn’t sure where the story would go next.
Last August, creator and executive producer Miller revealed to BAZAAR.com that he doesn’t always know next steps when he’s writing a cliffhanger. “I feel like an audience member could totally smell that, if I’m setting up how I’m going to get out,” he said. Now that June and the Marthas succeeding in transporting hundreds of children out of Gilead, there are several ways that plot can go, Miller says. In one version, Gilead goes nuclear. “Gilead thinks of them as their children, and also the most valuable resource in their world,” Miller points out. But at the same time, the country might want to minimise the PR disaster that’s about to unfold. “How weak does it make you look to the world if you can’t even keep track of what ends up being probably 165 children?”
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Nick will be back.
Miller told BAZAAR.com that he wanted to explore Nick’s (Max Minghella) history in Season 3 but ran out of episodes to accomplish that. The show-runner confirmed to TV Guide and Entertainment Tonight that he plans to rectify that in Season 4.
And Nick will play a big role in the new season.
In the new trailer for Season 4 that dropped on April 15, Nick is front and center and it’s clear that a big question in the new season will revolve around where his true loyalties lie—with June or Gilead.
Watch the trailer yourself below:
Elisabeth Moss wants to get Hannah out of Gilead for good.
“I think it’s time,” she told Entertainment Tonight of what she wants to see in Season 4.
Serena Joy will have to “answer for” her crimes.
The Season 3 finale saw Fred (Joseph Fiennes) betray Serena (Yvonne Strahovski) after she got him arrested in Episode 12; the Canadian authorities ultimately detained Serena for orchestrating Nick’s impregnation of June in Season 1. Miller told TV Guide that Serena “[is now] in a position to answer for the horrible things” she’s done in the past.
Ann Dowd wants to see a reckoning for Aunt Lydia.
In an interview with BAZAAR.com, the actress revealed she believes the formidable Aunt Lydia “has to take responsibility for her beliefs and her actions.”
Amanda Brugel has a theory about Rita she’d love to use on the show.
The actress has long been a Margaret Atwood fan, and even wrote her university thesis on Rita’s back story, she told BAZAAR.com. “I suggested that Rita was a Handmaid and then somehow managed to bribe a guard or someone because it was easier to be a Martha,” Brugel said. “I don’t know if they’ll use that, but I’ve been pushing that since Season 1!“
Additionally, Brugel told Entertainment Tonight that she wants to depict the first conversation between Rita and the Waterfords after Rita’s escape to Canada. “I really want to see that first initial conversation with the Waterfords, when we’re on an even playing field, when there’s finally no hierarchy or roles,” Brugel said. “We’ve learned that Rita has such an empathetic heart, and I’m wondering if it will turn now that she doesn’t have to be as empathetic anymore. I wonder if someone’s gonna get punched.” Brugel also joked that she’d love to see Rita gather a group of Gilead refugees to help June escape to Canada for good.
We’ll see more action in Canada.
Season 3 abandoned many of the plot lines taking place in Canada and Little America, including Emily (Alexis Bledel) and Sylvia (Clea Duvall) and Luke (O-T Fagbenle) and Moira (Samira Wiley). Miller promises we’ll return there in Season 4. “The show has an obligation to represent an accurate refugee experience, because so many of our characters are either trapped or they’re going to be refugees,” he told Entertainment Tonight.
Executive producer Warren Littlefield ominously added that some of our saved heroes might end up leaving Canada. “We have a lot of characters in Little America who have found some peace, but they’ve also found that Gilead stays within you, and you have to carry that forward, and just because you are in Canada to start the year doesn’t mean you’ll stay there,” he told Entertainment Tonight. Littlefield was being purposefully cryptic, but the most obvious read of his statement is that someone who escaped Gilead is captured and returned to it…
Commander Lawrence is back too.
Miller confirmed to TV Guide that he and his colleagues “love Bradley [Whitford] and want him to be part of the future of the show.”
Whitford later confirmed to The Wrap that he was involved in Season 4’s production before the coronavirus brought Hollywood to a pause. “It was funny, I was in my Lawrence getup and reading on my phone for the first time about making sure you wash your hands, and whatever you do, don’t touch your face,” he said. “And while I was reading it, three different people touched my face, as they do on sets.”
He added that he and Moss “just want to get back” to work. “[The] idea of being able to walk onto that set and have that writing with those actors and actually be together and look into Lizzie’s eyes and find out where this weird scene goes is something I think we’re all starving for.”
The confirmed cast for Handmaid’s Tale Season 4 includes Elisabeth Moss, Joseph Fiennes, Yvonne Strahovski, Samira Wiley, Alexis Bledel, Ann Dowd, Max Minghella, Madeline Brewer, O-T Fagbenle, Amanda Brugel, Bradley Whitford, and Sam Jaeger, Hulu announced.
A Haunting of Hill House alum has joined the cast.
Per Deadline, McKenna Grace has been cast in Season 4 of The Handmaid’s Tale as Mrs. Keyes, who is described as “a sharply intelligent, teenaged wife of a much older Commander who rules her farm and household with confidence.” According to the publication, “She has a rebellious, subversive streak, and is calm and pious on the outside with turmoil, even insanity, on the inside.” Grace played a young Theodora Crain in Season 1 of Netflix’s The Haunting of Hill House.
Production was delayed due to the pandemic.
Back in March 2020, Moss took to Instagram to reveal that production on Season 4 had shut down due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The actress revealed, “This show is my life and this cast and crew is my family. Nothing is more important than making sure they and everyone around them is safe. We hope to be back in production as soon as it’s safe to do so.”
Meanwhile, Moss revealed to Deadline, “Our writers are still writing, and they’re continuing to write the season obviously remotely from their own homes separately, and that train is still chugging along… no human’s life is worth a TV show.”
In September 2020, Deadline confirmed that, according to its sources, production had officially resumed “in Toronto two weeks ago.”
Watch this space for more updates!
This article originally appeared on Harper’s BAZAAR US.