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

Max Minghella plays Nick Blaine
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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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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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.