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The Handmaid’s Tale is already confirmed to return for a sixth and final season, but that won’t be the end of the story. A spinoff series based on Margaret Atwood’s sequel novel The Testaments is confirmed. The Testaments takes place 15 years after The Handmaid’s Tale and features a mostly new cast of characters. However, Aunt Lydia does appear in The Testaments, though her personality is different than what viewers have seen in the series so far.

[SPOILER ALERT: Spoilers ahead for The Handmaid’s Tale Season 5 Episode 6.] 

Ann Dowd as Aunt Lydia in The Handmaid's Tale Season 5. Aunt Lydia wears a brown cloak and hat and stands outside in front of a river.
Ann Dowd as Aunt Lydia in ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ Season 5 | Sophie Giraud/Hulu

Aunt Lydia behaves differently in ‘The Testaments’

Though season 6 will mark the end of The Handmaid’s Tale, the series is getting a spinoff. The Testaments will be based on Margaret Atwood’s sequel novel set 15 years later. The book includes a few characters from The Handmaid’s Tale.

Aunt Lydia plays a big role in Atwood’s The Testaments. In the book, she is quite different than the character seen in The Handmaid’s Tale series. In fact, she is secretly working to bring down Gilead. The book gives more context to Aunt Lydia’s backstory and shows a compassionate side to the character.

‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ showrunner discussed Aunt Lydia ‘growing’ in the direction of her character in the sequel

The Handmaid’s Tale has certainly changed some things from Atwood’s original novel, so there’s no need to expect Aunt Lydia to completely transform to match her character from The Testaments. Still, in recent episodes of The Handmaid’s Tale Season 5, Lydia does seem to be moving in that direction.

After Esther poisons herself and Janine, Aunt Lydia vows to act with more compassion. The revelation that Warren Putnam raped Esther horrifies her, and she demands that Commander Lawrence do something about it. Though Lawrence scoffs at her request, he and Nick eventually do punish Warren.

“I think we’re seeing kind of an era of self-examination that she’s going through. Things have been going on for a certain time in Gilead, and she’s starting to lose… it doesn’t seem to be getting any better with the next generation,” showrunner Bruce Miller said while speaking with Entertainment Weekly.


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“So she’s reckoning with the decision she’s made when she was younger, or at the beginning of Gilead, what she threw her a lot in with, and that really is what The Testaments is about,” he continued. “So she’s pivoting to those issues, and I think the character is growing in that direction. And that’s why Margaret Atwood was inspired to write it, and that’s why Ann [Dowd] makes such an incredible character.”

‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ won’t force the timeline with Aunt Lydia

Though Aunt Lydia appears to be growing toward her character in The Testaments, Miller is adamant about not forcing the character to reach a certain destination. “We’re not doing it like, ‘Oh, we have to get into this very precise timeline with events,'” he told EW.

“I think that’s just going to make it bad TV. So we’re trying to make this a really good TV show, and then we’ll try to make The Testaments a really good TV show. And we’ll go from there,” Miller continued. “But for Lydia, I think the natural arc is toward self-examination, she doesn’t always end up where you think she’s gonna end up, but she is doing that more and more.”

Don’t miss new episodes of The Handmaid’s Tale Season 5 Wednesdays on Hulu.