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The Handmaid’s Tale has returned to Hulu for a fifth season, but one familiar face is missing in action: Alexis Bledel, who plays Emily on the Emmy-winning series.
Though she has been a part of the show since its premiere in 2017, Emily is written off in this season; in the first episode, her wife Sylvia (Clea DuVall) tells June (Elisabeth Moss) that Emily went back to Gilead, presumably to seek her own revenge like June did to Fred, despite finding refuge in Canada. She left without saying goodbye to her son and likely won’t be seen again, Sylvia reveals. “She’s gone.”
Bledel actually announced her exit from Handmaid’s back in May, months ahead of the season 5 premiere. “After much thought, I felt I had to step away from ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ at this time,” she said in a statement to Variety. “I am forever grateful to Bruce Miller for writing such truthful and resonant scenes for Emily, and to Hulu, MGM, the cast and crew for their support.”
Bledel’s absence from the show “wasn’t the easiest thing in the world to handle, I’ll be honest with you, because she’s such a great, fantastic part of the show,” Moss told Entertainment Tonight. “But I do think that it was handled in a really good way.”
Apparently, showrunner Bruce Miller even “had something juicy” planned for Emily before Bledel’s exit, he told the outlet. “All the people had big stories with that character. So, when you lose that character, even though you’re still in the beginning of the season, it’s very difficult to pivot your whole story,” he said.
But there’s still a slight chance that Emily could come back for Handmaid’s sixth and final season. “That character was not at the end of her journey as far as we were concerned,” Miller told ET. Regarding her potential return in season 6, he said the team was “mindful” to “[leave] that door open.” Bledel has not addressed the possibility yet.
Here’s to hoping Emily makes it out of Gilead alive—again.
Erica Gonzales is the Senior Culture Editor at ELLE.com, where she oversees coverage on TV, movies, music, books, and more. She was previously an editor at HarpersBAZAAR.com. There is a 75 percent chance she’s listening to Lorde right now.