In this episode, we begin to understand why Nimue has such a special connection with the Hidden, and she and Arthur become closer as she flees the massacre of her village. Katherine Langford and Devon Terrell have great chemistry, and the glimpses Arthur reveals into his own past are intriguing. We also get lots more Merlin, quickly becoming one of my favorites to due his mix of comedy and pathos. Gustaf Skarsgård is great in the role, and with more revealed about his motivations Merlin develops from pure comic relief to a complex character. Read on to find out why Nimue is “Cursed.”
The episode opens on a child sleeping in bed with her parents. It’s revealed to be a young Nimue when whispers start calling out to her, waking her from her sleep. The voices take on her friend Pym’s voice, leading her through the village. In the present, Nimue runs through the same forest her younger self is exploring. Pym’s voice taunts little Nimue, saying “you can’t find me!” in the creepiest tone imaginable. Little Nimue heads into the cave entrance as older Nimue finds Squirrel in the same spot, which is where she told him to hide from the Paladins.
As she calls out to Squirrel, a Paladin lurking nearby hears her. Not seeing Squirrel, he runs after Nimue while Squirrel watches. Back in the flashback, little Nimue is in the same woods as she trips over a branch. Pym’s voice apologizes before morphing into a deeper and scarier tone, adding “but I was soooo hungry …” Turns out, the being luring Nimue into the forest is a demonic bear with red eyes, who snarls in frustration when it can’t fit into the cavern Nimue is in. Adult Nimue is tackled by the Paladin, and they struggle over the sword. The bear scratches little Nimue, who calls for her mother. Lenore immediately wakes up.
Knowing she’s too far away to save her without help, she tells little Nimue to “call for the Hidden” via her magic as adult Nimue struggles with the Paladin. The Hidden oblige in both instances, killing the bear for little Nimue and killing the Paladin for present-day Nimue. Adult Nimue wakes up in a clearing alone. When she staggers to her feet, she sees (though we do not) what exactly the Hidden did to the Paladin. It’s gruesome enough that she retches behind a tree before gathering the sword and running away.
Back at Uther’s castle, a hungover (or possibly still drunk) Merlin is awakened by the sound of Uther and his men pounding at his door. He takes a large swig from his flask before answering (yup, definitely still drunk). Uther wants an explanation for the blood rain, and Merlin tries to buy time by telling him he’s studying the omens. Uther isn’t buying it, so Merlin shuts the door in his face. Uther orders his men to break the door down, but Merlin grabs his things and runs away before they succeed.
Carden and the Weeping Monk survey the dead wolves at the scene where Nimue killed them as she ran the night before. The Monk finds only one set of tracks, implying that only one Fey was responsible for this massive slaughter. Carden remarks that this was no ordinary Fey sword as a panicked Paladin runs up to them. They follow him to the woods, where we see what became of the Paladin who chased Nimue. The Hidden encircled him in tree branches and he is improbably still alive (though in a lot of pain). The other Paladins are terrified, but Carden uses the moment to emphasize what “the enemy” is capable of. He asks the man who did this as the Monk touches blood left on a tree. The Paladin responds “wolf’s blood” as the Monk asks to find her. Carden says he needs the Monk to kill the other Fey before sending his men to find Nimue. Carden says anyone harboring the “wolf blood witch” will burn with her.
Nimue finds herself at a stream, where she tries to wash off the blood from both her mother and the wolves. We flash back again to an injured little Nimue being carried through the forest by her mother. She brings Nimue to the other Elders, revealing the glowing claw marks on Nimue’s back. The Elders believe she won’t survive, and if she does, could bring destruction on them all since the bear was clearly a demon. Lenore insists that the Hidden saved her and she will live. Nimue’s father Jonah is silent, and when Lenore begs him to help her, he doesn’t. Lenore starts singing a lullaby to calm Nimue, and adult Nimue hears it as she begins to cry by the river. The events of the last day have finally caught up to her, and she sobs as we see Lenore nursing little Nimue back to health while singing.
Back in the forest, Squirrel is still hiding when a voice says “Born in the dawn …” Without thinking, Squirrel rushes out responding, “to pass in the twilight!” before realizing it isn’t Nimue: it’s the Weeping Monk. He threatens him, asking how many of “his kind” escaped. Bold as always, Squirrel says, “enough to kill you, you scum” before spitting on the Monk and trying to run. The Monk easily grabs him and begins marching him down the path. Nimue returns to the spot, looking for Squirrel, but both are gone.
Nimue arrives at the port where she first met Arthur, which is now taken over by the Paladins looking for her. She steals a cloak to try to hide herself. Climbing onto a cart, she asks the doctor driving it to look at her tooth, claiming it hurts and she can’t work. The doctor realizes what she’s trying to do, but plays along, telling the guards she’s his patient. The Paladin guard asks Nimue to remove her hood and is suspicious of the blood on her cheek. At first it seems he’ll let them pass, but then he tells the doctor that if “the patient” really does have a toothache, he can pull it right here, in front of them. The doctor does, to the disgust of the other guard. He waves them inside. Meanwhile, Squirrel is being led through the forest by the Weeping Monk as Squirrel keeps hilariously and loudly insulting him. Billy Jenkins is adorable, telling the Monk he and his horse are ugly (“and I like horses!”). The remaining Fey from his village hear him and begin to follow behind the pair.
In the town, Nimue hears the town crier call for her capture, with a reward offered. Back in the past, a slightly older Nimue is returned to the village after running away again. Jonah can barely look at her as he gives her to Lenore. Lenore tries to reassure Nimue, but Nimue says she’s the one who no one will play with and whose father hates her, stomping off while saying Lenore couldn’t understand.
The Weeping Monk is sleeping when the other Fey arrive, poking him with a pitchfork and demanding he get up. Squirrel realizes it’s a trap when the Monk is a little too docile, yelling at the men to just kill him, but the other Fey want revenge. When Josse asks what the Monk intended for Squirrel, the Monk simply says he was bait. When Josse asks for what, the Monk turns to him and says, “for you.” The Monk promptly kills all the remaining Fey as a horrified Squirrel looks on. Thinking the Monk is coming for him next, he tries to run. But the Monk grabs hold of him, telling him to share what has happened with the rest of the Fey. He lets him go, but there’s a sadness in the Monk’s eyes that is puzzling, almost as if the reason he’s letting Squirrel live isn’t about intimidating the Fey.
Nimue spots Arthur and goes to him. He asks what happened and where Pym is, and Nimue babbles that they are all gone, that it’s just her left. She begs for his help and he seems ready to offer it before his fellow knights see her. The one she cheated before, Bors, wants revenge, and he starts to drag her off as the others hold Arthur back. Bors tries to assault her, but she uses the sword to cut off his hand. He calls for them to kill the witch, attracting attention. Arthur takes his horse and pulls Nimue on, riding out of town as the other villagers realize she’s who the Paladins are looking for. They escape just as the gates close.
Arriving at a safe house, Arthur seems to realize he’s in deep trouble by helping Nimue. He seems to blame her, and she explodes, saying they killed Lenore in front of her. She thinks she could have stopped the attack if she hadn’t been with Arthur. Sensing her guilt, Arthur stops pushing. He clears a place for her by the fire and has her sit beside him. He starts to clean her wounds before noticing the deep claw scars on her back. He gently touches them and she shifts away from him, telling him not to touch them. Arthur looks at her, concerned.
We flash back again, this time to a Nimue a little younger than the one we know now. She’s walking with Wallo through the woods. He offers her his hand, and she shyly takes it. She remarks that he’s promised to Peri, and he says he saw her looking. She smiles before it becomes clear it’s a trap. Several boys and Peri rush out from the trees. Wanting to see her scars, they hold her down and try to reveal them. Peri is convinced the scars are the marks of a dark being and that Nimue used her “powers” to get Wallo to look at her (wishful thinking it seems). The Hidden then drag Peri under a tree as the boys frantically apologize and grab her arms. Nimue doesn’t seem to have control over what the Hidden do. The boys free Peri and all three run as Nimue collapses into sobs. She sits by the river, where her mother finds her. Lenore says Nimue has survived things that would have killed anyone else and that she is not fragile. She says Nimue will survive Wallo the baker’s son, which makes Nimue giggle a little.
In the present, Nimue stares at the sword in the safe house. Arthur asks if he can see it, sensing its rarity, and she lets him. He’s impressed by it, saying, “it’s the kind of sword that gets you noticed” before adding that it’s both good and bad for a fugitive like Nimue. She abruptly asks for it back, and he gives it to her. He says it’s probably worth a lot of money, enough to get her away from here. Nimue shares it was her mother’s dying wish to get it to Merlin. She wonders aloud if Lenore meant the magician Merlin, which Arthur dismisses. He apologizes for her mother’s death, but then says, “I’ve seen a lot of lives wasted on the dreams of the dead” as if he speaks from personal experience. He says Lenore is gone, sad as it is, and that the only fate Nimue can change is her own. Nimue says she promised her, and she intends to keep that promise. He sighs, but seems to agree to help her when he tells her he knows a place Bors won’t find them.
Merlin walks through the woods. He reaches the cavern where Lenore died, finding her body. He is saddened and carries her onto the altar where little Nimue was taken after her fight with the bear. He softly says “born in the dawn, to pass in the twilight” as he lowers his head. Arthur carries a sleeping Nimue through the halls of a convent. When she wakes, he says they’re with friends as a hooded figure open a door for them. Merlin finds the smoldering crosses where his people were burned and kicks them over in a rage. A figure in a black veil appears behind him, and Merlin asks if the Widow has finally come for him. The Widow replies, “not just yet” before sharing her anger that Merlin lied, telling the Shadow Lords the sword was destroyed. He claims he thought it was, and she says the Lords will see this as a betrayal. It’s not just his own fate Merlin risked, it was the fate of the Fey. She starts to remind him that if the Paladins get the sword, they can decide who rules, but Merlin bitterly says he was the one who wrote the words giving that power. He drunkenly says “whosoever wields the sword of power shall be the one true king.” He says the sword is cursed and will doom whoever wields it. She implores him to finish the war she claims he started, but Merlin laughs and says he has no magic, adding, “that’s what the sword took from me.” The Widow replies that that is all the more reason for him to reclaim it.
She says she sees the sword making its way to him as we see Arthur take it from a sleeping Nimue. Merlin says he’ll find the sword and melt it back into the Fey Fire. The Widow protests the Fire is gone now, but realizes he means to steal the Fire from “him.” He asks for “his” whereabouts, clay that Fey Fire won’t burn, and a horse. Arthur walks away as Igraine catches up to him. She asks how long she’ll need to hide Nimue, and he says long enough to fulfill a dying wish. It seems he does want to get the sword to Merlin as requested, but leave Nimue behind. He leaves as Igraine stares after him.
Cursed is available now on Netflix.