'The Handmaid's Tale': 3 theories about Commander Lawrence's wife Eleanor that could play out in season 3

'The Handmaid's Tale': 3 theories about Commander Lawrence's wife Eleanor that could play out in season 3

One of the few things 'The Handmaid's Tale' season 3 got right were the characters that surrounded June Osborne in the show. One such character happens to be Eleanor, wife of Commander Joseph Lawrence portrayed by Julie Dretzin. She was introduced in the show's second season as a timid wife who refused to perform 'The Ceremony', which is a highly ritualized sexual act between High Commanders, their wives and their handmaids.

She was portrayed as a mentally unstable character who was traumatized in the past. Layers to this character were, however, added in the third season leading to a few theories about the importance of this character moving forward.

It became pretty early on that Commander Lawrence loved his wife and Eleanor even reminisces about how the two fell in love with each other. However, it begs the question, what experience in her life was traumatic enough to make her fear even stepping out of her home? We have three theories that can explain the shroud of mystery behind this character that seems to hold a lot more water than we realize at the moment. 


1. Eleanor's trauma is related to a kid

In season 3, episode 7 of 'The Handmaid's Tale' we saw Eleanor's reaction to the guards stopping her from seeing the kids at school in Brookline. She was livid and kept repeating the same thing, that she wanted to see the kids. She also asked the guards why she couldn't see the kids.

She calms down in the presence of June, but she is still physically exhausted when she returns leading to Commander Lawrence's disapproval. Not just this, she also confesses to June about how she had tried to have a child with Commander Lawrence, but that it did not work. It must also be noted that she never tried for a child through a handmaid leading us to believe that there is more to this theory. 

2. Is Eleanor the person behind Commander Lawrence's power in Gilead?

A still of Eleanor with Commander Lawrence. (Source: Screenshot)


We know this sounds quite far-fetched, but there is the possibility of there being completely different dynamics in this relationship. It is certain Commander Lawrence is a lot more powerful than Commander Fred Waterford, at least as of now. While he is seen to have got the position as the architect of Gilead and the man who founded the Colonies where unwomen are sent, there is a slight chance he was encouraged and even supported by his wife Eleanor who probably expected better from Gilead.

For instance, in the scene in episode 5 of season 3 Eleanor confesses to June about how Commander Lawrence was a different person altogether before Gilead. There is a wistful tone to her confession as she also says that she doesn't like the man Commander Lawrence has become today. 

3. Will Eleanor power the resistance that has taken a back seat so far?

A still of June and Eleanor in episode 7 of season 3. (Source: Hulu)


Eleanor once helped the Marthas who were running from the guards after one of them is hurt while trying to move closer to the resistance in Chicago. While on the surface it seemed like she was trying to keep trouble away from her household, she may actually be in support of the resistance. We later saw her enjoy music with her husband, she even reminisces about the time before Gilead and all of this in the presence of June.

She surely understands enough to know that June is not a handmaid who abides by rules. In fact, once June mentions she lied to Eleanor about going for a walk and that is was a ruse to meet her child who is in a school in Brookline, Eleanor responds, "I think I’m keen on an adventure!" Does this hint at her interest in supporting the resistance?

We will have to wait and see how Eleanor's character pans out. Episode 8 of 'The Handmaid's Tale' season 3 will air on Hulu July 10. 


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