The Handmaid's Tale is now three seasons deep into a story that was initially sketched out in a slim novel. Throughout 28 episodes and counting, the show has filled in details left and right about all of the characters, giving the Waterfords a much fuller backstory, revealing June's past, and even creating entire histories for characters like Emily. But there are a few characters who remain a mystery, like Aunt Lydia, who somehow became a religious zealot. Another character whose past is shrouded in mystery: June's lover, Nick. What did Nick do before Gilead? Warning: Spoilers for The Handmaid's Tale Season 3 follow.
The Handmaid's Tale has hinted at Nick Blaine's history before. In Season 1, Episode 8, fans got a look at a young Nick, just out of school, and utterly unable to find employment. Aimless, drifting, and angry at his lot in life, his counselor, Andrew Pryce, suggests religion might help him find his way and offers to take him to a meeting of "The Sons of Jacob."
Later, Nick, now working for Pryce after the fall of the United States, is introduced to Commander Waterford. Nick impresses his boss-to-be as a true-believer, eager to seem intelligent and part of the right side of things, agreeing that the handmaid plan seems like a solid solution for the fertility crisis.
When June meets Nick, he is quiet, reserved, almost kindly. As it is, he seems to be questioning those who brought Gilead about. In an early scene, he reports on the activities of others in an attempt to "clean up Gilead," the same way he once worked to "clean up America." But as he falls in love with June, viewers can see him questioning his faith in the state. By the time Season 2 takes him to Canada, he is on the side of the rebels, passing packages to Americans like Luke.
As the Waterfords fight to win Nichole back, Nick shows up in D.C. Now a Commander in his own right, Waterford is clearly nervous, knowing who the real father of the baby is and that Nick is now just as powerful. Seeing Nick gives June courage to speak to the Canadian delegation, and attempt an end run around the Waterfords' claim. She believes the government will listen to the real father, who is such a rebel against Gilead he's tried to get June to Canada twice.
Unfortunately, one look into Nick's past by the Canadian delegation sends up alarm bells. "We won't be able to do business with Mr. Blaine," the representative tells her. "I don't think you know who Mr. Blaine is."
June goes into denial at first. However, she then confronts Serena Joy over it. Serena seems almost amused at June's naiveté about her lover.
He served Gilead... he was a soldier in the faith. We wouldn't be here without him. All this time you spent together, and he never mentioned anything?
As Nick marches down the train heading to the front in Chicago, the other soldiers look on in awe, jumping to attention as he passes. Whoever Nick is, whatever he's done, they know, respect, and fear it. It looks like only June is the innocent here.