One of the more hilarious turns of events in The Handmaid's Tale this season involves a character everyone hated last season, Captain Fred Waterford. When Waterford was seen strictly from Offred's point of view last season, he was an embodiment of the patriarchy, and seriously evil. But towards the end of Season 1, that persona began to crack, and Season 2 has featured him slimily, haplessly bumbling in front of his superiors. Then this week's event happened and everyone is now forced to ask: Is Captain Waterford alive on The Handmaid's Tale? Warning: Spoilers for The Handmaid's Tale Season 2 follow.
Fred Waterford may be a high up figure in the Gilead government, but underneath the show has slowly revealed this season that Fred's really just another mediocre white guy. He may have the confidence that comes with being one in his own household, or in front of Aunt Lydia, but when it comes to the company of other men, many of whom he works with and for, he's a beta male at best.
The scene where he couldn't even identify a bible quote on command and stuttered in a panic and guessed wrong was embarrassing enough. But he's making requests that his superiors flatly deny him, showing how powerless he really is. He can't even get Nick transferred out of his house.
He's made the best of it though, and he's currently in charge of a project that will hopefully raise his standing in the eyes of his bosses: Building a brand new Red Center.
This is actually one of those moments where the show uses a book detail to help build out Gilead as a whole. The novels simply state that the Red Center where Offred is trained is a converted high school. The idea in the novel is this indicates high schools as we know them have been abolished, and there's no need for public education, much less the free intermingling of boys and girls. Instead, they're being used to turn fertile women into baby making sex slaves.
The show takes this detail in a brand new direction this season by having Waterford in charge of building a new Red Center, one that's all glass and wood and sleek lines and modern amenities. Now what Offred experiences is no longer just "Gilead abolished high schools." It says is Gilead was so new when it was training women like Offred, they were using abandoned high schools because they didn't have any building created for this purpose yet. As the Gilead government stabilizes, other countries recognize it, and the economy grows, they're now creating buildings meant for this specific function.
Is it really such a shocker then that it's also a target for suicide bombers?
The first question that jumped to mind is why there wasn't better security at the Red Center opening. But even if there had been, what security would have looked twice at a Handmaid entering the building ostensibly built for them?
The Handmaids were standing on the outside of the glass, waiting for the signal to enter, while inside dozens and dozens of white men sat around congratulating themselves for creating a brand new facility with which is subjugate and enslave women. The target was just too good.
The question is, how effective was the bomb? Obviously, it was effective enough to blow out those large glass windows as the bomber's handmaid sisters ran in terror to escape. But how many of those white men did she take with her?
Most importantly, what happened to the white man standing on stage, Captain Waterford? There he was, feeling like he finally did something right, until it all went wrong. Did he survive the bombing? Whatever happened, everything is about to change.