Hey, there are spoilers ahead for the sixth episode of Handmaid’s Tale. If you haven’t watched, hop on out! You heard me!
If you are absolutely devastated after this week’s Handmaid’s Tale and the major revelation that Nick has been A Bad Guy this entire time, you’re definitely not alone. In a show that makes you feel like there are very few reasons to be hopeful, Nick and June’s relationship was one of the only positive things to latch onto.
The big question now is basically, “How much do we know about Nick’s past, and how pissed about it should we be?” We’re here to help you with that.
What did we know about Nick’s past before Gilead became Gilead?
Good q! While the show hasn’t gone fully into Nick’s backstory, we do have a few insights. At some point before Gilead was a thing, Nick was an unemployed guy fighting guys in career centers when a man who eventually became a Commander in Gilead pulled him aside. They went to coffee and he told Nick he was part of a religion that wanted to clean up the country. Basically, that was all we knew about his pre-Gilead days.
Okay, so what about after the takeover?
Initially, Nick worked for that commander, Pryce, after the takeover. The details are still cloudy on how the takeover/crusade/etc. actually happened, and at the time, it was unclear what Nick’s role in it was. He kind of seemed like a bystander, or a passive participant who was going along with this for his own safety, not because he supported it himself.
While working for Pryce, he met Commander Waterford, who he eventually goes to work for Commander Waterford as a driver, but he’s also an eye, which is basically a spy for Commander Pryce. That brings us to…
In the most recent episode, it’s revealed to June that Nick is not who she thinks he is.
“He served Gilead,” Serena tells her. “He was a soldier in the crusade. We wouldn’t be here without him. All this time you spent together and he never mentioned anything?” It is legit shocking.
His last scene in the episode is a shot of him walking through *his* troops on the way to Chicago. He always phrased it like he was getting deployed, as if someone else was giving him the order, but really it appears that he’s been kinda giving the orders all along? UGH.
The executive producer on the show, Warren Littlefield, broke it down for Harper’s Bazaar. “We’ve seen a little bit of Nick’s induction, we know he was a lost soul, but clearly, there are gaps,” he says.
“What we reveal here is that Nick had an automatic weapon, and he fired, and he was far more active on the other side [than June knew]. It’s horrific for June, and for the audience, because we love Nick! Even when he’s dressed up in that black garb, we have a soft spot for him.” That is legit the truth. We heart Nick.
Here’s the thing you have to remember about Gilead and the people inside it: They’re literally living in a world of war, which makes them do things they wouldn’t normally. “Isn’t that what war does? Isn’t that what these regimes do to people? You take even someone who is beloved, and you have them do something that is not beloved,” Littlefield explains.
Why didn’t we hear anything about this until now?
Max Minghella, the guy who plans Nick, explains it this way. “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,” he says.
So basically, Nick was due for a “dark” moment.
Ugh, RIP. Where does this leave June?
She’s in a rough spot, essentially. Serena has gone fully bad, so has Nick, and things are not looking good. Stay tuned!
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