After another season break last week, the historical fiction drama series on MGM+, The Winter King, is back with episode 6, with a slight increase in its pacing. Episode 5 had Arthur dueled and killed his best friend Owain after the latter had been called out for stealing and killing innocent people at the tin mine. The new episode shows Arthur making new tactics and plans to prepare the lands against the Saxon invasion, and the protagonist also falls in love in a rather dramatic scene.
What is the specialty of Arthur’s sword?
During Arthur’s duel with Owain and even during his short swordfight with Gundleus earlier, the protagonist had been surprised by the strength of his sword. Despite the weapon being rusty and old, clearly carrying evidence of damage and age, it was stronger than anything Arthur, or perhaps anyone, had ever wielded. The secret, or mystery, behind this, is now revealed in The Winter King Episode 6, as the master druid Merlin catches a glimpse of the weapon. When spending some grievous time with Owain’s body during the latter’s burial ceremony, Arthur is joined by the other major Dumnonian characters who come together to grieve the loss.
Before his death, King Uther had named three protectors for his baby Mordred, the next successor on the throne, and these happened to be Gundleus, Owain, and Bishop Bedwin. By now, Gundleus was imprisoned, Owain was dead, and since Bedwin could not hold any other title because of his religious affiliation, Dumnonia was without a leader. Therefore, Merlin now announces Arthur to be the new champion and ruler of the land, since the one who has slain the last champion deserves to get the title. Arthur remains determined about the fact that he is only the temporary ruler until baby Mordred grows up to be the official King. Merlin and Arthur still have their differences with regard to the baby, as the druid is confident that it is touched by pure evil. But Arthur assures Merlin that he will rule the lands in his own tactful manner till the time for the next King comes.
It is also during this time that Merlin reveals more about Arthur’s new, powerful sword. The weapon is indeed the Excalibur, which is the legendary sword of King Arthur in history as well as fantasy. Merlin had won the sword from another druid in Ireland through a dream contest and had then hidden it with Arthur’s mother. Merlin knew of the legend of Excalibur, as the sword was believed to have been forged by the god of smithcraft, Gobannus. It was for this reason that the sword proved naturally tougher and stronger than any other weapon, easily slicing through the swords of opponents. Arthur does not entirely believe in the specialty of his sword, particularly because his mother had never told him about it. But Merlin reveals that she feared Arthur would be termed a traitor by King Uther, and therefore, she did not let him close to the Excalibur, upon the advice of the druid himself.
What is Arthur’s proposed plan for King Gorfydd?
The kings and rulers of the nearby kingdoms were already present at Caer Cadarn during this time, as they had come to the naming ceremony of the Edling King. As the fall of Owain and the subsequent naming of Arthur as the new ruler of Dumnonia followed, the protagonist immediately took charge to unite the kingdoms against the opposing threat, which was the Saxons. The increasing Saxon presence in areas surrounding all of these kingdoms was already being reported, as the invaders were building more and more camps. The Winter King Episode 5 had also shown Arthur and his men getting hold of a Saxon spy who had been appointed to make notes on the developments in Caer Cadarn. Before killing himself, the spy had mentioned the name of Aelle, a rising leader among the Saxon tribes, but we are still yet to see any emergence of this vicious invader.
Now, with the rulers of the other lands, Arthur proposes his plan—that the individual kingdoms, which had been existing on their own till now and had also been fighting amongst themselves, should now unite and plan together against the intruders. It is revealed that the Francs have also been coming over to the Isles, attacking and holding captive certain kingdoms. Unlike the Saxons, who are extremely violent and direct in their actions, the Francs are reported to be more planning and indirect, as they have captured areas around a kingdom and have been cutting off supplies of food and resources. This was leading to a severe crisis inside the kingdom and was resulting in the same outcome as any direct attack.
Among the four kingdoms to be united, Gwent and Kernow readily agree to Arthur’s proposal of an alliance, whereas Gorfydd, the King of the last remaining kingdom, Powys, remains skeptical about such an agreement. When specifically asked to respond, Gorfydd once again reminds Arthur that his nephew Gundleus is still a captive in Dumnonia. Along with the blood ties, Gofydd and Gundleus’ kingdoms of Powys and Siluria, respectively, also had an alliance between themselves. This meant that Gorfydd could not act without helping out his political ally, and Arthur even assured that Gundleus would be pardoned if he and Gorfydd agreed to the alliance.
However, King Gorfydd still remains unchanged in his decision, saying that Dumnonia and Powys have been enemies for too long to suddenly turn allies. In response, Arthur presents an ultimate proposal to Gorfydd—the man’s daughter, Princess Ceinwyn, was still unmarried, just like Arthur. Therefore, Arthur proposes that he marry the young woman as proof of his dedication and promise to Powys. Seeing this as a very strong offer to seal a political alliance between the two warring kingdoms, Gorfydd agrees to the proposal and sends word to Princess Ceinwyn to prepare for her marriage with Arthur of Dumnonia.
What happens to Nimue, Derfel, and Merlin?
While the more important meeting of the newly proposed Council of Kings and the subsequent matters related to it become the focus of The Winter King Episode 6, there are also details about the other characters as well. After the death of Owain, some of his ardent followers and close companions attack Derfel, as they hold him responsible for revealing Owain’s secret attack to Arthur. A similar attack is launched on Lunette, the young man’s current lover. It is then Nimue who comes to Derfel’s rescue, as the druidess threatens the attackers to never try to harm the young man again, or they will face a terrible fate.
Lunette seems to suspect the bond between Derfel and Nimue, as the two were still very much in love, even though they could never be together in any union. Lunette states how the men would still attack her, as Nimue’s threats did not mention or protect her. Gradually, the young woman seems to realize that being with Derfel is also not very viable for her, especially since he intends to join Arthur’s band of warriors. Arthur does not allow women to be part of his band, whereas Lunette prefers to be by the side of her warrior partner. She clearly states that the life of a wife eagerly waiting for her lover’s return is not something she desires, and therefore, the young couple end their relationship. In the end, when Derfel is indeed called upon by Arthur to fight in his band of warriors, Lunette sees him off with her father’s sword as a gift.
On the other side, Merlin is also shown taking leave from Avalon after having a vision of an artifact known as the Horn of Bran. This artifact, referred to as a treasure, is supposed to be part of twelve other similar artifacts, which, when brought together, give rise to some extreme magical power. Both the druids, Merlin and Nimue, are confident that the treasures put together would give them enough power to win back the entirety of Britain. As for Nimue’s disapproval of Arthur’s plan to keep Gundleus alive, the woman still very confidently tells Arthur that she will surely kill Gundleus. In response, Arthur asks her not to do so right away, since the vile man is still needed for political reasons.
Who is Guinevere?
Right after King Gorfydd agrees to marry his daughter off to Arthur as a sign of peace and alliance between the two kingdoms, we are taken to Powys for the first time, to the capital of the kingdom, Caer Dolforwyn. Here, we first see Princess Ceinwyn along with another woman slightly older than her, and it is only at the end of episode 6 that we learn the latter’s name to be Guinevere. As the episode gradually reveals over its duration, Guinevere belonged to a noble family who had been attacked by the invading Irish forces, following which only she had survived. Since then, the woman has been a loyal subject under the care of King Gorfydd, and it is also suggested that the man had approached the young woman romantically as well. Guinevere had never accepted it and had only remained a good friend and caretaker of the princess. Guinevere had almost single-handedly raised Ceinwyn as a mother or an older sister, and thus, the two are extremely close to each other.
Ceinwyn depends on Guinevere for advice and help, and so the young princess expresses her nervousness about suddenly getting married to her. In turn, Guinevere also seems wary of who this future husband is and why King Gorfydd suddenly accepted his proposal of marriage. When Arthur and the others travel towards Powys, they stop to rest at night, and the protagonist is still extremely disturbed because of Owain’s fate. Unable to sleep, Arthur walks to a large lake nearby and sees a woman on her horse strangely standing on the shallow banks of the lake. This woman is actually Guinevere, and she reveals that her horse had been hurt, for which she had brought the animal to the lake, which was believed to have magical powers of healing.
As the two characters interact, Guinevere spots the emblem on Arthur and immediately recognizes him to be from Dumnonia, making it clear that the woman has knowledge about the politics of the land. She mistakes him for a fighter in his clan, though, and it is only after some time that Guinevere realizes she is speaking to Arthur himself. There is immediately some chemistry and spark in this bond, and it becomes clear later on that the two have fallen in love with each other at first sight. This is evident when, at the end of the episode, Arthur and Guinevere are formally introduced to each other, and an intense attraction between them is felt.
But this love is also a very tricky situation, as Arthur is getting married to Princess Ceinwyn, while Guinevere is like a guardian to her. Before the official ceremony had begun, King Gorfydd also met with Guinevere and appointed her to a special task. Gorfydd is not as concerned with the Saxons, but rather wants to gain a political foothold over Dumnonia through this marriage. Therefore, he wants Guinevere to go to Caer Cadarn as the new bride’s lady and companion, so that she can also keep an eye on the happenings of the kingdom. Although Guinevere was initially unwilling to do so, Gorfydd convinced her by mentioning everything that he had done for him.
What can we expect from Episode 7?
With Arthur finally having found love in his life, it would be interesting to see what exactly happens between him and Guinevere. Any official union between the two seems unlikely, as he is getting married to Ceinwyn, unless he breaks this marriage and therefore makes Gorfydd his enemy once again. It would also be interesting to see how Guinevere’s character is further developed in the series, as she now seems to be a very important character. Whether Gundleus and Ladwys cause any more harm will be seen, as the two have been released from their captivity. On the other side, what are the treasures that Merlin sets out to find, and what magical powers they are supposed to have, might also be revealed in the upcoming episodes.