'The Handmaid's Tale' season 3 episode 10 throws Commander Lawrence in a tailspin, sees him prisoner to the Gilead he helped create
Spoilers ahead for 'The Handmaid's Tale' season 3 episode 10: 'Witness'
'The Handmaid's Tale' season 3 episode 10 titled 'Witness' forces us to be spectator to a family crumbling under the pressure of Gilead's expectations. Eleanor Lawrence (Julie Dretzin), Commander Joseph Lawrence's (Bradley Whitford) wife has been unwell for a while now and surviving mostly thanks to the mood stabilizers the Marthas have been smuggling.
Recently, the Marthas haven't been able to procure her dose and her health is deteriorating further. That's when June Osborne (Elisabeth Moss), who has returned after the death of her walking partner Ofmatthew (Ashleigh Lathrop), asks Joseph why he doesn't take his wife away from Gilead, which is slowly but surely snuffing the life out of Mrs. Lawrence.
In later scenes, Mrs. Lawrence, who yet again ends up helping June with an important task reveals during a moment of camaraderie that Commander Lawrence will be killed instantly if he tried to cross the wall because he is a war criminal. It is, of course, ironic that one of the most influential men in Gilead, dubbed the architect of the regime, is a prisoner to the world he created.
Not just that, Commander Fred Waterford (Joseph Fiennes) has realized how big a problem Commander Lawrence could turn out to be for the future of Gilead. Commander Waterford's political rise has just begun and he is now trying to impress Commander George Winslow (Christopher Meloni) from Washington DC. That is how Commander Lawrence ends up getting targeted. This is not a simple political rivalry after all nothing in Gilead is really simple.
Commander Lawrence, who promised his wife he wouldn't partake in the Ceremony had to break his promise. In what is one of the most heartbreaking moments of the show, we see June convince Commander Lawrence "it was okay" because the alternative was to be put on the wall.
Mrs. Lawrence, who is already going through trying times, is forced to be present during the Ceremony as she is locked in the room with her husband and the handmaid and that is how three people who were against the Ceremony were forced to perform it in fear for their lives.
The episode especially highlights the pain Mrs. Lawrence goes through all this time. She is alone as she sits mostly in shadows weeping as her husband does what needs to be done to keep them alive. Her pain is initially performed explosively and later turns somber as minutes pass by and she comes to the same conclusion as June and Commander Lawrence - there was no other way to escape the scrutiny of Commander Winslow.
In a particularly appalling scene, June tries to convince herself and Commander Lawrence it was fine. She tells him to distance himself from everything and consider this nothing but a transaction and all of this takes us back to the moment when earlier in the episode, Commander Lawrence had asked her if she knew how much one's mind could take.
This was in reference to his wife's well-being and she turned around to answer his question. That she knew it all too well. Which is why the moment when June stood there and watched Commander Lawrence and his wife crumble, served as a metaphor to everything she had been through in Gilead and how she will continue to suffer at the hands of the regime in the future.
When June gives Commander Lawrence an option to leave Gilead with his wife, a way to take them away from the crossfire and get Mrs. Lawrence the treatment she deserves, he answers with a self-imposed question of his own. He will get the truck ready for June's plan to work; for her to save the other handmaids' children and take his wife away from Gilead but will he cross the wall himself?
For now, he is considering all the options. For now, he is certain only about saving his wife from the horrific routine the Ceremony will turn into until he impregnates June. As he continues to thwart Gilead's teachings, he will become a hunted man. Does that indicate another escape for a season finale?
'The Handmaid's Tale' season 3 episode 11 will air Wednesday, August 31, on Hulu.