The Handmaid's Tale season 5: Release date, cast, latest news
The dystopian Hulu series' fifth season has a confirmed release date. **WARNING: Contains spoilers for The Handmaid's Tale season 4**
The Handmaid’s Tale season 5 is well underway on Hulu, revealing the fate of June Osborne (Elisabeth Moss) following that dramatic season 4 finale, in which she finished off commander Fred Waterford and made an enemy of his wife Serena.
And now, a trailer for season 5 episode 8 has landed, showing more danger heading for Osborne (Moss) as we head towards the finale of the drama.
Moss previously teased that the upcoming fifth season of The Handmaid's Tale is one of the most "wild" outings of the show so far, and that's saying something.
So, read on for everything you need to know about The Handmaid's Tale season 5.
The Handmaid's Tale season 5 UK release date
Season 5 began airing in the UK on Channel 4 on Sunday 23rd October – at the same time as it debuts on Amazon Prime Video. Episodes are set to air weekly on Sundays on Channel 4 from then on.
The first two episodes of The Handmaid's Tale season 5 premiered on 14th September 2022 on Hulu in the US, with new episodes airing weekly.
The Handmaid's Tale season 5 cast
The following central cast members have all now been confirmed to return:
- Elisabeth Moss as June Osbourne
- Yvonne Strahovski as Serena Joy Waterford
- Madeline Brewer as Janine Lindo
- Ann Dowd as Aunt Lydia Clements
- OT Fagbenle as Luke Bankole
- Samira Wiley as Moira Strand
- Max Minghella as Commander Nick Blaine
- Amanda Brugel as Rita Blue
- Bradley Whitford as Commander Joseph Lawrence
- Sam Jaeger as Mark Tuello
One major cast member we know won't be returning is Alexis Bledel as Dr Emily Malek. In a statement released in May, Bledel said: "After much thought, I felt I had to step away from The Handmaid’s Tale at this time. I am forever grateful to Bruce Miller for writing such truthful and resonant scenes for Emily, and to Hulu, MGM, the cast and crew for their support."
Another character that won't be returning - unless in flashbacks - is Commander Fred Waterford (Joseph Fiennes), after he was murdered by former handmaids in the season 4 finale.
However, we can likely expect a return for McKenna Grace as a former wife and now handmaid Esther Keyes, while Zawe Ashton could also be back as Moira's girlfriend Oona.
Elsewhere, Clea DuVall could also return as Emily's wife, Sylvia, with Charlie Zeltzer as their son Oliver.
Additionally, Dave star Christine Klo has been cast in the new season as a new character named Lily.
Deadline reports that Lily is "a Gilead refugee who now is a leader in the Canada-based resistance movement."
They add that Lily will "enter the story as a leader in the resistance who’s no stranger to perilous situations — with the scars to prove it. A former Martha, she’s gritty and resourceful. Once someone earns Lily’s trust, she becomes a fierce ally."
Is there a trailer for The Handmaid's Tale season 5?
Yes! Hulu has released a trailer for the upcoming instalment of The Handmaid's Tale, teasing a battle of wills between June Osborne and Serena Joy Waterford. Watch below:
The Handmaid's Tale season 4 spoilers
At the end of season 4, June successfully brokered a deal with Commander Lawrence and Commander Fred Waterford (in custody in Canada) for 22 women and resistance fighters trapped in Gilead.
However, Waterford was instead released in No Man's Land, where he was chased and beaten to death by June, Emily, and other former handmaids.
"I felt that it really delivered the finale that I felt, and I think my cast-mates felt, was needed and deserved for the fans," actor Joseph Fiennes (Waterford) told Entertainment Weekly.
His death will no doubt have major consequences for season 5, and we'll doubtless see its impact on the lives of both June herself and on Waterford's pregnant wife Serena Joy (Yvonne Strahovski).
During a previous chat with EW, Strahovski revealed that when she first read the finale, her “jaw was on the floor”.
She added: “For me personally, it’s the most satisfying season finale that Handmaid’s has had to date, so it’s just exciting.”
However, this might not be the last we see of Fred Waterford, after the showrunner Bruce Miller hinted that we will continue to see Waterford in flashbacks.
"I think that although Fred is dead, his influence on June continues and that is, in our show, shown through her mind’s eye of flashbacks," he told Deadline.
The series will also become a "a June-Serena thing", focusing on the two female characters, according to Miller.
Serena will react with the “white-hot fever of revenge," Miller told The Hollywood Reporter. “Even though Serena didn’t like Fred and they have a complicated relationship, it’s now a June-Serena thing. She will want to find a way to metaphorically or realistically get June for this. June hit her house and she wants to hit her back. There’s that absolute toe-to-toe, woman-to-woman venom, but also, what is the relationship between two women where one killed the other’s abuser? It’s complicated.”
Fred Waterford's death was hinted at in the original Margaret Atwood book, which very briefly suggests that Fred was killed during a 'Salvaging' ritual.
Another future plot line hinted at during season 4 episode 9 is that Serena's child could be claimed by Gilead, while she herself could be forced to become a handmaid.
The Handmaid's Tale season 5 plot
We now have an official synopsis for season 5, which reads: "June faces consequences for killing Commander Waterford while struggling to redefine her identity and purpose. The widowed Serena attempts to raise her profile in Toronto as Gilead’s influence creeps into Canada.
"Commander Lawrence works with Aunt Lydia as he tries to reform Gilead and rise in power. June, Luke and Moira fight Gilead from a distance as they continue their mission to save and reunite with Hannah."
What's more, it seems from the first look images and official synopsis that season 5 will still have a heavy focus on June, despite season 4's ending suggesting she would escape from Gilead.
Back in July 2021, McKenna Grace, who plays teen handmaid Esther Keyes, had spoken with The Hollywood Reporter about taking on more of the narrative focus and the possibility of her character becoming "the new June".
She said: "I feel like there’s only one June. But there is the whole rebellion and there are all of these other girls. So, there’s one June and I supposed there’s one Esther as well! We’ll see what she gets up to into the next season. I have no clue, but I have hopes."
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Will season 5 be the final season of The Handmaid's Tale?
No, actually, as detailed above, The Handmaid’s Tale has been renewed for a sixth and final season.
Hulu confirmed the news on 8th September at the season 5 premiere at the 2022 Toronto International Film Festival.
"It has been a true honour to tell the story of Margaret Atwood's groundbreaking novel and chillingly relevant world, and we are thrilled to bring viewers a sixth and final season of The Handmaid's Tale," showrunner Bruce Miller said in a press release.
He added: "We are grateful to Hulu and MGM for allowing us to tell this story, which unfortunately has remained as relevant as ever throughout its run, and are in awe of our incredible fans for their unwavering support, and without whom we never would have gotten to this point."
The streamer also confirmed that The Handmaid’s Tale creator and showrunner Bruce Miller is "actively developing" a sequel series, inspired by Margaret Atwood’s novel The Testaments. Yay!
Miller previously said he is "in no rush to end it".
"I’m not going to shut it down while we have interesting stories to tell," he said in an interview with The Hollywood Reporter. However, in a more recent interview, he added that he didn't want to "overstay" his welcome.
"I know what the end is and I’m not going to overstay my welcome but I’m also not going to rush off if I don’t have to because as long as I am writing for Elisabeth Moss, you know, it really doesn’t get much better," Miller told Deadline.
In addition, executive producer Warren Littlefield previously spoke ahead of season 4 and implied that several more seasons of The Handmaid's Tale could be on the way.
"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," he told TV Guide. "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."
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