Bradley Whitford will be reprising his role of Commander Lawrence as a series regular for season 3, according to Deadline. Lawrence was introduced in season 2 as a founding architect of Gilead, credited with crafting Gilead’s economy along with the Colonies. Lawrence made a splash in season 2 by helping Emily (Alexis Bledel) escape Gilead through an underground railroad run by the resistance, revealing that he’s one of the most powerful figures working to take down the society he created.
What does Commander Lawrence’s return mean for the show? There are two possibilities. First, this could be a path to sharing a more in-depth backstory about Gilead’s creation. Despite being presented as a pivotal figure for the colonies in season 2, Lawrence is still shrouded in mystery. By filling out his backstory and answering the critical questions of how Lawrence got involved and where things went wrong for him, the specifics about Gilead’s rise from conservative dogma to a ruling fascist regime could be revealed.
Second, the resistance is going to get real. Viewers have found out more and more about Gilead’s rebels throughout the past two seasons, following June’s (Elisabeth Moss) own discoveries. In season 1, it was a whisper network of small but mighty rebellions, like Handmaids who broke the law to write letters. Then in season 2, a few lone rebels began taking real action against Gilead, such as the Red Center bombing. But the strength of the underground resistance isn’t clear until the season finale, when a plan to help June escape reveals that a network of Marthas and Handmaids are capable of strategic organization and that at least one man is helping take down Gilead from the inside — Lawrence.
June surprised everyone by choosing to stay in Gilead, presumably so she can be a force in the resistance and help take down the regime once and for all. His Handmaid Emily is gone, so Lawrence has an opening in his house for one. June is still in Gilead, and it’s unclear what will happen to her next, but she certainly won’t be going back to live with the Waterfords. Will Lawrence take June in so they can work to further the resistance together? Their pairing makes sense — it provides an outlet for the Gilead origin story and keeps June safe in a perilous situation.
The Handmaid’s Tale season 3 airs on Hulu in 2019.