When Season 3 of The Handmaid's Tale added Commander George Winslow and his wife Olivia to the show's roster, fans approached the characters with caution — and for good reason. After three seasons of wild betrayals that inevitably ended with a brooding close-up of Elisabeth Moss' Emmy-winning face, the Hulu series taught fans to trust no one. And with an odd friendship forming between the new Commander and the Waterfords, fans are getting worried. But are Fred and Serena are being played by the Winslows? This theory suggests there is more going on in D.C. than meets the eye.
Following the seventh episode of the third season, Reddit user annalise13ra wondered if the addition of Commander Winslow and his wife highlighted more than just the extremities of Gilead's disturbing society. They questioned if the new characters were intentionally giving the audience — as well as the Waterfords — a "sinful vibe" that could potentially push both Fred and Serena to "engage in some extramarital activities." The Redditor then pondered the future: "...propositions are not genuine, but rather ways to catch the Waterfords doing wrong. This way, they would be able to blackmail/play the Waterfords and use them to further Gilead's political agenda."
Although most fans seemed to agree the Winslows are up to no good, others pointed out the theory had a few flaws. In the thread, Redditor jiddinja expressed the Waterfords' influence pales in comparison to the Winslows' power in D.C., so the motive to manipulate the Waterfords doesn't exactly make sense.
"The only way the Winslows might be playing Fred and Serena is if they play to dump political blame onto them and that would only happen if the Nicole-extradition deal doesn't go through," the fan wrote. "That is where the danger lies, not in being lured into sin."
Nonetheless, jiddinja offered up another fan theory that could potentially explain what's to come for Fred, Serena, and the Winslows in an upcoming episode.
"I think Serena is conflicted by the sin part. She doesn't want part in extramarital affairs or silencing handmaids ... but she does want the fancy parties and influence," the fan shared. "What's more, Fred is sweet with her in Washington, and that she most definitely desires. I believe that Fred is going to slip up and the Winslows are going to go too far in their decadence and Serena is going to turn on them all."
Honestly, both theories seem plausible at this point. However, The Handmaid's Tale promo for the Jul. 24 episode makes me think jiddinja is on to something. In the trailer, Fred and George decide to make "an example" out of Commander Lawrence. Later, it looks like they force the Lawrence household to perform the ceremony, and at the end of the clip, Eleanor breaks down. It's possible this is the moment where Fred and the Winslows go too far and push Serena to turn on Gilead for good.
Quite frankly, I would love to see something shake up the Waterford home. But regardless of what happens, the final few episodes are on their way, and hopefully, they're filled with more action and less of June staring into my anxious soul.
The Handmaid's Tale Season 3 airs Wednesdays on Hulu.