The Handmaid’s Tale has a strange dichotomy in its storytelling. On the one hand, it wants to be a story about revolution, and it’s tough to go out and undermine an entire government when you have children. (As June says in the Season 3 premiere, "Sorry baby, Mama’s got work.") On the other hand, it really wants to be a story about reproductive rights and custody as well. So even though Nichole has been back-burnered since the opening episode, this week, that plot came roaring back. But where is Nichole in The Handmaid’s Tale Season 3? Warning: Spoilers for The Handmaid’s Tale Season 3 follow.
While June has been fomenting dissent among her fellow Handmaids and conspiring with Marthas to try to move Gilead’s escapees, up in Canada, the show has been checking in with those who are free. Emily arrived in the premiere with baby in tow, alive and well. Since then, said baby, who June agreed to call Nichole because that was the name Serena Joy wanted, has made it to Luke, as per June’s wishes.
Luke has been struggling to connect with the child emotionally because he was so distressed by Emily’s refusal to contact her wife upon escape. Luke doesn’t understand the shame of it all for someone forced into Handmaid service, and he’s been projecting those feelings of possible rejection by June (after all, she didn’t come to Canada).
But Moira’s not having any of Luke’s emotional problem nonsense. There is a child, it is here, it needs love. By the end of the first three episodes, Luke has climbed out of his feelings and has started to bond with the girl who June has blessed him with.
It was perhaps not the best timing. As viewers know, things are going down in Chicago. Nick is being sent to the front, and though Gilead’s leaders are putting on a brave face, Nick is not. The rebels have an excellent chance of keeping the city. As one can imagine, this is a big story in Little America. Chicago isn’t far from the border, and those who have escaped are cheering on their compatriots taking back the country. Luke, naturally, is one of those who wants to show his support, so he takes his new favorite girl with him to "Baby’s First Demonstration."
However, as he shows off his little girl to a news crew and cameras, it does not occur to him that this might be dangerous. After all, June didn’t risk passing on the message: The Eyes are always watching.
June is just about to head back to her new home with Commander Lawrence when Guardians turn up at Naomi Putnam’s party, demanding to speak to Commander and Mrs. Waterford. Almost like she knows what they’ve found, June freezes, unable to bring herself to leave.
It’s not long before she’s called back as well to view the footage of Luke and Nichole as well, to identify him and the child. Gilead has found the Waterford’s baby. And despite all the noise Serena Joy made about letting her go, she’s not going to argue with the state’s demand Nichole be returned. The fight over June’s child is about to begin in earnest.
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