Man, Bradley Whitford is such a great actor, isn’t he? Just think about it: the dude has been in everything from Billy Madison and The West Wing to Get Out and Trophy Wife. He can play creepy guys, bad guys, good guys and funny guys… basically any kind of “guy” a script throws at him. So of course that means that as Commander Lawrence on The Handmaid’s Tale (Sundays at 9 p.m. ET on Bravo), we have absolutely no idea where he’s taking the character.
As the producers teased earlier this year, Lawrence made his big debut as Emily’s new commander, and the man who also happens to be the architect of Gilead’s economy in Sunday’s penultimate episode, “Postpartum.” We’ve been due for an Emily-centric storyline ever since she returned to Gilead, so it’s nice to know that the writers haven’t completely forgotten about her.
But it is weird that “an important man” like Commander Lawrence is willing to take in “such a shitty handmaid” like Emily. Think about it: this is the same woman who has run over and killed a guard, had an affair with a martha, no longer has a clitoris, has served time in the colonies, and also had a commander die while raping her. The shortlist of commanders willing to take her in at this point has got to be, as Aunt Lydia suggested, short.
That means Lawrence either has to have a pretty sadistic personality, or he’s feeling guilty for the way Gilead has turned out. In true Handmaid’s fashion we have no idea which, of course, but we’re sure to find out pretty damned soon. For now, judging from the art on the walls and the books strewn all over the place, it seems like this Commander has a lot of clout. But he also has a really angry wife and a martha who isn’t afraid to grumble back at him, which means he’s maybe not as strict as Waterford, perhaps?
(Side note: we’re totally obsessed with the fact that Lawrence’s martha is named Cora, because that was the name of the Waterford’s second martha in Margaret Atwood’s book. So that has to mean this guy is pretty important to the overall TV story, right?)
Anyhow, Lawrence also quizzed Emily about the punishment for reading, asked her all about her background, and ditched the normal Gilead pleasantries for words like “super.” Basically his motives are super sketchy at this point, and we’re not sure if he’s trying to get Emily to trust him or if he’s playing the angles so that he can torture her later on. Hey, maybe genuinely nice guys trying to atone for their sins actually do still exist in this world… who knows? What we do know is that our brains can’t take many more questions right about now, but boy isn’t it nice to get the hell out of the Waterford household and their dreariness for a change?
Of course we still had to spend some time with the cheery, main household, given that they’ve managed to talk their way out of another bad situation and reclaim June’s baby Holly — now known as Nicole — as their own. That left poor Offred at some centre where she was healing and pumping milk for the baby to eat, but the aforementioned milk was drying up since she wasn’t allowed to actually see the baby. Funny how that works, isn’t it?
So of course cue Commander Waterford with a whole new brand of torture: bringing the baby to Offred to get the pumps going, and then snatching her away again. Thankfully even Aunt Lydia could see how ridiculous and cruel it was going to be to keep making that visit every day, and with that the writers found another way to get Offred back into the Waterford household.
Seriously, how much more is poor June supposed to take? Sigh.
Anyhow, it seems like being in the house wasn’t just awful for Nick, Rita and June. Poor pious Eden had enough of a loveless world too, and so in following June’s inadvertent advice she ran off with Isaac, the guard Nick caught her kissing a little while back. Obviously the pair didn’t get far and the entire ordeal led to yet another public execution at a sports venue (this time a swimming pool), where Eden refused to atone for her sins. Gilead executed the 15-year-old for following her heart by drowning her and her beloved in a swimming pool.
Just when you thought this show couldn’t get any darker, huh?
Here’s the kicker though. Eden’s death is bound to affect everyone in that household, from Serena (and baby Nicole, whom Serena brought with her for some strange reason) to Rita and of course June. Because if a girl who was brought up to be that good and that firm a believer in Gilead couldn’t make it, what chance does that baby have?
Not much, it seems, and that’s pretty damned depressing.
One more episode to go guys, and then we will have a bit of a break to reflect and breathe. Because even though we’re still completely obsessed with this show, it’s been a freaking heavy season.
The Handmaid’s Tale airs Sundays at 9 p.m. ET on Bravo.