And just like that, Lawrence became the villain of the series. It fits. It is also appropriate Bradley Whitford directed the episode himself.
See, Lawrence actually wants Gilead to work. He wants it to be the new United States. He set up the Americans (probably) to have a doomed military raid, and he really wants June to move to New Bethlehem. After everything that happened, Lawrence is now becoming One Of Them.
So’s Nick. That’s a little more heartbreaking in a sense in that he and June both look heartbroken.
But Lawrence is now behaving more like one of the Gilead Commanders that he always sort of distanced himself from. That comes with their approval, and the difference is he’s doing it to advance himself but he doesn’t believe a goddam word of it. That’s clear when he proposes marriage to Mrs. Putnam, a woman who is quick to point out Lawrence personally had her husband murdered right in front of her. Now, the Putnams are, the two of them, rather awful people. So are all the Commanders. But the problem is the Commanders actually believe their own line.
Does that make Lawrence better or worse?
In one way, it makes him worse. He knows this stuff is messed up, yet he supports it anyway. He’s looking to reform a country that was rotten from the beginning. There’s not much to redeem for a country that operates on systemic rape, treats half the human race as inferior to the other half, and quite frankly, isn’t all that good to a large majority of the other half that isn’t being treated as inferior, all under the justification of a really warped interpretation of the Bible.
I mean, this show has demonstrated that clergy from other Christian denominations (Catholics come to mind) are also executed, so it’s not so much Christian as a very specific definition of it. Lawrence thinks he can redeem that.
I could see it if Gilead had some core belief system that had some sort of idealistic benevolence for all that he can push the country towards, but it just isn’t there. Gilead was always wrong.
And Lawrence, he showed where he stood when he put his hand on Mrs. Putnam’s shoulder and the look she gave it. Besides, if Aunt Lydia is playing chaperone, that should tell the home viewer everything they need to know.
Furthermore, if you want proof Gilead is wrong and a reminder this show is not subtle, the congratulatory calls Gilead gets after the American raid come from places like Russia, China, and North Korea.
So, as Lawrence becomes a villain, the series is really, really trying to make Serena Joy, if not an ally, then at least something else as she is now being treated like a Handmaid by the rather despicable Mrs. Wheeler. Then again, Serena’s escape from captivity is so pathetically simple it’s not even funny. Just slip out a back door? Really?
Meanwhile, June uses her plot armor to shield a young girl from gunfire because even Canadians have their limits apparently.
I’m a wee bit tired of June’s plot armor, but the season is almost over, so I don’t have to deal with it much longer.