WARNING: This article contains SPOILERS for Margaret Atwood’s Testament novel. Readers discretion is advised!After it was announced that a spinoff to The Handmaid’s Tale was in the works, there have been a lot of updates surrounding The Testaments’ cast and story details. Set 15 years after The Handmaid’s Tale, The Testaments is the second book in the franchise that follows the perspective of three women, (Aunt Lydia, Agnes Jemima, and Daisy), whose accounts inform readers as to what happened to Gilead after June Osborne was taken by “the Eyes”. After it was revealed that Aunt Lydia has secretly been a mole for Mayday, these three women soon band together and try to bring the regime down from the inside.
Written by Margaret Atwood, the second novel in The Handmaid’s Tale franchise is full of thought-provoking subplots and continues to engage with topics, such as the repression of women, the loss of agency, and the abuse of power. However, given that Hulu’s adaptation of The Handmaid’s Tale has changed the fate of several characters and added its own artistic liberties, viewers should expect The Testaments to do the same as the writers try to keep the story consistent.
The Testaments Latest News
On March 28, 2023, it was reported that The Handmaid’s Tale head showrunner, Bruce Miller, will be stepping down for season 6 so he can focus all his attention on developing the spinoff series, The Testaments (via Variety). Although he is passing on the duties to Eric Tuchman and Yahlin Chang, Miller will continue to serve as a writer and executive producer on the main show so he will know where exactly he should start and what characters will be available to him once The Handmaid’s Tale ends.
The Testaments Confirmed
As reported by Deadline in September 2019, there were rumors that Hulu and MGM TV were working on getting The Testaments developed into its own series. While there was not a lot of details released about it then (particularly since the novel had yet to be released and The Handmaid’s Tale had just been renewed for season 4), attention turned back to the spinoff in March 2023 when Miller announced that he was stepping down as The Handmaid’s Tale head showrunner to focus more on the project.
The Testaments Release Date Info
With Madeline Brewer (who plays Janine) revealing on The Graham Norton Show’s 2022 New Year’s Eve Special that season 6 of The Handmaid’s Tale will likely be released sometime in 2024 and Miller hinting that he hadn’t even started writing the story for the spinoff just yet, it’s going to be a while before The Testaments arrives. However, given that each season of The Handmaid’s Tale has been released within a year of each other, it’s likely that the spinoff will appear sometime in 2025.
The Testaments Cast
Unsurprisingly, Ann Dowd is the only cast member of The Handmaid’s Tale confirmed to be appearing in The Testaments as she is set to reprise her role as Aunt Lydia. While Dowd has said she knows nothing about what the writers have planned for her or the television adaptation of the story, she is excited about the project since she did do “the audiobook of The Testaments” and believes the novel is “brilliantly written” and “extraordinary” (via EW).
Which Handmaid’s Tale Characters Could Return
With the spinoff supposedly set 15 years after the events of the first novel, it’s highly likely that many characters in The Handmaid’s Tale will appear in The Testaments. While Ann Dowd is already confirmed to be returning as Aunt Lydia in the spinoff, fans should also expect to see June’s children, Nichole and Hannah (Daisy and Agnes in the book), return too as they are also the protagonists of The Testaments. However, expect them to be played by different and older actors. The minor character, Aunt Elizabeth, could appear in The Testaments as well since she has a significant role in the sequel book.
There’s a possibility that Elisabeth Moss’ June could make a brief appearance too since the end of the sequel novel sees “Daisy/Nicole” and “Agnes” reunited with their mother. Even if the writers decide to go kill off June in season 6, there’s still a chance that she could return in flashbacks scenes or record a message for them (just like she did for Luke in season 3, episode 5 “Unknown Caller”).
The Testaments Story Details
While it’s unclear if the television adaptation of The Testaments will follow the same timeline, the story is meant to take place 15 years after the events of The Handmaid’s Tale, which saw June being taken by the Eyes. Instead of following June Osborne (otherwise known as Offred), the story is told from the perspective of three women: the infamous Aunt Lydia, who is revealed to be a spy for Mayday, Agnes Jemima, and Daisy (whose real name is Nicole). Although their stories begin in different places, they are enlisted by Mayday and tasked with helping the rebellious group bring down Gilead from the inside.
Considering that season 3 of The Handmaid’s Tale had just finished by the time Atwood’s sequel novel was released in 2019, the writers have had to come up with new ways for The Handmaid’s Tale to set up The Testaments. It’s taken longer than expected but the season 5 finale did hint that Aunt Lydia’s loyalty towards Gilead is waning after witnessing the horrific treatment Esther Keyes (Mckenna Grace) and Janine experienced at the hands of the Commanders and their rules. With The Handmaid’s Tale about to enter the final season, it’s likely viewers will see Aunt Lydia become the rebellious figure they know in The Testaments.
Source: Variety, Deadline, BBC, EW