The Handmaid’s Tale Season 3 finally found its focus in the episode “Heroic,” as June realized her purpose in Gilead. It wasn’t to rescue Hannah or even keep Nichole from returning. It was to steal the babies taken from the Handmaids and get them safely to Canada. She didn’t know how she’d do it, but it was her mission. If there were a God in Gilead, he or she would give her a path to do it. And perhaps there really is. Commander Lawrence’s story on The Handmaid’s Tale took a turn this week that made them partners in more ways than one. Warning: Spoilers for The Handmaid’s Tale Season 3 follow.
Commander Lawrence has always been something of a mercurial enigma. When he took on Emily in Season 2, he was introduced as the “architect of Gilead’s economy.” And yet, he was nothing like what one might expect from that title. He refused to do the Handmaid ritual. He seemed embittered of the way society wanted him to perform. His wife, Eleanor, was mentally unbalanced. Worse, her illness seemed to be triggered by Gilead itself coming into being, screaming at him that this world was all his fault.
When Lawrence helped Emily escape with June’s baby, it seemed like he was part of the revolution. But not really. Instead, Lawrence is a philosopher, someone for whom this was all supposed to be abstract, and who was having trouble accepting that those around him were now putting it into practice, even as it benefitted him.
Lawrence’s devotion to his wife and the lack of Handmaids getting pregnant in his home did not go unnoticed. When Commander Waterford began angling to move up the chain of command, he saw it as a useful way to move an old man out of his path. After all, June was proven fertile. The lack of pregnancy must be proof Lawrence was unable to perform, not virulent enough to hold such a high position in Gilead’s ranks.
Waterford convinced Commander Winslow of his theory, and the die was cast. There was no getting out of it. The Ritual could not be skipped because it was going to be observed. Worse, a doctor was going to make sure June has been screwed when it was all over.
The irony of June being the one to organize a household utterly unused to having to do this was not lost on anyone. But though Lawrence and she both understood the need to go through with this lives were on the line poor Eleanor could not handle it, not even a little bit. There would be no one holding June down, as the poor woman was locked in her room, and begged to be silent. Even Serena Joy couldn’t miss how cruel it all was to force the family to do this publicly.
In the end, the deed did happen, the physician certified it, and Serena Joy icily told her husband to give the Lawrence’s back their privacy. His gambit had failed. But Lawrence could now see how unsafe both he and Eleanor were in Gilead. June finally had a partner to help her get the children out.
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