Last week's episode of The Handmaid's Tale threw a spanner in the works in Offred and Nick's relationship when the Waterford's decided to recommend him to be rewarded with a wife. Nick's obvious affection for Offred drove them to do this, as it was undermining their control of the household. But apparently, Nick's wife, whose name is Eden, might be even more effective at putting a bar between Nick and OFfrred than they thought. What is Nick's new wife up to on The Handmaid's Tale? Warning: Spoilers for The Handmaid's Tale Season 2 follow.
One of the things about The Handmaid's Tale that gets me every time is how well-seeded the attitudes that formed Gilead are throughout the story, in places where a viewer might not even think twice. Viewers saw some of those attitudes in play this week when Nick goes to Offred and basically attempts to insist they can carry on their affair despite his enforced marriage.
His reasoning? Eden is all of 15, a farm girl and an innocent. Nick is basically writing her off as someone who is harmless, useless, and not worth worrying about because she is a girl.
The patriarchal attitude towards Eden which Nick displays are so offhanded, so dismissive, it's almost easy to get lost in his passionate declarations of love to Offred. But it's the idea that girls are worthless, useless, and "not worth worrying about" that leads to a theocracy where women aren't allowed to be anything more than breeders doing their duty.
It's not surprising then that it's Offred, not Nick, who realizes the danger that Eden poses, not just to their relationship, but to Nick's life. Especially when Offred finds out from Eden that Nick hasn't even been trying to sleep with his new bride.
At first, the conversation seems like a slightly uncomfortable family talk between women who are forced to share a household together. It's the kind of thing which happened when a motherless girl is suddenly introduced to a household and is still trying to figure out this whole "growing up" business. Eden has a husband she doesn't know and is frantic because she's been told it's her job to make babies, and her new husband doesn't seem to care. She worries it's her, that there's something wrong with her, and she's not attractive enough.
Offred, thoughtlessly, comforts her. No, seriously kid, marriage is complicated. It's not you. Give it time, etc. Eden seems to absorb this at first. But then... well if it's not her, it must be him. He must be a gender traitor.
It's to Offred's credit she doesn't smack the girl, or openly laugh and tell her the truth about who fathered the bump on her belly. But there can be no more dillydallying on Nick's part. He needs to sleep with his wife, like, yesterday, or at least before her dumb 15-year-old mouth says something regretful. And her dumb 15-year-old mouth might get bold enough to do just that, as Serena Joy is all about using the poor thing as a proxy to punish Offred, and Eden mistakes it for real power.
The problem is that Offred might order Nick to sleep with his wife, but she can't, erm, order his body to obey. The failure of Nick to perform when the time came this episode might only convince Eden further to "out" him.
Thankfully, it looks like Nick might already be making moves to his Eye contacts before Eden can do just that. What exactly Nick's plans are for the Waterfords isn't clear (yet), but hopefully, he can outpace the ticking time bomb lying in his bed.