SPOILER ALERT: Do not read if you have not yet watched “First Blood,” the sixth episode of the second season of “The Handmaid’s Tale.”
This season of “The Handmaid’s Tale” has been an explosive one, and the sixth episode lived up to that promise, ending with a bang — literally as the second Ofglen the show has introduced (Tattiawna Jones) walked into a meeting strapped with a suicide vest and blew herself up, along with a number of handmaids and commanders.
“We were surprised that they had access to this kind of thing, so what does this mean? That’s the question I wanted everybody to ask,” showrunner Bruce Miller tells Variety.
Noting that this particular handmaid never appeared to be connected to the resistance before, Miller says the important things to think about now is not just how she got her hands on items needed for a bomb but also who may have chosen her to commit this act.
“In this action, she killed a number of handmaids,” Miller points out. “Mayday is not necessarily a handmaids’ protection organization. They want to hurt Gilead [and] killing handmaids is a good way to hurt Gilead.”
Therefore, the bombing isn’t just a turning point in Gilead’s society but also for Offred/June (Elisabeth Moss) and her understanding of the resistance and how powerful it may be.
“The natural crackdown that comes in Gilead after [the bombing] is huge and terrible. So you realize that being a rebel is nice on paper but in real life it’s horrible and we have no training in how to do it. We’re blundering our way through it with Offred [who] doesn’t know what to do,” says Miller.
Star Joseph Fiennes, whose character Commander Fred Waterford was in harm’s distance of the blast, says the show is also exploring the idea of “how far can you go to resist without falling into the thing you’re resisting against and becoming that same mirror image?”
“What happens if you sacrifice your own?” Fiennes says. “There may be people who say, ‘Listen I want to survive this. It may only go on for two years — and then you’ve just taken the opportunity away. So there’s a great discussion to be had, and that’s what I love about it.”
Miller notes that it’s important that the show depict the very harsh realities of life in this society, which often comes with death and destruction. But he adds that because the show is from June’s point of view, “the people that she’s picking to tell the stories about are not people who she knew for five minutes and then died and there were no repercussions.”
“In some ways,” Miller says, “her story has naturally selected the survivors.”
New episodes of “The Handmaid’s Tale” stream Wednesdays on Hulu.