Major season two finals spoilers ahead
In the season two finale of The Handmaid’s Tale, it’s revealed Commander Lawrence (head of the household Emily has been most recently assigned) is part of the resistance and helps his Handmaid’s and Holly/Nichole escape. But his eager helpfulness after a terrifying introduction just feels wrong.
When we first meet Jospeh Lawrence, it’s implied that he is purposefully given reject Handmaids and Marthas because they don’t last very long in his household, for one reason or another.
Then we’re treated to the disconcerting artwork and too-loud music. This immediately gives off The Most Dangerous Game vibes and at this point I was pretty sure he kills his handmaids but as a high ranking commander, he’s entitled to them. The creepy vibe is intensified by the horrific questions Lawrence asks Emily. Topics consisting of her mutilation, lost child and sexuality didn’t exactly make me feel comfy around this guy. Not to mention it looked like he was keeping his wife trapped in her bedroom all day as some bizarre punishment.
However, when Emily stabs Aunt Lydia, Lawrence rushes to get Emily free. Viewers don’t know this at the time, and instead are lead to believe Emily is near her end. Lawrence blasts inappropriately upbeat music and never once explains to Emily what’s going on until she gets out of the car.
When we finally realize the twist, he lets out a bellowing “I’m getting myself in deep shit!” with a slight smile.
Oh, so he’s a hero?
But there are so many unexplained questions. Why would a man with the resistance torture a handmaid by asking her such personal and triggering questions? Why is he so rough with his wife if she truly is mentally ill? Why does he enjoy being so vague and purposefully omitting information? These don’t sound like hero traits to me.
While actor Bradley Whitford does an amazing job portraying the Commander, it’s not enough to cover all the plot holes.
While Whitford has been confirmed as a return character in season 3, it doesn’t excuse the massive inconsistencies we’ve seen so far. Show runner Bruce Miller compared Lawrence to J. Robert Oppenheimer, the man who is often credited as “the father of the atomic bomb” in the way that he built Gilead and is now understanding the repercussions. However, I’m not convinced a man seeking redemption would act so vile towards a handmaids, especially since Lawrence seemed to often relish in Emily’s pain.
While I’m excited to learn more about this character (and the larger world of Gilead), I think his season 2 appearance could have been far more nuanced. His character feels like a contrived way to throw some sort of a plot twist into the season finale. I’d be majorly impressed if the writers could come up with a backstory for Lawrence that would justify his behaviors this season.
The writers have plenty of time to sort this out, and as angry as this character makes me, I have complete faith (praised be 🙌🏼). It’s simply not good TV if you’re not upset on the internet about it.