The Handmaid's Tale is a story that encompasses many things, including a near future dystopia and the perils of not fighting back when government starts curbing the rights of the citizenry. But at its heart, The Handmaid's Tale is the story of fertile women as sexual chattel in a world where mass sterilization has occurred. Offred and her fellow Handmaids are valued for their ability to have children in a world where very few can. Which is why the question of Nick being the father of Offred's baby in The Handmaid's Tale is so important.
Handmaids' outsized importance in society is due to them being the only ones left who can have children. It's why Gilead's society is structured like it is. (The fertile having babies for the infertile rich.) When Offred is revealed to be pregnant, it's a huge deal. In a way, she's become untouchable. Serena threatens Offred's firstborn, Hannah, in order to try to keep Offred in line. It's a cruel moment, but it's also a desperate one on Serena's part. Offred has power over the Waterford's now. She carries the child that will be theirs.
But there's one small problem. No one actually knows who the father is. Is it Commander Waterford? Or is Nick Blaine, the Waterford's chauffeur, with whom Offred has been having an affair? Let's examine the evidence.
1. Commander Waterford Is Believed To Be Infertile
Is Commander Waterford sterile? The evidence is circumstantial but compelling. Remember, he's not just had sex with Offred. Before Offred, there was a Handmaid in the Waterford house who's fate is at first unknown. (Later, we learn she killed herself.) What was the problem with this first Handmaid?
She wasn't getting pregnant. Month after month, she slept with the Commander and nothing. Serena Joy suspected terrible things about her — that she was somehow keeping herself from getting pregnant. But when the same scenario starts playing all over again with Offred, Serena guesses the truth, and so do we: It's not the lady who is the problem.
2. Offred Didn't Get Pregnant Until Nick Was In The Picture
Most fans think this is a given. It's biology. Offred has been raped on a monthly basis during her peak fertile period by Commander Waterford, and nothing happens. Suddenly she starts sleeping with Nick the Chauffeur, and bam! Within a very short period of time, she's announcing the happy news to the Waterfords that their Handmaid is with child, despite the fact that the Commander failed to even get it up at the last ceremony.
Obviously, Offred is perfectly fertile. Moreover, Serena Joy clearly realizes this too, which is why she's turning a blind eye to her servants' illegal relationship. It already doesn't matter who the biological mother of the child is. What's the big deal about who the biological father is?
3. Nick Thinks He's The Father, And That's What Matters
Is Nick the father? The truth is, unless Maury Povich wheels his set and his DNA tests into the Waterford's living room, we can't actually know the answer. Circumstantial evidence says that the baby is probably not the Commander's. It is obvious that three out of the four participants in this household (Nick, Offred, and Serena Joy) believe the baby is not the Commander's. Serena even throws it in her husband's face that's he's a sterile, useless man.
But miracles have occurred before, and since Offred was sleeping with Nick at the same time she was being raped by the Commander, there's a chance it's not Nick's.
But here's the truth of it: Nick believes that baby is his. And unlike Offred, who is basically helpless and will have to give up her child to Serena Joy, Nick is connected. He's got his possible Eye contacts, and he's in a position to make contact with Mayday in ways Offred can't. If he doesn't want the Commander to have this child, he can get Offred away from the Waterfords.
Will Nick decide he wants to raise his own child, instead of letting his employers have it? Will he and Offred escape? The Handmaid's Tale Season 2 arrives on Hulu on April 25, 2018.