'The Handmaid's Tale': Has Commander Lawrence lost hold on Gilead or will Winslow and Waterford's absence catapult him back to power?
Commander Lawrence has been trying to get his wife Eleanor across the border to get her treated for mental illness in 'The Handmaid's Tale' season 3.
At the beginning of 'The Handmaid's Tale' season 3 episode 11 titled 'Liars', we saw Commander Joseph Lawrence (Bradley Whitford) stare at the nozzle of a gun that was held by his wife Eleanor (Julie Dretzin). He is not able to calm her down like he usually does when she has a mental breakdown because this time, he is the enemy in her eyes. The magnitude of this hits Commander Lawrence hard and combined with June Osborne's crazy plan to get 52 children out of Gilead, he is put under extreme pressure.
What are the chances of June succeeding? One truck is hard enough for five or six? He deems it impossible and leaves Gilead with his wife, or at least he tries to. He has left June a note with 'Sorry' written on it and this, of course, leaves June furious. The Commander who was once powerful enough to take June to jail with no obstruction can no longer cross checkpoints without him being validated by a higher official. He is powerless and the realization hits not just June pretty hard, but him as well. However, after the proceedings of episode 11 in its entirety - Commander Lawrence now has a chance at gaining his power again.
June and Serena coincidentally seem to have worked together to rid Gilead of two of its high commanders. While June's act of violence was self-defense coupled with rage that had built over months of frustration that she held within herself, Serena might have orchestrated a full-fledged plan to get her husband Commander Fred Waterford (Joseph Fiennes) locked in a Canadian prison. June used a pen to stab Commander George Winslow (Christopher Meloni) to get away from him while tried to rape her at the Jezebels and then hit him hard with a statue. He bled out and June herself was able to escape from the situation because of a Martha that she had once helped survive in Chicago.
With the two High Commanders gone, Commander Lawrence is no more under the scanner. It was Fred who had raised suspicions about Commander Lawrence in the first place and this was assumed to be out of jealousy because he was not okay with June being treated well by the Commander or the visibly better equation that she shared with him. This is something further hinted at in episode 10 when Fred approaches her after the Ceremony and tries to goad her about being forced into it and June replies snarkily that she was glad that at least this time, it was not him. Fred was visibly disturbed by this comment and so the two commanders together had decided that Commander Lawrence was not someone that they wanted to stay powerful.
With both of them out of the way, Commander Lawrence, can get his position of power back and help June in planning the big scale escape that she is planning for the lost children of Gilead. It will be interesting, however, to see if he decides to stay back in Gilead or cross the border with his wife and children.
'The Handmaid's Tale' season 3 episode 12 will air on August 7 on Hulu.