‘The Handmaid’s Tale’: Ann Dowd Says That Rebellious Handmaids Are Not as ‘Plentiful’ in Season 5

The Handmaid’s Tale Season 5 will continue to follow June’s life in Canada while bouncing back to give fans glimpses of Gilead. Aunt Lydia continues to rule the Red Center with an iron fist, and her job might actually be getting easier. Actor Ann Dowd teased that there aren’t as many rebellious handmaids left in Gilead by season 5.

Ann Dowd will return as Aunt Lydia in The Handmaid's Tale Season 5. Aunt Lydia stands in front of an assembly of handmaids.
Ann Dowd as Aunt Lydia in ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ | Sophie Giraud/Hulu

Aunt Lydia regains her power after a plane of children escape

By the time The Handmaid’s Tale Season 5 premieres, many of the handmaids that were originally shown with June at the Red Center are either dead or in Canada. Yet new waves of handmaids are still being brought in and trained in the ways of Gilead.

Aunt Lydia suffered a setback in her career after June sent a plane of children from Gilead to Canada. However, she manages to orchestrate a way to get back on top. “She has a tremendous work structure and ethic that she clings to,” Ann Dowd said in a 2021 interview with The Hollywood Reporter.

“So when she almost lost her position, she took the step of facing off with a Commander [Lawrence] who can’t even stand her, who has always disrespected her, and she has to go threaten him to get her place back. There’s a lot of ways that she’s shifting, and they’re powerful.”

Ann Dowd says there aren’t as many rebellious handmaids in ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ Season 5

In The Handmaid’s Tale Season 4, Janine was recaptured but allowed to work at the Red Center, where Aunt Lydia has returned to her former glory. Esther was also made a handmaid after helping June and her friends in their attempted escape.

Although Esther initially refuses to eat, Janine convinces Aunt Lydia to allow her to talk to her. She tells Esther to forget about June and do what she has to stay alive for when things get better. Eventually, Esther complies.

While speaking with The Hollywood Reporter, Ann Dowd gave some insight on Aunt Lydia’s management of the handmaids in season 5. “It wouldn’t surprise me if she steps in with the renewed confidence of someone who has found her footing again,” Dowd said.

“Will she soften? I think I read it in one of the scripts that the rebels are not as plentiful among the Handmaids anymore. The Junes and Moiras [played by Samira Wiley], that level of ‘f*** you’ is not [there]. I don’t think Lydia will have any problem getting order and following what she needs to follow to keep things moving.”

Women are becoming accustomed to the rules of Gilead by season 5

There’s a logical reason that the handmaids in The Handmaid’s Tale Season 5 might not seem as rebellious as before. Aunt Lydia once pointed out that though the new order might seem very strange, it will eventually feel normal. Horrifyingly, that may be coming true for the new handmaids.

The women have had the opportunity to see the consequences of rebelling. While some were able to escape, most were killed or mutilated. Some of these new handmaids may have been so young when Gilead came into power that they hardly remember their lives before. Things at the Red Center will certainly look different in season 5.

The Handmaid’s Tale Season 5 premieres Sept. 14 on Hulu.

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