The Handmaid's Tale Season 2 Recap You Absolutely Need Before Season 3 Airs

Get up-to-date on what's going down in Gilead.

Handmaid Tales Season 2 Recap
Photo: Hulu

Debuting three episodes on June 5, The Handmaid's Tale has left viewers on a, let's say, fiery note. Serena Joy's house is ablaze, Emily is on the run and June is sticking around to head up what appears to be an all-out war in Gilead. (Let's hope she makes "burn motherf*cker burn" her battle cry).

But that's just the beginning. Before Hulu's favorite dystopian show kicks off on Wednesday, there's a pressing need for a Handmaid's Tale season 2 recap, for everyone who forgot what happened at the end of the last season.

Here's everything you'll want to remember, including the details on Aunt Lydia's fate.

1. There was a deadly explosion.

Episode 6, aptly titled "First Blood," ended with a bang — literally. During an event at the new Rachel and Leah Center (a.k.a. the Red Center where handmaids are trained), Commander Fred Waterford (Joseph Fiennes) addresses a room filled with a blend of Gilead officials and handmaids. As Fred is speaking, a handmaid (Ofglen) enters the building and lifts her arm to reveal a bomb. The attack kills 26 commanders and 31 handmaids, and sets off a chain of events, including Emily and Janine's return to Gilead to help restore a shortage of handmaids. Fred is also hospitalized, which leads Serena Joy (Yvonne Strahovski) to enlist June (Elisabeth Moss) to help with Fred's duties. The two pair up to arrange the arrest of Commander Ray Cushing, asking Nick (Max Minghella) for help with forging an arrest warrant. When Fred learns of their actions, he beats Serena Joy to keep her in her place.

2. Serena's past life was brought to light.

Serena Joy's name might be a derivative of the word serene, but Handmaid's Tale viewers know the onetime conservative activist is anything but. Serena Joy authored a book called A Woman's Place, which detailed a way of life known as "domestic feminism." The book and its ideologies — which includes women fulfilling their destinies as mothers instead of pursuing careers — is largely what helped to shape Gilead and its policies. Of course, Serena was eventually pushed aside once the all-male Commanders take over and decide to silence women altogether, meaning Serena's speaking and writing career was kaput.

3. June was reunited with her daughter.

Following a violent scene where Fred rapes June in what he claims is an attempt to induce labor, he tells the handmaid he has a surprise for her. She soon discovers its a chance to see her daughter, Hannah, in an abandoned house. June tells Hannah: "I need you to do something for me. Enjoy your life. Love your parents, and you do whatever they tell you. OK? Because I need you to be careful and I need you to keep yourself safe." The two then have to quickly say goodbye for a second time and June, naturally, breaks down. Things unravel quickly after that — Nick is carried away after supposedly being shot, and June gives birth by herself after hiding in the house. June names the baby Holly and is then forced to give her to Serena Joy, who renames her Nichole.

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4. Eden was executed.

After 15-year-old Eden (Sydney Sweeney) was gifted to Nick as his bride, she discovers he is in love with June. She tries to fulfill her role anyway, but in the meantime falls in love with Isaac (Rohan Mead), one of the guards. When she tries to run away with Isaac, her father turns her in. Nick begs her to lie and say Isaac abducted her, but she refuses. "I love Isaac and we want to be together," she says. The couple is executed by being thrown into a swimming pool with weights attached to their ankles, as the community of wives and handmaids watch.

5. Emily stabs Aunt Lydia.

After stealing a knife from the kitchen, Emily (Alexis Bledel) puts it to use following a particularly tense exchange with Aunt Lydia (Ann Dowd). When Aunt Lydia turns to walk away, Emily stabs her in the back then repeatedly kicks her until she rolls down the stairs. The one-eyed Martha comes running in and, upon seeing Aunt Lydia on the floor, tells Commander Lawrence (Bradley Whitford) to call an ambulance and locks Emily in her room. (Don't worry — rumor has it Aunt Lydia is alive and well.)

6. Serena Joy gives away Nichole.

Armed with the knowledge that Gilead is not a place to raise a girl, Serena Joy gives baby Nichole to June, and June's escape from Gilead is in motion. But when the getaway vehicle pulls up, June gives the baby to Emily and says, “Call her Nichole. Tell her I love her.” The car leaves and June is seen walking away, her hood pulled over her head.

7. Serena Joy sets everything on fire.

Well, almost. Serena Joy hits her breaking point and sets the house on fire. In a haunting shot, she is seen standing in the midst of the flames engulfing what was her home. Upon smelling the smoke, June finds Serena and the two make eye contact, then exchange a smile. June ushers Serena out of the house. The final scene is a shot of June standing outside of the home and watching it burn.

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