This episode, we get a whole lot of revelations and a whole lot of romance. That’s right – even with all this magical mayhem, our girl Nimue has multiple suitors looking her way. Plus, Pym gets in on the action with a Viking warrior of her own. Merlin talks himself out of multiple situations, Morgana gets political, and we even get a wedding! What will Nimue do about the Sword of Power? Will Arthur get the courage to tell Nimue how he feels? And why did Lenore want Nimue to find Merlin in the first place? All is revealed in “The Joining.”
We open on Cumber the Ice King, who has just finished pillaging a village. He tells the assembled people to warn Uther Pendragon that the real heir has arrived. Nimue awakens to find Arthur guarding her and the sword. He says he knows the Fey don’t want him there considering he’s not one of them. Morgana arrives before Nimue can respond. They hug, and Morgana is glad to see Nimue again. The two leave, and Nimue explains her mother’s request for her to bring Merlin the sword. Morgana is puzzled, since she knows Merlin serves Uther and Uther doesn’t exactly love the Fey. She’s also skeptical of Arthur and Nimue together, noting there’s not really time for “little girl crushes” right now and Arthur is the reason Nimue ended up in the mess she’s in. Morgana wants Nimue to embrace her destiny as the Wolf Blood Witch to save the Fey. Nimue agrees, but asks if Morgana will help her find Merlin. Morgana says she will, but wants Nimue to remember that she’s in a position of strength as long as she has the sword. Kings from everywhere will want it, and she can bargain for the survival of the Fey and herself. This seems like news to Nimue, who is only focused on fulfilling her mother’s wish and not on the wider political implications.
Merlin is on his way back to Uther’s castle when he is surrounded by Pendragon men. They say he’s under arrest for treason, and thinking quickly he sends the Widow’s horse back to her with the Fey Fire before he is arrested. Meanwhile, Father Carden goes to a meeting with his boss (who knew evil priests had bosses?). Carden is much less confident in His Holiness’ presence, wanting to please him with his efforts. But His Holiness is not impressed once he learns “the child” is still alive. He accuses Carden of lying to him about burning her to cover his own failures. He is angry they’ve pursued her so intently and even given her the name Wolf Blood Witch – now she’s an easy symbol. Kill her, and she becomes a martyr to the Fey. Carden feebly offers that when they find her, they will make an example of her so extreme that her followers will not offer resistance, but His Holiness only retorts that should he fail, they’ll do the same to Carden. Carden then confesses that she has the Sword of Power, and His Holiness’ disgust is evident. He threatens to take over command of the Red Paladins if Carden can’t find Nimue and the sword. Carden, ever the expert at deflecting blame and clearly rattled by the encounter, then goes to the Weeping Monk and berates him for being unable to find Nimue. He says if he burns, he won’t burn alone, and the Monk just stares after him as he stalks off.
Iris, fresh off gleefully murdering the only friends and family she’s ever had, approaches a group of Paladins in the woods. She asks to join them, and they laugh. She’s completely serious and asks what she can do to prove her worth to them. One jokingly says she could bring them the head of the Wolf Blood Witch, and Iris decides this will be her new mission. Back in Nemos, Morgana has written a letter for Nimue to send to Merlin. It’s a thinly veiled threat, and Morgana and Arthur argue about whether it should be sent. Arthur thinks they need to win allies, while Morgana believes these men will only respond to power. Nimue remarks that they really are siblings before saying she is not sending that letter. The last line threatens violence against the Paladins if Merlin does not agree to help, and Nimue is uncomfortable with the idea.
Pym has successfully snuck onto the Viking ship with Dof, but is quickly discovered. The others want to throw her overboard since the Fey are considered bad luck, but Dof intervenes with a lie about how Fey are great healers. Pym takes it a step further by saying she’s a well respected healer. She even tosses in a “never lost a patient!” for good measure. They reluctantly accept her, to Pym’s relief. Morgana and Nimue go to Yeva, a sorceress, to send a new letter to Merlin. Morgana must wait outside since she’s not Fey, and Nimue goes in alone. Yeva is fierce, reading Nimue’s innermost thoughts and cursing Merlin, who she calls a traitor to his kind. But she agrees to send her hawk Marguerite to find him, believing Nimue’s plea that her message is of vital importance.
Uther is throwing a tantrum about Cumber’s recent takeovers to his mother, who drolly tells him she hopes he’s managed to be calm in front of his court. She asks where Merlin is, and Uther smugly tells her they’ve chained him in his rooms. His mother is disappointed, saying “a Merlin rotting is a Merlin plotting.” She tells him to be a king and kill Merlin to demonstrate his strength. She also wants him to use the Red Paladins to get rid of Cumber so he can claim the sword. But it’s hard to know how much to trust her – does she have a secret plan? Is there a different reason she wants Merlin dead?
Arthur, demonstrating remarkable romantic instincts despite their current predicament, takes Nimue to a hot spring for a little alone time. Morgana told him about it (though knowing her, she likely wasn’t hoping they’d go together). Both strip down, though Nimue is self conscious about her scars, and neither look at each other until both are covered by the water. She almost gets back out when Arthur mentions he doesn’t mind her scars, but then he adorably reveals a small scar he has on his hip to make her more comfortable (it’s one little hip scar vs. a slashed-by-demon-bear back scar, though Nimue seems to feel better). Arthur also talks about his father, and Nimue leans in for a kiss. Arthur pushes her away. He regrets bringing her into his messes, noting he has debts to a lot of bad men. Arthur tells her he plans to leave to protect her. He says he doesn’t want to see her hurt, and Nimue remarks “you won’t, because you’ll be gone” before getting out of the water.
In what is the best montage of the series so far, we see Pym desperately trying to fake being a healer. She’s such a hilarious character, and it provides some much needed comic relief. Dof checks in on her, mockingly calling her “minnow” like Aaron did. She’s annoyed at first, but then he tells her if the only way to see her is to get injured, he’ll leave his protection charm on the ship next time they go for a raid. Pym smiles to herself as he walks away. Uther goes to Merlin in his cell. He’s preening a little, giving a classic villain monologue about how the Age of Wizards is over and they have no need of Merlin’s help anymore. Merlin tries to talk his way out of it, but Uther delivers an ultimatum: give him the sword by tomorrow, or he’ll execute Merlin. Iris sits alone in the woods when a group of refugee Fey arrive. Mistaking her for one of them, they say they will take her to safety. She nods silently, sensing an opportunity to find Nimue. Nimue hears a group of children chanting a nursery rhyme about the Wolf Blood Witch killing the Paladins. Another Fey, Cora, offers to help her, and it becomes clear that they see her as a hero for all she has done. Cora shows her a dress they are making for a “Joining” ceremony the next day. They insist she come and bring “that nice human boy” (even the Fey support this ship).
Uther has Merlin brought to the execution block, but before they begin Marguerite the hawk flies in with Nimue’s message. They are stunned to read it and see that she will only speak with Merlin, to which he quips “tell her I’m indisposed.” Uther reluctantly stops the execution and brings him back inside the palace. Arthur finds Nimue to talk to her before he leaves and is stunned to see her in a beautiful blue dress. She tells him there’s a Joining (wedding) that evening and the other Fey made it for her. He says she looks beautiful, and she asks if he’s leaving right away. He says he’ll never be the true knight his father wanted him to be, but he can at least look for justice somewhere. Nimue asks if he’s really looking or just running away. She invites him to the Joining so they can forget it all, just for a while, and he accepts.
The Joining itself is gorgeous, with amazing production design and creature makeup. Cursed is very good at world building, and this scene made me want to be in this realm with the characters. The Fey pull Arthur and Nimue in to dance with them. Soon, they break off on their own … and kiss. Arthur says “Nimue, what if it’s you? What if you’re my honor? What if it’s your justice I’m meant to serve?” Nimue says if he wants to stay, she wants him to stay, and they kiss again. Suddenly an excited cry goes up through the crowd announcing the Green Knight’s arrival. The Knight enters with several refugees, Squirrel among them (I was so happy to see that little guy!). He runs straight to Nimue, who hugs him. He tells her the Green Knight was the one who saved him, and she glances in his direction.
Turns out, they know each other. The Green Knight is Gawain, an old friend of Nimue’s (it’s always right after the first kiss that the hot old friend shows up, eh?). Unfortunately, Iris is also with them. One of the Fey kindly tells her she’ll be safe because the Wolf Blood Witch is here, pointing out Nimue. Iris just stares after her, her lips curling into a small smile. Nimue introduces Gawain to Arthur, and there is instant tension between the two. Nimue doesn’t help by introducing Arthur as “friend? I’m not quite sure what we are but we’ve been on quite the journey together!” Ouch. Gawain decides to get some subtle digs in by emphasizing Arthur’s humanness as opposed to his own Fey nature, not to mention referring to Nimue as “my Nimue.” Nimue and Gawain leave to catch up with each other as Arthur looks on (this is why you should have gone for it in the magic hot tub when you had the chance!).
Merlin goes to Uther’s mother the Queen Regent, suspecting she was behind Uther’s sudden urge to have him killed. He tells her the story of the midwife, which is really the Queen Regent’s story. The Queen was pregnant and the King had died months before, so the baby needed to be a boy to be a true heir to the throne and secure the King’s legacy. But something went wrong with the delivery, and the baby boy was stillborn. The midwife and the Queen stole a baby boy from a local peasant so her claim to the throne would still be valid, and the baby’s real mother died mysteriously days later. All the others who helped the Queen are dead … except for the midwife, who fled. Merlin sarcastically says the midwife could present quite a problem for the King, and the Queen snaps that the midwife obviously had enough sense to stay away, or she is dead along with the others. But Merlin says there’s a third option: that the midwife is alive and under his protection. He leaves, and the Queen looks troubled.
Nimue shows Gawain the sword, telling him only Arthur and Morgana know about its presence. Gawain doesn’t want her to give it to Merlin, noting he’s serving a king who allows the slaughter of Merlin’s own people. Nimue says that Lenore used her last words to tell her to bring the sword to Merlin when she could have said anything else. It must be of vital importance that the sword get to him. Gawain tries to argue that maybe Lenore thought it would be a bargaining chip to convince Merlin to protect Nimue, and that now that he’s here to protect her it’s not necessary (Nimue’s eye roll says it all). Gawain urges her to give the sword to someone else if she doesn’t want the responsibility, “selflessly” offering to take it himself if she decides that it’s best. Nimue has a sudden realization: her mother must have known Merlin. Lenore was not careless and would not have said his name if she didn’t trust him.
Just then, they hear Morgana cry out in pain. They rush to her, and she’s distraught. Word has come in that the abbey is burnt to the ground, and Morgana realizes Celia is gone. Nimue leads Morgana away to a more private spot. Morgana says she has hate in her heart, even though Celia would have wanted her to see the good in everyone. Yeva arrives and says Merlin has given his answer. She takes Nimue to her home, where she prepares a spell to take Nimue to Merlin. She says Nimue will see memories that will lead her to the Between, where he is waiting for her. Nimue sees her father leaving, with him telling her to ask her mother why the darkness is inside her and that the darkness has nothing to do with the demon bear attack. She finds herself in the cavern where her mother died.
Merlin is waiting for her. He tells Nimue she’s playing a dangerous game. But then he realizes something. He asks her why they are in this place, because the Between would only choose a place they have in common. Nimue says it’s where her mother died, and a light goes on in his eyes. He breathes “you’re the daughter of Lenore.” Tears pool in his eyes, thought he tries to hide it. This makes Nimue realize something as well. She tells him she’s been asking herself over and over, “why Merlin?” He softly asks if she has come to an answer, and she says: “Because you’re my father.” At this, both of them startle awake.
Cursed is available now on Netflix.