The Handmaid's Tale Season 3 began with the idea of putting June in a new household, one where the Commander was not nearly so in thrall with the concept of Gilead. But Commander Lawrence has never been the magic character who can solve all June's problems either. Despite his desire to get his wife safely to Canada, his misogyny and cowardice have gotten in the way. But the twist in The Handmaid's Tale's penultimate episode may derail him altogether. Will Lawrence still help June now that his wife is dead? Warning: Spoilers for The Handmaid's Tale Season 3 follow.
Lawrence's wife, Eleanor, has been a wildcard since June first arrived in the household. She's mentally unstable, though it's unclear if that instability pre-dates the rise of Gilead, or was severely exacerbated by it. Either way, most of her triggers seem to come from her hatred of Gilead, and her rage at Lawrence for being the one to dream up this system.
That being said, Mrs. Lawrence's instability has also made her an unreliable ally for June. On the one hand, she's much more able to move about freely and should be able to get June access to her daughter Hannah. But Eleanor also can't keep her mouth shut and play the game, sometimes doing more damage, despite her desire to be helpful.
It's that inability to cope that sets June off in Episode 12, "Sacrifice." Eleanor starts spewing out June's plan to take the children to safety in front of the wrong people, driving June into a panic. Despite Lawrence's ability to downplay what she said, it's too much when Gilead starts moving to close the border, necessitating moving up the timeline to get the kids out. Lawrence believes it's because of the Waterfords' arrest, but June is convinced it's also Eleanor's big mouth as well.
Eleanor, deprived of her proper medication, decides that she's become too much of a liability to continue. As much as her husband desires to get her out to Canada, Eleanor believes chances are she'll ruin everything again. Instead, Mrs. Lawrence goes to bed and takes her pills to sleep. All of them.
When Eleanor doesn't respond when June brings her dinner later, June walks in and discovers the scene. Mrs. Lawrence is not dead yet, but she's gone beyond waking up. June realizes she could call for help, have Eleanor taken to the hospital, her stomach pumped. But if she does, the entire plan to get the children out will be utterly scrapped.
And so June does what she has to. She accepts Eleanor's sacrifice. She kisses the dying woman and leaves the room. The next morning, the Marthas find Mrs. Lawrence dead.
Commander Lawrence tells June he's persuaded the council to hold the borders open, after all, they aren't going to argue with a grieving man. But will he leave with her now? Will he defect to Canada, having lost the only reason to go? Lawrence has never been someone June could trust. Losing his wife, in the end, may make him as unstable an ally as his wife ever was.