A twist on an Arthurian legend, this new show focuses on the young sorceress Nimue, also known as the Lady of the Lake. In this retelling Nimue is one of the Fae, magical beings who are being driven out of Britain by the humans. Hunted both by King Uther Pendragon and a religious group called the Red Paladins because of her possession of the Sword of Power, Nimue has become a symbol of hope for the struggling Fae tribes.
For anyone with a previous knowledge of Arthurian legends the show may be somewhat confusing at first. For instance King Uther and Arthur are shown to be about the same age, even though traditionally Uther is Arthur’s father. I kept expecting some revelation about their kinship through the first half of the show only to find that they never even meet. For anyone planning to watch it just keep in mind that the show is very different from any other King Arthur story and needs to be watched purely separate from the canon materials. It takes the stories of chivalry and a golden age of knighthood and transforms them into a world of magical persecution and an honor code that oppresses the people.
The character of Nimue, played by Kathrine Langford, was developed well early in the show. We see from the start that she has powers that even the other Fae don’t understand. She struggles with being feared by both humans who hate magic and her own people. She has to grow into her role as a leader and symbol for the Fae despite this. Langford’s portrayal of this young woman’s journey to becoming a warrior queen is compelling and brings new life to an ancient character.
This being said, I found the side characters to be somewhat lacking in dimension in the first few episodes. Later on in the show there were mysteries and more depth uncovered about some of the other heroes and villains, but it wasn’t foreshadowed in a way that made me anticipate learning more about the characters. King Uther is a whiny, belligerent ruler who relies on Merlin, a drunk, washed up wizard with no magic. Father Carden, the leader of the Red Paladins, is shown as purely evil who does nothing but burn Fae. For how serious the show is trying to be, these over dramatic characterizations don’t do it any favors. Although more is revealed about the characters roughly halfway through the season, I think most viewers won’t watch that far because the earlier episodes don’t promise much.
I genuinely enjoyed watching the latter half of the season. The action began to pick up and the whole story became more cohesive. The characters were given backstories that made them seem more real and less like caricatures. It is a shame that the show couldn’t have found it’s stride within the first three episodes because there isn’t a lot there to make viewers want to keep watching.