It seems like we’ve been waiting an eternity for Season 4 of Hulu‘s hit series The Handmaid’s Tale. The series was delayed until 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but TV Guide has everything you want to know about the upcoming season. Considering that we’ve been dangling from that huge Season 3 finale cliffhanger for a while, it’s best to stock up on knowledge about what’s in store for us in these new episodes now!
In the finale’s last moments, June (Elisabeth Moss) was in dire straights, bleeding out from a gunshot wound after staging a revolt of Marthas and Handmaids. The cost was high, but miraculously, she did manage to smuggle over 100 children out of Gilead and into Canada, safely into the arms of Moira (Samira Wiley) and Luke (O-T Fagbenle) of all people! As for the Waterfords, their troubles seem to have only just gotten started as they await trial for their war crimes thanks to Serena’s (Yvonne Strahovski) shady deal to be in baby Nicole’s life.
The Handmaid’s Tale spoilers are particularly hard to come by (especially since the gap between Seasons 3 and 4 will be so long), but here’s everything we know about what’s coming our way next season and when answers to all our burning questions might arrive…
Elisabeth Moss, The Handmaid’s Tale
Its release has officially been pushed to 2021. Though Warren Littlefield told TV Guide that Season 4 was supposed to drop in the Fall of 2020, the spread of COVID-19 threw that plan out the window. Production on Season 4 was suspended due to the spread of coronavirus in March, and Hulu subsequently announced in their NewFronts presentation that the new seasons has officially pushed the release date to 2021. No specific date has been set yet.
“We were two weeks into shooting when we shut down, so we didn’t get a lot in the can,” Elisabeth Moss previously told Deadline. “Our writers are still writing, and they’re continuing to write the season obviously remotely from their own homes separately, and that train is still chugging along.”
Production on Season 4 resumed in early September according to Deadline.
It has already been renewed for Season 5. Chairman of Entertainment, Walt Disney Television Dana Walden announced during Disney’s Investor Day in December 2020 that The Handmaid’s Tale was renewed for Season 5, guaranteeing more episodes before the official Season 4 premiere date was announced.
The teaser shows Gilead in turmoil. Hulu released a teaser for Season 4, and though there is a lot of recycled footage from earlier seasons, we did get a few peeks at new footage filmed before production had to shut down. We saw Aunt Lydia (Ann Dowd) raging about June and her uprising and “who knows what kind of atrocities” she’s got up her red sleeve next, and Commander Lawrence (Bradley Whitford) saying that the escaped children are June’s legacy.
It will be 10 episodes. IndieWire confirmed that Season 4 will dial back from the 13-episode format of the past two seasons, clocking in at only 10 episodes. According to executive producer Bruce Miller, the decision was “100 percent creative.”
June is probably alive. Though Miller wouldn’t confirm whether or not June will survive her gunshot wound, he did say, “We are following June, and June lives in Gilead, and Gilead is not a nice place, and it will continue to be not a nice place. And we try to be very realistic about what would probably happen and how would things work, so over the break we’ve talked to the U.N. and we’ve talked about what happens to rebels in countries like this, so we’re parsing through the possibilities.” If they’re parsing through repercussions for June’s actions, we can only assume she’ll be alive to suffer those consequences.
A new wife will join the cast. Deadline reports that Mckenna Grace has joined the cast of The Handmaid’s Tale Season 4. She will play Mrs. Keyes, a sharply intelligent teenage wife of a much older Commander. Her character description says she has “a rebellious, subversive streak, and is calm and pious on the outside with turmoil, even insanity, on the inside.”
We’ll see an unstable Gilead. Though Gilead’s regime has never been particularly stable, we’ll continue to see those in power wobble and waver in the aftermath of this mass exodus of children. “It’s definitely kind of hitting them,” Miller told TV Guide. “It’s their reason for their existence — reproduction. So when you start taking away those children, I think it’s going to make Gilead very angry.”
Joseph Fiennes, The Handmaid’s Tale
We haven’t seen the last of Commander Lawrence. In a surprising twist, Commander Lawrence decided to stay behind in Gilead to try to clean up the mess he’d caused rather than escaping to Canada as he planned. Though nothing is set in stone yet, Miller assured TV Guide that he has every desire to bring Commander Lawrence back for more in Season 4.
We’ll learn more about Nick’s (Max Minghella) past. Though Nick’s past and his role in founding Gilead were in the plans for Season 3, timing just didn’t allow the writers the opportunity to explore that storyline. No need to worry though, that backstory is definitely on tap for Season 4.
The Waterfords are in hot water. Fred (Joseph Fiennes) and Serena were both facing criminal trials for war crimes (despite Serena believing she’d gained immunity by handing Fred over), and unless Gilead pulls off a miraculous extradition, we’ll probably be heading straight for their trials in Season 4. Don’t worry if you’re conflicted about Serena’s fate, though, as Miller warns you should definitely expect to stay on the fence where she’s concerned.
“She does sometimes do things that we think are very understandable and noble and even likable,” Miller said. “And then she does so many horrible things. She has so much to answer for, and now she’s in a position to answer for the horrible things.”
It probably won’t be the final season. Executive producer Warren Littlefield told reporters at the Television Critics Association winter press tour that they are not writing Season 4 as if its the final season. In fact, there’s plenty of story left to tell. “We have not planned Season 4 to be the end, but we also look to Margaret [Atwood]’s book The Testaments and know that that story takes us 15 years into the future,” Littlefield said. “We don’t see ending it in [Season 4], and I can honestly say to you, we don’t have a definitive out. But I think we want to keep the bar high, and it would not be a bad thing to leave the audience wanting more, and then we could ideally shift into The Testaments.”
Elisabeth Moss will direct. Season 4 will see series star Elisabeth Moss step behind the camera for an episode. Episode 3 of the new season will mark her directorial debut, and Moss hilariously joked that her only hurdle for this job will be working with the “incredibly demanding” lead actress.
Seasons 1-3 of The Handmaid’s Tale are currently streaming on Hulu.
Max Minghella and Elisabeth Moss, The Handmaid’s Tale Source