Getting out of Gilead is hard. But truly escaping the totalitarian state? That’s even harder. After all, as Aunt Lydia loves to say, “Gilead is within you.”
In this week’s episode of The Handmaid’s Tale, the third in season two, we’ll see just how hard shaking the horror of Gilead proves to be for both Moira and Luke when we venture north to Canada to check in on their new lives as refugees in “Little America.” And as Samira Wiley, who portrays Moira, told E! News as the season two premiere, it’ll be quite the journey.
“Refugee life is not all roses. It’s trying to figure out exactly where do I fit in. Where do I belong? She’s left this horrible, horrible regime in Gilead, but everything is not totally worked out here,” the actress admitted. “She doesn’t have her friends, she doesn’t have family. Everything that she loves and cares about is still in Gilead, so it’s a real journey. It’s a journey of self-identity, really.”‘
“One of the things that was really interesting to me to explore is what is the life of a refugee. What is it to be separated from your family and to know that the people you left behind are in mortal danger? And to really connect with that as real people and to think about the refugees that are coming into our countries and go, ‘Oh wow, they’re not just some other.’ They’re people just like us,” O-T Fagbenle, who plays Luke, Offred’s (Elisabeth Moss) once-presumed dead husband, said. “There’s dentists and lawyers and people with families and fathers and brothers. There’s a certain post-traumatic stress that comes with that, and both Moira and Luke are dealing with that.”
Wiley, too, admitted she felt a real power in having the opportunity to bring to life something as relevant as a refugee crisis. “I like to say that I think it is our responsibility as artists to reflect the time that we’re living in and I don’t know what show is more timely than this. It is exactly commenting on the right now,” she said. “Our writers are so in tune with what’s going on in the world that I don’t even think it’s necessarily that conscious for them that they’re making it…you know?”
And while their refugee status has (luckily) marooned Moira and Luke outside of the dangerous action going on in Gilead, don’t expect that to last. “I think, in a way, what’s surprising is just how quickly people can normalize their conditions. When they’re disempowered and they don’t really have way to get back into Gilead or fight back, they can normalize and that can have a kind of attrition of the heart and soul,” Fagbenle teased. “Luckily for our characters, they get pushed into gear later on in the season.”
For more from the pair, be sure to check out the video above.
The Handmaid’s Tale drops new episodes every Wednesday on Hulu.