Thursday is usually my book review day, but if you’ve read any of my other posts recently you’ll know that I’ve been having a hellish reading slump. I’ve literally not read a book this month which is unusual for me. But because I’ve not read in ages I obviously have no books read that I could review, despite having a very long list of Netgalley reads that I need to get to. Anyway, that was a long-winded explanation for why today’s post isn’t a book review but instead is a tv show review because I thought at least I was keeping it in a similar vein of content.
Genres: Fantasy, Historical, Action, Drama, Romance.
Release Date: 17th July 2020
Episodes: 10 (55 minutes long each)
Maturity Rating: 15+
When I Watched It: 17th July 2020 – 22nd July 2020
In a retelling of the Arthurian legend, teenage sorceress Nimue joins forces with a young and charming mercenary named Arthur on a mission to save her people.
A little bit of backstory with me – I am a big fan of Arthurian Legend. So cursed was an instant must-watch for me. I saw it on Netflix’s coming soon page and have it on my Monthly Anticipations post for July. I am also a massive fan of Daniel Sharman, so again this only bolstered my excitement for the series. So let’s just say I was super excited for this for many reasons.
It doesn’t say exact years or timings but it is set before the events of Arthur getting Excalibur (Renamed the Devil’s Tooth in this adaptation), taking the throne of Camelot, becoming king and then the rest of his tragic life that follows that. It follows a young Fay girl named Nimue on her journey to get justice for her people after they are brutally murdered by the Red Paladins. For those who are not Aurthirian nerds like myself, Nimue from the legend is the Lady of the Lake; there are lots of stories about her doing various things but she is mainly known for keeping the sword safe until she gives it to Arthur. I was very excited by the prospect of this. I LOVE MYSELF A PREQUEL!
But sadly this fell rather flat for me.
Mainly because it wasn’t a prequel. It was very much marketed as a prequel – Here is what happened before Arthur became king! Instead, it was a weird adaptation in which she lived alongside many of the characters from Arthurian legend and seemed to have a completely different story to the classic one we all know and love. There was a lot of name dropping (Merlin, Arthur, Morgana, Gwain, Lancelot and Percival) and yet…none of them, I repeat none of them is like their fabled counterparts. Arthur is a mercenary, Morgana is a nun. I will not spoil the drama of the other characters reveals but let’s just say it was disappointing to have all the characters I was so excited about kind of ruined. Although I loved the diversity they added to the story. Morgana is now lesbian – I always got those vibes from the stories and it is a much less disturbing angle than her and Arthur one that is so prevalent in the legends. There was a decent amount of racial diversity amongst characters which is always something to be happy about. And lastly, there were some really strong female characters that I really found myself rooting for.
Sadly, Nimue was not one of these strong women. I found her flat, dull and so irritating. Her greed and her thirst for blood are constantly blamed on the sword and she never takes responsibility for her reckless actions. She says she doesn’t want the power or control that the sword gives her and yet, at every opportunity she refuses to give it up and keeps the power for herself. She says she only wants the survival of the Fay, and yet she does nothing but endangers them the whole way through the show. I’m sure she was meant to come off as a strong protagonist but instead, it came off like a spoiled teenager stamping her feet in a tantrum.
My favourite characters were Pym, Squirrel and the Weeping Monk. They were by far the most intriguing and gripping story lines. Pym is determined and strong and suffers so much loss and devastation. It effects her but in the most realistic and appropriate way. Plus she’s so funny. Just all-round amazing character that was brilliantly acted.
Squirrel was by far the bravest and most worthy character in the show. He didn’t let anything phase him despite that fact you could tell everything he had been through was eating him up inside. He always put others lives first, fiercly loyal and never left anyone behind. Just brilliant.
And for my (probably slightly biased) favourite character – The Weeping Monk. *Aka. Daniel Sharman. His ARC, backstory and character progression was the best thing I have seen in ages. I would watch this entire show again just to watch the development of his character. If you are thinking of watching it – do it for Sharman, the rest you can skip hehe.
Something that gripped me as a big history nut is that it was just plain inaccurate. And yes, I know it is a fictional fantasy story but I still value accuracy. While Arthurian legend doesn’t have an exact date and neither does the show it is generally accepted that is from around the 5th or 6th century. The major overarching plot is that the Red Paladins (warriors of God) are killing off the Fay because of their “connection to the devil”. There is a lot of talk about the Holy Roman Empire and how the Red Paladins are doing their bidding. The Holy Roman Empire wasn’t founded until the 9th century – nearly 400 years later. On top of that, Britain was never a part of HRE so they wouldn’t even have any control since was a separate empire. This is a big plot hole. There is an Express article that touches on this a little and some of the other time-related plot holes of this adaptation.
There is talk of a season 2 – and if there is one I will watch it – but there is a lot of talk about the amazing cliff-hanger…and I didn’t feel that there was one. If this story really is a prequel then everything that happened in season 1 could be wangled into slipping into the original fable. With some tweaking that is. But I don’t see how Nimue’s story could continue. Maybe it’s because I have no interest in what happens to this version of her. I want to know about the Lady of the Lake. Not this irritating child who doesn’t know good from bad.
The show starts with the words “Before Arthur the King. The Sword chose a Queen.” This is ultimately what I think is wrong with this show. This line sets it up like a prequel. But it’s not. It’s a messy version of the original events. The characters we know and love are simply the wrong age for this to be set before the events of the fables. This leaves me with one conclusion, that this quote could not have been put here to set it up as a prequel…because it’s not a prequel. Therefore, it has to be there as a feminist statement. Arthur, the great King we all know isn’t actually as great as this woman who came first. That’s what it reads as even if that wasn’t what they were going with. And that just annoys me. The Lady of the Lake doesn’t need to be a sword to be strong, neither does she need a regal status. The power Nimue has is what makes her a strong female role model. She knows between right and wrong and she always chooses justice. This meak portrayal just ruins all of that by making her power-hungry and ruthless. There were so many incredible strong female roles in this show – Morgana, Pym, The Red Spear, Lenore, Kaze. You don’t need to tread on the amazing stories of history to prove that women were powerful – because they always were.
In Conclusion, this could have been so good. But they tried to pack too much plot in and they tried to alter too much. The people watch this because they like the fables and the stories and they have probably all watch Merlin 18000 times over and this just went against everything they wanted it to be. This could have been really great if they had stuck to the idea of a prequel better in my opinion.
I would give this 3/5 stars because as much as it irritated it had redeemable feature…*COUGH* Daniel *COUGH* Sharman *COUGH*
But again, this is just all my opinion. If you loved this then, I am happy you’ve found a show that works for you and I hope you get that second season. If you have seen this I really want to know you’re thoughts below.
Am I being too mean or did you feel similarly?
That’s all for today, see you tomorrow ❤