Review: michael farris smith's "great gatsby" prequel "nick"

Actor Max Minghella pinpoints one line in Nick’s heated exchange with Offred that represents a totally “masculine mistake.”

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Courtesy of George Kraychyk/Hulu.

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This post contains spoilers for The Handmaid’s Tale Episode 8, “Jezebels.”

Perhaps one of the most quietly pleasing aspects of The Handmaid’s Tale is just how long viewers can watch before running inlớn a story told from the male perspective sầu. Sure, there are men in this world, but this is a story primarily concerned with women—and how they interact with the dystopian world they Hotline trang chủ.

This might be why it was a little jarring when, at the beginning of Episode 8, viewers found themselves launched into a flashbaông chồng inlớn Nick’s past. He’s a trusted servant in the Waterford house—one whose thoughts are inscrutable, given his stolid demeanor. That makes sense, since he’s also one of the Eyes—spies who keep watch over everyone, including the powerful male Commanders, lớn make sure no one is misbehaving. But how, exactly, does one become an Eye? Answers to that và other questions about Nick are what viewers start to lớn uncover through the flashbacks—all of which culminate, in Episode 8, in one of Nick’s most emotionally revealing moments yet.


“I feel like his role on paper is as a guardian và a lawn boy khổng lồ the Waterford house,” actor Max Minghella said of his character’s role in this society—a somewhat complicated one that finds hlặng privileged because of his sex, disadvantaged because of his class, và paradoxically powerful because he's an Eye. “It’s a submissive position,” Minghella said of Nick’s gig with the Waterfords—although Fred & Seremãng cầu Joy clearly trust Nichồng a great deal, which perhaps gives hyên some breathing room.


To Minghella, the episode afforded hyên the exciting opportunity to expose a vulnerable side of Nick—“the human side, which he is very careful to lớn bury for all sorts of reasons,” the actor said. “His humanity is no longer something he can wear on his sleeve.”


In the episode’s flashback—which, lượt thích other installments, adds backstory lớn a character who was left mysterious in the book—viewers watch a struggling Nick attempt to l& a job at a career-counseling center after several short-lived stints in various gigs. It doesn’t go well, & when the person waiting behind Nichồng pesters hlặng khổng lồ move sầu on, they get inlớn a fight—và Nick punches the counselor in the face. That counselor, it turns out, would become a key player in staging the revolution that brought about Gilead. He takes Nick out for coffee, where Nichồng reveals that he và his brother’s misfortune began when the steel mills shut down—a struggle that led his brother to lớn give sầu up, forcing Niông xã to care for both of them. Following his successful meeting with the career counselor, Niông chồng started out as a driver before landing with the Waterfords after the coup—&, eventually, becoming a spy whose job is khổng lồ keep tabs on everyone, powerful và powerless alike.

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Plot aside, perhaps the most fascinating part of this look baông xã inlớn Nick’s past is how much the world of Gilead has transformed hyên ổn. He might have sầu been emotionally volatile before the takeover, but by the time we meet Nichồng, he’s thoroughly buttoned down—figuratively và literally, as he consistently wears a uniform of navy-xanh button-down shirts. (As Minghella points out, “I don’t think it would be in Nick’s personality to lớn be concerned about his physical appearance.”)

“He is not this guy,” Minghella insists. “The Niông chồng we see in our contemporary narrative is, again, extremely militant and reserved. I don’t think it’s who Nichồng is. I think it’s a performance that is very kind of restricting. One of the very real challenges for me . . . he’s not a verbose person; he’s not a gesticulator. So you’re working with this sort of quite muted physicality and lexicon lớn try to lớn demonstrate quite a lot.”

Indeed, as viewers can clearly see from this installment—especially from the heated exchange between Niông chồng & Offred toward the end—Niông chồng, like pretty much everyone else, is complicated. The character reminded Minghella of some of his friends who hail from the East Coast—people who are incredibly kindhearted but will also “throw a punch in a heartbeat.” People lượt thích Niông xã have sầu shorter fuses, Minghella said, than people like him—“a conservative sầu và very boring British person.” But in the hushed powder-keg that is Gilead, such tempers must be concealed. Everyone behaves with practiced formality—from the Commanders, all the way down to lớn their terrorized handmsida.


Which brings us lớn, perhaps, the most revealing moment of the episode. After engaging in an illicit affair with Offred for a while, Nick breaks it off. Offred, for whom the relationship had become a lifeline of sorts, presses hyên ổn khổng lồ give her a reason. After driving Offred và the Commander khổng lồ a brothel called Jezebels, it appears that Niông chồng has suddenly decided that his & Offred’s relationship is too dangerous.

“I don’t know anything about you, you know,” Offred says. “Nick, you won’t tell me anything. So I don’t know anything. I don’t know who you are.” She demands to know if his life—tending the Commander’s house & occasionally trying to get one of his handmaids pregnant—is enough. He insists their relationship is too dangerous, saying, “You could over up on the wall,” where criminals’ corpses hang. Offred’s response? “At least someone will care when I’m gone. That’s something.”

As she walks away, Nick stops her, pulling her near hyên ổn. “My name is Niông chồng Blaine,” he says with an air of gravity in his voice. “I’m from Michigan.”

“Well, under his eye, Guardian Blaine,” Offred can’t help but snark as she walks away. It’s a telling moment for both characters: it reveals a dopey side khổng lồ Nichồng, who clearly thought he was giving Offred a moment of intimacy, and it further enforces Offred’s role as a relentlessly svào character who, even in the face of a massive power imbalance—Niông xã could have her arrested any time he wants—can’t help but quietly gọi bullshit when she sees it.

“There’s an arrogance to lớn hyên ổn, I think,” Minghella said of his character’s thinking at that moment. He said that the funny moment was discovered “on the day” during the shoot, & noted that Offred’s response does, indeed, amount to “Who gives a fuck?”


“He feels delusional enough khổng lồ think that’s a very generous , Minghella continued. “It’s a very masculine mistake—a very male mistake to lớn think we’re that important. ‘You’re welcome.’ ”

That seems khổng lồ be the mindset of every man in Gilead—from the Commanders all the way down khổng lồ their glorified garden boys.