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The Handmaid’s Tale 3: Release date, cast and plot theories

Season 2 spoilers ahead...

Eerily relevant to current politics, The Handmaid’s Tale – which is based on Margaret Atwood’s dystopian novel of the same name – shows no signs of slowing down. The show follows the story of June; a woman who becomes trapped in Gilead, an oppressive, fascist version of the United States. June is renamed as Offred, and becomes a handmaiden for the high ranking commander Fred Waterford (Joseph Fiennes). She and the other handmaidens are tasked with giving birth to children for commanders and their wives, who are infertile.

Offred’s refusal to comply with Gilead’s rules is a running theme through the show, and in Season 2 the grim realities of life in a totalitarian regime grow ever starker. The Handmaid’s Tale season 2 ended on a cliffhanger – after Serena Joy and a network of Marthas aid Offred in mounting her escape to Canada with baby Nicole and ensuring her safety, Offred decides to stay behind at the last minute to rescue her eldest daughter Hannah.

The Handmaids Tale was confirmed for a third season by Hulu a while back, and now the first trailer has aired. Here’s everything we know.

Latest updates:

  • US release date confirmed as new trailer is released

When is The Handmaid’s Tale Season 3 released?

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It’s now been confirmed that the third season of the Hulu show will return to screens in the US on June 5 – later than the programme’s typical spring release.

Where will The Handmaid’s Tale Season 3 be shown in the UK?

In the UK, Channel 4 have yet to confirm when they will show the third season of The Handmaid’s Tale, but in keeping with previous seasons, it seems likely that episodes will begin airing shortly after it’s shown in the US.

Is there a trailer for The Handmaid’s Tale Season 3?

The first trailer for the third season of The Handmaid’s Tale dropped in February 2019, during a Super Bowl LIII ad-break. Based on former American president Ronald Reagan’s Morning in America campaign in 1984, the trailer opens with a dystopian vision. “It’s morning again in America,”the male voiceover says, “today, more women are going to work than ever before in our country’s history.” It is accompanied by a succession of women carrying newborn babies, and a procession of workers marching into the nuclear fields. It echoes the script of Reagan’s original campaign, which sold the idea of a “Prouder, Stronger, Better,” future.

Soon, though, The Handmaid’s Tale trailer gives way to firey chaos,  and the voice of the show’s protagonist Offred takes over. “Wake up, America” she says. “Morning’s over”. The show’s Twitter account has been dropping hints that the trailer shows the first glimpse of Offred leading a new resistance from Gilead. At the end of season 2, she made the decision to remain there instead of escaping to Canada.

On February 15, behind-the-scenes images emerged online of filming taking place in Washington. The snaps appear to show some kind of ceremony taking place at the Washington monument. See the photos below.

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Washingtonian reported that Joseph Fiennes as Fred Waterford could be heard reciting the words, “Lord above, we beseech you. Hear our prayer.” It’s said that all 200 cast members were in attendance for the large-scale shoot.

Another trailer followed on May 1, giving bigger hints at what to expect from the third season’s storyline. It recaps scenes from season 2 – including the bombing of Fred Waterford’s Rachel And Leah Centre – as Offred says: “Heresy – that’s what you get punished for. Not for being part of the resistance because, officially, there is no resistance.”

The short clip also hints that Serena Waterford could become an ally to the resistance movement, with Offred telling her: “As Mrs Waterford, you have influence.” She replies, “Up to a point”, to which the handmaid says: “So move the point.” Watch the trailer below now.

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

Teasing the first official trailer for the show, The Handmaid’s Tale twitter account shared a brief clip featuring Offred wearing grey Martha robes instead of the red handmaid uniform. In the show and novel, Marthas serve as housekeepers and servants, and do not bear children. They also have secret undercover networks in Gilead.

Meanwhile, in the official trailer, Offred is shown wearing red handmaid robes once more. It has led fans of the show to speculate about a possible new role for the lead character, or a possible stint undercover with the Marthas. The show’s Twitter account has also been dropping hints that the trailer shows the first glimpse of Offred leading a new resistance from Gilead. At the end of season 2, she made the decision to remain there instead of escaping to Canada with daughter Nicole. Is she staying behind to rescue oldest daughter Hannah?

Showrunner Bruce Miller seemed to echo this, telling The Hollywood Reporter that Offred is “ready to fight. She’s ready to rise up, and ready to take some chances and use all the skills she’s learned over the last three years that she’s developed in Gilead: the survival skills, the manipulation skills, just the strategic skills that she’s learned. She’s going to bring them all to bear on hurting Gilead and also helping her daughter, helping Hannah.”

Meanwhile, Hulu described the season 3 by saying: “Season Three of The Handmaid’s Tale is driven by June’s resistance to the dystopian regime of Gilead and her struggle to strike back against overwhelming odds. Startling reunions, betrayals, and a journey to the terrifying heart of Gilead force all characters to take a stand, guided by one defiant prayer: “Blessed be the fight.”

How many episodes will there be in The Handmaid’s Tale Season 3?

Hulu have not confirmed how many episodes there will be in The Handmaid’s Tale season 3. However, based on season one’s ten episodes, and season two’s total of 13 episodes, it seems likely that season 3 will also fall within a similar ballpark.

Will there be any new characters in The Handmaid’s Tale Season 3?

Christopher Meloni (Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, Oz) and Elizabeth Reaser (The Haunting of Hill House, Twilight) were both confirmed for season 3 on January 24. They’ll be playing married couple Commander Winslow and Mrs. Winslow, and according to Hulu, Meloni will play “a powerful and magnetic Commander who hosts the Waterfords on an important trip”. Meanwhile, Reaser’s character “becomes a friend and inspiration to Serena Joy.”

Will the entire cast be back for The Handmaid’s Tale Season 3?

Elisabeth Moss – who plays Offred – is all set for Season 3; she confirmed her return back in May last year with this Instagram post

Commander Lawrence is also set to return, and according to show insiders, his character will be central to action in season 3. “You never know what he’s willing to do and what he’s not willing to do,” Miller told The Hollywood Reporter. “He’s a “Oppenheimer character,” Miller said. “The man who designed an atomic bomb and then saw what it could do. […] He is a mass of contradictions and dangers, so you never know what he’s willing to do, what he’s not willing to do.”

The hero of season 2’s finale, Rita (Amanda Brugel) is also set to return, along with regular fixtures Moira (Samira Wiley, Serena Joy (Yvonne Strahovski) and Max Minghella’s Nick.

Season 2 left the fate of Aunt Lydia (played by Anna Dowd) undecided after she was attacked by Emily (Alexis Bledel) with a knife. However, the show’s producer Warren Littlefield confirmed to Entertainment Weekly that she may not be doomed after all. Speaking at a screening, as reported by CNN, Bruce Miller added that though Aunt Lydia will return, she will be “transformed by this event.”

“I don’t think Aunt Lydia can die,” he added. “I don’t think there are forces the world strong enough to kill Aunt Lydia.”

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