The premiere picks up shortly after last season's finale left off, with Emily (Alexis Bledel) on the run with baby Nichole/Holly, while June (Elisabeth Moss) figures out where to go from here now that she's decided to forego an escape and stick around Gilead in hopes of freeing Hannah. Perhaps the most shocking development comes from Serena Joy (Yvonne Strahovski), who's starting to feel the walls of her own creation closing in on her and decides to torch the Waterford home, starting with the ceremonial bed.
June manages to talk Serena Joy into escaping alongside her and Rita, but none of them are able to stop the blaze from consuming the Waterfords' home. Fans might not get to see the full extent of the devastation, but we can be sure that the show won't soon return to that abominable abode, because the real-life set suffered serious destruction in the process of filming that scene.
In an interview with Entertainment Weekly, Elisabeth Moss explained of the house, "You're never going to see it again. We literally did burn it. A lot of it was charred and actually burnt. It's gone!"
Yvonne Strahovski, meanwhile, added that she "was actually standing in front of the burning bedroom" during the take and was alarmed by the sight of the place burning, no matter how controlled the process may have been. "Fire has a mind of its own — so there were, for me, some hairy moments, in terms of the set starting to burn up," she told EW. "At one point, big chunks of ash were floating around that were very much lit. I was actually surprised how much it did freak me out because I've been used to, in my career so far, doing a bunch of stunts and crazy things. I don't think I've ever stood that close to a fire. It was a little disconcerting for me!"
Her harrowing experience paid off, of course, because as frustrating as it was to see June return to the place that had caused her so much pain, it was quite a reckoning to see Serena Joy lay waste to that very personal piece of the patriarchal system she helped install.
New episodes of The Handmaid's Tale arrive Wednesdays on Hulu. The first three episodes of Season 3 are now streaming.