In Review

The Handmaid’s Tale season 2: release date and first trailer revealed

Return to Gilead will pick up the story where Margaret Atwood left off

The first trailer for season two of The Handmaid’s Tale has been released ahead of its spring premiere.

The Emmy and Golden Globe-winning drama, set in a totalitarian US where women are stripped of their civil rights, will return to screens with 13 new episodes that pick up the story where season one - and Margaret Atwood’s source novel - left off.

The trailer, set to a downbeat cover of Buffalo Springfield’s For What It’s Worth, offers us a tantalising glimpse of what the dystopian drama has in store.

When the show debuted last year, it's focus on gender, religion and politics was widely hailed as timely for the Donald Trump era and, judging by the trailer, the show is leaning in to the similarities for season two - in one shot, we see a sign bearing the word ‘Resist’, a popular slogan for Trump’s opponents.

When will season two be broadcast?

Viewers on the other side of the Atlantic will get to see the first two episodes on 25 April when they arrive on US-only streaming service Hulu. No UK release date for the show, which airs on Channel 4, has yet been announced.

What will happen next?

In season one’s tense finale, Offred (Elisabeth Moss) - pregnant with Nick's (Max Minghella) baby - was told her older daughter, Hannah, would stay safe as long as she had a successful pregnancy.

But the gripping final scene saw the Eye's truck coming to take her away - leaving viewers guessing as to whose side Nick was really on and what fate would befall Offred. Atwood’s book ends on this ambiguous note, but the Canadian author has worked with the show’s writers to help develop storylines that go beyond her 1985 novel.

The new episodes “will follow pregnant Offred as she fights to secure a better future for her child,” says CNN.

The action will also expand beyond the immediate confines of Gilead, offering insight into how and why the theocratic state came to secede from the US, Variety reports.

The Handmaid's Tale: Hulu's chilling 'Trump-era' drama

27 April

The Handmaid's Tale, one of the most anticipated television shows of the year, has won the critics over with a story for our times.

Based on Margaret Atwood's 1985 novel of the same name, the ten-part series set in a dystopian near-future with the former United States controlled by an authoritarian, Christian fundamentalist government called Gilead.

As civil unrest simmers and a "plague" causes widespread infertility, young women are forced into a form of slavery to bear children for the elite.

Elisabeth Moss of Mad Men stars as a handmaid called Offred, who is assigned to The Commander (Joseph Fiennes) and his wife Serena Joy (Yvonne Strahovski).

Offred remembers her life before the regime and dreams of a better future.

The Handmaid's Tale premiered on Hulu in the US this week to rave reviews.

Caroline Framke on Vox calls it "brilliant, terrifying television".

Admitting she never believes that a screen adaptation could do the novel justice, the critic said Hulu had created "a total stunner of a series".

She also praises the "remarkable depiction of all the banal horrors" which make the story so "incredibly chilling", along with a "fantastic" performance from Moss.

The Handmaid's Tale is the "most chilling Trump era series", said Phoebe Reilly in Rolling Stone, adding that sales of Atwood's book rocketed after Donald Trump was elected.

Even the "toxicity" of the presidential primaries made its way into script, continues the critic, embellishing the novel with "uncanny foresight".

However, "imagination doesn't have to stretch" far to see the ways the US already treats fertility and motherhood "like a punishment instead of a power", she adds.

Indeed, Atwood's "study of freedom and how easily it can slip from our grasp" is "perennially relevant", says India Ross in the Financial Times.

But on TV, the material takes on "a new urgency", with the series moving with a "sinister haste" through its unsettling chapters and quickly escalating into "a vivid nightmare" of the horrors of dictatorship.

Rebecca Nicholson in The Guardian admits that few TV shows have arrived "with such timeliness and under such a weight of expectation", but says The Handmaid's Tale "delivers".

This is an "unflinching vision", that tweaks the classic with confidence, she adds. It has the "slow creeping dread of a horror movie" but is bold enough to allow humour in, even at its darkest.

A UK air date for The Handmaid's Tale has yet to be announced.

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