×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ Team Talks June on the Run and Moira’s New Life in Canada

SPOILER ALERT: Do not read until you’ve watched “Baggage,” the third episode of season two of “The Handmaid’s Tale.”

After three episodes of being on the run, June/Offred (Elisabeth Moss) has been captured — and will be sent back to her commander’s house in Gilead.

“This is a police state that really wants to hold onto these handmaids. The chances are that they would catch her — the chances are that she wouldn’t even get away,” showrunner Bruce Miller tells Variety. “We felt like she got away for a long time — she was much more successful than they ever would have wanted her to be in a totalitarian state. So our decision [to have her captured now] was just based on what the reality would be.”

The third episode, entitled “Baggage,” spent time with June as she waited for transportation much the way any “object or package would be smuggled across a border,” Miller says.

“It wasn’t like they planned to get her out, it kind of happened on the fly. …It doesn’t seem like there’s a train leaving for Canada every afternoon at four. It takes a while for them to string it together and I think that feeling of being in limbo was so interesting to me. Is this what freedom looks like? Freedom looks a lot like bondage in this particular case.”

As June waited, the show flashed back to show her life with her single activist mother (played by Cherry Jones), a character Miller notes was memorable in Margaret Atwood’s novel, as well as generally being a “fascinating look into a time and generation of feminism.”

Although he attempted to work the character into the first season, he admits it “didn’t work out,” and he saw an opening to bring her in as a way to show some of June’s strongest influences and inform why June’s resiliency is so strong.

Another one of June’s influences, Miller notes, is Moira (Samira Wiley). “Baggage” revealed Moira to be living in Canada with June’s husband Luke (O-T Fagbenle), working at a refugee center.

“Yes, this is better [because] I’m not getting raped every day and I have health insurance, I have money, I have all of these things — but the question arises of if just me, I, singular, escape, is that enough?” Wiley says. “Harriet Tubman escaped and then she created the Underground Railroad — so that is what’s on the forefront of Moira’s mind.”

But just because Moira has escaped Gilead physically does not mean she has left its horrors behind. When she picks up a woman in a bar, she tells her her name is Ruby — the name she went by when working at Jezebel’s in Gilead.

“One person’s damage is another person’s survival strategy,” explains Miller. And in the case of Moira, she’s “managing her pain” but has been “hollowed out a lot by Gilead.”

“It’s almost like she can never feel normal because nothing is normal,” Wiley adds. “In Gilead, even though it was horrible, it’s the devil you know. I think she has a real struggle in Canada of the question of identity — who am I? — and why am I here? What am I living for? Everything she cares about, really, is back in Gilead.”

As June struggled to escape, “Baggage” explored another part of the society in the econo-people — those who are just trying to live their lives, and perhaps remarkably, are somewhat allowed to. The man June enlisted to help her escape had a wife and son, and while they were expected to attend church on Sundays and not make much noise, they were still able to live as a family.

“A lot of it was to see what is the Gilead ideal of what a family should be — how do they support a middle class — and also just how those people live and what kind of small rebellions and small acts of faith keep them going,” Miller says.

Because the show is “June’s memoir” and told from her point of view, Miller says he doesn’t plan to reveal exactly how officials knew where to find her, nor what was going on in the Waterfords’ house when she was on the run.

“I thought her limited point of view was one of the things that made me the most scared. She doesn’t know everything that’s going on,” Miller says. “Also I found when she gets back, having not seen them, it’s much more terrifying because you have no idea where they are emotionally. She doesn’t know, so if we don’t know — we’re in the same position as she is.”

So the show stayed with her through her time in the Boston Globe’s offices, the econo-family’s apartment — and when she was the last person left alive in the little plane about to take off for the north.

“She is trying to maintain her sanity so she doesn’t end up being a husk of a person,” Miller says. “This stuff wears very hard on her — having to charm people, having to use her sexuality to manipulate people — all of that stuff is horrible because of the situation, and she does that strategically. But how much of that do you do before you start losing yourself?”

New episodes of “The Handmaid’s Tale” stream Wednesdays on Hulu.

Amber Dowling contributed to this story.

More TV

  • NBC's California O&Os to Launch 'California

    NBC's California O&Os to Launch 'California Live' Daily Daytime Series

    NBC’s three California O&Os are set to launch a live daily lifestyle series dubbed “California Live.” The series will air at 11:30 a.m. Monday through Friday across KNBC-TV Los Angeles, KNTV-TV San Francisco and KNSD San Diego. The show will have some modular segments that will be customized for each market, with an emphasis on [...]

  • TV Roundup: Netflix Sets 'Tidying Up

    TV News Roundup: Steven Yeun Joins 'Twilight Zone' at CBS All Access

    In Wednesday’s roundup, Netflix reveals the premiere date for “Tidying Up With Marie Kondo,” and Steven Yeun joins Jordan Peele’s “Twilight Zone” reboot. FIRST LOOKS  Variety has an exclusive behind-the-scenes first look at Season 2 of Showtime’s “SMILF,” featuring creator and star, Frankie Shaw. The new season, which premieres Sunday, Jan. 20 at 10:30 p.m. ET/PT, finds Bridgette trying to move [...]

  • Charlie Rose Sexual Harassment

    CBS News Settles Suit Alleging Harassment by Charlie Rose

    CBS News settled a lawsuit filed by three women who alleged they were harassed by former “CBS This Morning” co-anchor Charlie Rose, and claimed CBS did not act despite being aware of the situation. The amount awarded to the women was not disclosed at their request, according to a CBS News spokesperson. “The matter has [...]

  • 'Liga' Kicks Off At Ventana Sur's

    Ventana Sur: 'La Liga' Kicks Off at Buenos Aires' Animation!

    Spain’s Quirino Awards, Argentina’s Animation! and Mexico’s Pixelatl Festival, three key events in Ibero-American animation, will join forces to create La Liga (The League), as announced Wednesday at an Animation! round table hosted by the Quirino Awards, titled “Iberoamerican Alliance Models.” Speakers included Quirino Awards promoter José Luis Farias, Mexico’s Pixelatl director José Iñesta, Gonzalo [...]

  • Netflix - Marvel's The Defenders

    Don't Expect 'The Defenders' on Disney Streaming Service Any Time Soon (EXCLUSIVE)

    Fans of the Marvel Television series recently canceled by Netflix who hope to see the shows revived on Disney+ may be out of luck. Sources tell Variety that the deal for the original four Marvel shows includes a clause that prevents the characters from appearing in any non-Netflix series or film for at least two years after [...]

  • One Dollar CBS All Access

    'One Dollar' Canceled by CBS All Access After One Season

    “One Dollar” has the ignominious distinction of being the first CBS All Access original series to be canceled. Variety has confirmed that the streaming service will not be bringing the drama series back for a second season. The series was set in a small rust belt town in post-recession America, where a one-dollar bill changing [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content