The fifth season of The Handmaid Tale has arrived, after a wait of almost two years.
The highly anticipated new series will launch with two episodes on Hulu on September 14. New episodes will thereafter appear weekly on Wednesdays.
Elisabeth Moss, who played June Osborne, is back, as is Samira Wiley, who played Moira Strand, and Yvonne Strahovski, who played Serena Joy. Yet, viewers would have observed that Alexis Bledel, 40, who plays Gilead dissident Emily/Ofglen, is nowhere to be seen.
The exit of Alex Bledel from The Handmaid Tale
The news that Bledel will not be returning as Emily in season 5 of The Handmaid Tale broke in May, but the absence of her character is still fresh in the minds of some viewers.
Bledel said in a statement she took “much deliberation” before deciding to leave the program, and that she would not be returning.
What did she say? “In the end, I decided it was best for me to take a break from The Handmaid Tale for the time being. Forever indebted to Bruce Miller (the show’s creator) for creating such honest and moving passages for Emily, as well as Hulu, MGM, and the whole cast and crew.”
Emily’s disappearance was quickly addressed in the premiere of Season 5.
The Handmaid Tale: The first episode of Season 5 picks up immediately after the shocking events of Season 4, which saw June (Moss) deal with the fallout of murdering Commander Waterford (Joseph Fiennes). While June and the other handmaids are celebrating their win and taking their retribution, she suddenly finds that her best friend Emily (Bledel) is missing.
June tries to track Emily down by visiting her wife Sylvia (Clea DuVall), but Sylvia doesn’t answer the door at first. However, as June is about to leave, Emily’s wife dashes out the door and down the path, alerting June that she’s back in Gilead.
Some would be surprised by the decision, given Emily’s history of defiance and the abuse she endured at the hands of several men in Gilead before fleeing to find her family.
June, Sylvia says: “It seems that she has returned to the battlefield. To track down Aunt Lydia if she can. That’s exactly what she needed to do.
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The phone rang, and it was her. It was her farewell, and she said it. Even though she knew I wanted to wake Oliver up, she said no. There seems to be no good reason for her to refuse.
June, who blames herself for Emily’s decision to go back to Gilead, insists she can “fix this,” but Sylvia won’t listen.
Since Emily is still alive (for the time being), Bledel might theoretically return for the show’s sixth and final season or the announced The Testaments spin-off.
From the beginning of the series to the end of season four, Emily was instrumental in June and the other handmaids’ successful attempt to flee to Canada.
The Handmaid Tale: Bledel was nominated for a Primetime Emmy in 2017, won in 2018 and is up for another win in 2021 for best guest actress in a drama series for her work in the show.
Bruce Miller, the show’s creator and showrunner told HollywoodLife: “As a seasoned pro, Alexis informed her contacts and us as soon as she could. We weren’t burdened with a huge amount of heavy lifting. But in all candor, I believe it weakened certain people’s personalities.
Because Rita (Brugel) and Moira (Wileystorylines )‘s revolved in Alexis’s narrative, Miller explained. It was difficult since we seemed to lose several pieces all at once.
The effect of Emily’s departure for Gilead in June remains to be seen by eager viewers.
Hulu airs new episodes of The Handmaid Tale every Wednesday at 01:00 Eastern Time.