The Handmaid’s Tale is deep into its third season, and June (Elisabeth Moss) continues to survive against an ever-increasing amount of odds—to the point where it feels like she isn’t facing consequences for her more rebellious actions. So, what exactly is keeping June from being killed by Gilead? Showrunner Bruce Miller has a few ideas.
We recently had the opportunity to chat with Miller about changes in The Handmaid’s Tale coming into season three.
During our talk, we discussed the fact that other characters in The Handmaid’s Tale have been killed for much less than the actions June has taken this season. For example, she helped Nichole escape to Canada, and tried to work with a foreign government to ensure she could never be returned to the Waterfords.
In last week’s episode, she even conspired with a Martha to escape with Hannah. The Martha was executed for it, and all June got was a momentary “shame” circle—one that was halted the moment June threw Ofmatthew under the bus (which ended with Ofmatthew lashing out in the grocery store and getting shot by a Guardian).
Miller said June’s survival is partially because Gilead is short on fertile women, and also because she knows how to ally herself with powerful people. But in the end, the main reason June survives is because we already know she survived.
“We’re telling the story about the person who survived to tell us our story. When we start the series, we hear her talking to us, she’s talking to us from the future,” Miller told Gizmodo. “She’s telling the story in retrospect. We know she went through it. So, no matter how she navigates through she is going to make it through because that’s the story we’ve been given to tell.”
Watch the video above for more details. The Q&A is also transcribed below.
Gizmodo: Coming into season three, how powerful is Gilead at this point in the series, and what place does it have on the world stage?
Bruce Miller: I think Gilead is getting stronger. I mean, I think the longer it’s around, the more people get used to it. You know, I think when revolutions or government changes happen at the beginning it seems impossible to reconnect with those countries. But then, over time – you know, America was a huge country with lots of nuclear weapons, and so when Gilead took over it’s not a country you can really ignore.
So I think Gilead is playing a big role on the world stage in terms of influence, and they want to play a big role on the world stage in terms of diplomacy. Right now just being there is a big thing, but they want to really influence and open themselves up to trade, and be accepted into the community of nations.
Gizmodo: Given how powerful Gilead has become, how brutal and harsh it is to the people within its borders—with everything that June has done and continues to do, others have been killed for much less. What is keeping her alive this season with everything she’s doing in the rebellion?
Miller: One of the things is she’s protected. I think June is very wise as a character to take chances, but take the smallest chance she possibly can. So, she tries to reinforce herself with coverage, and she’s got in this season…last season, she had Fred and Serena, who were both her adversaries and her protectors.
Aunt Lydia, who’s both her adversary and her protector. And this season she has more people, Commander Lawrence, who’s both her adversary and her protector, and Marthas as well.
It’s undeniable that fertility kind of trumps everything in Gilead. They’ll twist and bend anything to keep fertile people there. And June has produced two healthy children. Most people don’t produce any healthy children, even if they have children.
You know, honestly, we’re telling the story about the person who survived to tell us our story. When we start the series, we hear her talking to us, she’s talking to us from the future… she’s telling a story in retrospect. So we know she went through it. So no matter how she navigates through she is going to make it through because that’s the story we’ve been given to tell.
Gizmodo: I wanted to close out by talking with you about some of these laws that are passing in Georgia, and other states that are passing stricter anti-abortion laws. What are your thoughts about that, and what wisdom do you feel The Handmaid’s Tale can impart to what we’re going through right now?
Miller: You know, it’s hard to work on a show like this and see all these things happening in the world. You really wish your show would become irrelevant. I mean that’s kind of the goal. Now people watch our show and think, “Oh my God, I hope that doesn’t happen.” And really what I’d like them to do is go: “That’s ridiculous.” That would be much better for all of us.
The Handmaid’s Tale is currently available on Stan and SBS Now in Australia.