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The Handmaid's Tale's Elisabeth Moss Reacts to Serena's 'Heartbreaking' Betrayal

Is their partnership dead in the water?

Lindsay MacDonald

Just when you thought you were maybe sort of starting to like Serena (Yvonne Strahovski) on The Handmaid's Tale, she pulled the rug out from under everyone yet again.

At the end of Season 2, Serena committed the selfless act of giving up baby Nichole so she wouldn't grow up in a society that oppresses and brutalizes women. Even though she's struggled with losing what was likely her one shot at raising a child, we really thought Serena would stick to her guns on that decision, but seeing Nichole again in Canada, even briefly, seems to have set her back in a major way. Poor June (Elisabeth Moss) lost any semblance of her alliance with Serena when the Waterfords staged an on-air appeal asking Canada to return Nichole to her rightful home in Gilead.

TV Guide caught up with Moss to talk about this tragic turn of events and what it means -- not only for June and her resistance but for baby Nichole and Luke in Canada.

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Up until this episode, Serena and June were on the same page, but how does that change now that Serena is trying to get Nichole back?
It's a betrayal on Serena's part. [June] really did believe in her... She's heartbroken by what Serena does, the fact that she professed to want the best life for her daughter and then changes her mind. I mean, it breaks June's heart. And I think that's a huge point in her trajectory forward through the rest of the season. The fact that she loses her as an ally is such a betrayal.

We also saw her give this heartfelt message to Luke. How emotionally taxing was that to deliver that message to him?
That was hard because there's some situations on the show that you're like, "OK, I can see myself like... I can think of something that would approximate this." Or, "I feel like I would know how I would feel in this situation." But imagining how you would send a message to your husband who you haven't talked to, and have to tell him this thing. It was just difficult to think, "How do you do that?" Like, how does one actually play that? And I'm very happy with it, and I'm happy with what we did with it. But it was very difficult to figure out and emotional.

Why do you think it was so important for her to tell him of Nichole's true parentage?
I think because she knew Luke would want to know. She knows him so well, and when you know somebody and you love somebody, you want to -- you feel the need, I think, to give them what they need. And she knows that he'd be thinking that, she knows he'd be wondering where that baby came from. And I think she also wants him to be able to love that child with full understanding of where she came from. And rather than thinking that it was maybe Waterford's or it was a product of a rape, she wants him to know the truth, which is that this baby was born out of love. You know? And I think that's important for Luke to know.

Elisabeth Moss, Yvonne Strahovski, and Joseph Fiennes, The Handmaid's Tale

Elisabeth Moss, Yvonne Strahovski, and Joseph Fiennes, The Handmaid's Tale

Sophie Giraud, Hulu

Speaking of, where does Nick and June's relationship stand as of now?
Moss: I think that June gets to a place where she realizes that she doesn't have time for that. There's a huge fight, the stakes are really high, and the only thing that matters is people that will help her. The only thing that matters are people that will get her what she needs and do what she needs them to do, and nothing else matters. And anything that's going to get in her way, or anyone that gets in her way, is going to go down. She does become very ruthless. And so I think she loves Nick and always will, but maybe at this particular time [there] might not be a lot of time for that.

How would you characterize the relationship between Commander Lawrence (Bradley Whitford) and June this season? Can he be trusted?
To me it's the most interesting relationship in the season. It goes through so many changes, and it really does develop into something really interesting. I think the thing is at the beginning, she doesn't know if she can trust him. She doesn't know who he is, and he's very confusing. And she thought that he was going to be helping her with the resistance, and then it turns out that maybe he doesn't want to, but then he kind of will. I think she's incredibly confused by him, and challenged by him as well. But I think the place that she gets to that's really important is she doesn't need to like him, she doesn't need to understand him, she just needs to get him to do what she wants him to do. And once she gets there -- it's just very important for her to get to that place. Like, "I don't need you to be my friend. I don't even need you to tell me that you're on my side. I just need you to cooperate."

And now that Serena is no longer her ally, who else will she turn to for help?
It's all about the women. You know, we know that there's that Martha network. We know that that exists. That's obviously not something that's going away. And she has her girls, she has her handmaids. And they're united, they always will be united in this cause. She just ends up having to convince them to do something crazier than they have ever done. And she has to convince them to follow her on a pretty insane crusade.

New episodes of The Handmaid's Tale release Wednesdays on Hulu.

Reporting by Keisha Hatchett.

​Elisabeth Moss and Bradley Whitford, The Handmaid's Tale

Elisabeth Moss and Bradley Whitford, The Handmaid's Tale