It’s almost impossible to create a strong hero without an equally compelling villain. Well, Netflix’s new fantasy series Cursed, based on the eponymous YA novel, finds its hero in Nimue (Katherine Langford), aka The Lady of The Lake in Arthurian legend. She faces heaps of enemies during the 10-episode first season, but the original “bad guy” is Father Carden (Peter Mullan), commander of the Red Paladins. Father Carden and his men are out for blood, determined to kill Nimue and eradicate her people, The Fey. But why?
It is apparent from the moment we meet Father Carden and the rest of the men in red robes that they are not to be trusted. Of all Nimue's adversaries throughout Cursed, the Red Paladins are the ones who refuse to reconsider their goals of literal genocide against the Fey. Their convictions are cruelly strong, and as for why, this is what we know from season 1 of Cursed.
Who Are These Men In Red Robes & What Do They Believe?
These Red Paladins are monks, but nothing like the ones we know in real life. They take commands from a religious zealot — Father Carden. They are also joined by The Weeping Monk (Daniel Sharman), a warrior who wears a black robe and has an apparent disregard for waterproof mascara.
The Red Paladins initially seem to be following orders solely from Father Carden instead of listening to guidelines from the Church. However, further on in the season, the Pope arrives, which means the Red Paladins are actually a sect within the Catholic Church.
The Red Paladins believe in the Christian God and practice a form of Christianity. They think that magic is an abomination that undermines religion and want eradicate the practice. And in their attempts, they are ruthlessly efficient: When the Red Paladins take over a town they force the locals to paint red crosses on their doors to prove they are not members or supporters of the Fey. They view anyone who helps hide and save the Fey as enemies as well.
Why Are Red Paladins After The Fey?
Father Carden and the Red Paladins believe that the Fey people must be cleansed from the Earth. Although some Fey look human, others have horns and wings or powers, like Nimue. Regardless of what they look like, the Red Paladins believe all Fey must die because their powers make them “demons.” The Red Paladins are convinced that the Fey are ungodly because they pray to their Fey gods and use magic. Father Carden and his followers believe that killing the Fey is a way to help save their souls.
When the Red Paladin attack the Fey’s homes, they burn everything to the ground and tie the women to crosses. They view all Fey women as witches, and thus criminals. And if that wasn't horrible enough, Father Carden and the Red Paladins don’t even spare children because they want to ensure the entire line of the Fey people dies out.
What Will The Red Paladins Do With The Sword?
Everyone in Cursed is after the Sword of Power. It comes from the Fey people and holds the power of all the Fey ancestors and for someone like Nimue, the sword adds to the power that she already has within her. It also helps Nimue channel the power from The Hidden, the mysterious forces in nature.
The Red Paladins, and many others, want the Sword of Power because legend says whoever wields it will be the One True King of the land. While most just want the power, Father Carden and Red Paladins actually want to destroy the sword completely as part of their Fey extinction quest. If the sword is gone, then the Fey power within it is also gone. The destruction of the sword would also make the Red Paladins a step closer to eliminating all magic, which is, as I mentioned, their whole thing.
Is King Uther Pendragon Helping The Red Paladins?
Although he doesn’t directly order the Red Paladins to murder the Fey, King Uther Pendragon is complicit in their deaths. King Uther rules over the countryside that Father Carden is leading his men through to find the Fey. He does not prevent them from their raids and does not show any support for the Fey people.
King Uther's blind eye allows Father Carden and the Red Paladins to invade towns and set up their own power structures. As the Red Paladins take over villages, they oust the high ranking men and make the townspeople fear death upon insubordination. That stronghold makes it easier for the Paladins to find the Fey, because they are forced into the woods, where they have limited resources and must scavenge outside Paladin-controlled towns to find supplies.
Uther could stop them, but he does nothing.
Who Controls The Red Paladins?
In episode five, “The Joining,” Father Carden meets with Pope Abel who is his superior. It revealed that The Church is aware of Carden’s “cleansing” and that they actually support it. Pope Abel is upset to learn that Nimue is gaining supporters and power. He threatens to overtake Father Carden’s armies of Red Paladins if they do not kill Nimue and obtain the sword — which means that even if Nimue manages to best the red forces, she'll have an even bigger uphill battle coming her way.