Warning: huge spoilers ahead for the Season 2 finale of The Handmaid's Tale. If you haven't watched the episode yet, turn back now or be spoiled on what happened to one major character. Otherwise, proceed!
The Handmaid's Tale is intense even on its least eventful episodes, and the Season 2 finale definitely doesn't qualify as "uneventful." It was a huge hour for most of the characters viewers have come to care about over the past two seasons, and it left the life of one person very much in question. Aunt Lydia (Ann Dowd) was stabbed, knocked down a flight of stairs, and kicked repeatedly in a brutal attack. She was in such a bad way that it seemed like The Handmaid's Tale was ending Season 2 with the implication that Aunt Lydia would be dead in Season 3. Executive producer Warren Littlefield rather surprisingly revealed her fate, saying this:
The first thing we said [to Ann] is, 'You're not dead, but it's going to be a pretty brutal scene.' She was completely up for it.
Well, that settles that! Aunt Lydia will undoubtedly suffer some longterm effects of what happened to her, but she'll be back and alive when The Handmaid's Tale returns for the third season. Admittedly, the finale was hardly definitive in indicating that Aunt Lydia was dead, so the reveal that she's alive probably won't anger any eagle-eyed fans who realized that she might still be breathing. Still, at least fans can spend the rest of hiatus pondering the other cliffhangers without being too concerned about whether or not Aunt Lydia will still be in the mix.
Aunt Lydia is one of those characters that is generally a horrible person but also happens to be a fantastic villain who viewers can love to root against, so it may be for the best that she lives into Season 3. We can only hope that she doesn't get the chance for revenge on Emily, who staged the attack and left her for dead. Emily has suffered enough on the show already without needing to deal with Aunt Lydia somehow striking back.
Interestingly, Warren Littlefield didn't actually intend to reveal Aunt Lydia's fate so soon after the finale aired. After he dropped the detail on EW Radio (via EW), he realized "that's an enormous spoiler" that he uttered on the radio. That said, viewers probably could have figured out Aunt Lydia's fate if they watch the Season 2 finale carefully. Littlefield went on to say this about Aunt Lydia:
There were different choices of how we shot that, that could have indicated that there was absolutely nothing, no signs of life. But you do see it at the foot of the stairs, that there are signs of life. Is there great risk? Absolutely. But yeah, again, I think I may have done a big spoiler here. Aunt Lydia is such a powerful and important part of this world and this show. But we fear for her life, and it is absolutely life-threatening. And that's where we leave her, in a life-threatening situation.
Those signs of life in Aunt Lydia at the end of her finale Season 2 scene weren't just Ann Dowd moving when her character was supposed to be dead. Aunt Lydia is alive, if not exactly well. Now viewers can speculate what she'll do next and how she'll be changed by her ordeal. Something tells me that being brutally beaten isn't going to make her sympathize with the Handmaids.
You can find the first two full seasons of The Handmaid's Tale streaming on Hulu. The show was renewed for a third season, but no details are available just yet on when the third season will premiere. My fingers are crossed that Oprah Winfrey will make another cameo. For some alternate viewing options, check out our summer TV premiere schedule.