Commander Fred (also known as "The Commander") is the head of the household where Offred is enslaved as a Handmaid. He is the husband of Serena Joy. He often seems a decent, well-meaning man, and Offred sometimes finds that she likes him in spite of herself. He almost seems a victim of Gilead, making the best of a society he opposes. However, we learn from various clues and from the epilogue that the Commander was actually involved in designing and establishing Gilead.
In the television series, he is portrayed by Joseph Fiennes.
In the novelEdit
Commander Fred takes a liking to Offred and, despite the dangers, invites her up to his study in the evenings, where he keeps contraband items. Fred talks with Offred and offers her forbidden items such as hand lotion and fashion magazines. He also confides in her that he is lonely and finds that his wife no longer understands him, essentially beginning an emotional affair with Offred, though it is mostly one-sided.
Ofglen tries to get Offred to use Fred's affection for her to gain inside information, stating he is an important member of Gilead's government. Fred takes Offred to a brothel named Jezebel's for the evening, treating it as a date; however, he seems disappointed by Offred's lack of enthusiasm, simply treating it as an extension of her duties. Commander Fred merely watches helplessly when Offred is taken away by the Eyes (or possibly rescued by Mayday). It is unknown what ultimately became of the Commander. However, in the epilogue, it is suggested that is real identity was Commander Fred Waterford, who was one of the key founders and leaders of Gilead, who was executed in a political purge for harbouring an 'undesirable' (possibly referring to his Guardian, Nick, who claimed to a member of Mayday).
In the Hulu seriesEdit
In the series, Commander Fred is portrayed by Joseph Fiennes. He is explicitly named Commander Fred Waterford, which in the novel was stated as being a likely candidate for his real name.