New Netflix drama Cursed offers a very different take on Arthurian mythology, shifting the focus of the story to Katherine Langford’s Nimue (aka the future Lady of the Lake) and the persecution of her people at the hands of the evil Red Paladins.
And by the conclusion of season one’s 10-episode run viewers are left with a pretty big cliffhanger as the fantasy drama (created by Tom Wheeler and Frank Miller from their book of the same name) reveals some pretty huge plot twists, shocking deaths and a very uncertain ending.
But what did happen exactly in those action-packed final scenes? If you’re confused by the ending we’ve broken it all down for you below, while also chatting to some of the series’ cast about what it could all mean for season two (assuming there is one).
Obviously, major spoilers for Cursed season one are below from hereon out, so look away now if you haven’t watched it yet…
Cursed’s ending explained
OK – time for a quick recap.
Morgana (Shalom Brune-Franklin), after confronting the death-dealing spirit The Widow has taken on the mysterious creature’s role, becoming the new Widow and helping Nimue (Katherine Langford) finally kill Red Paladin leader Father Carden (Peter Mullan) in the middle of the Red Paladin camp.
Unsurprisingly, this didn’t go down especially well with the remaining Red Paladins, so Nimue and Morgana fled with an injured Merlin (Gustav Skarsgård) to a stone ridge over a waterfall – but they were followed there by wannabe Red Paladin Iris (Emily Coates), who put her newly-honed archery skills to work and shot Nimue full of arrows.
Despite Merlin’s best efforts, the mortally wounded Nimue fell from the ridge into the water below, finally inspiring the wizard to take hold of Excalibur, reconnect to his long-lost magic and rain deadly lightning down on Iris and the other Red Paladins.
“The most difficult scene to film was the climax of episode 10,” Skarsgård told RadioTimes.com.
“Luckily we spent a lot of time to get it right. We spent several days to shoot this one scene that was very climactic. It required a lot of preparation and hard work under sort of extreme conditions – there was a lot of wind and water and spells in old Fae languages and stuff to prepare.”
Following this display of magic, Merlin teleports himself and Morgana away, leaving Nimue in the water below and Iris scarred. And elsewhere, other revelations were incoming…
What happened with Lancelot?
After earlier episodes revealed new takes on Morgana, Arthur, Gawain and many other classic Arthurian figures, the second-to-last scene of the season finale reveals a couple more key figures in disguise.
Shortly after this we check back in with villain-turned-hero The Weeping Monk (Daniel Sharman), who turned on the Red Paladins so that he could rescue young Fae boy Squirrel (Billy Jenkins).
As they rode away into the distance, the Monk asked Squirrel for his true name, which he reluctantly reveals as Percival – to any fans of the original legends, a figure known as one of the Knights of the Round Table and a key figure in the quest to discover the Holy Grail.
In return, the Weeping Monk also reveals his name, which may be even more significant.
“Lancelot,” he says. “A long time ago, my name was Lancelot.”
Well, he was bound to turn up sooner or later – and actor Sharman says that this unusual take on the most legendary of King Arthur’s Knights was one of the main things that drew him to the series.
“Having this arc, this incredible reveal, this incredible point to get to at the end – I think that was a really interesting project for me,” Sharman told RadioTimes.com. “Because I really wanted to know how anyone could get to the point of being a killer, and then how anybody could be redeemed from something like that.
“It was definitely a big draw to me to play that character. I’ve got 10 episodes, I’ve got this many scenes to tell an entire story to reveal an internal battle that’s gone on for years and years and years.
“And that’s a really cool challenge as an actor – that’s a great challenge to approach and be like ‘right – I’ve got this many scenes to tell this person’s internal story.'”
What happens in the final scene of Cursed?
Following the Lancelot scene, we rejoin Iris as she’s rewarded for her assassination of “the Wolfblood Witch” by induction into the Trinity, the elite warriors glimpsed earlier in the series who are a part of the holy war against magic.
“Together, we shall accomplish great miracles my child,” she’s told by Pope Abel (Clive Francis) as Abbott Wicklow (Mark Quartley) stands nearby, hinting at new atrocities still to come once she dons her ceremonial gold mask.
Unless of course, her actions come undone… because as Iris walks way, the image intercuts quickly with shots of Nimue sinking beneath the water, blood streaming all around her. Could this be a hint that she’ll survive to fight another day? And is this apparent watery demise just the beginning of her Lady of the Lake identity?
Given that she’s the main character and it’d be difficult to have a season two without her, we’d vote yes. Speaking of which…
Will there be a Cursed season 2?
While another season is currently unconfirmed, Cursed co-creator Frank Miller hinted to RadioTimes.com and other press that new location scouts were currently being planned for another run of episodes, suggesting that season two is probably in the works.
And star Gustav Skarsgård says there’s definitely plenty for new episodes to explore.
“I just hope that we would see a second season,” he told RadioTimes.com.
“Mostly just because I’m so curious to see what happens to Merlin and the other characters. Episode 10 leaves us with a massive cliffhanger, and I just want to know what happens next.”
You and us both, Gustav… hopefully, Netflix won’t leave us all in the dark for too long.