Just when we thought the Commanders couldn’t get worse or more powerful, we met Commander Winslow on The Handmaid’s Tale. While Commander Waterford (Joseph Fiennes) and Commander Lawrence (Bradley Whitford) are integral to the organization, Winslow is at the center of it all in Washington, DC. (Or at least what’s left of it). We had to do a double-take when we saw him, because yes, that is TV veteran Christopher Meloni.
Known for his role as Detective Stabler in Law and Order: SVU and his latest dark comedy Happy!, he’s on the other side of the law in this new gig. DC is the epicenter of this new, brutal regime that forces women to give birth and subsequently give their children away. You can see this happened time and time again for Commander Winslow, who shares a whopping six children with his wife, played by Elizabeth Reaser.
We never really learned much about Commander Winslow, but we do know that he was willing to break all the rules. In episode 11, he attempted to rape June, but she stabbed him to death with a pen. Meloni spoke with Harper's Bazaar shortly after his character's shocking murder and about his character's sexuality. Who could ever forget the very-non-Gilead moment when Winslow rubbed Waterford's shoulder at the pool table?
Whether you want to call it Easter eggs or bread crumbs, I just thought there was something to play there. The action [in the script] is just, I put my hand on Waterford. And I thought, This is a man of great appetite, and there’s also a sense that this is how things work when you have absolute power. Things are not what they seem to be, and there is a corruption and a perversion of norms. I'm not saying that to be bisexual is a perversion, of course, but that this person is not authentic. You're propping yourself up to be one thing, and the truth is that you are something else.
When we talked to executive producer Warren Littlefield, he alluded to an intimate relationship brewing between Commander Winslow and Commander Waterford. But we never actually saw it play out. Let's not forget, Gilead considers those who engage in homosexual relationships "gender traitors," and they're often killed, brutally punished, or sent to the Colonies.
“There’s a respect, there’s an admiration, there’s a bonding. Is there possibly some kind of attraction here?” he said. “And Commander Winslow is married with a large family, and that spins Serena Joy’s head, so it’s a wonderfully multi-layered relationship that Fred Waterford finds himself in, with a goal.”
Melano also spoke with Bazaar, about his character's shocking death, and his final line: "My children."
"I found that so layered, because that's usually the final plea for sympathy, the idea of, Oh, the children, that's something that a person would connect to. And in this instance, for June, I think it’s the opposite. It’s like, 'F--k you, you mean the children you stole?'
With Commander Winslow's death and Commander Waterford's arrest, it looks like June is getting closer and closer to accomplishing her goal. As for us, we're still trying to center our breathing as we await the final episodes of season 3.
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