Warning: Spoilers for Cursed season 1 are ahead.
Netflix’s newest fantasy series Cursed takes the legendary stories and twists them until classic Arthurian characters are almost unrecognisable. At the centre of the story is future Lady of The Lake, Nimue (Katherine Langford) who possesses magical powers. The show is based on a young adult novel of the same name by Frank Miller and Thomas Wheeler (who also serve as co-creators of the series) with the graphics that honour the novel’s and serve as transitions between past and present.
But as we get to know Nimue, her background, and why she is considered an outsider in her Fey clan, the timeline of Nimue's backstory can get a little confusing because her memories appear quickly and in erratic order. We see short flashes of significant moments in her childhood, spliced between present day, all before the full memories are revealed. While I appreciate the artistic flair, you need help breaking all down. To better understand how Nimue’s past influenced how she received the Sword of Power, we mapped it using each memory.
Nimue Uses Her Powers For The First Time As A Child
When Nimue is young, years before we meet her in episode 1, she wakes in the middle of night. Her friend Pym is calling out to her, so she leaves her bed and follows the voice into a cave in the wood. She finds that a demon, in the form of a bear, has lured her into a trap. The bear claws Nimue’s back and nearly eats her, when The Hidden, the magical forces that give Nimue power, save her. The bear is killed, but more importantly, Nimue has learned to use her special powers to protect herself. It is the first time she realises that she isn’t like the other Fey members of her clan.
How Nimue Becomes “Cursed”
After the bear attack, Nimue’s mother Lenore (Catherine Walker) finds her in the woods and brings her home. The other Fey villagers learn of the attack and that Nimue now has scars from the bear/demon on her back. The elders aren’t relieved or thankful that a child survived a vicious bear attack. Instead, they believe that the demon came after her because she is cursed by dark spirits, so the Fey leaders demand that Nimue is cast out of the village — she is now cursed. They suggest her being “marked” will affect everyone in the clan. Lenore defends Nimue, but her father, Jonah (Andrew Whipp), seems to think the Fey leaders’ points are valid. He actually considers sending his own daughter away.
Nimue’s Father Leaves
Nimue has one memory that we continue to see slivers of throughout the first few episodes: Her father giving up on her. In the fifth episode, “The Joining,” Nimue visits a sorceress named Yeva (Olwen Fouéré) who casts an incantation so that Nimue and Merlin (Gustaf Skarsgård) can speak without being in the same place physically. While Yeva is casting the spell, Nimue recalls the full memory of Nimue’s father leaving her when she was a child with nothing but an ominous warning “It’s in your blood child.” He adds that Lenore knows the real reason why he doesn’t want to take care of Nimue. This recollection helps Nimue piece together in the next scene that the infamous magician is her real father.
Nimue Learns How Dangerous Her Powers Can Be
During her teenage years, we find Nimue flirting with a boy in the woods, suggesting she gets along with the people in her clan. But, once again, Nimue is being fooled. The boy, along with two other teens, rip the back of her dress to expose her scars. In distress, Nimue begins to summon the vines in the forest, which come alive and grab one of her bullies. The vines almost suck the taunting girl into a hole before Nimue manages to rein in her anger and allows her attackers to go free. The near-death moment shows her powers are linked to her emotions. If she isn’t careful, she could cause fatal injury.
In Present Day, Nimue Is Named The Summoner
In episode one, before we learn how Nimue has been ostraciced by her clan since the bear incident, we see her return home. Some of the Fey call her names like “witch” — she’s still unwelcome in her own village in the present. Later, when a Fey boy insults her, Nimue nearly strangles him with his bow until her mother stops her. Lenore advises Nimue to keep her emotions in check, a challenge she continues to face throughout the season. It is also the advice Merlin echoes to her when they meet face-to-face in “Festa and Moreii.”
Later at the offering, much to the chagrin of the Elders, Nimue is chosen as the Summoner. The Elders insist she is “marked by Dark Gods.” Nimue rejects being the summoner and runs away. She, understandably, doesn’t want to be a leader of a village that has practically ostracised her for a majority of her life. She doesn’t need to stay in a place where she isn’t welcomed.
Nimue Starts Her Journey & Meets Arthur
After the offering, Lenore points out that Nimue is part of the problem: Her behavior explains why the clan doesn’t like her. Still, Nimue and Pym (Lily Newmark) set off to find a ship. Unfortunately, when they arrive at the dock, they learn that the ship left a week early. Stuck, they go into the village where they hear Arthur (Devon Terrell) singing, but soon after Nimue uses her powers and gets the whole group into trouble. The trio flees and spends a night in the woods, only to return home as the Red Paladins murder their people, burn the village, and fatally wound Nimue's mother. After seeing her life destroyed, her desire to be free of the Fey disappears. This is the moment she decides she will honour her mother’s dying wish and do whatever she can to keep the Fey safe.
Now that we’ve unscrambled the significant parts of her childhood, you’ll definitely be able to understand Nimue’s journey much more easily.