- In The Winter King episode 4, Merlin tries to kidnap Prince Mordred, but Arthur stops him, suspecting he would harm the child.
- Nimue, after being assaulted by Gungleus, discovers she is pregnant with his baby, and Merlin believes the Gods willed it.
- Arthur recovers the Excalibur sword from his mother’s grave and establishes its power by easily defeating Gungleus in a fight.
This article contains discussion of sexual assault.
This article contains major spoilers for The Winter King season 1 episode 4!The Winter King episode 4 involves an agonizing wait for Arthur to see if his gamble paid off, while Nimue makes a horrifying discovery. The Winter King adapts the first novel in Bernard Cornwell’s Warlord Chronicles novel trilogy, which attempted to fuse the legend of King Arthur was historical fact. The show’s first three episodes followed Arthur (Iain De Caestecker) as he returned to Britain years after being banished by his father King Uther (Eddie Marsan), and finding it divided and on the verge of being overtaken by Saxon invaders.
The Winter King episode 3 found Arthur trying to get to grips with the mess, and making some controversial decisions along the way. This includes letting the traitor Gungleus (Simon Merrells) go free, following the massacre he committed at Avalon. Nearly everyone in Dumnonia wanted the “vagabond” King killed, but Arthur released Gungleus in the hopes he could convince his uncle Gorfydd (Aneirin Hughes) to attend Prince Mordred’s naming ceremony. Arthur plans to unite the divided kingdom against the Saxons and the fourth episode opens weeks later, with no sign of Gungleus or Gorfydd arriving…
6 Merlin Tries To Kidnap Mordred
The fourth episode sees the return of Merlin (Nathaniel Martello-White), so is pleased to see Arthur came back to the kingdom after he previously refused the call. However, it seems the two are destined to be at odds over the fate of Prince Mordred. In the first episode, the magician touched the newborn Mordred and had a terrifying vision of the grown Prince slaughtering his own people while wearing a golden mask. Merlin told King Uther that Mordred was evil, and would become a bloodthirsty tyrant if he took the throne.
Merlin’s “Death of Britain” vision didn’t move Uther, however, who instead nominated three protectors for the baby until he’s ready to become King. In episode 4, Merlin has the same vision and decides to kidnap the child, using his magical gifts to get past the guards. Arthur guessed he would attempt such a move and stops him. Merlin claims it was Uther turning away from the “Old Gods” that saw them curse him with an evil child, and it would be better to take Mordred to a village where nobody – including himself – would ever know of his true heritage so he could live a normal life.
Arthur instead suspects Merlin would just throw Mordred off a cliff, and having sworn to protect the prince he refuses to let Merlin pass. Despite the magician’s protests, he hands the baby over, though this conflict will likely resurface in future episodes.
5 Nimue Is Pregnant From Gungleus’ Assault
The druid priestless Nimue was sexually assaulted by Gungleus in The Winter King episode 2 after she had previously mocked him. While her powers and connection to the Gods are said to be reliant on her celibacy, Nimue claims she can still hear them, though they won’t respond to her. Nimue is happy Merlin has returned, and they discuss her anger over Arthur’s refusal to let her get revenge on Gungleus.
Later in the episode, Merlin realizes that Nimue is pregnant with Gungleus’ baby. Her initial reaction is shock and revulsion, but when she refuses to have the child, Merlin chastises her. He claims her pregnancy was “willed” by the Gods themselves, and the fact Gungleus is a King makes the child potentially important. Disturbed by Merlin’s response to the pregnancy, Nimue flees Avalon when his back is turned.
4 Arthur Recovers Excalibur From His Mother’s Grave
Everyone is quick to let Arthur know that releasing Gungleus was a bad idea, and it seems there’s little hope Gorfydd will make an appearance. To kill time, Arthur and his sister Morgan (Valene Kane) decide to visit their mother’s grave. Their mother was a blacksmith, and while Arthur is filled with memories of how beautiful and loving she was and that she always told them stories, Morgan corrects him. She states their mother was none of those things, that Morgan was the one who told Arthur stories and that their mother hated him because his birth caused Uther to turn away from her.
Regardless, Arthur claims their mother was always there when he really needed her. While reminiscing, Arthur recalls the tales of the Excalibur sword, while searching through piles of rusted swords surrounding his mother’s grave. He later spots one with a distinctive handle, which he takes back to the castle and polishes, making it his new sword. In a later clash with Gungleus, Arthur’s Excalibur easily splits the latter’s sword in half, establishing how fearsome the weapon is.
3 Derfel Starts A New Romance
When the show began, Derfel (Stuart Campbell) was deeply in love with Nimue. However, due to her devotion to the Gods, they were unable to be together. In the third episode, Nimue tried to manipulate Derfel into helping her assassinate Gungleus and used a scarring ceremony to bind them together. When he failed to come through, Nimue left the kingdom instead. The Winter King episode 4 reveals Derfel and friend Lunette (Olumide Olorunfemi) are now sleeping together, and while he admits to her that Nimue is “still with him,” he realizes they have no future together
2 Owain’s Men Murder Some Miners
The other major subplot of episode 4 follows Owain (Daniel Ings) heading to King Cadwy’s (Billy Postlethwaite) land to collect some long overdue tax. Owain takes Derfel and a few other men and arrives a day early to catch Cadwy’s in a lie, as they see the King burying his gold in advance of their arrival to make it appear they have none. Despite this, Owain agrees to a deal with Cadwy, whereby he and his men will rob some local tin miners, who will likely pay Cadwy for protection in the aftermath.
While nobody is supposed to get hurt, some miners find Owain and Derfel attempting to steal from them and attack. They end up killing a few miners, while Derfel hides a small child who witnessed the whole thing. With Owain’s greed resulting in the needless death of some innocent, Derfel is unlikely to remain loyal to him when Arthur inquires about the attack.
1 King Gorfyddyd Finally Arrives At Dunmonia
After a long wait, Gorfyddyd and Gungleus finally turn up for the naming ceremony. Gorfyddyd proves himself to be an unpleasant fellow, insulting the “bastard” Arthur, Morgan and the late Uther in quick succession. Arthur eventually tires of his open mockery, and orders Gungleus back into custody. After the two briefly spar with swords, this Winter King episode ends with Arthur holding Excalibur over Gungleus’ head and turning to Gorfyddyd, stating he will either swear his loyalty to Mordred or Arthur will destroy everything he holds dear.
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