Cursed, Episode 2 Review: The Adventures of Drunk Merlin

Shaken and alone, Nimue presses ahead on her quest, as flashbacks reveal a harrowing encounter years ago that changed the course of her life.

“Cursed” — the episode, not the show — begins with the hero Nimue (Katherine Langford) in trouble and on the run. Pursued by Father Carden (Peter Mullan) and his relentless Red Paladins, her chase sequence is intercut with a flashback to a traumatic childhood event: the night when a demonic bear lured her into the Iron Wood and nearly killed her, if not for the intervention of The Hidden Ones. Nimue does not escape unscathed, for the bear clawed her back and left some nasty scars.

The Hidden Ones continue to protect Nimue with meshes of deadly tree roots, and Merlin (Gustaf Skarsgard) tries to understand the nature of a calamity he instinctively senses is coming. You’d think Father Carden and his crimson minions wouldn’t stand a chance against such forces, but the mysterious Weeping Monk (Daniel Sharman) has special abilities of his own.

CursedCURSED (L TO R) DANIEL SHARMAN as THE WEEPING MONK in episode 102 of CURSED Cr. Netflix © 2020

Nimue is now a marked criminal whom Carden labels “the Wolfblood Witch,” after the wolves she she massacred at the end of the first episode. As she escape into hiding with Arthur, we see more of her past, including the ridicule she suffered as a teenager in her village, as well as the deep bond she shared with her mother.

This episode is really about Merlin. He lives with one drunken foot in the known world and the other in the unfathomable realm of magic. Merlin realizes he must act, though the existence of Nimue and her mission remain unknown to him until the dark Widow (one of the Shadow Lords) informs him that the “sword of the first kings” is finding its way to him.

Merlin’s journey into what amounts to the land of the dead — where the eerie Widow meets him under the misty remains of Cardin’s crucified and burned Fay — captivates. Merlin, still unable to grasp what’s going on with much certainty, decides he will take the sword and melt it to obtain Fay fire. Arthur, meanwhile, chooses to take on Nimue’s quest himself.

With sharp writing and arresting visuals, “Cursed” picks up right where episode one leaves off and branches into new territory, namely Merlin’s dangerous, mystical realm. Skarsgard plays it all like Shakespeare and makes what could be a tiresome Supernatural side story a lot of fun.

Episode Rating: B

Next: Cursed Episode 3 Review: “Alone” is the thinnest episode yet

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