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‘Handmaid’s Tale’ Finale: Creator Explains June’s Choice, Where Gilead Goes in Season 3

Bruce Miller tells us what that second season cliffhanger means for the next installment of the Hulu adaptation

(Spoiler alert: Please don’t read ahead unless you’ve seen the Season 2 finale of “The Handmaid’s Tale,” “The Word.”)

June almost made it. She and her newborn daughter Nicole almost made it out of Gilead. Actually, the infant did make it out of the dystopian regime, just without her mommy.

The Season 2 finale of “The Handmaid’s Tale,” entitled “The Word,” ended with Elisabeth Moss’ character making a giant sacrifice, by giving her baby girl Holly/Nicole to Emily (Alexis Bledel) to look after, instead of joining the two on their free ride out of the dystopian society. Instead, the mother of two decides to go against the plan carried out with help from a ton of Marthas on Wednesday’s episode and stay behind. And creator/showrunner Bruce Miller says that’s mainly because of the fact she’s a mother of two.

“There was incredible amount of push back from me and from everybody else,” Miller told reporters during a conference call about the Hulu series’ Season 2 finale on Monday. “All we want is for her to get out. So even though story-wise you wanna do one thing, emotionally all you want is the other answer. So I guess all we wanted was her to get out, personally. But yeah, I mean, I knew from the middle of season one that this would happen. So because of that, we were working towards this. I mean, once we started to feel the kind of deep vein of regret that Offred was feeling, or June was feeling, at the prospect of leaving Hannah behind and how it was tearing her apart, we felt like after she saw her and after she kinda was faced with the idea of, ‘I am gonna be able to get one child to safety, and now I just have to decide what to do myself.'”

“And so, I don’t think it’s a choice about whether you’re gonna stay behind to try to rescue either your child, I think it’s a need to. I wouldn’t be able to leave one of my children behind. So, I think it wasn’t, when we got to it, it felt very natural to the character. It is an impossible choice, but we are faced with those all the time, so it is interesting to see what she does.”

But don’t worry, because Miller says “we have not seen the last of Emily and Nicole” on his TV adaptation of Margaret Atwood’s iconic novel.

“And I don’t know that we’re gonna see Nicole going to her first prom very soon — or Emily, for that matter,” he added. “But we have not seen the last of them. We’ll follow them on their journey after they leave Offred in the tunnel, in the finale, we will be following them.”

“But Emily is a fascinating character, Alexis just has brought her to life in a way that is subtle and complicated and strong and very believable and a really remarkable performance. Subtle beyond subtle and just heartbreaking beyond heartbreaking. And I think that Nicole is quite a popular young girl. There’s lots of people who want her including a whole country of Gilead if she happens to get out.”

“So I think that you’re, definitely it’s a huge, huge puzzle piece of our world,” Miller continued. “It’s June’s child and just as much as Hannah has been a huge part of our show, Nicole’s gonna be a huge part of our show whether it’s in influence or whether it’s in corporeal reality with someone holding them in their arms. She is the force to be reckoned with. She is the next generation that they’re all doing all of this for.”

As for where Gilead is headed in Season 3 (which doesn’t yet have a premiere date, but is already being created by Miller and company) and after, we’re “returning to both Jezebel’s and the colonies and not just these colonies but other colonies.”

“In the book, it’s underlined that, there are colonies that are where teams of women are taking care of toxic waste and there are colonies where teams of women are picking apples and working in the economy and doing all sorts of other things,” Miller says. “I’d love to see the factory where they make Handmaid costumes, but that’s just me because I figure it’s terrifying to see a whole wall of Handmaid costumes and realize each one represents a woman in June’s position.”

“But we will be revisiting the colonies,” he added. “It was really a such a stunning achievement in terms of art direction and cinematography and directing. It was so beautiful and I would love to continue to dive deeper into kind of how Gilead uses the discarded people, how they used the discarded women.”

“In terms of Jezebel’s also, I would really like to return to Jezebel’s. The machinations of that place were so fascinating, kind of just everything about it was seen, kind of made into this concentration that you have in one place,” he adds. “And all the scene in Gilead is going through there, the drugs and the black market stuff, and sex, and sex as trade and perversity, and all sorts of heretical sexual gains, and it’s a mess. And I like a mess.”

“So Jezebel’s and also perhaps those kinds of places in Gilead’s secret places that men have built for themselves to escape the other world they built from themselves, which I just think is sad and awful and also fascinating,” Miller said.

And the executive producer — who recently signed an overall deal with Hulu and the series’ studio MGM — has some time to get there, as he doesn’t foresee “The Handmaid’s Tale” ending anytime soon. But it will end, and when it does he has a plan for how it will conclude.

“Well, we plot it in two different spheres,” Miller said, when asked if he has an idea of when they will wrap up the story. “Three, if you count the kind of moment-by-moment, how are you gonna get through each scene and each moment? And then we do season-by-season. OK this is the shape of the season, this is the arc of the season, this is where we’re going, where we’re weaving towards. And the reason we do that is not to, you don’t want to do it too clearly because if you do it too clearly then everybody knows where you’re going.”

“But we wanna have an idea of possible endings,” Miller says. “And so that’s where we are at the beginning of each season. But overall, I just look at the cards that are up in my office of things that I found interesting in the book. And I start looking at how many of those cards have I done and how many of those cards have I not done.”

“And every time I take one down I put two up,” he added. “What I’d really like, I don’t know how long we will go. But what I want is, when the shows ends you can put it in a box and put it on your shelf next to the book and it is a good, solid, well-thought out, well-told companion piece.”

“And so I don’t want it certainly to live beyond the time where it feels relevant and well done because I think that would be a disservice to Margaret’s world and Margaret’s book,” Miller says.

Based on how “relevant” the general public seems to feel the series is right now, it has plenty of seasons to go.

Season 2 of “The Handmaid’s Tale” is available for streaming now on Hulu.