How did The Handmaid’s Tale write out Emily?

When we learned Alexis Bledel wouldn’t return to The Handmaid’s Tale in Season 5, we waited to see how Emily would be written out. It all happened in the Season 5 premiere.

Alexis Bledel announced back in May 2022 that she wouldn’t return to The Handmaid’s Tale. This was her choice, and it left us wondering how the series would write out her character. Well, the show gave us the answers in the Season 5 premiere, and they make a lot of sense.

June went to see Emily during the premiere. Sylvia answered the door eventually, sharing the details of what had happened to Emily and making it clear that June is not welcome back in the future. So, what happened?

Emily goes back to Gilead in The Handmaid’s Tale

It turns out that Emily has gone back to Gilead. At least, that’s the way Sylvia makes it sound. Sylvia shares with June that Emily has gone back to the fight, and potentially gone to kill Aunt Lydia.

Considering the way things ended for Emily in Season 4, that’s not too surprising. Emily faced Aunt Irene, who had managed to escape Gilead and took on an assumed name to avoid persecution for the things she had done as an Aunt. It turned out that Irene was the one to turn Emily and her Martha lover in, leading to the Martha being executed and Emily being mutilated. Of course, Emily wasn’t of a forgiving nature.

Irene killed herself, and Emily made it very clear that she hoped it was because of her. She was happy Irene was dead, and it was clear that this ignited a spark inside her. In fact, this led to a spark in all the former Handmaids in the support group, much to Moira’s disappointment.

With the killing of Fred Waterford, it’s easy to accept that Emily would want to take other matters into her own hands. Why not go back to kill Aunt Lydia? Emily didn’t really feel like she belonged in Canada. She wasn’t ready to return to work, and it took a long time to get her relationship with Sylvia back. That’s all understandable considering the trauma Emily went through.

Of course, Sylvia isn’t happy. She’s angry that Emily has gone back, and she’s angry about June coming back into Emily’s life. However, Sylvia is going to be happy for the time she did get back with Emily because she thought it would never happen when they were separated at the airport before Emily was taken to be a Handmaid.

On a positive note, the way Emily’s character has been written out does leave things open for Bledel to return for The Handmaid’s Tale Season 6 if she wants. This is going to be the final season, and it gives us a chance to see Emily attempt to take down Aunt Lydia. If Bledel still chooses not to return, we can be left with the hope that Emily managed it unless it’s later confirmed that Emily has been killed in the fight.

What did you think about the way Emily was written out of The Handmaid’s Tale? Did you see this as the only option? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

The Handmaid’s Tale airs on Wednesdays on Hulu.