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The Biggest Unanswered Questions In Cursed Season 1

Most of us are at least passingly familiar with the legends of King Arthur, Merlin, and the Knights of the Round Table, but in Netflix's series Cursed, the story gets a significant makeover that makes it practically unrecognizable, although the building blocks are all still there. Based on the book by Tom Wheeler and Frank Miller, Cursed follows Nimue (Katherine Langford), a teenage Fey girl wrestling with tremendous power in a kingdom ruled by fear. As Nimue resists the oppressive and bloodthirsty Red Paladins, she crosses paths with a young rogue named Arthur (Devon Terrell), an ancient magician named Merlin (Gustaf Skarsgård), and a uniquely powerful sword.

Cursed makes a lot of changes to the classic tale, most of which is pretty simple to follow, even if much of it is unexpected. However, by the end of the first season, there are still a number of questions which are left unanswered, some of which are certainly meant to set up a potential season two, while others could potentially go unanswered indefinitely. Read on as we dig into some of our biggest questions raised in season one of Cursed, and what we know so far about their answers.

Warning: Spoilers ahead.

How will Nimue survive?

From the very beginning, Cursed lets us know that Nimue is eventually doomed to sink into a deep body of water, bleeding profusely from multiple arrow wounds, but it's not until the closing minutes of the first season that we see how that happens: While attempting to save a wounded Merlin — whom Nimue learned midway through the season is actually her biological father — alongside Morgana (Shalom Brune-Franklin), Nimue is finally confronted by a bow and arrow-wielding Sister Iris (Emily Coates), who has spent the season determined to slaughter the Wolf Blood Witch and earn her spot among the Red Paladins.

Iris ignores Nimue's pleas for mercy and fires several arrows into her. Despite Merlin's desperate attempt to save her, Nimue tumbles from the bridge, disappearing into the churning waters below, and leaving the sword of power abandoned on the bridge. When last we see her, Nimue is sinking to her supposed death, recalling the image that opened the season.

However, despite all signs pointing to Nimue dying, her role in the Arthurian legend as the mystical Lady of the Lake indicates that she'll survive — somehow. Nimue showed herself capable of tremendous magic throughout the course of the season, especially when wielding the sword of power. Merlin has the sword now, and may use its magic to save her, or perhaps Nimue will save herself through her own magic. The only thing we know for sure is that the eventual Lady of the Lake still has a lot left to do.

How did the sword of power end up inside Merlin's chest?

Nimue's journey toward becoming the Fey queen begins when the Red Paladins burn her village and murder her mother, the healer Lenore (Catherine Walker). Before she dies, though, Lenore tasks Nimue with delivering a mysterious sword to the king's advisor, Merlin. While Nimue is determined to honor her mother's final request, she is confused by her designated recipient, since Merlin serves Uther Pendragon (Sebastian Armesto), the ruthless king who gives the Red Paladins free rein to slaughter the Fey.

However, it all begins to make sense when Nimue realizes that Merlin is her biological father, and even more pieces fall into place when Merlin allows her to see the circumstances that led to her own conception — which started with Lenore healing Merlin from a magical malady that was causing tremendous pain. After an ailing Merlin met Lenore, she quickly deduced that there was something inside his chest causing him pain, and she promptly cut him open to extract it. What she pulled from his body was, in fact, the very sword of power that Nimue returns to him years later. Merlin mentions that the sword was his once, but never explains how it ended up inside him. The most he offers is that it wasn't an enemy who did it, but beyond that, we never get any information on what the sword was doing inside Merlin's body. Was he hiding it? Was it a curse? We'll never know — at least not in season one.

Why can't Merlin die?

Perhaps more than any other character in Cursed, Merlin is shrouded in mystery, and we get his story only in bits and pieces throughout the season. He insinuates several times that he's actually hundreds of years old, and that his tremendously long life has included a number of shifting allegiances, poor decisions, sweeping adventures, and deep regrets. Originally, Merlin was born into the Fey, but his powers seem to far exceed those of the most of the other Fey that we meet.

When we encounter Merlin in Cursed, he's been without his magic for some time, and we later learn that he lost his powers when Lenore extracted the sword of power from his body. Merlin spends most of the season endeavoring to get his magic back through various methods, and as he does, he winds up brushing up against death quite a few times, to the point where it feels nothing short of miraculous that he survives the season. At one point, after having been stabbed multiple times through the chest, he even asks the rhetorical question, "Why can't I die?"

It's a good question. The numerous large blades through Merlin's torso should've easily been enough to finish him off, but to make his survival even more improbable, he was shot in the heart with an arrow earlier in the same episode. And that's to say nothing of the hundreds of years he has lived already. We see plenty of other Fey die over the course of Cursed, so what makes Merlin different?

What really happened to Lancelot as a child?

Probably one of the biggest twists Cursed throws at its audience comes at the very end of the season, when we learn that the Weeping Monk (Daniel Sharman) who has been mercilessly slaughtering Fey throughout the series on the orders of Father Carden (Peter Mullan) is actually Lancelot, eventual Knight of the Round Table. It's evident early on that there's something a little supernatural about the Weeping Monk, despite the fact that his adopted father is Father Carden, leader of the Red Paladins, who despise the Fey and all things magic. But between his sixth sense for sniffing out Fey and his almost superhuman fighting ability, it's still not that much of a surprise when, midway through the series, Gawain the Green Knight (Matt Stokoe) recognizes the Weeping Monk as a fellow Fey.

Still, although it's easy to pick up on the fact that the season is building toward the Weeping Monk eventually turning on his adopted father — which he does through saving the young Fey boy, Squirrel (Billy Jenkins), whom we later learn is actually Percival, another of Arthur's eventual Knights — the reveal that the Monk was actually named Lancelot before he was taken by Father Carden comes as quite a shock. Earlier, Carden tells Lancelot that he spared him from the slaughter of his parents and village because of his ability to sense other Fey, but considering Carden's track record, we can't believe that that's the complete story, and are curious to learn who young Lancelot was before Carden took him.

What other iconic characters from the Arthurian legend have we already met?

While Cursed is up front about the identities of legendary characters such as Merlin and Arthur, it enjoys doling out the more famous names of other characters as little (or big) reveals throughout the course of the season. The first big name to drop is Morgana, Arthur's sister who is initially introduced as Igraine, a nun at the abbey where Nimue goes to hide. Later, we find that characters we've been following under other names are actually Percival, Guinevere, and of course, Lancelot. 

It begs the question of whether there are any other well known Arthurian characters who have already made an appearance, but under different names. Since Cursed plays pretty fast and loose with the characters' backstories, we can't rule anyone out, even if they don't immediately resemble the familiar character. After all, if renowned, chivalrous knight Lancelot can be introduced as one of the season's most terrifying villains, anything is possible. Perhaps Sister Iris is a gender-swapped version of one of Arthur's most notorious villains, such as Maleagant or Mordred, or maybe Pym will eventually turn out to be one of the brave ladies of legend, such as Blanchefleur or one of the many characters named Elaine. After some of the twists that Cursed pulled in season one, anything seems possible.

What is up with Sister Iris?

Although Father Carden serves as the main antagonist of season one of Cursed, Nimue's ultimate downfall comes at the hands of Sister Iris, whom she first meets in the abbey where she seeks refuge from the Red Paladins earlier in the season. Since the first meeting between Nimue and Sister Iris, something about Iris seems a little... off. In an unnerving deadpan, Iris tells Nimue she can spot demons by staring at their faces, until she can see through them to their real faces. It's clear from the jump that Iris and Nimue are likely not going to be besties, and sure enough, Iris is soon burning down the abbey — killing all of the Sisters within — and heading out to attempt to find the Red Paladins, determined to join their bloody cause.

Iris spends the rest of the season working to get close enough to Nimue to kill her, and killing other Fey in the process, in an attempt to prove herself worthy of the all-male Paladins. But while Iris is certainly motivated by a strong hatred of the Fey and their magic, there seems to be more to her than that. Several times, she seems to be internally conflicted about the path she's set for herself, and at one point, she punishes herself for straying from her task by burning her own arm over an open flame, berating herself as though she's of two minds. Between her radical hatred, her unflinching capacity for violence, and her strange internal debates, we wonder if there's a lot more to Sister Iris than meets the eye.

Does Merlin still intend to destroy the sword of power?

Merlin is a pretty slippery character, and he spends Cursed's first season shifting his allegiances, altering his tactics, and playing his cards extremely close to the vest. Yet he seems sincere when he tells Nimue that he desires the sword of power not for himself, but to destroy it. He admits that the sword was once his, and that at one time, he might have desired it again, but that time has passed.

In fact, as we learn in the same episode, he wanted it back almost immediately after Lenore extracted the sword from Merlin's chest, since he realized he had lost his magic once the sword was removed. At the time, Lenore lied and told him that she had destroyed the sword, since she feared what would happen if she returned it. But by the time he learns that Nimue is his daughter, he seems to have experienced a true change of heart, and wants only to rid the world of the sword's power.

Yet, by the end of the season, Merlin's magic has returned in a powerful way, and it seems to be tied directly to his reclaiming of the sword. The last we see of him, the magician uses the sword to call down lightning on a group of Red Paladins, and then disappears with Morgana into thin air. So will he still be committed to destroying the sword, now that he's had a taste of its power again? We'll have to wait to find out.

What is the history of the sword of power?

Nimue may be the character who spends the most time with the sword during Cursed season one, but Merlin is definitely the one with the longest history with the magical object. This history was only doled out in bits and pieces over the course of the season, and we expect the connection between the two goes far deeper than what we currently know.

The first indication of Merlin's connection to the sword comes very early on in the series, when he's struck by lightning and branded with a sword-shaped burn mark that runs the entire length of his body. Later, we learn that the sword was at one time Merlin's, that it somehow wound up embedded inside his body, and that his magic (or lack thereof) is somehow linked to it.

Yet for every small detail we do know, there's plenty we don't. Where did the sword come from before it came into Merlin's possession, and why is it so strongly linked to him? What is the source and extent of its magical abilities? How is it so widely known, and why is it so strongly coveted and feared by everyone? For an object that was at the center of most of the conflicts in Cursed's first season, we actually know very little about it, and are eager to learn more.

Are any members of Uther's biological family still alive?

Midway through Cursed's first season, King Uther Pendragon receives a rude awakening when he learns that he is not, in fact, royal by birth as he'd always assumed. It turns out that when his mother, Lady Lunete (Polly Walker), was pregnant with her son, complications in childbirth led to the baby being delivered stillborn. The king had just died several months prior, and desperate for an heir, Lunete sent her midwife out to pay a local peasant to give up her baby. The midwife returned the baby to Lunete, who raised him her own.

After Uther learns the truth, he uses the resources of the crown to track down his biological mother. He learns that his mother was named Sylvia, that she was only 19 years old at the time of his birth, and that she died shortly after giving up her child from being poisoned with spiced wine. Enraged, Uther poisons Lunete, doling out the same punishment for his adopted mother as she did for his biological mother. However, as far as we know, Uther's mother was the only member of his family ever killed as part of the cover-up, which means his father, and possibly siblings, may still be out there somewhere. Will he go seeking them, or will they eventually track him down? We'll have to wait to see.

What is Cumber's claim to the throne?

After the midwife facilitated the royal baby swap shortly after Uther was born, Merlin hid her away, highly aware of the fact that he might someday need proof that Uther is not a biological Pendragon. Once Merlin brings her back and the truth of Uther's illegitimacy comes to light, suddenly new challengers to the throne begin coming out of the woodwork, such as Cumber the Ice King (Jóhannes Haukur Jóhannesson), a Viking ruler who claims to have Pendragon lineage.

It is never clarified exactly what Cumber's relationship to the late king was. At one point, the midwife gives him a blood-soaked cloth, implying that she kept it following the stillbirth of the Queen's son, and Cumber refers to it as his "cousin's" blood. So perhaps Cumber was the king's nephew, although it's curious how he wound up ruling a nation of Viking warriors if that's the case. Another option is that "cousin" is a broader term encompassing any distant relative, in which case Cumber's bloodline could have diverged with the Pendragons several generations earlier. It will be interesting to see whether the connection between Cumber and the Pendragons is explored further in future seasons, and exactly what that connection is.

Why does Uther keep referring to himself as 'we'?

Uther shows himself to be an odd, temperamental, and somewhat inept king throughout Cursed season one, but one of his more peculiar tendencies doesn't seem to have much to do with his ability to competently rule (or lack thereof). Many times throughout Cursed, Uther seems to refer to himself in the plural, using pronouns like "we" and "our" to express his thoughts and opinions. There doesn't appear to be much rhyme or reason to when he uses plural pronouns and when he refers to himself as "I," begging the question of what exactly is going on here.

The simplest explanation is probably that Uther is referring to either his kingdom or his court when he speaks in the plural, but somehow, that doesn't feel like what he's doing. At times, it almost seems like there may be multiple consciousnesses warring inside him. Yet no one ever seems to blink at his fluid oscillation between singular and plural pronouns, suggesting that either no one notices (unlikely), or everyone has just accepted it as a strange quirk of Uther's. It's probably the latter, since pointing out the strangeness of the king definitely could prove hazardous to one's health, and it seems in his subjects' best interests to simply let it slide. Still, we have to wonder who Uther is referring to whenever he says "we," and if we'll ever learn any more about them.

Who is the Widow?

Cursed is filled with enigmatic characters with mystical qualities, but perhaps none is shrouded — both literally and figuratively — more than the Widow (Zoe Waites), who appears in a handful of episodes to warn characters that death may be swiftly approaching. While it's obvious that the Widow has one foot in the world of the living and the other in the world of the dead, very little is ever communicated about her own identity. In a conversation with Merlin early on, some sort of shared history is hinted at, suggesting that either they once knew each other personally, or Merlin has simply eluded her enough times that they're now on something resembling friendly terms. 

Adding another intriguing layer to the mystery of the Widow is that fact that she's not, as it turns out, immortal. Rather, after having several unsettling confrontations with the Widow throughout the season, Morgana actually manages to kill her offscreen toward the end of season one, and subsequently takes her place. Even Morgana herself isn't entirely sure how it happens, but her becoming the new Widow suggests that the previous Widow was also once someone else entirely. Was she someone Merlin knew? How did she become the Widow? And who was the Widow before her? After becoming the new Widow, Morgana still seems to be mostly herself, but will the Morgana we know eventually begin to fade as her Widow side takes over? We'll just have to hold out hope that Cursed gets a second season so we can find out.