Here's what's next for the acclaimed television drama, starring Elisabeth Moss
CTV DramaIt has been almost two years since The Handmaid’s Tale left viewers on a bittersweet cliffhanger, wondering if the third-season finale would be the end for our red-cloaked vigilante. After pulling off the Herculean feat of evacuating 86 children from Gilead, June (Elisabeth Moss), in another near-miss situation where she almost gets captured and killed by the totalitarian powers-that-be, is left for dead in the woods.
Anyone thinking a mere bullet is enough to end this handmaid’s fight for freedom should think again. The indestructible June will soon be back on her feet, this time facing a whole new set of challenges as the fourth season takes her on the run from those who would like to see her hang on the wall of traitors.
One of those people is June’s most worthy adversary, Aunt Lydia (Ann Dowd), who seeks redemption after being punished for her inability to keep the Handmaids in line. “One of the things that we deal with this season is power and what real power means and who has it,” says Moss. “Power isn’t always what it looks like. It can be something that is destructive. And I think, for June and Lydia, they are both seeking power on their own journeys but in very different ways and with different objectives.”
CTV DramaTheir cat-and-mouse game continues long after the curtain ought to have closed on this dysfunctional relationship. “[Lydia] is just obsessed with June and has so much of her personal worth tied up in how much damage June is wreaking out in the world that she feels responsible for,” says showrunner Bruce Miller. “And although they are enemies in this story, they are inextricably linked. It’s fascinating to have two people who really would like to be both rid of each other be tangled up with each other all the time.”
With June’s former masters Fred (Joseph Fiennes) and Serena Waterford (Yvonne Strahovski) under arrest in Toronto, June’s tally of enemies is shorter, but that doesn’t mean her fight against Gilead is over. And yet, as hinted at strongly in previous season, the fight that may have started out as altruistic now threatens to consume our hero and destroy her most cherished relationships.
If it seems like June’s emotional strength has grown exponentially in the past four years, the same can be said for Moss behind the scenes. The erstwhile Mad Men actress not only stars on the intense drama, but has been an executive producer of the show since the beginning. “I had [produced] a couple tiny films before but never anything on this level,” says Moss. “I said in the very beginning, ‘I don’t want just the credit. I want to be able to participate, and I want to be able to learn.’ ” Hers is a professional evolution that continues to impress Miller. “When [Moss] came on the show, she was focused very much on the performance and building that character,” Miller reflects. “The intensity and the focus that she brings to acting, she now brings to everything.”
CTV DramaThis season, Moss’s contributions include directing for the first time. “This is a very strange year, and Lizzie, in a difficult and impossible year, has taken on an incredible job,” says Miller. “Directing your own self and your own show, the level of difficulty is remarkable; and you don’t see any of it in the work. The work is just effortless and beautiful and perfect.”
So well did Moss at the helm, that she ended up directing a total of three episodes this year. “I just felt that I was up to the task after a few years of watching and learning and working with some really incredible directors and watching them with the intention of possibly doing it at some point,” she explains. “I was really lucky in the material that I got as well, which takes a lot of pressure off you. When you’ve got great scenes to direct, it makes your job so much easier.”
CTV DramaWith an early season-five renewal, the question asked by fans and the creative team alike is: How far can we take this story? According to Miller, the answer is: Further. “Every time I come upon a season, I don’t have any idea what we are going to do. And every time I get to the end of the season, I’m thrilled with what we’ve done and feel like I can go on and on forever,” he says. “I’m so proud of the work and so excited about just how crazy the story is. Every time I sit down and think, ‘Well, if this happens to June, would that be interesting?’ the answer is yes. As long as I have that—and as long as I can rope Lizzie into it—I think I will keep going.”
The Handmaid’s Tale airs Wednesdays at 6 p.m. & 7:15 p.m. on CTV Drama