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What The Handmaid’s Tale Sequel Book Reveals About Season 4 & Beyond

The Handmaids Tale June Lydia

Margaret Atwood's The Testaments has some big story developments and character reveals that could have an impact on The Handmaid's Tale TV show going forward. A sequel to her 1985 novel, The Testaments picks up roughly 15 years after the events of The Handmaid's Tale, telling the stories of three different women within the Republic of Gilead: Aunt Lydia, Agnes, and Daisy.

Hulu's adaptation of The Handmaid's Tale caught up with the book in its season 1 finale, and has since moved well beyond it, although Atwood has been involved as a story consultant, so we can assume certain areas match up with her vision for the characters. The Testaments builds upon the events of the book rather than the TV series, but there are ways the two could actually end up being connected.

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Related: The Handmaid’s Tale Sequel Book Reveals What Happens To June

As well as Lydia, the story of The Handmaid's Tale sequel also heavily involves June's two daughters, Hannah and Nicole (who are Agnes and Daisy respectively), while Offred herself is (briefly) mentioned in the book. Even though there's a big time gap, the events of The Testaments could play out, in a fashion, in The Handmaid's Tale season 4 and long afterwards too.

Aunt Lydia Turns Against Gilead

The novel opens with Aunt Lydia writing in secret, detailing how Gilead built a statue of her to honor her work as an Aunt, but more shockingly expressing her dissatisfaction with the entire system. As viewers of The Handmaid's Tale will know, Aunt Lydia is as devout as they come in terms of carrying out the rules and laws of Gilead, so it's a major development for the character. The Testaments touches on her backstory, which was revealed in The Handmaid's Tale season 3 too, but the new book goes much further on this.

We learn that Lydia, along with many other women, was taken by Gilead and kept as a prisoner, forced to watch others killed in front of them before being given a stark choice: submit to Gilead and its ways, or die. Obviously, Lydia chose the former, and rose high through the ranks. However, that still left its mark, and it's revealed that Lydia has long been supplying the Mayday operation with information from inside Gilead, which ultimately leads to its downfall. She leaks crucial information that damages the leadership, marking the beginning of the end for the regime, and intends to kill herself at the end of the novel.

Will this play out on TV? In some fashion, most likely. There is talk of how The Testaments will be adapted, whether it becomes its own series or is folded into The Handmaid's Tale in some way, but Aunt Lydia actress Ann Dowd, who reads the part for The Testaments audio book, has already commented that it'll change the way she approaches the character, which suggests that what happens in the sequel book is on the cards for The Handmaid's Tale TV show eventually as well.

Related: Handmaid’s Tale Needs To Follow Orange Is The New Black's Lead If It's To Survive

June Survives, And Will Eventually Escape

The Handmaids Tale Season 3 Ending June

June was shot in The Handmaid's Tale season 3 finale, and while her fate is officially left up in the air, it is widely assumed that she'll survive - Elisabeth Moss is the lead of the TV show, after all, so it's hard to move forward without her. The Testaments doesn't include June as a main character, but she does appear and is very much alive, which further suggests that she's still alive after the events of the season 3 finale. It even notes that she has survived two assassination attempts by Gilead, so the fact she's already been shot once on TV works well with what Atwood's written.

Perhaps even more important is that the June of The Testaments is indirectly revealed to have started working for the Mayday project proper, based at their intelligence HQ in Canada. In The Handmaid's Tale season 3, June becomes more involved with the network of Marthas, but is still operating from inside the system. The new book suggests that she will eventually make it out and become something of a revolutionary whom Gilead works hard to stop, but ultimately fails to do so. This does fit with how Hulu's The Handmaid's Tale has built June up into an almost Messiah-type figure who will survive everything she has thrown at her in order to take down Gilead, although there is a big question over whether the TV show would fully commit to this.

June Won't Be Able To Rescue Hannah From Gilead

Handmaids Tale - June Hannah and Luke

Although the character in the book is now going by the name of Agnes, it becomes clear rather quickly to readers that this young woman is actually June's daughter, who The Handmaid's Tale TV show revealed is called Hannah. She's been at the heart of June's story through all three seasons of the Hulu series, the driving force behind all of her actions, and the sole reason she hasn't left Gilead. While June has had chances to escape, most notably in The Handmaid's Tale season 2 finale, she's refused to take them because Hannah remains in Gilead.

Unfortunately, Agnes/Hannah in The Testaments has grown-up in Gilead. That's not to say she is devout or fully conforms to its ways, but she is raised completely within the system, and is being prepared for a future role as the wife of a Commander. While she does eventually make it out of Gilead, The Testaments suggests that June will continue to find her efforts to rescue Hannah prove fruitless. It's difficult at this junction to imagine that June would leave Gilead without her daughter, but since Hannah has been taken away, the chances of a rescue are increasingly thin. If The Handmaid's Tale follows this blueprint, then June will have no choice but to leave her daughter behind, which could be a huge, devastating decision for the TV series' lead character.

Related: Handmaid's Tale Season 3 Has the Opposite Problem to Game of Thrones

The Waterfords Aren't Getting Nicole Back

The Handmaids Tale Serena Joy

June's other daughter, Nicole, also factors in a major way into The Testaments, as we hear her story, presented under the name of Daisy. The Handmaid's Tale book ended with June pregnant (although not conclusively so), and the TV show has actually expanded on this aspect considerably: June not only had the baby, but gave her to the Waterfords, and then worked with Serena Joy to have her smuggled out of Gilead. However, come the end of season 3, Serena is regretting this decision and attempts to re-connect with her daughter in Canada, although she and Fred are ultimately charged with war crimes.

The Testaments takes some cues from the TV show in this regard: like on the Hulu series, baby Nicole is the poster girl for Gilead, whose citizens pray for and demand her safe return, while in Canada she's been adopted by a new family, but eventually goes into Gilead to learn some truths of her origins. It already looked like the Waterfords were on their way out of The Handmaid's Tale's story, but The Testaments provides some new context: Serena Joy isn't mentioned, while Fred simply "disappeared from view". Maybe they really will go to prison for what they've done, and whatever happens, their involvement in Nicole's life does seem to be at an end.

June Could Be Reunited With Both Of Her Daughters

The Testaments ends on a rather more optimistic note, with Agnes and Daisy - or rather, Hannah and Nicole - having found each other and left Gilead. Together in Canada, their part in the story concludes with their mother walking into their room, smiling at them. While June isn't mentioned by name, there's little doubt that's who it's referring to. The Handmaid's Tale will likely try to find a happy ending for June Osborne, and having her eventually reunited with her two children might be the way to do it. There's no obviously easy way of making this work within the TV show, since the time gap is so large, but it's not completely out of the question that there's a time jump at the end of the series (with Moss aged-up), or that they find another way of having June reunite with her daughters.

More: What To Expect From The Handmaid's Tale Season 4

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