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The Ending Of Cursed Season 1 Explained

After much anticipation, Netflix finally dropped its stylized adaptation of the Arthurian-ish graphic novel Cursed, from legendary Dark Knight creator Frank Miller and his writing partner Tom Wheeler. The first 10 episodes of this magical drama follow Nimue (Katherine Langford), the famous Lady of the Lake, destined to present Arthur with the legendary sword Excalibur, which he will use to unite the British Kingdoms. 

At least, that's how it's supposed to go. 

Cursed throws so many curveballs that its hard to extrapolate anything about the series from the classical myths. By taking the spotlight away from Arthur and Camelot and fixing it firmly on Nimue and the sword, season 1 of Cursed charts a very different narrative course than we've come to expect from a typical Arthurian tale.

If you consider yourself an Arthurian scholar, amateur or otherwise, go ahead and set your expectations aside now; Everything you think you know is wrong — or at least irrelevant to understanding the plot of Cursed. The series, like the graphic novel that came before, is only an Arthurian story in the most nominal sense. All the familiar names and elements are there — Nimue, Arthur, Ygraine, Morgana, Merlin, King Uther, Excalibur — but they've been so mixed up, jumbled, and radically reimagined as to render all your hours spent poring over T.H. White and Thomas Malory largely moot. All the alterations to the accepted mythology may be true to Miller and Wheeler's source material, but that doesn't make some of the series' plot movements any less confusing for fans of Arthurian romance. If the season 1 finale proved anything, it's that Cursed is not your granddaddy's Once and Future King

For those viewers still trying to make heads or tails of Nimue's last stand on episode 10, here's a breakdown of everything that happened on the dramatic final hour of Cursed.

Nimue and Excalibur are the true stars of Cursed

Episode 10 begins with a pleasant moment for our heroine — the calm before the storm. She awakens in the arms of her young lover, Arthur (Devon Terrell). The two have finally consummated their season-long flirtation, and just in time, since Nimue has agreed to turn herself into the detestable King Uther (Sebastian Armesto) in exchange for the safety of her people. She is still the Queen of the Fey — for at least one more day — and she's going to make it count.

Outside the city wherein Nimue and Arthur organize the terms of their surrender, King Uther and the Red Paladins, led by the sadistic Father Carden (Peter Mullan), wait impatiently for the Fey to throw in the towel. They have the occupied city surrounded and overwhelmed, and have only offered terms to Nimue to avoid a lengthy siege. But there is dissension within the enemy ranks. Whereas Uther only wants to get his grubby little hands on Excalibur, Carden's Paladins maintain a zealous hatred of the Fey, and would like to see every last one of them exterminated. Carden proposes a fanciful, public execution of Nimue, which Uther declines.

Uther discovers his spine just in time to stand up to Carden and avoid making Nimue a martyr. The squirrely King of the Britons has already poisoned his mother to death, an act of savagery that he follows by ordering his men to run Merlin (Gustaf Skarsgård) through, as well. All that, after Merlin finally told Uther he was proud of him. Without any adults in the room to advise him, Uther agrees to let the Fey escape north by ship, unharmed, as long as Nimue turns herself in and surrenders the city. Nimue agrees, but not before secreting Morgana out of the city with Excalibur to prevent the magical sword from falling into nefarious hands.

Le Morte d'Nimue

The Fey folk head to the water, guided by Arthur. Once they get to the shore and see the ships awaiting them, Arthur sends a message back to Nimue by hawk. This is the signal that it's now okay for her to turn herself into King Uther. Obviously, the jealous king is none too pleased that Nimue has found a loophole in their deal, and turned herself in without Excalibur. Nice head fake, yeah? Not quite. As it turns out, the bad guys were planning to betray Nimue all along. Carden contracted with the Ice King to slaughter all the Fey on the shore before they board their escape ships. We see this hopeless assault take place as Nimue is rendered to Uther's custody.

Here's where things get bloody. Father Carden, who's held Gawain, the Green Knight, in custody for some time now, finally does the deed and kills him. The revelation of his loss sends Nimue into a rage, reawakening her powers. She makes a break from Uther's camp with the injured Merlin in tow, but the religious zealots are hot on her heels, led by the assassin Sister Iris (Emily Coates), who is as creepy as she is deadly. Iris is apparently highly motivated to kill Nimue, since she's been told accomplishing that task will elevate her to true Red Paladin status.

Iris catches up to Nimue and Merlin, and feathers our heroine with arrows. Nimue falls from the rock bridge where she made her last stand, and tumbles into the swirling water below. Is she dead? It seems unlikely, but the episode ends before we find out definitively.

That's not all we have to digest while we're waiting for season 2, however. In what is likely the biggest reveal of season 1, the series most interesting antagonist, the Weeping Monk (Daniel Sharman), who can track and slaughter Fey by scent, is revealed to be none other than Lancelot. Lancelot is, of course, destined to become Arthur's most powerful knight, as well as his wife's boyfriend — though so much has changed from the original mythology here that it's impossible to foretell if any of this will go down as expected. The young Fey boy Squirrel, who's been protected consistently by Lancelot, is revealed to be Percival, another one of Arthur's famous Knights of the Round Table. And Gawain the dead Green Knight? He might not be so dead, either. It all adds up to a lot of question marks heading into season 2.

All ten episodes of Cursed season 1 are currently streaming on Netflix.