Some fans speculated that Bledel might make a quick return to her character in order to give her a proper send-off. Instead, the season 5 premiere hastily explains her exit off-screen.
Warning! Spoilers for “The Handmaid’s Tale” season 5 appear below!
Here’s How ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ Handled Alexis Bledel’s Departure In The Season 5 Premiere
On September 14, “The Handmaid’s Tale” kicked things off with not one but two episodes to show June (Elisabeth Moss) and her return to the series after killing Commander Waterford (Joseph Fiennes) at the end of season 4.
After washing the blood off her hands, June heads to breakfast with the other handmaids before she notices that Emily (Alexis Bledel) is missing. She goes to the home that Emily lives in with her wife, Sylvia (Clea DuVall), and her son, Oliver.
Although no one answers the door, Sylvia suddenly appears and informs June that Emily, who had previously escaped Gilead after suffering unspeakable torment there, had made the surprising decision to head back to Gilead. “She went back to fight I think… to find Aunt Lydia if she can,” Sylvia told June, adding, “It’s what she needed to do.”
When June asks what she said, Sylvia explains that Emily didn’t even say her good-bye in person. Instead, she called Sylvia to let her know she was leaving. “I wanted to wake Oliver up but she said no,” Sylvia explained. “I don’t know why she’d say no.”
After a guilty June tells Sylvia that she can “fix this,” Sylvia curses her out and tells her that she and her son will never see her again. Even when June tries to take the blame for Emily leaving, Sylvia doesn’t seem to care.
“I don’t care. She’s gone. I don’t need it to be someone’s fault. Why does it matter whose fault it is?” Sylvia asks June. “So I can hate the right person? So I can hate you? What good is that?”
Sylvia admits that she and Oliver will try to be happy with the little time that they got to spend with Emily after her return from Gilead, as they never thought they would see her again after she was detained at the border. Before she leaves, June asks Sylvia if she’ll tell her if Emily ever contacts her again.
However, Sylvia quickly shuts her down, saying, “No. Goodbye, June.”
Fans Are Hopeful That They Might Be Able To Emily Again One Day!
For fans of the series, many were relieved to see that her character was not killed off off-screen. Emily’s return to Gilead hints at the possibility that fans can see her again, if Bledel chooses to return to the franchise.
Although Alexis Bledel has played Emily (also known as Ofglen, Ofsteven, Ofroy, and Ofjoseph), since season one, she revealed in May that she would not be reprising her role for the show’s fifth season.
In a statement provided to Entertainment Weekly, Bledel said, “After much thought, I felt I had to step away from The Handmaid’s Tale at this time. I am forever grateful to [showrunner] Bruce Miller for writing such truthful and resonant scenes for Emily, and to Hulu, MGM, the cast and crew for their support.”
Bledel won an Outstanding Guest Actress in a Drama Series Emmy for her role in 2017 and was nominated three more times in 2018, 2020, and 2021.
‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ Will End With A Sixth and Final Season
As The Hollywood Reporter shared last week, the Emmy-award-winning Hulu adaption of the book created by Margaret Atwood has been renewed for a sixth and final season.
In an interview with the outlet, creator, showrunner and executive producer Bruce Miller said, “It’s been a very, very, very luxurious time that I’ve had to think about what happens at the end of this story and exactly how we’d like to get there as a company.”
“I’m very glad we’re being able to do it on our own terms because I know how lucky that makes us — all the actors and creative people who put their hearts and souls into it — to close up the play the way you want,” he added. “Dropping the curtain the way you want is such a huge privilege.”
Although plenty of fans are sad that “The Handmaid’s Tale” will be coming to an end, the story of Gilead will continue with “The Testaments,” which is the sequel to Atwood’s best-selling novel.