Nick the handmaid’s tale

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Two weeks on from The Handmaid’s Tale finale, there’s still one burning unanswered question on fans’ minds: Where the heck was Nick?! Max Minghella’s brooding, morally ambiguous fan favorite has been absent since Season 3, Episode 6, when he was abruptly shipped off to the war front in Chicago. Shortly after, June discovered the truth about his violent past as part of the Gilead crusade. Fans expected Nick to return later in the season—and according to showrunner Bruce Miller, that was indeed the original plan, but his scenes were ultimately cut.

“We just don’t have the real estate in the show,” Miller tells BAZAAR.com. “We had all sorts of other stuff with Nick, and with characters like Janine and Moira. … Max is a wonderful actor. He has scenes that we filmed that we weren’t able to use, and it’s heartbreaking. I feel like shit when I have to cut that stuff, but sometimes you have to make those decisions when you’re trying to make a good TV show overall.”

We caught up with Minghella himself to discuss Nick’s Season 3 arc, his feelings about June/Nick shippers, and his future on The Handmaid’s Tale.

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Nick had a lot to do in the front half of the season, and then was absent for the back episodes. How did you feel about his Season 3 arc?

I really liked this season a lot. I’ve been enjoying watching it, and I loved this last episode in particular—I thought it was beautiful. This is a boring answer, but I love doing the show, and I love playing this character, and the scenes I get to do are extraordinary. I find Nick to have so many shades of gray to him. He’s often a mystery to me, and at the same time, I find him very close to home. His are very comfortable shoes to wear.

June discovering Nick’s past was a big turning point for the season. How did you feel about how that played out?

I think the revelation in Episode 6 is more a revelation for June than the audience, because in Season 1, it’s made fairly clear that he was a part of whatever uprising there was. The fact that it was a reveal to June is the most important thing, because the show is completely about her perspective and how she is receiving information and processing it and taking action based on it. But when that episode aired, I loved how much of a dramatic impact it had for the audience, even if it wasn’t necessarily a totally new revelation. It felt revelatory, and I think that’s a testament to how successful Bruce is in channeling the perspective of the show through June.

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In reference to that episode, Warren Littlefield mentioned there’s a lot of mutual denial between June and Nick. She doesn’t ask about his past, and it’s like they’re in a suspended reality when they’re together.

There’s a lot of burying under the carpet between Nick and June, because they need some kind of relief from this hellscape, and you don’t want to have to drag up the past. It’s like people who are in long-distance relationships where they only see each other for brief periods of time. They don’t want to start a fight, because they only have three days together.

The romance between June and Nick is so morally complicated for so many reasons. How do you feel about fans who ship them?

I mean, that’s lovely. Lizzie and I really enjoy working together, and we enjoy the romance between these characters. We look forward to doing those scenes, and it plays into our taste as audience members too. I like that I’m a part of the romantic narrative in the show. It’s probably the least intellectual aspect of the show, and that makes sense because I’m not a very intellectual person!

He’s often a mystery to me, and at the same time, I find him very close to home.

Bruce Miller said the finale is about June’s transformation into a soldier. Based on that, do you think she’ll have a new understanding of Nick when they reunite?

I think Nick’s very in love with her, so I’m sure he’s really hoping it works out. But she was also married to a wonderful person who loves her very much and has a chid with that person, so it’s very complicated.

Do you have any sense of what’s next for Nick?

I don’t. I’m really excited to go back, and I know that the direction of the show is going to shift. This season was a catalyst for a lot of exciting stuff, so I think we’re all excited about what next season’s going to look like. They’ve never let us down. The writers do an extraordinary job of always surprising us. It’s a very weird feeling to get scripts and genuinely be like, “Wait, what’s going to happen next?” Season 4’s going to be really exciting, and I think it’s going to be different.

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What kinds of reactions do you hear the most from fans?

I’m always surprised by how many men approach me! More often that not, it’s excited husbands. This show really does reach different demographics and connects on a bigger level than people realize. I’m really proud of that. This show is on the right side of the conversation, and it’s getting to people. Bruce has always been so conscious of making sure that it’s a great TV show. No matter how nuanced the discourse of what’s going on, it’s always great storytelling and entertainment above all else. I think that’s allowed people to then mull over the deeper ideas, without feeling like they’re going to get their vegetables every time they tune in.

HULU Emma Dibdin Contributor Emma Dibdin writes about television, movies, and podcasts, with coverage including opinion essays, news posts, episodic reviews and in-depth interviews with creatives.

For much of The Handmaid’s Tale, June’s relationship with Nick Blaine has provided her a sanctuary of comfort and safety within the brutal, misogynistic regime of Gilead. The father of June’s second child, Nichole, appeared in all but two episodes of the first two seasons. But during Season 3, he appeared in just three episodes.

Despite his conspicuous absence amid June’s daring plot to get dozens of children out of Gilead, multiple interviews with the cast and crew of The Handmaid’s Tale suggest Nick still has a major part to play in the upcoming fourth season. Here’s what we can expect from Max Minghella’s cryptic character going forward.

Where Was Nick During ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ Season 3?

In the third episode of Season 3, June learns Nick has been promoted to the rank of Commander, and dispatched the battlefront in Chicago. Minghella told multiple outlets in interviews that his character would get to fire a machine gun this season, though the showrunners ultimately decided to cut a number of the character’s scenes planned for the latter half of the season.

Executive Producer Bruce Miller said that choice was made to place the narrative focus on June’s rebellion plot, and to give her the emotional distance necessary to motivate her to take on such a substantial risk.

“When Nick’s gone, he’s truly gone for June, because it’s not like she can look on the Internet or call,” Miller explained in a recent interview with Bazaar. “It’s like he was plucked off the face of the earth, and in the novel that was such a strong feeling, that he kind of disappeared.”

Nick Blaine with Commander Pryce, who recruited him into the Sons of Jacob before the government was overthrown.Hulu

There’s Still More to Learn About Nick’s Radicalization

Way back in the Season 1 episode, “Jezebels,” we learn how Nick was recruited into the radical conservative group that overthrew the government. After getting into a fight at a job center, the counselor follows him to a coffee shop. That counselor is Andrew Pryce, later Commander Pryce, who tells Nick about the Sons of Jacob and its efforts to “clean up” the country. The group later orchestrates a massive attack on Washington D.C., killing scores of lawmakers and officials and suspending the U.S. constitution. In the Season 3 episode “Household,” we learn that Nick served in the Crusades, meaning he likely participated in this bloody coup.

We know Nick was poor and down on his luck in the pre-Gilead years, but that alone seems an inadequate explanation for why he would willingly adopt such a radical ideology. In Nick’s flashback conversation with Pryce, we learn he had a brother named Joshua, who died as a result of alcoholism shortly after Nick joined the Sons of Jacob.

The show has yet to explore Nick and Joshua’s relationship in detail beyond this flashback, but given that his loyalties are now squarely divided between June and Gilead, we’re bound to learn more about how his brother’s death influenced his past actions in Handmaid’s Tale Season 4. Minghella even hinted toward these tensions in a June interview with Den of Geek.

“He’s clearly tortured and has had to experience quite a lot of trauma, and inflicted quite a lot of trauma, and I don’t know how anybody reconciles that. He’s always struggling with it,” the actor said. “Everything in his life is extremely complicated except for June, and that’s just like, ‘I just love this woman,’ and it kind of clarifies all that stuff for him.”

Will Nick Remain Loyal to Gilead?

While Nick’s love for June might be straightforward and simple in Minghella’s view, things are a bit more complicated from the rebel Handmaid’s perspective. She’s clearly horrified after learning about Nick’s participation in the Crusades from Serena, and if anything his absence seems to liberate her to pursue the bold plan of getting the children out of Gilead. At some point, Nick will likely be forced to choose between June and Nichole and his loyalty to the regime.

Nick has shown sympathy for rebel causes throughout the show’s first two seasons, and he’s been involved with the Mayday network that helped organize the Canada flight to freedom that capped off Season 3. He’s also got no great love for the Waterfords, given that they essentially stole his child and have treated June abominably for years. Back in May 2017, Minghella described Nick’s relationship with Fred and Serena as a submissive one, where he holds none of the power Vanity Fair: “his role on paper is as a guardian and a lawn boy to the Waterford house.” Now that he’s a Commander and the Waterfords are in prison, he no longer needs to fear the repercussions of defying them.

Miller declined to elaborate on Nick’s role in the Waterfords’ storyline in Season 4 in a recent on-camera interview with Entertainment Tonight, clearly made uncomfortable by the reporter’s assumption Minghella’s character would be “intimately involved in where Serena’s story’s going.”

Did Nick tip off the authorities to get Serena arrested? Has he made a heel turn, or is he using his new authority as a Commander to take down Gilead from within? We’ll have to wait until The Handmaid’s Tale Season 4 finally lands on Hulu to find out.

Seasons 1-3 of The Handmaid’s Tale are available to stream now on Hulu.

Note: Contains spoilers for The Handmaid’s Tale season three, up to episode 11 which aired on July 31 in the US.

The Handmaid’s Tale season three has seen the show improve and change from its overly bleak season two, but there’s been one change that fans haven’t liked.

Despite being a major character in the first two seasons, Nick (Max Minghella) has barely featured in the third season. His only major appearance to date has been in episode six ‘Household’, and the other times we’ve seen him were brief roles in the first and third episodes.

And it’s left fans asking the same question: where the hell is Nick?

in loving memory of Nick Blaine 💘👼🏼⚰️ he ain’t really dead, we just haven’t seen him in forever #HandmaidsTale pic.twitter.com/N5zXZHfIjL

— tαrα ♕ (@1989tvd) July 24, 2019

I MISS NICK !!! WHERE YOU AT ?!! #HandmaidsTale pic.twitter.com/mvMrDWvN7x

— Evieee (@toouphigh11) July 30, 2019

Me waiting for Nick to show up before the end of the episode #handmaidstale pic.twitter.com/ya5YZbIgCP

— Queenbellajay (@queenbellajay) August 1, 2019

Me every time I turn on #HandmaidsTale to find that it’s another episode w/o a Nick appearance pic.twitter.com/rxNxPFZtie

— Alicia (@aliciamarino10) July 24, 2019

Me watching Handmaids Tale for Nick pic.twitter.com/CeUZPflCoH

— GracLew (@_GraceLewis) July 26, 2019

Of course, the simple answer is that he’s off fighting on the frontlines of the war in Chicago for Gilead.

‘Household’ saw June (Elisabeth Moss) discover what viewers already knew. Nick was involved in the creation of Gilead as he was part of the Sons of Jacob, the group responsible for the Republic of Gilead.

It’s because of this that June’s plan, to have Nick give the Canadian government information on Gilead, fails, because the Canadians are unwilling to trust Nick because of his role in the war that led to Gilead taking over the United States.

Between helping June get Nichole out of Gilead at the end of season two and when we meet him again in season three, Nick has been promoted to Commander and the last time we saw him, a group of Gilead soldiers were saluting him on a train to Chicago.

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In the US, there have been five episodes since then – and we’ve not seen even one scene with Nick.

Yes, we know he’s off fighting a war but considering the show frequently visits Emily (Alexis Bledel), Moira (Samira Wiley) and Luke (O-T Fagbenle) in Canada, why couldn’t we drop in on him from time to time?

The possibility is that the show is holding Nick back for a big reveal in the final two episodes of the season. We’re about to go into spoilers for episode 11 ‘Liars’, so look away now if you’re on UK pace.

Hulu/George Kraychyk

After trying to get Nichole back from Canada throughout the season, Fred (Joseph Fiennes) and Serena’s (Yvonne Strahovski) plan took an unexpected turn at the end of ‘Liars’.

They thought they could trust US representative Mark Tuello (Sam Jaeger), but it turns out that instead of helping them, he was taking them to Canada where the army arrested them for war crimes.

Could it be that Nick played a part in that arrest? Speaking to Den of Geek after episode six aired, Minghella hinted that Nick is always planning something.

Hulu/George Kraychyk

“I do think that Nick is always one step ahead of where you think he is. He’s certainly one step ahead of where I am as a reader or an audience member, and I think that becomes very clear in season three. Not all is as it seems. He’s quite strategic and cunning,” he said.

It could be that Nick is on the frontlines of the war to help the Canadians out and is really a double agent, especially since the first two seasons saw him linked closely with the resistance and helping June.

Minghella was “optimistic” that his relationship with June would survive after that episode six revelation, and she definitely wouldn’t get back with him if he was actually pro-Gilead all along.

A neat fan theory on Reddit suggests that Nick’s surname Blaine is a reference to Rick Blaine in Casablanca, who helped Ilsa escape the Nazis.

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In the books, Nick didn’t have a surname, so it could be a telling sign from showrunner Bruce Miller that Nick will help June escape Gilead.

Equally, Nick could be the true villain of The Handmaid’s Tale season three, and was close to the resistance purely to spy on them for Gilead. If Fred is detained in Canada, Nick might take advantage to rise further in the ranks.

Whatever happens in the final two episodes of season three, all fans want is more Nick in their lives, so if that’s as a villain of season four, that’s still probably better than no Nick at all.

The Handmaid’s Tale airs on Hulu in the US and Channel 4 in the UK.

The Handmaid’s Tale amazon.co.uk £6.00 The Handmaid’s Tale (Graphic Novel) amazon.co.uk The Handmaid’s Tale Season 1-2 box set amazon.co.uk £30.18 The Handmaid’s Tale season 2 boxset amazon.co.uk £13.01 The Testaments by Margaret Atwood amazon.co.uk £10.00 The Handmaid’s Tale (Original Series Soundtrack) amazon.co.uk £15.19 The Art and Making of The Handmaid’s Tale amazon.co.uk £19.48

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Why Is Nick Such a Polarizing Character on ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’?

The Handmaid’s Tale finished its third season in August 2019. The fourth season of the show is expected to premiere sometime in 2020. Season 3 saw one character become divisive among viewers. In The Handmaid’s Tale, Nick Blaine, played by Max Minghella, surprisingly became a polarizing character.

Max Minghella plays Nick in ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ | David Crotty/Patrick McMullan via Getty Images

Nick has always been ambiguous

In The Handmaid’s Tale, Nick is a driver for the Waterford family and June’s lover. In the second season, the two have a daughter together named Holly. For the first two seasons of the show, Nick was a standout fan-favorite character, most likely because his scenes with June provided hope and were lighter compared to the show’s bleak tone.

The show is known for its dynamic and multi-faced female characters, even if they are villains. In comparison, the men on The Handmaid’s Tale range from complacent to downright evil. In both the TV show and the novel, Nick is written to be ambiguous, though he morally seems to be opposed to Gilead’s philosophy.

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Is there a future for Nick and June?

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The third season saw Nick promoted to a commander in Gilead. Midway through the season, June learned that Nick played a role in the start of Gilead. After the revelation, Nick was not seen or heard from. This revelation caused some viewers to detest Nick, while others always assumed Nick had a darker past.

Some fans of ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ love Nick

In The Handmaid’s Tale fandom, there are hardcore Nick fans. Some viewers of the show love his relationship with June. Others like the nuance of his character as he was recruited by the Sons of Jacob before Gilead’s creation and found himself in too deep to get out.

“Nick is someone who, in the beginning of SoJ, was willing to go along. Honestly, I think most people who want to condemn Nick for that don’t understand totalitarian regimes or human nature,” one Reddit user wrote. “When push comes to shove, and one’s life is in the balance, instinct is to survive. I’m sure he has done some serious things to survive, but, as he started to learn about the more distasteful ideologies and practices, he turned to the resistance.”

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It’s lack of love we die from.

A post shared by The Handmaid’s Tale (@handmaidsonhulu) on Jun 27, 2019 at 9:53am PDT

The same Reddit user also wrote, “As part of the resistance, Nick is playing a very dangerous game against a ruthless totalitarian regime. He has done some things to indicate where his true loyalty lies and has done a lot of damage to Gilead in the process.”

Other fans of ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ despise Nick

For every fan that loves Nick, there seems to be another fan who hates him. While some fans can empathize with how Nick was recruited by the Sons of Jacob, other fans view him as a criminal. Fans also do not think Nick is morally opposed to Gilead as he has slowly climbed the ranks since its creation.

“Eh, I don’t like him, I never liked him & his storyline irritates me a lot…,” wrote a Reddit user. “I also don’t care what he regrets. He is a war criminal, and pre-war he knew exactly what he was doing, he was just too selfish to care.”

“I never liked Nick. The revelation of who he really was only confirmed my suspicious… Nick only looks like a good person by contrast. In contrast with people like Aunt Lydia and Commander Winslow, sure Nick’s not that bad… But that doesn’t mean he’s not also a monster in his own right,” another Reddit user wrote.

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❤️

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Why can fans of the show not agree on the character?

It appears that Nick’s character is written so ambiguously fans are truly split down the middle. This most likely is on purpose, as many of the characters on The Handmaid’s Tale are nuanced. Some of the villains have sympathetic moments while the heroes make ruthless decisions because of the situations they are forced into.

When it comes to Nick, a lot of feelings about the character seem to be subjective. Fans who like him acknowledge his dark past but focus on the good he has done with the resistance. Nick risked his life multiple times to help June escape and he met with the Swiss to try and keep Holly in Canada. He also gave the Mayday letters to Luke which resulted in the Waterfords being forced to leave Canada.

On the other hand, fans who don’t like Nick focus on his involvement with the Sons of Jacob. To them, he was part of Gilead from the beginning and it does not matter why he ended up joining in the first place. He is a war criminal to those outside of Gilead and has not done enough for the resistance to be considered a good guy.

Handmaid’s Tale: Max Minghella Understands Nick, Even If You Don’t

This Handmaid’s Tale article contains MAJOR spoilers for Season 3, Episode 6. Read our full (and completely spoiler free) review of The Handmaid’s Tale Season 3 here

On The Handmaid’s Tale, there are no easy answers when it comes to good guys and guys, collaborators and resistors. Everyone’s favorite brooding former driver Nick Blaine—and the closest thing the show has to a leading man, if the #TeamNick stans are to be believed—is often seen as a bit of a cypher. That is, to everyone except the actor who plays him, Max Minghella.

“I really enjoy playing Nick,” Minghella told Den of Geek. “I like that he’s somebody who people find somewhat opaque. I don’t, because I play him. So I feel like he’s quite straightforward.” After speaking with him, that becomes entirely clear. Minghella offers keen observations on his character unlike anything else I’ve ever heard or read from the legions of people who obsessively interpret the Emmy-winning show, either professionally or recreationally.

read more: Handmaid’s Tale Season 3 & The Seismic Shift in Gilead

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Some have wondered why The Handmaid’s Tale continued beyond the limits of Margaret Atwood’s speculative fiction novel, queries that grew louder during Season 2’s ever-concerning torture porn and apparent unwillingness to deal with race. But for Minghella, Season 3 is full of excitement. “Every script I got this year, it never went in the direction that I thought it was going to go in. I didn’t feel like anything was obvious. I don’t feel like I know now where it’s going to go.”

But he reminded us of an important caveat: “Everything you’re seeing in the show is through June’s eyes, and his actions aren’t always consistent with a good person.”

June learned the truth about Nick.

The biggest Nick-related drama of “Household” was Swiss intelligence revealing to June that Nick isn’t entirely what he seems and that he played a role in helping create Gilead, confirmed by Serena Joy. There’s a lot to unpack here, but perhaps the biggest question is: how will June take it?

“These are not sort of shocking revelations for the audience, but they are for maybe some of the characters around him. It’ll be interesting to see how that affects June’s perceptions of him. I can’t speak for her, I don’t know how surprised she is by it or how upset she is by it, but I have hope that this relationship can survive. But maybe I’m being optimistic.”

read more: If You Love Handmaid’s Tale, You Need to Read The Power

It’s hard to imagine June getting over this revelation so quickly. This season in particular, her mantra has been that people need to find love wherever they can and hold onto it, because it’s the only way to survive. Nick has been that love for her, helping her (both literally and emotionally) when nothing and no one else could. But how does someone cope with realizing that their sliver of hope was far more complicit than they realized? And how does Nick live with himself, knowing he helped bring about this authoritarian regime and continues to serve it on a daily basis?

Minghella shared this thoughtful and honest insight: “I think it’s really torturous and something that weighs very heavily on him. I think he’s kind of a heavy person you know, he’s clearly tortured and has had to experience quite a lot of trauma and inflicted quite a lot of trauma and I don’t know how anybody reconciles that. So I think he’s always struggling with it.”

“But I also think that his feelings for June are contrary and they’re very, very straightforward. I feel like everything in his life is extremely complicated except for June, and that’s just like, ‘I just love this woman,’ and it kind of clarifies all that stuff for him.”

Nick’s complicated past.

Of course, Nick’s involvement in the early days of Gilead isn’t news to the audience – the show explored Nick’s backstory in the Season 1 episode “Jezebel’s,” where we saw Commander Pryce recruit a younger, angrier, unemployed Nick – but that doesn’t make it any easier to hear.

In Margaret Atwood’s book, Nick’s loyalty was ultimately left in question, while season two of the show made Nick’s love of and loyalty to June unequivocal. Yet, his very real history has come back to haunt him, and as he rises in the ranks in Gilead, it may well become difficult for June to ignore the role he plays in the regime that destroyed her family and oppresses her on a daily basis.

read more: Handmaid’s Tale Sequel Coming From Margaret Atwood

Delving into that sort of ambiguity is fruitful for Minghella, who shared that, “In general in fiction, I like characters who have shades of grey to them. I think everybody in The Handmaid’s Tale, to a degree, has that complexity. To get to play somebody who’s ambiguous is fun.”

It might have surprised some viewers that Nick agreed to help June in such a dangerous way in the first place – and he certainly had to be convinced – but Minghella says, “He wants the best for June and he wants to facilitate whatever that’s going to be.”

Nick didn’t immediately agree to work with the Swiss – he still has that disenfranchised young man inside him, the one who turned to the Sons of Jacob because he felt he had no other purpose, and no other path to success or happiness. And given the Nick we know now and the horrific things the regime has done to June, it would make sense that his experience with Commander Price and the Sons of Jacob has made Nick even more jaded than before.

read more: Watching the Handmaid’s Tale in the Age of Trump

If Episode 6 did anything, it served as a reminder that Nick isn’t just jaded; he’s always been so much more than just the driver. “I do think that Nick is always one step ahead of where you think he is. He’s certainly one step ahead of where I am as a reader or an audience member, and I think that becomes very clear in Season 3. Not all is as it seems. He’s quite strategic and cunning.”

Nick goes to war.

Nick is a commander, something he casually told June he “earned.” How did he do that, exactly? One would have thought he’d be on time out after his part in allowing June to get Nichole out of Gilead, at least with Fred. Instead, Waterford seems completely chummy, calling Nick “son” while the other commanders have welcomed him into the fold.

read more: The Handmaid’s Tale and Religious Dissent

Part of his new title, it seems, is the other big news: Nick is going to war. If this caught you by surprise, you weren’t alone. “Full disclosure, I didn’t know there was a war,” Minghella confessed.

“When I found that out, I was like, ‘Oh, this is amazing.’ It was such a reminder of how we’ve just scratched the surface of this story and this universe and there’s so much more to discover. Like literally just geographically, there’s so much more to discover.”

The glimpse of Gilead’s military that Nick and his troops offered at the end of “Household” seems to be just the beginning. With Nick on his way to the front, what more might the rest of Season 3 of The Handmaid’s Tale hold?

Stay up to date on all Handmaid’s Tale Season 3 news here.

Will Nick Die In ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ Season 3? Fans Are Worried Already

The Handmaid’s Tale Season 2 saw a massive shift for Nick, who began the series as the Waterford’s Chauffeur, a title that seemed to include being a lackey of all kinds for the Commander. Though there were rumors Nick might be an Eye for the government, his recent actions, including passing off the handmaid letters to Luke in Canada, and his multiple attempts to get June out of the country suggest he’s turned over a new leaf. That’s what makes the news of his deployment so distressing. Will Nick die in The Handmaid’s Tale Season 3? Warning: Spoilers for The Handmaid’s Tale Season 3 follow.

Like all plot developments, the Chicago issue began as an offhand remark, as June’s latest walking partner, Ofmatthew, casually noted the lady of her house was overheard to say that Chicago would be “taken back soon.” This, naturally, was a shock to fans. Since when was Chicago not under Gilead’s control? As usual, there was no information as to what was happening, but it definitely seemed like something fans should be concerned about. If Chicago could rebel against Gilead, why couldn’t Boston, where June is living, be next? Why not New York City or Washington DC? Anything was possible.

There was just one concern. Everyone in Gilead seemed to think the battle tide was turned their way. Commander Lawrence had an entire binder full of women prisoners to go through. So was Chicago’s rebellion worth taking seriously or not?

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The truth of it is, Gilead will always act like they have the upper hand, even when they’re back into a corner. It’s part of the lie that makes the totalitarian regime tick. As long as everyone believes Gilead is all-powerful, and there’s nothing to tell them otherwise, the culture of fear will rule.

It’s when those who are actually tasked with taking back Chicago talk privately about it that everyone should listen. Moreover, it turns out the Commander whose job it is to lead Gilead’s forces into Chicago is Nick Blaine.

This is a lot for fans to take in when Nick turns up at the Lawrence house to see June just before he ships out. The last time viewers saw him, the Waterford house had just burnt down and June was off to the red center for a new assignment, while Nick was heading someplace new himself. Turns out that “someplace new” was a promotion, up to Commander. He might not have a Wife right now with Eden gone, but he’s prepped for it. All he has to do is survive Chicago.

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There’s just one catch. Nick doesn’t talk like a man who expects to survive Chicago. For all the brave talk by those who head up the government, Nick recognizes this is going to be a bloody street-by-street (and bridge-by-bridge) battle. Lots of people are going to die. If the campaign fails, he’ll be among them, and he’s not looking like success is assured.

It could, of course, be a ploy to get June to go to bed with him one last time before leaving. But Nick hasn’t been that kind of guy, not for a long time. This could be his and June’s last night together before Chicago takes him for good.

Need to catch up? Check out the previous Handmaid’s Tale recap here.

I think we can safely say that many Handmaid’s Tale viewers feared Eden’s involvement in Nick’s life was going to end in someone’s death. But I sure didn’t think it would be hers.

This week’s episode proves me wrong, as the seemingly timid child bride proves herself a warrior for love. She refuses to deny her relationship with Isaac, the guardian stationed at the Waterfords’ home. She valiantly stands before Gilead’s Terrible Old White Men and accepts her sentencing. And then she dies, never once backing down from her beliefs.

It’s inspiring, albeit in a completely awful way.

Meanwhile, the show finds a way to get June back in the same house with her baby, whose name is officially Nichole (but just to stick it to the man, I’m going to keep referring to her as Holly, cool?).

Read on for the highlights of “Postpartum.”

LA LECHE BELEAGUERED | As the episode opens, Serena is all blissed out as she bathes baby Nichole Holly in the nursery. My first thought: That baby looks REALLY young. It’s still all peely and everything! Meanwhile, June sits, hooked up to a double pump at the Red Center. She’s holding the apparatus to both breasts; couldn’t those monsters have done one decent thing and given her one of those bras so she could go hands-free?

It’s been a few weeks since Holly’s birth, Aunt Lydia exposits as she enters, and wasn’t it a blessing that the neighbors found June and the baby in time? Apparently, June is now in demand as a handmaid; one Commander and his wife even sent over a basket of baked goods to woo whoever will assign her. “Take one, dear. I think you’ve earned it,” Lydia coos. “I think I’ve earned a whole cake,” June deadpans. Still, she takes one of the treats.

The most pressing problem: June isn’t producing much milk, which is troubling and all but I’m having a hard time focusing on that right now because…

PRAISE BE! | … NICK IS ALIVE. We learn this as he helps Fred decorate his new office. Waterford is running point on “media expansion” now — whatever that means — and he clucks about how his favorite Guardian had a “misunderstanding” with “overzealous guards.” It’s hard to tell what Fred does and doesn’t actually believe: One moment he’s praising Nick for handling the botched Hannah meet-up with discretion and noting now “we always look out for each other, don’t we?” and the next, he’s forcing Nick to admire the new family Waterford portrait — with Nick’s offspring front and center — that’s hung right behind the desk.

BABY BLUES | OK, back to poor June’s underperforming udders. Fred and Nick collude with Aunt Lydia to have June see the baby, but when the men arrive at the Red Center with the infant in tow, June can’t bear to be near her daughter. “Seeing her might prime the pump, so to speak,” Lydia tells her, and June hasn’t had a say in anything that’s happened to her or her body so far, so why start now?

Being in proximity to Holly causes June’s milk to let down painfully; it wets the front of her dress, and before June can even react, Fred is like, “Great! Put that in a to-go cup and we’ll take it!” Dude, it’s not a Box O’ Joe. Relax. June tremulously asks to nurse the baby, and for once, Aunt Lydia is on board. “Consider what’s best for your daughter,” she advises the Commander. Next thing we know, June is back at the Waterfords’ house. “She has no contact with the baby, and she pumps in her room,” Serena decrees, furious at the decision her husband has made.

WELCOME BACK | So that’s what happens, leaving June to lie on the floor and caress the hardwood when she hears her daughter crying in the nursery below. One evening, as she deposits full bottles in the refrigerator, she runs into Eden. Nick’s young wife asks a few questions about how breastfeeding feels, then gets DEEP: “What if you had that chance, for love and a baby?” she wonders. Maybe because it’s late, maybe because of hormones, maybe because when you’re nursing it can seem like it’s you and your chewed-on/sucked-dry parts against the world — who knows why June feels a new softness toward Eden? But she does, telling her gently, “I think, in this place, you grab love wherever you can find it.”

And while that advice will prove very problematic in a few scenes, for now let’s just focus on the way Nick gushes over Holly when he and June steal a few moments in the foyer. “Our baby’s so beautiful,” he says, and AW NICK I AM BARELY OVER THE FACT THAT YOU ARE ACTUALLY NOT DEAD AND YOU START SAYING THINGS LIKE THIS?! “I wish I could hold her,” he adds, then they start talking about how they should run away and start a new life in Maui and now I’m dead from TOO MANY FEELINGS.

Because Fred is the worst in all ways, he interrupts, all agitated because Eden and Isaac the guardian are missing. Then he starts ranting to Serena about lust and such, but she tells him to get away from the baby if he’s going to be such a negative nelly. And then Serena tries to get Holly to latch onto her breast, but that kid survived a near bleed-out on a living room floor in her first moments of life, so yeah, she’s going to hold out for the real thing. Upset, Serena yanks her robe closed and apologizes to the squalling infant.

EXIT FOR EDEN | Eden and Isaac don’t get far before they’re caught. Nick begs Eden to say that the guardian coerced her, but she refuses to lie. “All I wanted was to make a family,” she says, apologizing to her husband for not loving him or wanting to have his baby. He says he’s sorry for not being kinder to her. “Let’s forgive each other, then,” she says.

Then Eden and Isaac are shackled and led up onto a diving board at what looks like a high school pool while the Waterfords, Nick, June, Rita and a bunch of others (including Eden’s mother and sister) watch. The pair is accused of infidelity, but they won’t renounce their sins. Eden is so much of a baller — a phrase I never thought I’d type — that she even starts reciting 1 Corinthians 13:4 (“Love is patient, love is kind”) as she and her man are weighted down and pushed into the deep end to drown. Later that night, Nick brushes off June’s attempt to comfort him. Then June heads upstairs, where a distraught Serena quotes a Bible verse about god protecting children, then allows June to nurse Holly while she watches.

MEET THE NEW BOSS | In another part of town, Emily is reassigned to Commander Joseph Lawrence, the man who is considered the architect of Gilead’s economy. “I’m wondering why such an important, brilliant man will take in such a shitty handmaid,” she says — but that answer soon becomes a little clearer. His martha is missing an eye, swears and calls him “Old Man” to his face. There’s art on the walls and books splayed out on every flat surface. And when he comes out to meet Emily, he’s played by Bradley Whitford.

The new commander quickly dismisses Aunt Lydia, saying his wife isn’t feeling well and won’t be coming out to meet them. And then things get really weird. He catches Emily reading and, as she tries not to freak out in fear, muses about how women lose fingers for reading now instead of hands like in the old days.

Later, Mrs. Lawrence approaches Emily in her room and divulges that her husband is a terrible man. “The Colonies. He planned everything. He figured it all out. And I said real people are digging up that dirt and it’s poison,” she says, more than a little unhinged. Joseph enters, carries her bodily away and throws her in her bedroom, locking the door. Then he beckons Emily downstairs and pours them both a beer.

“We value privacy in this house, you understand?” he says, kicking off a conversation that indicates he knows alllllll about Emily, inside and out — literally. “Have you healed properly?” he asks, and Whitford is doing this weird breathing thing that exponentially ups Lawrence’s creep factor. Is he a worse deviant than the rest of Gilead’s Repressed White Dudes? Or, perhaps fueled by guilt, is he maybe resistance-sympathetic? OK, Handsmaid’s Tale, I’m intrigued.

Now it’s your turn. What did you think of the episode? Sound off in the comments!

Ready for the next episode? Read The Handmaid’s Tale Season 2, Episode 13 recap here!

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Why Nick Has Been Absent From ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’

Max Minghella plays Nick Blaine | Emma McIntyre/Getty Images Hulu)

There are only two episodes left in the third season of The Handmaid’s Tale and the show was recently renewed for a fourth season. While fans are happy with the renewal, many are wondering why Max Minghella’s character, Nick Blaine, has been absent from the past five episodes. Fan theories are running wild on Reddit and Tumblr, with many expecting Nick to appear in at least one of the final episodes. While nothing is confirmed, details from past episodes hint to why Nick has been absent from The Handmaid’s Tale.

Nick’s absence forces June to be her own hero

The love story between Nick and June is considered to be a bright spot in an otherwise bleak show. Nick constantly put his life on the line to protect June, and June often referenced Nick as her crutch that kept her sane while in Gilead. Without Nick, June has been isolated from one of her main support systems. In past seasons, every time June was isolated because of torture by Serena or Aunt Lydia, she came out of the experience stronger.

The third season is no exception and has shown June reach her breaking point after being placed in solitary confinement for several weeks. When she recovered, she decided she was going to try and help 52 children escape from Gilead. Since devising this plan, she has worked on her own when Commander Lawrence is not able to help her. If June did not go through that hardship without Nick, it is unlikely she would have come up with such a drastic plan.

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Brief Encounter @handmaidsonhulu

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Nick technically made an appearance in the last episode of ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’

However, his name only appeared in the script. Every week, the show releases a scene from the most recent episode on social media. To give fans an inside look into the making of episodes, the video clips feature words from the script overlayed with the scene. After the eleventh episode premiered, the show released a clip of June speaking with Commander Lawrence in his office.

As June grapples with the fact her and Commander Lawrence’s plan to get children out of Gilead has been changed, the screen directions reading, “All is lost. But she will not give in. She gave up on Serena, on Nick, on Hannah. She can’t give up on this too” appear over the scene. The script shows that while Nick is not seen by viewers, he is still present on the protagonist’s mind, meaning he could very well appear in future episodes.

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It’s lack of love we die from.

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Nick’s true allegiance is being hidden from viewers

In the first two seasons, Nick appeared in 21 out of 23 episodes. This season, he has only appeared in three episodes. While the second season showed Nick helping the resistance and June, his character has become more ambiguous in the third season. Serena tells June that Nick was instrumental in the start of Gilead, and the last time viewers saw Nick, he was leading Gilead’s armed forces as a commander.

While some might assume Nick’s true allegiance is with Gilead, some fans theorize he is actually still working with the resistance. In the sixth episode of the third season, Nick is seen just before he talks to the Swiss government officials about his role in Gilead in an effort to keep his and June’s daughter in Canada. For artistic reasons, that conversation is never shown. It is assumed the Swiss refused to speak with Nick, but there is a good chance he actually did speak with them and it is being kept a secret.

This would not be the first time The Handmaid’s Tale kept viewers in the dark about a character’s plan. In the most recent episode, it was revealed that Serena’s long-term plan was to turn Fred over to Canadian authorities. Until that shocking twist, viewers thought Serena was trying to bring Nick and June’s daughter back to Gilead. When Fred was arrested, it was mentioned that testimony against Fred proves his role in war crimes and human rights violations. Could that be Nick’s testimony?

Nick is still considered a main character on the show, so it is likely he will appear again at the end of the season. If he does show up in the finale, it would be the perfect way to show viewers what side he is really on.

Why Nick & June’s Relationship On ‘Handmaid’s Tale’ Can Withstand That Major Reveal

Spoilers ahead for The Handmaid’s Tale Season 3 Episode 6. Nick Blaine isn’t exactly who he says he is, but those who watched the first season of The Handmaid’s Tale already knew that. Still, it’s shocking to watch June finally discover that Nick’s identity is all a lie, and has been this whole time. While Max Minghella tells Bustle that Nick’s lies serve a purpose, Elisabeth Moss says that purpose might be to help June realize the only person she can trust is herself. But will that be enough to save the women of Gilead?

Episode 6 is a pivotal one for June (Moss), who is taken to Washington D.C., now the capitol of Gilead, to help Commander Waterford and Serena try and bring back Nichole. Not only does she discover that the handmaids in the capitol have it far worse than she does, she realizes that Nick (Max Minghella), now a commander, hasn’t been as honest with her as she thought. A realization that comes just one episode after June sends a message to Luke revealing her affair with Nick, a man, it turns out, she doesn’t really know.

Nick isn’t just a driver and an Eye with ties to the resistance, but someone who’s “not to be trusted,” according to the Swiss diplomat, who June was hoping Nick would give Gilead’s secrets to in exchange for Nichole’s safety. “I think things are just not what she thought they were,” Moss tells Bustle at Hulu’s press junket in New York City, “and these allies that she thought she had, she’s losing them.”

It’s not just Nick that June loses in D.C., Serena (Yvonne Strahovski) also chooses her husband over the rebellion. For June, Serena picking the patriarchy over her is a betrayal of the highest order. Perhaps that’s why Serena seems to take pleasure in telling June that Nick served Gilead in the war, a sign he is really no different than Commander Waterford and June might not be so different than her. “We wouldn’t be here without him,” Serena says of Nick’s role in Gilead’s creation, which started with him joining the Sons of Jacob. “All this time you spent together and he never mentioned anything?”

Elly Dassas/Hulu

“Serena breaks her heart,” Moss says. “If there was anyone that June really believed in and would help her and be her ally it was Serena. That’s another catalyst, that’s another thing that’s propelling her forward to the place where she needs to go.”

What June wants is to lead a successful rebellion, but after her trip to Washington she might be doing it with a one-woman army. “I think she realizes that she needs to go it alone, in the sense that nobody is going to be crazy enough to do what she has to do, except for her,” Moss says, teasing that the lengths June will go to in the latter half of the season are “pretty extreme.”

While June figures out where to go next and who to go with, Nick is headed to Chicago with an army that from the looks of all their saluting is willing to follow him anywhere. But who are they following? “He’s a self-preserver,” Minghella says of Nick. “He’s somebody who’s constantly trying to be conscious of the political minefield. He has to be very savvy in a way that I am not in real life. He’s always one step ahead, always got something up his sleeve.”

It’s why it’s hard to know where Nick’s loyalties lie. Sure, he’s the guy leading the Eyes on the front lines of Chicago, which Minghella says fans will get to see in upcoming episodes. But he’s also the one warning June, “Get in bed with the government, it’s not so easy to get out.”

Elly Dassas/Hulu

What Minghella says fans shouldn’t question is Nick’s feelings for June. “His love for her is very straightforward and uncomplicated,” he says. “Everything else on the show is complicated, except for that narrative thread, which is emotional. In my mind, it’s never been about a manipulation.”

This season, Minghella says, is about evolution. Each character has been tearing down the infrastructures of Gilead — both literally, in burning down the Waterford’s house, and figuratively, these personal bonds they’ve built — to figure out what really matters in this dystopian world. It’s why Minghella isn’t convinced that June and Nick’s relationship, one of the few good things in Gilead, is really over.

“I think everybody on the show is capable of good things and bad things, it’s a reflection of real life and all human beings and I’ve loved that about it,” he says. “Everyone who’s living under this weird roof gets that terrible things have probably been done.” Now, June will have to decide if she’s willing to forgive the terrible things Nick’s done or if she will lead this revolution without him.

‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ Team Talks June’s Breakdown and Nick’s New Relationship

SPOILER ALERT: Do not read if you have not yet watched “Seeds,” the fifth episode of the second season of “The Handmaid’s Tale.”

Sometimes “The Handmaid’s Tale” showrunner Bruce Miller wants his Hulu dystopian drama to inspire the audience, and sometimes he wants the audience to inspire the characters in the show.

This is why, after a season and four episodes of allowing the audience to get “a sense of optimism from June, it was time to return the favor,” he tells Variety.

In the fifth episode of the second season, entitled “Seeds,” Offred/June’s (Elisabeth Moss) spirit is broken by being back in Gilead after the near-escape in the first part of the season.

“She can’t be on top of her game all of the time — she’s a human being — and when she’s not, we should be there rooting for her to come back,” Miller says. “So what I wanted to tap into was the audience’s faith in June.”

In addition to those in Gilead, such as Aunt Lydia (Ann Dowd) and Serena Joy (Yvonne Strahovski) trying to put June back in her place, June’s own body seemed to betray her. She found herself bleeding and thought she was miscarrying.

“When she feels like she’s losing the baby and she doesn’t do anything, it’s a passive thing. She’s not actively trying to but she’s thinking ‘Would it be the worst thing in the world if I miscarried because the thing I’m worried about most is bringing a child into this world?’” Miller points out.

Miller also acknowledges that June has a support system that she doesn’t even realize she has, namely in Nick (Max Minghella), who was the one to find her and scream for help. But also, she is impressed by the resiliency of her own child and that triggers a renewed resolve to fight in her, as well.

June has to lean harder on the baby than Nick as time goes on, now that Nick has been issued a wife named Eden (Sydney Sweeney) — a character Miller acknowledges “affected everything and everyone” when she arrived.

“What I really wanted to do was tell a different kind of story about what they want the world to be — not what they are fighting against, but what are they building?” Miller says. “The idea is she was in home a little bit out of the more mainstream religious waters before Gilead, so she’s been raised like that her whole life — it wasn’t just in the three years since Gilead.”

Armed with the desire to show “why true believers would buy in” to the society Gilead is selling, Miller created the character of Eden, a 15-year-old who Nick is “given,” in part as an attempt to make him feel like a valued member of society, but also to keep him in the Waterford home so he can continue to act as an Eye.

“He has a child to protect now and a woman that he loves,” Minghella says of Nick. “You never want to have something to lose, and now he has lots of things to lose. So the stakes are just way, way, way higher for him. And the commander, in an ambiguous way, is suspicious, so he has a lot of hurdles to jump through.

While Minghella adds that Nick has always been “a spy on a spy on a spy,” wearing a mask all of the time “whether he wants to or not,” Eden being dropped in his life is the “one thing he doesn’t know how to deal with.”

“He starts to split at the seams,” he says. “It makes him so uncomfortable — he’s so uncomfortable with it, and he doesn’t know how to deal with it, and it’s June who helps him navigate it because she’s much less emotional. I think without her guidance it would be more of a struggle for him,” he admits.

While the majority of the episode follows June as she goes about her day, much quieter and more docile than usual — including attending Nick’s wedding ceremony — by the end of it, after she is rushed to the hospital and proven to still be carrying the baby, she seems back to her usual, determined self.

“June dying is what we call that sequence — June dying and Offred taking over. They try to break her, and they do, but I believe she’s very resilient. She wouldn’t be the person that she was if she wasn’t, so the reason it doesn’t last very long is I don’t believe it would,” Miller says of June’s mental state in episode 5. “I could believe she could be knocked down, but I can’t believe she would be knocked out.”

New episodes of “The Handmaid’s Tale” stream Wednesdays on Hulu.

Nick’s secret in ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ will be ‘really difficult’ for viewers, EP says

Nick Blaine has a secret in “The Handmaid’s Tale.” Photo Credit: Mariah Lopez

“The Handmaid’s Tale” is digging deeper into its characters’ pasts, but viewers might not be so pleased with all of the backstories season 3 uncovers.

“Household,” which hits Hulu Wednesday, takes June (Elisabeth Moss), Serena (Yvonne Strahovski), Commander Waterford (Joseph Fiennes), Nick and others to Washington, D.C. — a trip that serves as a drastic ploy to get baby Nichole back from Canada. The trip leaves several key players on rocky ground, and consequently brings to light a crucial part of Nick’s past.

“I think we’ll shock a lot of audience members,” says Warren Littlefield, the series’ executive producer. “We’ve come to love Nick just as June has, and Max Minghella. What’s not to love?”

The episode will give readers a glimpse into what Nick’s life may have been like before being employed as a driver for the Waterford household. The reveal, which potentially puts Nick among the key players in the creation of Gilead, is one Littlefield describes as “distancing.”

“He did have a past. He was on the other side of the battle,” Littlefield says. “It’s going to be really difficult for June and for the audience. Yet, I think that’s a part of what we learn in times of war. Who are you? It will be pretty compelling.”

Nick, who’s now a commander himself, had been sent to Chicago to fight for Gilead in an active war. “Household” marks his passionate reunion with June.

“What we’re getting to see in season 3 is a real expansion of the world of Gilead — stuff I genuinely didn’t even know about,” Minghella says. “I think it’s just a curiosity thing and we’ve really just scratched the surface of these characters and where they can go. They’ve managed to go three seasons without having to really get into it, so this season we’re revealing what might be outside a small and contained area.”

Minghella teases the third season of “Handmaid’s” will provide “a little bit” of clarity after dropping its Nick bombshell.

“The thing about a lot of these characters is people have done terrible things and they’re trying to reconcile them. Almost everybody in this show has at some point done something regrettable. They’re like human beings, they’re dark and light.”

In its third season, “The Handmaid’s Tale” has an Aunt Lydia (Ann Dowd) backstory sequence set for the eighth episode, and has already opened up a bit more about June’s relationship with her mother and Luke (O. T. Fagbenle) pre-Gilead.

Eden Blaine, née Spencer, was a recurring character in season 2 of The Handmaid’s Tale. She was married to Nick Blaine.

After the takeover Edit

Eden was raised as a true believer in a farm near Westminster, MA. Her mother taught her the basic activities that would be expected from a wife in Gilead; marriage was her biggest dream before her appearance in the series.

Present time, season two Edit

Eden is assigned to Nick as a child-bride in a Prayvaganza mass-marriage ceremony chaired by Commander Pryce. As the Waterfords with June, Nick, and Eden return from the Prayvaganza, Serena leads Eden into Nick’s apartment and kindly advises her to enjoy the “act” she’s now required to have.

Eden being married to Nick in a group wedding

In a moment alone with June, Nick points out he didn’t have a choice to marry Eden and still thinks about “the three of us”. That night, Nick and Eden have dinner at their apartment, where she tells him that her mother taught her “about everything” that would be expected of her as a wife. Nick steps outside to smoke.

The next day, Eden tells June about Nick’s permanent aloofness, fearing that he is a “gender traitor”. She reassures her that he will be “a great father for her children”. When Nick runs into June soon after, she insists he has to deflower his wife. That night, Nick and his new bride have sex for the first time.

Eden asks Nick if she can spruce up their home and he tells her to do whatever she wants. Nick comes home to Eden and finds that she’s organized the house. He sees the stack of letters June was burning on the nightstand and asks her if she read them. She says no and he forbids her from ever touching his things again.

Eden takes out the trash and runs into Isaac, the Waterford’s new young Guardian. They share a kiss as Nick watches from the balcony. Eden realizes this and runs up to the house to apologize. He says not to worry about it and Eden asks why he doesn’t care that he just caught her cheating on him. He doesn’t say anything and Eden realizes that he likes June. Nick tells her that he’d never get involved with a handmaid. She realizes that he just doesn’t love her and starts to cry.

Eden becomes infatuated with Isaac after receiving little to no affection from Nick in her loveless marriage to him. She later falls in love with Isaac and, taking June’s advice of “finding love wherever you can”, they attempt to escape Gilead together, but are both caught by Gileadean forces. Moments later, they were both put on a diving board above a local swimming pool in front of a terrified public, convicted of infidelity in violation of Exodus 20:14 and were sentenced to death. Eden has only a potential chance to save her own life by “renouncing her sins”, and Nick begs her to do so, but the young econowife chooses to die a martyr’s death via drowning along with her lover, but not before reciting 1 Corinthians 13:4-8 to herself and Isaac. This causes Nick to feel immense guilt for having treated her so poorly throughout their short-lived marriage.

Her death has a profound effect on Serena, who watched her and Isaac’s execution with horror.

It is revealed during a meeting between the Waterfords and Eden’s father that he was the one who had turned her over to the Eyes, which surprises June. By doing so, he had contributed to her execution.

Appearances Edit

Season Two Edit

References Edit

Images Edit

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    This post contains spoilers for The Handmaid’s Tale Season 2, Episode 5, “Seeds.”

    This was truly not a great week for Offred/June. Shortly after learning that something might be wrong with her baby, she had to attend Nick’s wedding—to a teenage bride named Eden. Later, Nick found the mother of his secret child lying in a ditch in the rain. Thankfully, he got there just in time: when she woke up in the hospital, Offred learned that both she and the baby are O.K. Then she made a vow to her unborn child: “I will not let you grow up in this place . . . I’m gonna get you out of here. I’m gonna get us out of here.”

    First, though, she may have to get past Eden, who grew up under Gilead’s watchful, authoritarian eye—though actress Sydney Sweeney hopes you don’t hate her sanctimonious character too much. After all, this is the only reality she’s ever known.

    If Sweeney’s face looked familiar, that’s probably because you’ve seen her as Emaline in Netflix’s Everything Sucks! or in guest spots on series including Pretty Little Liars, The Middle, and Grey’s Anatomy. She might only be 20 years old, but the actress’s IMDb credits stretch back almost a decade. More recently, Sweeney appeared in Under the Silver Lake, which just debuted at Cannes, and she’ll soon pop up in HBO’s upcoming Gillian Flynn adaptation, Sharp Objects.

    To prepare for her Handmaid’s Tale role, Sweeney naturally read the original Margaret Atwood novel and binge-watched the series’s first season—then started imagining a backstory for her character, based on what she knew from the script as well as what she could imagine life would be like growing up in Gilead.

    “Eden doesn’t know anything else,” Sweeney said during a recent phone interview. As her character told Serena Joy this week, Eden grew up on a farm in a very small town—which indicated to Sweeney that she was probably alone a lot. Thanks to Gilead’s declining birth numbers, Sweeney said, “there weren’t going to be many friends as she grew up. So she grew up more with the horses and the chickens. And cooking for her dad, and learning how to be a good housewife—because when she’s 15, she’s already dreaming of becoming a mother and to become a Commander’s wife.”

    Although this week’s big wedding scene, in which a parade of teenage girls walked onto a stage to marry adult men in a ritualized ceremony, might have been chilling to watch, the reality of filming it was more lighthearted. As Sweeney noted, she couldn’t actually see through the white veil she was wearing—and it was an all-day shoot.

    “I can’t see anything,” Sweeney said with a laugh, “so half the time I’m bumping into people, or I’m quietly whispering, ‘Nick, where are you? Nick, Nick, where are you?!’”

    Offred’s extreme reaction this week was pretty understandable, given her circumstances—especially with Eden present. Although Offred has found solace in her intimacy with Nick up until now, it’s very likely that their secret relationship will have to end—unless the two want to risk getting caught by Eden, who so far seems very deferential to Serena Joy. That inclination on Eden’s part makes sense; after all, as Sweeney mentioned, having a child is her character’s ticket to becoming a Commander’s wife herself. “That is my dream. My aspiration, my goal, everything,” she said. If Eden senses anything amiss, it seems very likely she would tattle on both Nick and Offred in a second.

    Still, Sweeney hopes that fans will be able to empathize with her character—although she understands if they can’t.

    “I hope that they see that she is just a little girl,” Sweeney said. “She’s still trying to figure out the world, and she doesn’t know what love is. She thinks she knows everything, like most teenagers do—and you fully realize that she doesn’t . . . I hope that people feel for Eden. Even with the choices that she makes, I hope that people will feel for her.”