The Winter King – Season 1 Episode 5 Recap & Review

For He Who Wears The Crown is Tested by His Friends, Not Enemies

The Winter King episode 5 starts with Owain and his men on their way to Caer Cadarn. He notices that Derfel looks angry about what went down at the mine. He acknowledges it was a mistake to go there but warns Derfel not to focus on regrets. Owain insists the bloodshed at the mine is their burden to bear. To sway Derfel’s aggrieved mind, Owain gives him three gold coins, and Lunette encourages him to accept them. 

Arthur works with Morgan and Bishop Bedwin at the palace to plan Modred’s naming ceremony. Morgan wants to offer a human sacrifice at the celebration, but Arthur is against it. Morgan insists it is the way of things, but Artur thinks it is a spectacle and time for Dummonia to change some traditions. 

As they discuss, Owain and his men arrive and claim to have done a good job replenishing Dummonia’s coffers. Arthur quickly notices something is off, given Derfel’s demeanour, but Owain doesn’t exactly give Derfel a chance to say anything. He praises Derfel and says he is a warlord in the making. 

Owain congratulates Arthur for the success of his plan. He is surprised Arhur’s risk paid off, and King Gorfydd is in Caer Cadarn. Arthur recruits Owain’s help to keep the guests busy until the naming ceremony. Arthur hopes the distraction will keep their guests from thinking or talking about politics.

In the meantime, King Gundleus is kept prisoner, and Arthur insists he won’t set him free. He promised to keep him alive but wanted Gundleus to pay for his actions. He, however, promises Gorfydd to reunite his nephew with Ladwys.

Elsewhere, Morgan visits Merlin in Avalon and asks if he will attend Modred’s naming ceremony. Merlin is clear he won’t attend, nor will Nimue, who is on her own path. Merlin hopes his absence will send a message that Modred is a danger to the throne. He asks Morgan to handle the duties of the ceremony by herself. 

In the meantime, Arthur takes Gorfydd for a fishing trip. The old king chats about the old days and reminisces about his father. He talks about Uther’s belief in the importance of understanding Saxon’s motive and the tribe’s kings. Gorfydd is of the mind that Arthur needs to put actions behind his words if he wants to unite the tribes. He suggests releasing Gundleus as a step of good faith. Arthur questions whether Gundleus acted under Gorfydd’s orders when he attacked Avalon. The old king clarifies he actually sent Gundleus to burn down Caer Cadarn.

As they talk, Arthur notices a man lurking in the bushes. He pins the man down with a wooden arrow. The man is proven to be a Saxon spy, and Owain searches him. He finds a map which Arthur realises to be of the southern regions. Upon asking further questions, the man says King Aelle will kill and spread terror across the land. The man then kills himself and dies. The group returns home, and Gorfydd notes that the Saxons are becoming a big problem, just like Uther once predicted. 

Nimoue heads out to the forest and finds herbs to carry out an abortion. She has no intentions of carrying the baby to full term and satisfies the gods’ wishes. Later, Merlin finds her and gives her medication for the pain. Nimue wonders if the gods have abandoned her and Merlin for helping. Merlin chooses to side with Nimue on this one. He takes her back home to Avalon. Nimue considers herself free and awaits the anger of the gods. Merlin reminds her that the gods are merciful.

Meanwhile, Lunette tries to convince Derfel to settle down and build a home. However, Derfel says he has no money and won’t use the coins he got from Owain. He feels they have been tainted by the blood of those who died in the mines. Lunette tries further, but Derfel remains adamant. 

The following day,  Tristan, Prince of Kernow, arrives at Caer Cadarn with a young girl and seeks an audience with the representative of Dummonia. He is ushered, and Bishop Beldwin warmly welcomes him. However, Tristan is in no friendly mood; he withdraws his sword and declares war unless he receives justice.  Prince Tristan believes the people of Dummonia attacked his people at the mines while pretending to be Irish raiders. The Prince calls the young girl to testify, but Owain and most of the men say a child is not a reliable witness. 

Arthur lets the young girl, Sarlinna, testify and interrogate her. Owain insists she is lying, and Arthur gives Owain the benefit of the doubt. Prince Tristan asks Arthur to be fair like his father and challenges Owain to a duel. Later, Arthur calls Owain aside and asks for the truth. Owain remains strong-headed, lying to Arhur’s face. 

Arthur worries that the allegation will affect the kingdom’s treaty with the Kernow’s workers.  His father valued the  Kernow’s workers, and it was for the mutual benefit of the kingdom. Owain reminds Arthur of how he defended him during the banishment. He argues Arthur owes him loyalty and respect. 

As the day carries on, King Gorfydd advises Arthur to be careful of those he considers friends. He notes that it is unlikely the Blackshield Irish snuck their way into the kingdom without being spotted. They also had nothing to gain by attacking the Kernow workers. He suggests helping Arthur take the throne, but Arthur turns him down. King Gorfydd asks Arthur to consider letting Gundleus attend the naming ceremony, and Arthur refuses. King Gorfydd threatens him, and Arthurs suggests he puts a shorter leash on his nephew. 

Arthur then visits the tax collection office and asks Lohilt to explain the huge mistake he sees on the Cadwys’ tax account. Lohilt strings a few lies together and tries to account for the missing tax. Arthur acts like he buys the excuse, but he is deeply troubled.

He heads to the naming ceremony, where Morgan offers human sacrifice. Arthur was against the sacrifice, but Morgan insisted on following the tradition. After the ceremony, Morgan and Arthur talk. Morgan asks if Arthur believes in her druidess powers. Arthur says he does, and Morgan responds that she sees Mordred will grow to be a great king. A king even the Saxons will fear. 

Night draws by, and Arthur is still pondering about the allegations against Owain.  Bishop Beldwin informs him that Tristan has refused the settlement, and it is likely Owain will kill him in the duel. Arthur presses Derfel for the truth and decides he will fight for Tristan. 

The following morning, Owain is not pleased to see Arthur take Tristan’s position. He tries to drop out of the duel, but Arthur’s provocations anger him. He picks up his sword, and an intense duel ensues. In the end, Arthur emerges the victor and justice is served. However, Arthur mourns his friend; it was not his wish to kill him. If only Owain had told the truth!

The Episode Review

Well, Arthur might as well have been Sherlock Holmes, given how he sleuthed around to find the truth. In this episode, we see Arthur rise to the occasion as a just leader who outweighs every pro and con. He is not impulsive and has the people at heart. Uther knew this and probably feared Arthur would steal the crown from him. This might be why he banished Arthur. 

We are used to the killings that come with the show, but the human sacrifice scene was barbaric, to say the least. Arthur is right; it is time for the people of Dummoia to reexamine their traditions. 

On the other hand, we have Nimue. Girl has been going through it in the past few episodes! It might be wrong to say this, but why would the gods not consider her plight? Why force her to bear a child of rape when she doesn’t want to. I hope Merlin is right, and they will show her mercy. 

In the next episode, we look forward to seeing how things with King Gorfydd will go. The repercussions of Nimue’s actions and the fallout following Owain’s death.

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Expect a full-season review when this season concludes!

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