‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ Will Have 10 Episodes in Season 4

The reduced episode order is wholly a creative decision, creator Bruce Miller exclusively told IndieWire.
The Handmaid's Tale Season 4
Elisabeth Moss in "The Handmaid's Tale"
Sophie Giraud/Hulu

Always stuck between a rock and a hard place, circumstances are about to get even tighter for June (Elisabeth Moss) on Hulu’s “The Handmaid’s Tale.”

IndieWire has exclusively confirmed that after two season of 13 episodes, “The Handmaid’s Tale” is returning to 10 episodes next season. The news comes after details for the show’s fourth season were listed on the official website for the City of Toronto, outlining current and upcoming projects filming in the metropolitan area. But fear not, fans, showrunner Bruce Miller said, it’s all part of the master plan.

“From my point of view, [the decision] was 100% creative,” Miller said in an interview with IndieWire about the move, explaining that the idea began to unfold in the wake of Season 3, as the writers determined the story for the season to come.

It’s nothing new for the series, which launched to critical-acclaim in 2017 and made do with 10 episodes for its first season. While subsequent seasons featured a more expansive episode order, Miller looked to story to determine the best method of delivery.

“Some storylines just seem to shake out as a 10-episode story, in my eyes,” he said, adding that MGM and Hulu were fully on-board with the decision from the jump.

As for what, specifically, fans can expect from the upcoming season, Miller is appropriately cagey.

However, he did say that fans anticipating that the shortened season will result in a more compact story couldn’t be more wrong.

According to Miller, a 10-episode season allows the show the luxury to spend several episodes exploring a small piece of the story because the need for multiple story arcs throughout the season has been eliminated.

“I feel like it gives us a little more freedom because you can rely more on one propulsive element,” he added.

This should serve as good news for some viewers, who have criticized the show for hitting the same emotional notes repeatedly, with deleterious results.

The return to 10 episodes shouldn’t be seen as a cause of concern for fans, as Miller insists he still has plenty of stories to tell within the walls of Gilead. Which is good news, considering the showrunner is intimately involved with the development of “The Testaments,” Margaret Atwood’s 2019 sequel to 1985’s dystopian masterpiece that is “The Handmaid’s Tale.”

“If we did another show, like ‘The Testaments,’ that took place in Gilead, the tone, the way it feels, the way it looks, would stay the same,” Miller stated. “I still want to tell the story about the same Gilead.”

And yet, Miller always has the “Handmaid’s” endgame in mind.

“Lizzie [Moss] and I talked about [the ending] from the very beginning,” he said, “but what happens between here and there has a lot of flexibility.”

Hulu has yet to announce a premiere date for the series, though following the June release of Season 3, a summer launch seems likely. Filming on the fourth season is scheduled to begin March 2.

As for what to expect from Season 4, Miller has some straightforward advice for fans.

“Don’t try to guess what happens,” Miller said. “That’s a fool’s errand. You will not be able to know what happens. That’s the beauty of the show.”

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