Warning: The following contains spoilers for the second episode of The Handmaid’s Tale‘s second season. If you haven’t watched yet, you might want to bookmark this page and return once you have. Proceed with caution.
Did Alexis Bledel just win herself a second Emmy?
We’ll have to wait to September to find out, but her performance in the second episode of the new season of The Handmaid’s Tale—her first back as a series regular—sure was proof enough that her first win was no damn fluke.
When last we saw Bledel’s Emily, she was being carted off to parts unknown after taking a joyride in a security vehicle and running over a Gildeadan guard. As we checked back in with her, we learned that she’d been labeled one of Gilead’s “Unwomen” and sentenced to life in the radioactive Colonies. It was a brutal hour gave us insight into Emily’s heartbreaking past, while showing us exactly who she’s become.
“It’s such an honor to get to play her,” Bledel gushed to E! News about the big episode. “I was so excited to get to flash back and then flash forward, basically, in one episode. It gives me such an incredible creative challenge, that I love. It’s just so creatively satisfying. It’s really fun.”
In the episode’s flashbacks, we saw Emily’s life right as it fell to pieces as the college professor and her wife Sylvia (played by guest star Clea DuVall) attempted to get the heck out of dodge, only to find their marriage rendered null and void at the airport, forcing Emily to stay behind. In a series known for its heart-wrenching scenes, this one truly took the cake.
“You know, on the page, I read it for the first time and the tears just came. And then I read it for the second, the third time—same reaction,” Bledel said of the airport scene. “It’s all there on the page, so it all came very naturally the day of filming as well. It was amazing to work with Clea and imagine together what their family life was like. They’re two loving moms and I was so proud to get to depict that on television. We had a great day. We just dive right in. I met her the day we shot that, so it just all came together.”
Bledel got the share the screen with not one, but two big season two guest stars in the episode when Marisa Tomei‘s character—a Commander’s wife—arrived at the Colonies. Despite Emily appearing the show a woman complicit in Gilead’s many abuses kindness, we learned in the final moments that she’d actually poisoned her, leaving her to die alone, clinging to her misguided faith.
“I’m such a fan of her work. I was excited to work with her. When her character arrives in the Colonies, a wife, Emily is sort of enraged to see her there,” Bledel explained. “It would be very unusual to see a wife in the Colonies and Marisa brought so much of this energy having to do with her religious devotion. It almost surrounded her, and yet she had made this choice that was in direct opposition to that, so she was so conflicted. And my character’s so tortured. There was so much in the air to grab at within a scene. We had so much to do. It was really thrilling.”
Not as thrilling as it was to watch, that’s for sure.
For more from Bledel, be sure to check out the video above.
The Handmaid’s Tale drops new episodes every Wednesday on Hulu.