The Handmaid’s Tale season 2 recap: What happened in the last series?

The Handmaid’s Tale season three returns to Hulu tomorrow (Wednesday, June 5) following on from the dramatic series two ending. June Osborne (played by Elisabeth Moss) will be returning to Gilead in the show inspired by Margaret Atwood’s dystopian novel. Ahead of the return, here’s everything you need to know. 

WARNING: This article contains spoilers about The Handmaid’s Tale season 2 

What happened in The Handmaid’s Tale season 2? 

The Handmaid’s Tale is set in the republic of Gilead, a society in New England that has overthrown the US government. 

The totalitarian state has a falling birth rate that has led them to go to horrific methods to maintain the population. 

The few fertile women who still live become Handmaids who are routinely raped to carry the children of the Commanders. 

We see the society through the eyes of Handmaid June Osborne (Elisabeth Moss), who has been taken away from her husband and child. 

Season two started with June and the other Handmaids receiving their punishment for their open defiance in the finale of the first series. 

However, June is soon spared from this after Aunt Lydia (Ann Dowd) learns she is pregnant. 

The first few episodes of the series see June escape from Gilead thanks to Nick (Max Minghella), the Commander’s driver and the real father of June’s baby. 

Hiding where she can, she is smuggled between spots in the hope that she can get to Canada, where her husband Luke (O-T Fagbenle) and best friend Moira (Samira Wiley) are. 

However, just as June makes it to a plane bound for there, she is caught and sent back to Gilead. 


She is returned to the family she works for Mrs Waterford/Serena Joy (Yvonne Strahovski) and Commander Waterford (Joseph Fiennes). 

Meanwhile, Nick is rewarded for his service to the family and was given a wife this series, named Eden (Sydney Sweeney). 

Commander Waterford’s big project of the season was the new red centre for the training of Handmaids. 

However in episode six, we see one of the Handmaids blow up the centre at its opening. 

In the fallout, Commander Waterford survived but Commander Pryce (Robert Curtis Brown) was killed. 

The new leader in charge is Commander Cushing (Greg Bryk), who’s rule is short-lived after he is framed for treason and sent away. 

Throughout the series we also get glimpses of the colonies, an area of America full of radiation. 

Former Handmaids Emily (Alexis Bledel) and Janine (Madeline Brewer) have been sent to the desolate spot to serve out their punishment. 

After the bombing however, there’s a shortage of Handmaids, so Emily and Janine are sent back from the colonies. 

The societies of Gilead and Canada also collided in series two as Commander Waterford becomes the trade envoy to Canada. 

June’s best friend Moira and June’s husband Luke, who are both in Canada, recognise him and Luke tries to confront him. 

While he doesn’t succeed, Nick meets up with Luke in a bar and tells him June is doing well. 


June’s first child Hannah (Jordana Blake) was taken away from her when she became a Handmaid and in one of the more emotional scenes in series two, June was reunited with Hannah briefly. 

Sensing an opportunity to escape, June prepares to go but finds herself going into labour at that moment. 

June gives birth to a baby and Mrs Waterford is thrilled. 

However, Mrs Waterford is soon confronted by how horrific the society is when Nick’s wife Eden (Sydney Sweeney) is drowned as a punishment for beginning an adulterous affair. 

In an effort to change to the society, Mrs Waterford goes to the council of men with all of the wives to try and convince them to let women read. 

However, instead of change, she is punished for speaking out and reading and has her finger cut off. 

Emily also makes an attempt to kill Aunt Lydia by stabbing her and we leave series two seeing her bleeding out. 

The dramatic finale of the series ends with Rita (Amanda Brugel) helping June escape with her baby to go to Canada. 

She is joined by Emily, who’s master Commander Lawrence (Bradley Whitford) helps her get away as well. 

At the end of the show however we see June hand off her baby Nichole to Emily to escape to Canada without her. 

She decided not to leave Gilead in order to bring the republic down from within as well as hoping to save Hannah. 


What will happen in The Handmaid’s Tale Season 3? 

According to showrunner Bruce Miller, the show will pick up mere moments after we left June in series two.  

In a trailer for the new series, viewers see June as she starts to build up the resistance. 

The trailer also hints at a union between June and Mrs Waterford, who we know has been turning away from the rule of Gilead. 

Whether June will be reunited with Hannah or be able to tear down the republic waits to be seen as the show returns tonight. 

The Handmaid’s Tale season 3 premieres on Hulu on June 5 and on Channel 4 on June 9 at 9pm

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