February 1, 2023

Gabbing Geek

Your online community for all things geeky.

The Handmaid’s Tale “Motherland”

Season Five, Episode Eight

Holy crow, I just realized something…Commander Lawrence might be the true face of evil on this show.

So, as much as the series seemed to finally remember these people have, like, pasts that the audience has seen and Serena and June seem to bounce back and forth between whether Serena is a possible ally or not, the simple fact is that so many of these characters seem to be, if not pointless, then at least inconsistent.  It’s a complaint I have long had about The Handmaid’s Tale, a lingering thought that made me wonder why I keep watching and writing up these episodes.

I mean, it’s not like the Internet is beating down Gabbing Geek’s virtual door to read these things.

As such, yeah, I expect the show to be all over the place when it comes to motives and the like.  That leads me back to Commander Lawrence.  He was…different from the other Commanders, a man who genuinely loved his wife, wasn’t into the religion that the other Commanders were all into, and helped June get a lot of people out of Gilead.  He was cynical and challenged June on an intellectual level.  He was never really into Gilead, right?

But he seems to be in charge there now.  Yes, the New Bethlehem plan seems to be a good one (sort of), but there’s one small problem there in the fact the other Commanders aren’t all that open to letting refugees return to this island where they could live the way they were used to back in the days of the United States.  So, women can, like, read and stuff.  If June would move there, she could perhaps eventually get Hannah back and do Lawrence a solid.  After all, if the very visible former Handmaid would return to Gilead and live in New Bethlehem, it would go a long way towards getting Gilead America’s old world standing.

The American agent Tuello points out that Lawrence may be a Gorbachev, but he could easily be followed by a Putin and recommends against it.  Luke is against it.  Serena Joy isn’t sure she knows enough (and why June asks her for advice I won’t dare guess but it was actually a decent scene).  Rita doesn’t think it’s a good idea, but she doesn’t have a kid there.  And there is an awful lot of angry Canadians demanding the Americans go back to their country is this show’s idea of irony or something.

All of which leads me to a scene where Lawrence and June fight, and that’s when I decided Lawrence is the face of evil.  He perhaps always was.  He doesn’t believe in the religious stuff.  He hates himself for the systemic rape that went on under his plans. And when he had a chance in the past to defect, he declined.  So what’s the problem?

Well, he doesn’t believe in this stuff, and he can talk a good game about environmental collapse in late stage capitalism all he wants–probably the closest this show will come to ever explaining what happened while still maybe saying more than Margaret Atwood did in her novel–but there’s one simple thing that makes Lawrence the bad guy here:  he knows all this religious stuff is a bunch of hokum and everything he did, even if it was to save the human race, was wrong, but he did it anyway.

And he doesn’t regret saving the human race as much as he regrets the human cost of doing so.

Yeah, that sounds pretty evil to me, and it does seem as if Bradley Whitford has carved out a nice niche for himself as the actor to bring in to play the bland face of evil with a liberal political view.

The episode ends with potential good news as the Americans are launching a strike on the area where Hannah’s new Wife School is.  Will it work?

Two episodes left for the season, and this show specializes in misery.  I’m guessing no.  June looked too happy for a change at the end of this one.

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