If your heartbeat has finally returned to normal after the ferocious Season 4 finale of The Handmaid’s Tale, you might already be wondering when more episodes are coming. You’re not alone; with the show racking up 21 Emmy nominations in 2021, plenty of fans are dying to know what happens next to June Osborne (played by Elisabeth Moss) and her fellow handmaids after their quest for justice culminated in a bloody, violent scene that left one major character dead.
The good news? We already know that a fifth season is a done deal. In fact, back in December 2020—before Season 4 had even debuted—the cast shared in an Instagram video that Season 5 was happening, so no need to worry that you'll never find out the fates of the residents, escapees and refugees of Gilead.
In the meantime, want to put the image of a certain Commander’s corpse behind you? Here’s what we know so far about The Handmaid's Tale Season 5, which showrunner Bruce Miller has already revealed will feel more like Sophie’s Choice: The Series.
When will Season 5 of The Handmaid’s Tale premiere?
Season 5 of The Handmaid's Tale will premiere on Sept. 14, 2022. The first two episodes of the fifth season will drop that day, followed by one episode per week every Wednesday through Nov. 9, 2022.
What happened in Season 4 of The Handmaid’s Tale?
(Warning: The Handmaid's Tale Season 4 spoilers ahead!) The season started with June surviving the gunshot wound she sustained at the end of Season 3. She soon poisoned several Commanders to free the women at Jezebel’s and escaped Gilead with Janine (Madeline Brewer). June had a chance to help take down Fred and Serena Waterford (Joseph Fiennes and Yvonne Strahovski), who were in Canadian police custody. She testified at the International Criminal Court about what happened to her in Gilead. However, the Waterfords were granted immunity because Fred had information he was willing to share.
In a twist, Commander Lawrence (Bradley Whitford), June and Mark Tuello (Sam Jaeger) worked out a prisoner exchange that put Fred back on the road to Gilead—until he was left out in the middle of nowhere, where June was waiting for him. She and other handmaidens chased him through the forest, beating and killing him. In gruesome Gilead fashion, Fred’s headless body was left hanging on “The Wall."
Are there Handmaid’s Tale Season 5 spoilers?
Here's one: Just because Fred Waterford is dead, that doesn't necessarily mean he'll be completely gone from Season 5. "The character dying doesn’t mean Joe stops coming and being part of the cast,” Miller told The Hollywood Reporter in June 2021. "We do have quite a heavy flashback show.” Miller also admitted to EW, "Certainly I think we'll see Fred again. I mean, I would die if I didn't see Joe [Fiennes] again."
Then there's what Miller told EW about Moss' character. "Well, it's definitely “Sophie's Choice: The Series” [for June],” Miller revealed. “Can we snap back to normal, or do we have to move on into something new?” In other words, June will have to weigh the choice of either moving forward and resuming some normalcy in Canada with her pre-Gilead husband Luke, or going back to topple Gilead for good. It was a decision Moss' character grappled with right at the very end of Season 4 in a heart-wrenching scene with O.T. Faagbenle, who plays Luke. "Luke has just walked in and seen his bloody wife holding a child. And he doesn't know what happened yet," Miller says. "I don't know if she's gonna leave. She feels like she has to. We are five minutes from her reckoning."
However, for Moss, the choice is already made. "At this point, I think she’s all in. She is all in," Moss told The Hollywood Reporter in June 2021. "She wants to bring the whole system down, and with that would come saving Hannah [her daughter], saving Janine [her fellow handmaid] and the proper revenge on Serena."
How is June going to do that in Season 5? “I know the general themes of Season 5; Bruce [Miller] and I have talked about what the season is about," Moss also said. "But the details? I don’t think they are worked out yet.”
Still, Miller is giving some clues about what could happen next. For starters, don’t start missing Commander Waterford just yet. The show has done flashbacks before, and that could be a place for Fred to show up.
Someone else could be making big moves in Season 5: Fred’s widow, Serena.
"Serena is the one you really have to worry about, or the one I am worried about,” Miller told Entertainment Weekly, because she “does not like to lose.” She doesn’t even know her husband is dead yet—a prison mail sorter intercepted the severed ring finger June sent her—but when she finds out, expect fireworks.
Miller also spilled to The Hollywood Reporter, “It’s now a June-Serena thing. She will want to find a way to metaphorically or realistically get June for this."
Which cast members and characters are in Season 5 of The Handmaid’s Tale?
As mentioned above, Fiennes may be popping in to reprise his role as Commander Fred Waterford. Meanwhile, The HollywoodReporter revealed in April 2022 that actress Christine Ko is joining the Season 5 cast in a "key recurring role... a character named Lily, a Gilead refugee who now is a leader in the Canada-based resistance movement." (Ko is perhaps best known for her performance as Emma in the FX comedy Dave.)
Here's who else is still expected to be roaming around in the dystopia of The Handmaid’s Tale come next season:
Elisabeth Moss as June Osborne
Yvonne Strahovski as Serena Joy Waterford
Alexis Bledel as Emily
Madeline Brewer as Janine
Ann Dowd as Aunt Lydia
O-T Fagbenle as Luke
Max Minghella as Nick
Samira Wiley as Moira
Bradley Whitford as Commander Lawrence
Sam Jaeger as Mark Tuello
McKenna Grace as Esther Keyes
Is there a teaser or trailer for Season 5 of The Handmaid’s Tale?
A teaser trailer for The Handmaid's Tale Season 5 was released on Aug. 24, 2022. In it, we can see June Osborne (Elisabeth Moss) plan her return to the Lion's Den. Just before confessing to her husband (O-T Fagbenle) that she murdered Commander Fred Waterford (Joseph Fiennes), she says, “The founding father of Gilead, he took away our country. He had to pay for what he did.” Afterward, she says, "And I loved it so much."
Will there be more Handmaid’s Tale seasons after Season 5?
Even showrunner Miller isn’t sure. He told The Hollywood Reporter in December 2020, “I do feel like after this year, it's a good time to reassess," adding, “I do feel like we're kind of reaching kind of a pivot point, but whether that's the end or not, I don't know.”
However, just a couple months later in February 2021, he seemed to contradict that sentiment when he told Deadline, “As long as Lizzie will do this with me, I'll keep going. There's a lot of life in this story.”
Then there's the Handmaid's Tale sequel that Hulu is planning on making. In January 2020, news broke that the streaming platform had purchased the rights to The Testaments book, the literary sequel to The Handmaid’s Tale, also written by Margaret Atwood, the author who wrote the original book.
The Testaments series will reportedly be set some years after the events of The Handmaid’s Tale. That move likely sets boundaries for how far The Handmaid’s Tale can go plot-wise.
Said Miller, “It’s hard to say how many seasons are left when I'm certainly fascinated by what happens in The Testaments and if that's going to be part of our future, that's a bigger question."
Where to watch and stream The Handmaid’s Tale Season 5 and past episodes
The Handmaid's Tale Season 5 will stream on Hulu as all previous seasons have; if you need to catch up on old episodes, they are available now on the streaming service. You can also purchase past seasons of The Handmaid's Tale on iTunes and Amazon Prime.