The Handmaid’s Tale Season 3 finally gave us Aunt Lydia’s backstory, and it was illuminating, to say the least. With The Handmaid’s Tale Season 4 beginning April 28, here’s everything you need to remember about what happened to Aunt Lydia last season.
Aunt Lydia’s backstory
Lydia’s fate was uncertain at the end of season 2. Emily (Alexis Bledel) quite literally stabbed Lydia in the back and pushed her down a flight of stairs for good measure. But the woman is hard to kill. Indeed, the fearsome Aunt survived. And season 3 finally showed how she became the dreaded Aunt Lydia.
Season 3 episode 8, “Unfit,” was a flashback to Lydia’s life before Gilead. Ann Dowd’s character was a fourth grade school teacher who had invested herself in the wellbeing of one of her students. She felt their mother (being single and not as “decent” as Lydia would like) wasn’t taking good care of the child. Viewers also learned Lydia was previously a family court lawyer, giving her extra emotional stake in childcare.
In trying to help the child, Lydia befriended the mother. She became more humanized in viewers’ eyes as she entered into a romantic relationship that didn’t last, revealing more about Lydia’s personal hardships. But she ended up betraying the mother who had basically become her family, separating the child from her for good.
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Lydia felt disrespected and disregarded and was looking for purpose. When the movement that created Gilead picked up steam, she saw an opportunity. And now she clutches to power as one of the most respected Aunts in Gilead, but her influence is waning.
While she survived the attempted murder at the hands of Emily, Aunt Lydia has even more problems to face with June. Elisabeth Moss’ character is fully radicalized now, having killed two people in season 3 in order to pull of her rescue plan.
June ended up saving a large group of children and Marthas by getting them on a plane to Canada, but she stayed behind to be bait for the Eyes so the plane could take off without a hitch. She was shot in the process, but also survived.
‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ Season 4 is going to be Aunt Lydia vs. June
The Handmaid’s Tale Season 4 trailers show June on the run, but also in intense face-offs with Aunt Lydia.
“She has alluded your soldiers for 19 days,” a bruised and bloodied Lydia says in one trailer. “Find her and bring her to me.”
Clearly, June will be on the run at some point in the season. And it appears to result in consequences for Aunt Lydia. It makes sense Gilead would punish her after June orchestrated several escapes throughout the series. Showrunner Bruce Miller said at a TCA panel that the conflict between June and Aunt Lydia will be a main part of the upcoming season, aka Lydia is out for vengeance. And so is June.
“We’ve got Lydia in this season in a Javert kind of position,” he said, comparing their feud to that of Jean Valjean and Javert in Les Misérables. “Where she is just obsessed with June and has so much of her personal worth tied up in what June is doing, and how much damage June is wreaking out in the world that she feels responsible for.”
Those familiar with Les Mis will recall Javert killed himself in the end after realizing the error of his ways. Whether Miller intended for that comparison to be a hint at Aunt Lydia’s fate remains to be seen. But given the horrid history between the two women (and based on the trailer showing June kicking Lydia’s a**), June might get to Aunt Lydia first.
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