‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ Season 5: Yvonne Strahovski Wants Flashbacks Showing the First Offred
There was another Offred and Serena in The Handmaid’s Tale before June Osborne came along. And Yvonne Strahovski wants to dive into that history in The Handmaid’s Tale Season 5. In a recent interview, the actor shared her hopes for Serena Joy’s plot in the upcoming (and possibly last) season. And outside of Serena’s goals for baby, she wants to see Fred and Serena flashbacks to their early life in Gilead with the first Offred. Joseph Fiennes and showrunner Bruce Miller have also expressed similar interest.
What happened to the first Offred?
The first Offred was revealed in Fred and Serena’s first scene in The Handmaid’s Tale. In the pilot episode, also titled “Offred,” viewers learned the first Offred killed herself by hanging herself in the Waterford’s home. Fred was having an affair with Offred. Of course, just like June, the feelings weren’t reciprocated. Handmaids have no choice when it comes to the sexual desires of their Commanders, even though adultery is a high crime in Gilead.
Fred was in love with the first Offred, and he fell in love with June, the second Offred. Even up until his death in The Handmaid’s Tale Season 4 finale, Fred believed June loved him too. He convinced himself the first Offred reciprocated his feelings as well. In The Handmaid’s Tale Season 1 Episode 4, June asks Fred about her predecessor’s death.
“I suppose she found her life unbearable,” he said.
“And you want my life to be bearable?” June replied.
“I would prefer it,” the Commander said.
Fred and Serena flashbacks could show the first Offred in ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ Season 5
Serena had much more contempt for the first Offred. But her dislike of both her Handmaids was compounded by her jealousy of their fertility. In an interview leading up to the 2021 Emmy Awards, the Emmy-nominated Strahovski said Fred and Serena’s relationship truly started breaking down during the “first chapter of Gilead, pre-June arriving and going back to the original Offred.” And that’s what she wants to showcase next season.
“That was when Fred started to fool around with other people and that was [when] the trust started to go between Serena and Fred,” she told Variety’s Awards Circuit Podcast. “That was the foundation of where I built Serena from—from the bitterness of the hurt and the betrayal that she would have felt during that time.”
Strahovski said Fred deciding to convict Serena for reading in season 2 was the point of no return for their relationship. There was nothing “redeemable” left after that. From that moment on, Strahovski says their relationship was purely transactional. Their dynamic did improve a bit through season 3, but Serena’s desire to get Nichole back was stronger than the few feelings she had left for her husband.
Serena used him in season 4 as a ticket out of prison. And despite his death, Serena will likely still get out of prison. But she’ll have to grapple with how much she wants to use Fred’s death to her advantage, Strahovski said.
Joseph Fiennes will be in season 5 through ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ flashback scenes
Fiennes shares Serena’s eagerness to be rid of Fred for good. But he has a few more stories to tell. Miller confirmed to The Hollywood Reporter that Fiennes will be in season 5 in flashback mode, adding that he’s interested in early Gilead scenes. He said:
“I think the stories of Serena and Fred that we haven’t seen before, even in early Gilead, are fascinating. In the finale, we revisit Fred and June and what happened in the Waterford house in flashbacks. I would never take anything like that off the table.”
It seems feasible flashbacks to the Waterford house could continue in future episodes. Fiennes told Fortress of Solitude he wants to show how Fred devolved from the supportive husband to the much more famous Serena to the abuser fans saw. This could mean flashbacks to life before Gilead as well. He said:
“I would love to see an episode where we delve back into the early days to examine the headiness and support that Fred provided Serena. Following how it went wrong would show the corrosive effects of power especially, when you have a weaker character like Fred, who hides beneath double-breasted jackets, political positions, and mahogany desks.”
The Handmaid’s Tale Season 4 cut a lot of scenes because of coronavirus (COVID-19) filming restrictions. Hopefully, it will be easier to include more backstory in The Handmaid’s Tale Season 5. Because finally seeing the first Offred would be captivating.