Iain De Caestecker plays King Arthur in the British historical fiction television series The Winter King, which is based on Bernard Cornwell’s The Warlord Chronicles books. On August 20, 2023, MGM+ in the United States and ITVX in the United Kingdom both debuted the series.
The tale is an adaptation of the Arthurian legend and is set in a post-Roman Dark Age Britain where the warrior Arthur has been exiled, Merlin has vanished, the Saxons are advancing, and a young monarch occupies the throne undefended. Lancelot, who is conceited and unpopular, Guinevere, who is ambitious and cunning, Merlin, who is more of an absent-minded Druid than a mystic magician, and Mordred, who is Uther’s grandson and the rightful successor to the crown, are all introduced to us. Long after Arthur’s passing, the story is related to Igraine, a young queen, by the elderly monk Derfel Cadarn of Saxon descent.
The Winter King Season 1 Episode 2 Recap
He appeared quite a bit in the first episode, mostly when his father King Uther exiled him, and then he vanished for the less perilous climes of Gaul while Uther busied himself creating a club-footed heir to the throne in the wake of the death of the first Prince Mordred and Arthur’s subsequent exile.
Mordred 2.0, however, portends poorly for the kingdom since, according to Merlin, he will perpetrate a variety of veiled atrocities that will ultimately bring about the downfall of the entire nation. The second episode begins as he embarks on a journey to Gaul to find Arthur himself. But Arthur isn’t having it and he stays put. Until the very end, we hardly ever see him again, and even then, just briefly.
The majority of the action occurs in Dumnonia, where a dying King Uther is organising his affairs by choosing three guardians to watch over his son Mordred until he is old enough to govern. Bishop Bedwin, Owain, and King Gungleus of the recently allied country of Siluria have been chosen as the guardians. Gungleus will also succeed to the hand of Uther’s wife Norwena after Uther’s impending death.
Gungleus is so blatantly evil, and his allegiances have the ability to cause the entire kingdom so much political devastation, that it is nearly impossible to see why anybody would think it would be a good idea.
After consolidating all this power in Gungleus’s palm, he does in fact snuff it out, which leads to the most stunning occurrences of the episode.
When Gungleus gets back to Avalon, where Uther had commanded Mordred to be nurtured safely, he stabs the infant to death and starts a slaughter of the town. This is given in such a clear way that I really retreated in disbelief.
On the one hand, showing this could seem a bit excessively provocative, but it’s such an unexpected act of savagery that it gives the entire episode a rush and does a fantastic job of making the viewer hate Gungleus. From then, he merely goes on to commit further crimes.
After murdering Mordred—or rather, what he thinks is Mordred; more on this later—Gungleus also murders Queen Norwena after making her kneel in submission before turning his attention to Nimue.
Derfel is able to step in and spare Nimue for a while, but only for a short while. Derfel already wants Gungleus dead after discovering in the premiere that he is to blame for the murder of his mother. When he awakens, Gungleus is raping Nimue. Gungleus is likely performing this terrible sexual attack for his own vile gratification as well as because he thinks that by violating her, he would break the druidess’s bond with the gods.
Gungleus and Nimue are both confident that her sudden loss of purity will cause her to lose the gods’ favour and lose her abilities as a result of what Merlin stated last week.
Although it’s hinted Nimue hasn’t yet lost her skills, we are currently unsure if this is the truth.
Gungleus learns at the conclusion of the episode that the infant he killed wasn’t Mordred after all. Uther’s daughter Morgan exchanged the newborn for another kid not long after he arrived in Avalon. When he learns of this, he sends his troops into the adjacent woodlands where Derfel and Nimue have fled in an effort to eliminate any survivors and find the actual Mordred.
Things don’t seem good as Gungleus and his men corner the survivors, but of course, Arthur shows up just in time to rescue the day.
The Winter King Season 1 Episode 2 is only available on MGM+.