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Post Mortems

The Handmaid's Tale's Yvonne Strahovski on Serena's Crushing Regret, That Secret Phone and Why Canada Might Not Be an Option

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Warning: This post contains spoilers from Season 3, Episode 5 of The Handmaid’s Tale.

It seems that Serena Joy Waterford’s stint as a member of The Handmaid’s Tale‘s resistance has come to an abrupt halt.

Was she caught aiding June? Did she lose yet another appendage to Gilead’s draconian punitive system? Nope: In this week’s episode, she merely saw her infant daughter for the first time since the child was smuggled to safety, and her resolve to upend Gilead crumbled like a stale croissant. (Read our full recap of the episode here.)

“Serena Joy has so many choices to make,” executive producer Warren Littlefield tells TVLine. “What will she do to connect with Nichole?”

We posed that very question to series star Yvonne Strahovski, who plays the conflicted commander’s wife. Read on for her thoughts on the episode, the state of the Waterfords’ marriage and the possibility that Serena might actually cash in on a tempting offer of escape.

the-handmaids-tale-recap-season-3-episode-5-TVLINE | I want to start with Serena’s trip to Canada. It struck me that Fred allowed her to go by herself.
Yeah, that was definitely something that struck me, as well, that he had her go without him. I mean, he did have one of the guardians go with her on the plane, which she quickly dismissed once she got to Canada, and he didn’t know what to do really. But yeah, I don’t think that would’ve happened before. It’s certainly a massive step for Fred in trying to mend their relationship because we’ve seen from the start that Serena’s given up really on them. She’s really putting a lot of blame on Fred for everything he did to her in the buildup to her decision to give the baby away. So he’s putting his best foot forward in trusting her to an extent. I think it’s a pretty big move. That’s a lot of trust, right there.

I can’t speak for Joe [Fiennes], but maybe he doesn’t entirely think that she would ever stay. If you do go to Canada, who knows what becomes of you there? You might become a political prisoner. You might go on trial. There’s so many things that Serena has considered, you know way back from Season 2 when she went to Canada, and she did have that carrot dangled in front of her where she could’ve stayed. But just don’t know under these circumstances what becomes of you.

The Handmaids Tale Season 3 Episode 5 Yvonne Strahovski interviewTVLINE | We’ve seen June and Serena building a tentative alliance at the start of this season. In your mind, does seeing Nichole essentially erase all of that for her?
Yeah. She can’t think of anything else really. It’s just so overwhelming for her that it just completely takes over everything… For Serena, this season is so much about the battle between all her inner conflicting emotions. It’s a battle between the mind and the heart, because in a way, Serena did learn the biggest lesson at the end of Season 2. And the biggest lesson is, “How do I be a good mother to my child?” To be a good mother to this child is to actually give the child away and send the child away from this place, and it was the ultimate sacrifice for her. But she did learn that lesson, so she does know deep down inside that she made the right call, but she’s fighting it now in this third season, and she’s regretting it. She’s hating herself for it. She hates Fred for it. She hates everyone for it, and she just can’t stop thinking about it. I mean, as you would! You’d be so emotional you wouldn’t be able to stop thinking about it.

TVLINE | Serena now has that satellite phone in her bag. Will she be as quick to reject Mark Tuello’s second offer for escape as she was to reject his first one?
Well, I don’t think she’s ever quick to reject anything, really. You might see that on the surface, but she takes away everything and thinks about it long and hard. She’s that kind of a person. She’s always going down each avenue and thinking what’s going to happen, manipulating the situation, so that is definitely a big thing for her to mull over and hold on for a little while until she decides what’s going to happen with that.

TVLINE | Can you tell me whether she makes a decision about the phone this season?
She definitely finds it useful for what she set her heart on.