Things are getting pretty intense for Commander Lawrence after Episode 12 of The Handmaid’s Tale. Will he live or die? Just what role did he play in Gilead’s creation? Here’s everything we know about Joseph Lawrence and the top theories about his future. There are spoilers below through Episode 12, and for the finale if any of the theories are correct.
Theories about Lawrence’s Role in the Finale & the Meaning of That Stare
Bradley Whitford, who plays Lawrence, is going to be on a different TV show called Perfect Harmony. He’s also starring in Call of the Wild and Sergio. But don’t assume these new roles mean the end for his character. There’s a good six months or so when actors aren’t filming for the show, which leaves plenty of time to work with a different show if they want.
By the way, here’s a trailer from Perfect Harmony. You’ve got to love that he’s wearing his trademark scarf:
Some fans are thinking that Lawrence is going to tragically die in the finale this season. We know now that June wants to help a lot of children escape too, so a prevailing fan theory is that Lawrence will get at least some of them out but be unable to escape himself. He’ll end up on the wall for his troubles.
Other fans think that Lawrence will escape and request asylum in Canada. But Canada might return Lawrence to Gilead if the country demanded it, or they might ignore his request and just hang him for war crimes.
After the way Episode 12 ended, fans can’t help but wonder if Lawrence knows what June did. The way he looked at her at his wife Eleanor’s funeral seemed telling. But I’m going to guess even if he doesn’t know for certain what she did, he knows that June will stop at nothing to reach her goal. So he might suspect she had a role in Eleanor’s death, or at the very least pushed her to it the way she talked to his wife earlier in the episode. And he knows that he’s being manipulated by June too, perhaps to his detriment.
Don’t forget, Lawrence has been previously shown to be very good at catching liars and we all know he hates people who lie to him. If he suspects that June is lying to him, he might be plotting some kind of revenge.
However, that’s not what the actor was thinking when he portrayed that scene, at least according to what he’s revealed. In an interview with Vulture, Bradley Whitford addressed his expression. He said: “I think that’s the moment where he’s making a vital assessment. There’s something weird about the way his wife died. … There’s nothing remotely romantic or sexual, but I’m looking at the person who is now the person with whom I am closest on the planet after losing the only woman I will truly love. And what we thought would be interesting in that moment would be to play against the emotionality of it. I think in my mind, it’s more of a question for him — where are we going?”
The Books in His Home
So just what was Lawrence’s role in creating Gilead? He didn’t create the Handmaid system. But essentially, he created the economic system, so he was still one of the main architects of Gilead.
A helpful Redditor put together some photos from that scene in Season 3 Episode 3 where we got to see some of the books that Lawrence has written. Here are the photos that u/lovely_shenanigans shared.
We can see that he wrote some “interesting” books:
- Problematic Populism: Upheaval During the Fertility Crisis and the Long-Term Effects on American Prosperity
- The Case for Relaunching the Mercantile Economy in Developing Nations
- The Religious Genealogy of Western Economies (not for certain he wrote this, but likely)
- Brink of Extinction
- The Power to Compete (not for certain he wrote this, but likely)
- Capital (This book is actually NOT by Lawerence, it’s a book by Thomas Piketty from 2014)
- Economic Effects of the Religious Revival During the Fertility Crisis (not for certain he wrote this, but likely)
- Women’s Work and Coffee Spoons: Empirical Model of Women’s Hours of Work
- American Prosperity in a Warming World (not for certain he wrote this, but likely. Remember, he said he helped Emily escape because she could help with the climate issues.)
- …of Social Class and the Emerging Power of Religion (not for certain he wrote this, but likely)
What we can see from these books (and what we’ve observed from the episodes) is that Lawrence was not motivated by religion, but by economic concerns and figuring out how to help America survive, even during climate change and the fertility crisis. Sadly, he landed on a horrific solution.
The Art Galleries
He also benefitted a lot from Gilead’s creation. Remember, he looted the art galleries for all the best paintings, including Picassos. Billy was told he could have the Picassos after he helped the children and Lawrence escape. Here’s a picture of the artwork that Billy will find:
OK, that’s actually a joke from this Reddit thread, but it’s kind of perfect.
So that’s what we know about Lawrence. The theories about what will happen to him are still kind of sparse, but from what we know he was the main architect of Gilead’s economic system. He could be the leading commander if he wanted, considering the two main guys are now gone. But he’s going to try to escape. The only question is whether he’ll be successful. I hope he is because I want to learn more about him next season.