Awards Daily talks to The Handmaid’s Tale‘s Yvonne Strahovski about twists and turns in Season 4 and speculation about baby-daddies. *Spoilers Ahead*
Season 4 of The Handmaid’s Tale on Hulu sees Yvonne Strahovski’s Serena Joy being treated a bit like a handmaid. She’s kept in tight quarters with no freedom (although it’s pretty fancy-looking for a detention center) and she’s pregnant (remember that last hoorah-in-the-sack for the Waterfords?).
Suddenly Serena’s obsession with getting baby Nichole back from Canada has taken a backseat to this miracle pregnancy.
“I think her pregnancy does divert her attention a little bit actually,” says Strahovski. “It’s probably so overwhelming for Serena to have the physicality of being pregnant, all the feelings wrapped up in something she’s been wanting for so long.”
The baby couldn’t come at a worse possible time for Serena, as she and Fred (Joseph Fiennes) are separated and are using each other to try to stave off prison time for their discretions in Gilead.
“Serena is quite ally-less at this point, even more so in the sense because the love and relationship with Fred has really dwindled down to a business transaction in a lot of ways.”
Using ‘Friends’ to Her Advantage
One of the most captivating aspects of Season 4 is its ability to explore how people react to trauma. We see it with the handmaids like Emily (Alexis Bledel) and Moira (Samira Wiley), but we also see it in Serena’s blind ignorance to the atrocities that took place in Gilead, especially when she’s visited by Rita (Amanda Brugel).
Serena asks Rita to see her at the detention center and is counting on PTSD and a bit of Stockholm Syndrome to put the former Martha on her side in the case against Fred.
“Knowing that Rita is probably suffering from some kind of abuse trauma, Serena takes advantage of that and tries to perpetuate that same relationship they had in Gilead and use it to her advantage, pretending like nothing has changed, pretending that whatever connection they had in Gilead was true. There isn’t anything really to talk about other than to carry on how we were and see how [Rita] responds.”
At first Rita tentatively treats her as a friend, until she realizes Serena is trying to get her to testify on her behalf.
“If there is a real portion of a relationship there, I think it’s a sliver. Serena is really being strategic this year. All of her relationships are strategic at this point. Her relationship with Mark (Sam Jaeger) is also strategic and like-wise with Rita and June.”
The Season 4 Showdown We’ve All Been Waiting For
For four seasons now, we’ve all wanted to see June (Elisabeth Moss) verbally eviscerate Serena to tears, and in Episode 7’s “Home,” we get it. Serena thinks that this is her chance to seek forgiveness, while the handmaid formerly known as Offred sees it as an opportunity to tell the Commander’s wife the real reason why she’s pregnant: so when she loses the baby she can feel a fraction of what the handmaids felt when their children were ripped from them.
“I think there’s a huge part of her that does believe that God might take that baby away or someone will. In whatever spiritual sense, she believes that by having June’s forgiveness that might alleviate the risk that something terrible is going to happen to the baby.”
Strahovski also believes that June’s forgiveness matters to Serena because of their bond as mothers to baby Nichole.
“The common tie is that they both care deeply for the child and they’ve always had that connection, even though they disagree on many other things. It makes sense to me that Serena would want June’s forgiveness because at this point she wants to protect her own baby, the baby that’s growing inside her.”
Plus, Serena is just evil.
“June is a better person than Serena and Serena knows that.”
Who’s the Daddy?
Season 4 also tackles the idea of being caught up in the world of Gilead, of escaping but wanting to go back. Could Serena ever go back and be a commander’s wife again?
“I think that’s an incredibly confronting thought for Serena to have because by having that thought she must then admit all of her wrongdoings in the truest way.”
And even if she had the opportunity, it’s not like she and Fred are headed toward a reconciliation.
“She’s reached the last straw of what she can handle and live with [with Fred]. It’s very hard for Serena to ignore that she probably loathes Fred, which is really complicated as well. She still feels pain about him and the relationship and the relationship that was lost and the fact that it is a business transaction relationship now more than anything. Do I think she would help him out in a terrible situation? Maybe not.”
At this point, she might even be wishing Fred weren’t the father. . .but is he? Strahovski plays mum and laughs.
“I’ve heard, what if it’s Mark? Someone was saying what if baby Nichole was really Fred’s child, because if Fred is the father of Serena’s child, then why not Fred be the father of Nichole? There are so many possibilities here.”
Season 4 of The Handmaid’s Tale is available on Hulu.
Megan McLachlan is a freelance writer that lives in Pittsburgh, PA. Her work has appeared in Buzzfeed, Cosmopolitan, The Cut, Paste, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Thrillist, and The Washington Post. Follow her on Twitter at @heydudemeg.