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"Don't defend yourself. Don't explain. Just apologize. They love to be forgiving."
Ofglen advises Offred how to respond to reproaches[1]

Ofglen is a major character in The Handmaid's Tale. She is a Handmaid assigned to Commander Glen and is friends with Offred. She is revealed to be a member of an underground resistance named Mayday.

Her real name in the television series is stated to be Emily, whereas in the book it is never mentioned.

She is portrayed by Alexis Bledel in the television series and by Blanche Baker in the film adaptation.

In the novel Edit

Background Edit

Nothing is known of Ofglen's life prior to the beginning of Gilead; Offred does not even learn her real name. When Gilead took over, Ofglen became a Handmaid. However, she secretly joined Mayday as well, to bring down Gilead from the inside.

Meeting Offred Edit

Ofglen is assigned to be Offred's partner whenever she leaves her home to go shopping and walking. Ofglen plays the part of a pious and dutiful Handmaid, so as not to arouse suspicion, as she is unsure if Offred is a true believer in the regime. Upon learning she is not, Ofglen extends friendship to Offred and tells her about Mayday. Ofglen tries to get Offred to gain information on her Commander, stating that he is one of the most prominent members of Gilead's government.

Death Edit

Towards the end of the novel, Ofglen attends a Particicution with Offred and attacks the condemned, a man accused of rape. Ofglen viciously kicks him in the head until he falls unconscious, and later explains to a horrified Offred that the man was no rapist but a member of Mayday, and that she had knocked him out to spare him an agonising death.

Ofglen is eventually discovered to be a member of Mayday, but hangs herself when she sees the Eyes coming for her. She likely committed suicide to avoid betraying her comrades under torture. Offred is later informed of her fate by Ofglen's successor, who is also called Ofglen.

In the film Edit

In the film adaptation of the novel, Ofglen is portrayed by Blanche Baker. Her backstory and role are essentially the same, but her death is not portrayed or confirmed after her replacement.

In the TV series Edit

Emily-S2

Season 2 promo poster by HBO nordic

In the television series, Ofglen is portrayed by Alexis Bledel. Compared to the novel and the film adaptation, she is given more of a backstory and her eventual fate is altered. Her real name is stated to be Emily.

In the past Edit

After the D.C. attacks Edit

In the past before Gilead, Emily is seen giving a lecture on microbiology. After the class, Emily chats with her coworker Dan, one of the staff, about getting more research time. She's told that she's not teaching next semester and that she should think of this as an opportunity. They are concerned that she isn't maintaining a healthy teaching environment, but this is mainly due to the fact that Emily is a lesbian and keeps a picture of her wife Sylvia and their son on her phone. Dan reveals that he moved all pictures of his partner named Paul from his office. Emily complains that they can’t “scare us back into the closet”. Dan then says that there is unrest because of the “terrorist attack” in Washington. Ignoring the threats, Emily tells him that she's teaching next semester anyway[2].

Emily sees a homophobic slur spraypainted on the ground below her while walking across a bridge. She runs down to see Dan hanging from the rafters.

In response to these brutalities, many people are hastily escaping from a now-forming Gilead, causing airports to become extremely overcrowded. While trying to leave for Canada, airport officials stop Emily. Her wife Sylvia and her son Oliver can get through because they are Canadian citizens but since Emily didn't get a Canadian visa, she still needs a "border traffic bypass stamp" to go through the gates. When trying to obtain the required permission, they learn that they are no longer married due to a new law that's been put in place. Emily has to say goodbye to her family and watches them ride an escalator as Emily is stranded[2].

Emily mentions in "Offred" she "got caught at the airport", which means she is detained right after her family's departure.

Present time, season one Edit

Offred initially thinks of her new shopping partner Ofglen as “pious little shit with a broomstick up her ass”. As she is walking home with Ofglen, the latter expresses sympathy for what happened to Moira. Offred tentatively reveals she knew Moira both at the Red Center and in the time before. The two women end up outside a clothing store, which Ofglen reveals was once an ice cream parlour. When she claims the ice cream was “better than good sex”, Offred realises Ofglen is not a true believer in the regime after all. Ofglen in turn reveals she always thought the same of Offred, saying that Gilead is good at turning women against each other. Offred tells Ofglen about her family and failed escape attempt, whilst Ofglen in turn reveals she had a wife and son, Oliver, who fled to Canada. At the gate of Offred’s house, Ofglen warns Offred that an Eye is a member of her household[3].

When she is walking with Offred on the way back from grocery shopping, she reveals that she used to be a college professor, teaching cellular biology. She was also in a same-sex marriage, which made her a huge target for the regime. While most college professors and "Gender Traitors" were sent away for their "sins," she says she was spared because she has "two working ovaries." She also reveals that she and her wife had a son together, whom she speculates would be five years old during the series' timeline. She tells Offred that her wife and son had Canadian passports and thus were able to escape while she herself did not. She also reveals she is a member of Mayday, though she does not refer to the resistance group by name.[1]

Shortly after revealing her true self to Offred, she is removed from her home and replaced by another Ofglen. The previous Ofglen was apparently caught having a sexual affair with a Martha. A trial is shown in which the Martha is sentenced to death for her crimes while Ofglen is sentenced to "Redemption", meaning that she was spared because "God had seen fit to make her fertile." The Martha and Ofglen are then loaded into a van where they hold hands until they arrive in a yard. There, Ofglen's Martha lover is forcibly removed from the van and Ofglen is forced to watch as she is hanged. Ofglen is then taken to a medical facility, where she undergoes a forced clitoridectomy to destroy any future enjoyment of sex.[4]

Emily is later reassigned and named Ofsteven. Offred meets with her and expresses sorrow for what was done to her. She tells Offred her real name of Emily, and also says that she should join Mayday, finally referring to the organisation by name, adding that she could help the fight to stop Gilead[5].

Emily (as Ofsteven) is seen playing with the dog outside her Commander's house. Grace comes out and suggests her to skip the Ceremony tonight because she "might be getting the flu". Emily reminds her she can't be sick every month[5].

At a marketplace with Offred, Emily steals a car and manages to drive away before running over a Guardian. She is then forced out of the car by the other Guards and led into a black van.[5]

Present time, season two Edit

Unwomen (TV Episode)Edit

Emily has been sent to the Colonies, where she is seen helping other women with their injuries. When she goes outside to pick some mint leaves for tea, she witnesses the arrival of more workers for the Colonies. One of them is Mrs. O'Conner, a former Wife. She isn't welcomed by the others.[2]

While working in the fields, Emily talks to Mrs. O'Conner and offers her some advice. She learns that the mistress was sent to the Colonies because she slept with another man and fell in love. Emily gives her some antibiotics and when Mrs. O'Conner asks why she's helping her, Emily says that her "mistress was kind" to her once.[2]

Emily hears someone puking and goes to see that the mistress is throwing up. Emily asks if she took the antibiotics that she gave her. She says that she doesn't think they are working. The woman realizes that she gave her something else, something deadly. Emily says she did it because every month she held a woman down while her husband raped her. They hang her dead body outside on a cross. As they are walking to the fields, new prisoners arrive. One of them is Janine.[2]

SeedsEdit

Emily guides Janine through the inhuman and brutal reality of the Colonies, where Janine still seems to find reasons to smile. Janine organizes a wedding, presided over by Sally, a Jewish rabbi, for Fiona and Kit, the latter of whom is dying, to give them a moment of happiness before their chance at being together is taken away. Emily then angrily points out they are just "cows being worked to death", and Janine is "dressing up the slaughterhouse for them", to which Janine replies that "cows don't get married". The next morning Kit’s body is carried out for burial on the graveyard[6].

AfterEdit

In the Colonies, some vans stop by as a line of prisoners walk to the work. A list of names is presented to the guards, who pull several women out of the line and put them into the vans, among them Emily and Janine[7].

In the grocery store, Janine greets a surprised Offred. She says God has a plan for both of them, pointing in the direction of Emily. Offred greets Emily then reveals that her name is June, acknowledging that she never got a chance to tell her. Spurred on by confidence, the handmaids in the grocery store begin to exchange their real names to each other[7].

Women's Work Edit

When Offred runs into Janine and Emily a few days later, Janine calls her new posting a "blessing from God" since it is "only the Ceremony", to which Emily replies being raped is not a blessing and anyone helping Gilead deserves to be blown apart[8].

The Last Ceremony Edit

Emily is forced to have sex with Commander Roy in the Ceremony with his wife. He collapses afterwards. While his wife goes to get help, Emily kicks him in the balls.

At the grocery the next day, Alma and Brianna talk about the incident. June runs into Eden who is being escorted by Isaac. June tells Emily that Moira made it to Canada and assures her she's going to see her son again when she suddenly starts to get contractions. June is taken home by an ambulance.

Postpartum Edit

Emily is being led by Aunt Lydia to Commander Lawrence's house. He turns out to be different than the other commanders. He has a Martha with only one eye. His house is littered with books and artifacts. Emily is caught looking at a book by the Commander. He asks her what the penalty is for being caught reading and she says a finger. He tells her it used to be a hand.

Emily is getting ready for bed when Commander Lawrence's wife arrives. She tells her that he is responsible for the colonies. Lawrence comes to take her away but she tells him that she hates him. He locks her back in her room and tells Emily to come with him. She follows him into his study where he serves her a glass of beer. He asks her about her past but she tells him that God has called her to a higher purpose. He says that she doesn't believe that. He asks if she has a wife and a son and she says yes. He says that she must miss them.

The Word

June, Emily, Janine, and Alma take a walk by the river where they see a hanging Eden and Isaac. Emily shares that the first Ceremony with Commander Lawrence is that night.

Emily reluctantly presents herself for the Ceremony, however, Commander Lawrence refuses and sends her back to her room. Aunt Lydia arrives the next morning and tells Emily that Commander Lawrence said the Ceremony went accordingly, which takes Emily aback as no ceremony took place. Aunt Lydia then proceeds to lecture Emily as a result of her refusal to engage in a dialogue, to which Aunt Lydia mocks Emily's genital mutilation by likening her silence to having cut out a tongue. This enrages Emily and she stabs Aunt Lydia in the back and violently attacks her. The Martha of the household, shocked, calls the Commander, who angrily takes Emily away despite his wife's plea to say goodbye. Emily briefly rejoices in her room but shortly realizes the atrocity she's committed will have consequences.

Later, Commander Lawrence takes Emily out for a drive. Emily is under the impression that she is being taken to be turned in, punished, and likely executed.

Meanwhile, a plot is devised by those within the resistance. A fire is set to a home nearby the Waterford's as a distraction, and the rouse is effective as it takes the attention off of June's escape with the help of Rita and several other Martha's.

Commander Lawrence and Emily are driven to the exact location where June and Holly are hiding out. It is revealed that Commander Lawrence is part of the resistance, and is helping Emily to escape despite the repercussions he will likely face. Shocked, Emily is given a heartfelt farewell from Commander Lawrence. She is reassured by June that she is leaving Gilead for good. Emily gets into the surplus vehicle and, impatient, demands June to hurry. June hands Emily Holly and asks that Emily call her Nichole. Realizing that June does not intend to leave Gilead, Emily becomes frantic but is driven away, leaving June behind.

Notes Edit

References Edit

  1. 1.0 1.1 Episode 1.2, "Birth Day"
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 Episode 2.2, "Unwomen (TV Episode)"
  3. Episode 1.1, "Offred (TV Episode)"
  4. Episode 1.3, "Late"
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 Episode 1.5, "Faithful"
  6. Episode 2.5, "Seeds"
  7. 7.0 7.1 Episode 2.7, "After"
  8. Episode 2.8, "Women's Work"