Commander Putnam’s death in The Handmaid’s Tale explained

The Handmaid’s Tale season 5 delivers its second major character departure in Commander Putnam’s abrupt and quick death. Here’s how the events preceding his death unfold and why the character kicks the bucket.

The latest episode of Hulu drama The Handmaid’s Tale swerves the storyline quite a number of times, with surprising revelations and shocking twists aplenty.

One such twist comes when Commander Putnam has to eat a bullet moments after eating dinner with his wife.

Putnam’s history of sexual violence

Long before Commander Putnam gets a bullet in his head for raping Esther, he had dabbled in similarly vile acts. His lack of a hand is proof of his monstrous nature as that was the punishment he received for raping a woman.

This time, though, Gilead’s punishment was upgraded to death, which Commander Putnam receives in an abrupt and quick series of events, with an entire gathering of beholders gasping at his swift and cold end.

Putnam was always a creep who did his dirty deeds like all the other vile men of Gilead do, except without a penchant for all the patience and ceremonial spiel.

So when Esther is brought to the residence by Aunt Lydia, Commander Putnam orders the girl to meet him in private.

With his monstrosity emanating from his perverted stare and slimy words, he sexually violated Esther, which then led the traumatized girl to flip out and poison Janine and herself.

Aunt Lydia receives the news

It’s the diabolical Aunt Lydia who first learns that Esther was raped when the doctor breaks the news to her. She visits the young girl who has recovered from her coma.

During his uterus harvesting visit, the doctor found out that Esther is pregnant, which he informs Lydia about, to her shock.

Even still, the zealot Aunt Lydia probes Esther for any potential invitations she might’ve given Commander Putnam, knowingly or unknowingly.

Esther can only be so rightfully exasperated and angered at her dubiousness. She puts it clear that she was raped and Aunt Lydia expresses that she’s appalled.

This only aggravates Esther, who says she’s not appalled because she knows this always happens. All the commanders do it, Esther says, beginning to scream at the top of her lungs while chained down to the hospital bed.

Lawrence learns of the news

Upon learning of the reprehensible act, Aunt Lydia goes to Commander Lawrence, who dismisses her outrage.

He cites the usual routine that it is for the commanders to do whatever they want with the handmaids they’re assigned.

Aunt Lydia meets Commander Lawrence/ Image source: Hulu

However, Lydia persists and claims what Commander Putnam has done is a violation of the ceremony. Lawrence treats it with a facetious attitude.

Aunt Lydia persists still, calling out Lawrence for mocking the word of God. Lawrence reminds her of her place but also tells her that she’s given him a lot to think about.

Punishment for Apostasy

Commander Putnam is having dinner with Naomi Putnam, with all the other Gilead elites staring at them repeatedly.

Naomi addresses this suspicious amount of attention they’re receiving. Putnam, unaware that word about his disgusting act has spread all over, surmises it’s about a thing Naomi will thank him for.

He’s likely referring to the fact that Esther will give birth to their new baby. However, the reality is quite a distance away from his understanding.

Several guards arrive and forcefully escort him outside, throwing him in front of Commanders Lawrence and Nick.

The two inform the befuddled creep that a high court session last night ruled that he’s guilty of apostasy for raping an “unassigned property.”

lawrence nick putnam The Handmaid's Tale
Lawrence and Nick exact punishment upon Putnam (Image for representation purposes only)

Putnam retorts, blabbering that he’s committed no sins of the flesh as Esther is his handmaid. However, the two commanders pay little heed and after the kneeling creep says he’s got a child coming, Nick shoots him in the forehead, killing him in an instant.

Blood drops splatter across Nick’s face as the gathered audience, including Naomi, gasps in shock and horror.

Even with the punishment being a result of an act of apostasy rather than the act of rape, Commander Putnam gets served with a bullet in the head, putting his monstrosity to an end.

Also Read: The Handmaid’s Tale season 5 episode 6 recap & review: Together

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