“"Don't defend yourself. Don't explain. Just apologize. They love to be forgiving."”
Dr. Emily Malek, Ph.D., is a major character in The Handmaid's Tale. She was a Handmaid assigned to the deceased Commander Deeds as Ofglen #1, Commander Scott as Ofsteven, Commander Roy as Ofroy, and Commander Lawrence as Ofjoseph #3, and is friends with June Osborne. She is revealed to be a member of an underground resistance named Mayday.
She is portrayed by Alexis Bledel.
- 1 Appearance
- 2 Personality
- 3 Story
- 3.1 In The Past
- 3.2 Present Time, Season One
- 3.3 Present Time, Season Two
- 3.4 Present Time, Season Three
- 3.5 Season 4
- 4 Photos
- 5 Notes
- 6 References
Emily is brunette with bright blue eyes. She has a very small frame and an average height. Before Gilead and after her escape to Canada, she wears simple, professional clothing, and dark-rimmed glasses. In Gilead, she wasn't allowed to wear her reading glasses. Instead, she wore the typical red robes that the handmaids are required to wear.
Emily is intelligent and strong willed. She is a loving wife and a doting mom to her son, Oliver. In Gilead, Emily had a very strong and rebellious personality. She helped lead a rebellion group within Gilead, fought back several times, and managed to escape through her own strong will and perseverance.
In The Past
Before the D.C. attacks
According to Commander Joseph Lawrence, Emily is originally from Montana.
During her college years, Emily attended Harvard and recalls that she often spent the majority of her time studying in biology labs rather than clubbing and partying. She eventually earned a Ph.D. and became a college professor.
After the D.C. attacks
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, a gay man himself, reveals that he removed all pictures of his partner 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.
Emily sees a homophobic slur spray painted 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 are allowed to pass through security 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 while she remains stranded.
Emily mentions in "Offred" she "got caught at the airport," which means she was most likely detained right after her family's departure.
Present Time, Season One
Offred initially thinks of her new shopping partner Ofglen as “pious little shit with a broomstick up her ass” and just another believer in the regime. 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.
When she is walking with Offred on the way back from grocery shopping, she reveals that she used to be a college professor and taught cellular biology. She was also in a same-sex marriage, which made her a prominent 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.
Shortly after revealing her true self to Offred, she is removed from her home and replaced by another Ofglen. Emily was apparently caught having a sexual affair with a Martha, which is in violation of Romans 1:26. Emily and the Martha are both brought before a Gileadean tribune, their mouths muzzled, where the Martha is sentenced to "the Common Mercy of the State," or death by hanging. Ofglen, on the other hand, is sentenced to a practice involving the removal of her clitoris in a practice called "Redemption"; she was spared because the judge has stated "God has seen fit to make you fruitful and by that we are bound." She and the Martha are then loaded into a black Ford Transit where they hold hands until they arrive at a construction site. There, the Martha was forcibly removed from the van and Emily is forced to watch as she is hanged. Emily is then taken to a medical facility, where she undergoes a forced clitoridectomy to prevent any future enjoyment of sex. She was later told by Aunt Lydia that she now won't want what she cannot have. Infuriated, she vows revenge on Aunt Lydia. 
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 and also says that she should join Mayday, finally referring to the organization by name, adding that she could help the fight to stop Gilead.
Ofsteven is seen playing with the dog outside her new Commander's house. The Commander's wife, Grace, who is sympathetic to Ofsteven, comes out and suggests they skip the Ceremony tonight because she "might be getting the flu." Ofsteven reminds her she can't be sick every month.
"Ofglen" revealing her real name
After Ofsteven is reunited with June at a marketplace and reveals her true name, she steals a car and manages to drive away before running over a Guardian. She is then forced out of the car by the other Guardians and put into a black SUV that was used to stop her.
Present Time, Season Two
Emily has been sent to the concentration camp-like Colonies as a result of her Grand Theft Auto and hit-and-run murder in Gilead, where she is seen helping other women, notably Handmaids, with their injuries. When she goes outside to pick some mint leaves for tea, she witnesses the arrival of more prisoners for the Colonies. One of them is Mrs. O'Conner, a former Commander's Wife, who isn't welcomed by the others due to her status as a Commander's Wife and therefore a rapist by accessory.
While working in the toxic 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.
Emily hears someone vomiting and goes to see that the Wife is throwing up. Emily asks if she took the antibiotics that she gave her. Mrs. O'Conner says that she doesn't think they are working. She then realizes that Emily gave her something else, something deadly. Emily says she did it because every month Mrs. O'Conner held a woman down while her husband raped her. The next morning Mrs. O'Conner's dead body is hanging outside on a cross. An Aunt warns the insubordinate prisoners of greater consequences that will come sometime in the future. As they are walking to the fields for another day of toxic work, new prisoners arrive, one of whom is Janine.
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". Seeing the happiness that the wedding gives Fiona and Kit, Emily is seen to reconsider her perspective. The next morning Kit’s body is carried out for burial on the graveyard.
In the Colonies, black unmarked GMC Yukon XL squad cars stop by as a line of prisoners walk to the work. A list of names is presented to the Aunts, who force several women out of line and put them into the SUVs for unknown reasons, among them Emily and Janine. It is revealed that they are to be reinstated as Handmaids following the Red Center Bombing by the proceeding Ofglen, and the resulting death of many Handmaids.
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 then greets Emily and reveals that her name is June, acknowledging that she never got a chance to tell Emily her real name. Spurred on by confidence, the handmaids in the grocery store begin to exchange their real names with each other.
When June runs into Janine and Emily a few days later, Janine calls her new posting a "blessing from God" since it is "only the Ceremony" as opposed to her last posting where her Commander forced her to do other, forbidden acts such as oral sex, to which Emily replies being raped is not a blessing and anyone helping Gilead deserves to be blown apart.
Emily is forced to have sex with her new Commander, Commander Roy, in the Ceremony with his wife. He collapses afterwards. While his wife goes to get help, Emily kicks him in the testicles very hard. He subsequently dies, leading Emily to be reassigned once more.
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 Emily that she's going to see her son again when she suddenly starts to get contractions. June is taken home by an ambulance.
Emily is being led by Aunt Lydia to Commander Lawrence's house. He turns out to be different than the other commanders. His Martha, named Cora, has only one eye and is uncharacteristically brusque. His house is littered with controversial books and artifacts, which nobody is allowed to have in any house. 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 Mrs. Lawrence arrives. She tells her that her husband is responsible for the dreaded 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.
June, Emily, Janine, and Alma take a walk by the river where they see hanging bodies of Eden and Isaac on the Wall. Emily shares that the first Ceremony with Commander Lawrence is due 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 on the stairs. Cora, shocked by what happened in front of her, calls the Commander to contact an ambulance, and then angrily takes Emily back upstairs. 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, despite his wife's pleas to say goodbye. Emily is under the impression that she is being taken to be turned in, punished, and likely executed and put on the Wall sometime after.
Meanwhile, a plot has been devised by those within the resistance. A home nearby the Waterford's residence is set ablaze as a distraction, and the ruse is effective as it takes the attention off June's escape with Holly/Nichole Osborne, with the help of Rita and several other Marthas.
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 by Commander Lawrence. She is reassured by June that she is leaving Gilead for good. Emily gets into the surplus vehicle and, impatient, demands that June 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.
Present Time, Season Three
After being carried in the truck to almost the Canadian border, Emily continues her journey on foot with Nichole in her arms trying to keep her quiet. She ducks behind bridges and goes low to the ground at various points to evade them, but as she wades through the river, it swallows her up and takes her downstream. However, she manages to get out of the water and collapses to the ground, exhausted. She is spotted by two Canadian police officers who offer her a blanket and asks if she wished to seek asylum, to which Emily says yes.
Upon arrival at hospital, the police officers lead Emily through a hospital corridor. Emily meets Dr. Chung, who welcomes her and promises that she will take care of her and the baby. Emily accepts the treatment, and as they continue down the corridor the doctors and nurses applaud her bravery.
In Little America, Emily comes over for dinner with Luke, Moira, Erin and baby Nichole. A visibly primed Luke asks her why she hasn’t yet contacted her wife Sylvia or their son Oliver. As it gets awkward, Luke storms out, to which Moira explains “He looks at you, he sees June”, adding he’d want Hannah and Nichole’s mom to call if she made it to safety. Emily says June would call, because “she’s a lot stronger than me.” Moira says she understands Emily’s fear, because a lot of the reunions aren’t the storybook endings that people imagine.
Emily continues to be reviewed by a female doctor. They have a symbolic conversation about the scarring at her ear, caused by the branding tag that all handmaids are mutilated with.
Days after, Emily gets fitted for glasses again and decides that it’s time to call her wife. When Sylvia picks up the phone, they both start to cry.
In Canada, Emily and her wife Sylvia see each other for the first time in years outside a subway station. They hug, and Emily asks if her son remembers her.
When Sylvia shows Emily Oliver's room, it’s covered in photos of her and them as a family, and drawings of her that Oliver has done. Oliver comes home and runs upstairs. Emily is so happy to see him, and they reunite passionately.
At bedtime, Oliver asks Emily to read him a bedtime story. While she does, both she and Sylvia start crying so hard that Oliver eventually takes over reading the book himself. After he falls asleep, Emily joins Sylvia for a beer and some conversation on the porch.
Lena, a Swiss diplomat, meets with Emily and Sylvia. Gilead has furnished the Swiss diplomatic team with details of Emily's crimes including vehicular assault on a guard. Emily acknowledges running him over. She also acknowledges stabbing her supervisor Aunt Lydia in the back and throwing her down a staircase during the night of her escape.
Sylvia defends Emily's actions due to the suffering and torture she went through under Aunt Lydia. Lena reassures Emily that she does not enjoy asking these questions. She asks Emily if she committed any criminal actions. Emily answers in the affirmative. Later, Sylvia reassures Emily that she doesn't care what Emily did in Gilead and that she does not have to deal with it on her own. Emily insists she is fine and walks away.
Over coffee, Moira tells Emily that Canada needs to stand up to the tyrannical and child-greedy Gilead. She says that Nichole is a refugee just like them. Emily agrees and asks Moira if she misses her old job. Moira says sometimes and that she misses the people. When Moira asks Emily about her career before the rise of Gilead, Emily tells Moira that she was a professor who used to work at a biolab. She tells Emily that she had a friend who studied at Harvard University, that she lived in Minnesota, and that she once dated a firefighter from Charlestown. However, the firefighter had a boyfriend. While conversing, Moira receives a text message and says that she has to leave for a protest. Emily asks if she can come along.
Later, at the protest, Moira confronts the Canadian Immigration Minister, demanding to know why the Canadian Government has not designated Gilead refugees safe from deportation. The Canadian minister tries to reassure them that Canada protects refugees. Moira demands to know why Canada is negotiating with Gilead. The Immigration Minister responds that it is in the interests of all Canadians and all Canadian refugees to keep the peace with all its neighbors. One of the protesters responds that there is actually no peace with Gilead.
As the Immigration Minister tries to enter his car, Moira slams the door and demands to know why he won't refuse Gilead custody of Baby Nichole. The Minister responds that the birth mother relinquished her rights. Emily, who is trailing them, responds that Nichole's birth mother gave her baby to her so that she could escape that hellhole. Moira and Emily fight with the security detail.
Emily finds herself in a police holding cell with Moira. The two of them have been arrested by Canadian police for accosting the Immigration Minister. Emily tells Moira that Sylvia is giving her some space. She also reveals to Moira that she killed a Wife in the Colonies by poisoning her. She tells Moira she is not sorry. Moira in return tells her that she killed a Commander. She says, look at what they have turned us into. Moira asks if Emily has killed anyone since she left Gilead. Emily answers no, and Moira replies, me neither. Based on this, she believes they are good. The two wait in their cells, separated by metal bars.
Emily works alongside Moira and Luke as an aid worker after the plane carrying the escaped Gilead children arrives in Canada. She instantly recognizes Rita when she disembarks and introduces herself by her real name, also adding that she was formerly Ofglen. The two women embrace, with Rita in tears.
Emily and Moira work together to rehouse the children from Gilead in Canada, as not all of them have their birth parents alive or available outside of Gilead. When Moira returns from a visit on James, she tells Emily that June didn't consider how moving the children out of Gilead could affect them emotionally. Emily sympathizes with having to clean up June's messes, and that it surprised her that June wanted her to bring Nichole to Canada alone.
After June arrives in Canada, she, Moira, and Luke host a welcome-home dinner for her. Emily arrives with Oliver. She explains that she is trying to find the right time to move back into her partner's bedroom. Moira sympathizes, stating that they were "all fucked up about sex" after Gilead.