When discussing Emily's journey in Season 2, showrunner Bruce Miller revealed to TV Guide that a key question going into this season was exploring how Emily would be changed after her experiences in the Colonies, a toxic wasteland where infertile, lower-class women are discarded and forced into hard and deadly labor.
"We did a lot of research on labor camps, everything from the Holocaust to gulags and prison labor camps in China to see what kind of experience those people had when they got out," Miller said at PaleyFest on Sunday. "And the UN, as they often are, were very helpful with us because you want to know the real answer. And luckily, we have resources to help us understand the real answer: what's it like when you come out of a place like that?"
Although we don't know how, why or when Emily leaves the Colonies, Miller did reveal some of the ways she will be markedly different when the season picks up. "I don't think your time in the Colonies can affect you anyway but poorly, knock down your confidence in other human beings," Miller explained. "But for Emily, I think it really exposes some survival instincts in her that she didn't know were there. Her ability to survive, her ability to be cruel to other people who she thinks don't deserve any kindness. Also, her ability to live day-to-day and still have friendships and interactions and mark the passages of life and how even in a terrible situation she can do that."
It's possible that one of Emily's new friends in the Colonies will be Janine (Madeline Brewer), who will have been banished there after kidnapping her child last season. And it seems as though Janine won't be the only friendly face to resurface in Emily's life. Miller also teased that Emily and Offred's (Elisabeth Moss) paths will cross yet again, although it's unclear whether this will be in the Colonies or not.
As Miller explained, Emily, who was the one who first recruited Offred to the resistance movement, will have had "her reserve of spirit" drained by her experiences in the Colonies, which may change things between them when they eventually reunite. "How much has she changed? What kind of different person is she" mused Miller.
Additional reporting by Lindsay Macdonald