Season 2 of The Handmaid’s Tale opened up with a terrifying mock execution, set to “This Woman’s Work” by Kate Bush. Immediately, we knew we were in for a wild ride — and season 2 has not let the tragic story slow down. But it looks like season 3 of the show may give Offred much-needed reprieve — in the form of motherhood.
Speaking at the Producer’s Guild Produced By Conference, Handmaid’s Tale creator and executive producer Bruce Miller said that he is presently writing season 3. Season 2 was meant to center around “one woman who is going to have a baby, and who is going to try [to] teach this other woman how to be a mother.” Currently, Offred is pregnant with a baby of dubious parentage — it is generally accepted to be Nick’s biological baby, but it could just as well belong to Commander Waterford, who will be be tasked with raising the child with his wife, Serena Joy.
As season 2 wraps up, we know that Offred will deliver the child. In the original novel by Margaret Atwood, Handmaids in Gilead customarily stay within the household until after the infant has weaned off of breastfeeding. At that point, the Handmaid is assigned to serve another Commander. Presumably, season 3 will include Offred nursing the child through its infancy, which means she will continue to live with the Waterfords. It’s possible that the dynamics of those relationships may ease up in service of protecting the baby.
Still, The Handmaid’s Tale isn’t known for it levity. Offred and Serena Joy have formed an uneasy alliance, although moments of tenderness are interspersed with full-on abuse on the part of Serena Joy. Perhaps motherhood may soothe her anger and listlessness, and she may become a greater friend to Offred. She could also sink deeper into her jealousy and commitment to Gilead’s hierarchy. Commander Waterford could become even more consumed with his work, particularly after surviving the bombing at the Rachel and Leah Center.
As for Offred, if she attempts another escape, she won’t have a pregnancy to save her from execution — if she’s caught. Maybe she’ll finally escape to Canada in season 3, or wreck Gilead from within. Either way, she won’t have the safety of a baby to save her, so it’s up to the people around her, deplorable as they are, to help her succeed.