Why Emily's "Criminal" Track Record Puts Her At Risk Of Heading Back To Gilead In The Handmaid's Tale
In another life, Emily (Alexis Bledel) of The Handmaid’s Tale was a timid yet brilliant microbiologist with a degree from Harvard. Gilead turns Emily into a handmaid — and then into a fighter, and then into a survivor. With her wife, Sylvia (Clea DuVall), and son, Oliver (Charlie Zeltzer) in Canada as a beacon, Emily endures unimaginable difficulties.
At the start of season 3 of The Handmaid’s Tale, Emily (Alexis Bledel) finally makes it to Canada. But she’s still not safe. In fact, the Herculean efforts she takes to cross the Canadian border are precisely what puts her in danger of being sent back to that hellscape. Down in Gilead, a few nefarious Commanders and one heinous wife (yes, you, Serena) are working to devise an extradition treaty. Likely, “criminals” like Emily are the most at risk being deported back to Gilead.
With the tug-of-war for Baby Nichole playing out on TV screens worldwide, Emily and her past activities have been thrust into the public eye. Since Emily smuggled June’s (Elisabeth Moss) baby into Canada, she’s now a key player in the Crusade to Bring Nichole Back that Serena Waterford (Yvonne Strahovski) has launched. So, in “Under His Eye,” Emily is quizzed on her so-called “criminal activity” by that severe Swiss diplomat, acting as a neutral party for Gilead-Canada negotiations.
Each entry in Emily’s list of “criminal activity” is a reminder of her badassery — and there are even more actions that the Swiss diplomat doesn’t know about. Let’s go over her Gileadean transgressions and their consequences.
Emily the Lover: Before meeting June, Emily has an affair with a Martha, which ends tragically. Emily is forced to watch her lover get hanged. Then, Emily undergoes a forced cliterodectomy. Snatching away pleasure — it’s kind of what Gilead does best.
Emily the Resistance Fighter: Emily is a member of Mayday, the resistance group working to take down Gilead from within.
Emily the Grand Theft Auto Player: Emily steals a Mercedes SUV and fatally runs over a Guardian.
Emily the Murderess: After her hit-and-run, Emily is transferred to the Colonies. While there, she murders a Wife, Mrs. Connor (Marisa Tomei), who still believes in the principles of Gilead.
Emily the Merciless: Plucked from the Colonies, Emily is transferred to the Roy household. After he suffers a fatal heart attack during the Ceremony, Emily kicks Commander Roy repeatedly in the balls. She has no pity for her rapist.
Emily the Backstabber: While in Commander Lawrence’s (Bradley Whitford) household, Emily stabs Aunt Lydia (Ann Dowd) in the back and throws her down a staircase.
Emily the Escapist: Emily successfully flees from Gilead with Holly/Nicole.
While the Swiss woman meticulously runs down the list, Sylvia stares at her wife like she’s an alien creature. Who is this woman, and what did she do with my microbiologist wife? Gilead forced Emily to change radically — something she and Moira (Samira Wiley) bond over in “Under His Eye.” Now in Canada, Emily may be able to reclaim some of her old self. If she gets to stay, that is.
Here’s the question that Canada must answer in the coming episodes: Is Emily actually guilty of any crimes if Gilead is indeed an oppressive regime and she was merely taking the necessary actions to escape its grip? The implications of Canada's decision are astounding. Should Canada recognize Gileadean refugees’ actions as “crimes,” then Canada also legitimizes Gilead as a sovereign nation whose rulings can’t be negated by other nations.
Ultimately, Emily's fate will be intertwined with baby Nichole's. Down in Gilead, powerful Commanders are preparing a sweeping extradition policy. If Nichole's refugee status in Canada is revoked, then a dangerous precedent is set. Nichole leaving Gilead means that more refugees — like Emily — can follow.