Enslaving the bodies and crushing the souls of every female in the country is all fun and games until someone loses a finger, eh Fred?
The Handmaid’s Tale‘s Commander Waterford rather abruptly changed his misogynistic tune in last week’s episode, allowing wife Serena to fly to Canada with only a young military escort (whom she ditched moments after their plane landed in Toronto). Earlier in the hour, he invited her into a top-level meeting about their missing daughter, Nichole. Both decisions seemed out of character for Fred. And it would have been, says executive producer Bruce Miller — until very recently.
“Fred scared himself,” Miller tells TVLine, referencing the Season 2 episode in which Joseph Fiennes’ character did nothing while Serena underwent corporal punishment for daring to break Gilead’s edict forbidding women to read. She lost a finger. He grew a conscience.
“Seeing his wife get dragged away, and seeing what his wife went through caused a come-to-Jesus moment, if you’ll excuse the expression,” Miller says. Ever since then, he explains, the commander has been torn between his loyalty to Gilead’s patriarchy and his desire to have Serena not hate him. “He loves her, he respects her, and he looks up to her. He thinks that their marriage is unique, important and beautiful. And he knows that he f–ked up.” (For series star Yvonne Strahovski’s thoughts on the matter, make sure to check out our Episode 5 post mortem interview.)
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It’s not as though the pair is utterly incompatible. As viewers saw in a Season 2 flashback, the pre-Gilead Waterfords were “a pretty good team,” Miller points out. And really, now that the world is upside down, “How much choice does she have? How much security is she going to have if she leaves him? And also: How is she going to get what she wants?”
The object of Mrs. Waterford’s obsession, of course, is her absent infant. And now that she’s held the child in her arms once more, which stoked her desire to bring the baby back to Gilead, Fred’s ability to help her make that happen may trump the animosity she has for her husband. In this Wednesday’s episode (Hulu), for instance, Commander Waterford brings his entire household to Washington — which remains a center of power, even under the new regime — to see what else can be done to bring the baby home.
“It’s going to be interesting to see as Fred gets closer to delivering, does she get closer to Fred? And as Fred considers, ‘Well, maybe I shouldn’t deliver, maybe I can keep this ball in the air for a while, how her reaction is to that,” Miller previews.