Serena Expands Gilead’s Borders in Year 5

SÃO PAULO, SP (FOLHAPRESS) – “Unbalanced”. This is the word that defines Serena Joy in the 5th season of the series “The Handmaid’s Tale” according to her interpreter, the Australian Yvonne Strahovski, 40. will become June’s (Elisabeth Moss) main antagonist in the plot.

“Serena only thinks about revenge”, evaluates the actress, whose character will discover that her husband, Commander Fred Waterford (Joseph Fiennes) was killed by the former handmaid. It was payback for the years she spent being abused, including sexually, at the couple’s home in Gilead, the ultra-conservative nation that settled much of American territory in the series.

“We’re going to get a new taste of Serena,” Strahovski says. “We’ve even seen her unbalanced, but not like that. She’s really scared of what June is capable of. So, she tries to match up the best way she knows how, turning Hannah [filha de June] on your target.”

In the plot, Hannah was taken from her parents and given up for adoption. Serena, who found out she was pregnant last season, will use this to her advantage to get back to Gilead — she was detained in Canada — for Fred’s funeral, a pompous event that will have great repercussions in history.

“I think this pregnancy gives her power, precisely because it is a miraculous pregnancy”, says the actress, noting that in the series most women are unable to have children after an infertility pandemic. “It attracts a lot of attention for her, that public eye is going to serve as a protection for her and, in a way, it’s going to give her power and a voice as a woman.”

For the interpreter, Serena is a woman who believes in the ideology imposed by Gilead, despite the treatment given to women there. “I think she has a deep faith, even if it has been weakened at times,” she says. “She questions some things, but something about her always comes back to the conviction that Gilead is an attempt to create a safe environment for people to have children again.”

She tells what she imagines going on in the character’s mind: “We were at this moment when the Earth had been cursed and the human species was threatened with its continuity, and look at me now, it must be a miracle!” “I think part of her believes that God has blessed her for all the sacrifices and choices she’s made so far,” she says.

With her “miraculous” pregnancy and the visibility she gains as a widow at a state funeral, Serena is ready to soar. “If a leadership position were offered to her in Gilead, I’m sure she would take it,” Strahovski foreshadows. “I think she would like the female voices to be heard more, even if she couldn’t change much, she knows how to play the game and it would also be a personal satisfaction from a selfish point of view.”

To become the main villain of the season, however, the character cannot be far from the protagonist, so she returns to Canada, but taking a little Gilead with her. “I think she’s devastated and terrified, but she realizes she has a fan base in Toronto and elsewhere in the world, so she’s going to ride that horse,” she says.

“Serena was never someone who lacked tools, so this is another one she’s going to pull out of her hat,” he continues. “That’s the only weapon left, so she’s going to go all out on this journey.”

Series creator Bruce Miller confirms that this will be one of the biggest dramatic arcs in history this year. “One of the big themes is going to be the confrontation between June and Serena Joy”, he says. “It’s like a delicious game of chess where, with each episode and throughout the entire season, they take turns to see who’s on top.”

The expected duel between the two characters should be one of the highlights of the series. “They are two rivals who hate each other, but there is also something very interesting in the fact that they respect each other, despite everything”, he evaluates. “I find that fascinating, especially in the world we live in today, where political opponents or people with very different points of view could find that common ground as well.”

Strahovski says that he always goes back to some moments of the character to understand why two strong women like June and Serena almost never managed to peck each other. “I think it all starts in the pilot of the series, when we see that something happened between Serena and Fred, implying that he cheated on her with the previous handmaid”, he comments. “Whatever happened has already established a rift in this couple.”

“I look at it like it’s real life: you’re traumatized by it no longer being a beautiful, innocent relationship between two people who really loved each other, when a betrayal occurs and the wounds start to show,” he continues. “In Serena’s case, she has a lot of anger and bitterness inside her. I think she tried to connect with people, but in Gilead everyone is pitted against each other and women have no voice, so I think she’s frustrated with the trying to make a connection with June, but it continually fails.”

Still on the character, hated by many and seen as a traitor to the achievements of women, the actress says she seeks to understand what drives Serena to do the things she does. “For me, it’s survival,” she says. “Everyone has a different way of surviving in Gilead and has to make choices, some good and some bad. Serena doesn’t make those choices based on loyalty, but on her own survival.”


When: Premieres 9/18

Where: At Paramount+

Cast: Elisabeth Moss, Yvonne Strahovski, Madeline Brewer, Ann Dowd, OT Fagbenle and Max Minghella, among others.

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