The Winter King is a series that adapts Bernard Cromwell’s books “The Warlord Chronicles” and brings them to the small screen. This MGM Plus series reimagines the famous tale of King Arthur and lays down the foundations for a big debut season. If you like shows like Game of Thrones, The Rings of Power, and other high-fantasy-inspired series, then this one is one you don’t want to miss.
I will place in this post a few spoilers concerning the show’s debut episode as well as share with you what I think is my interpretation of the debut episode, what is coming ahead, and the likes.
So if you haven’t seen the show yet, I suggest you first watch the episode and make your own idea of this show because I don’t want to spoil the fun.
The Winter King Episode 1 Recap
The Winter King takes us to 5th Century Britain, right in the middle of the Dark Ages. We meet King Arthur Pendragon as he is on the quest to unite a bunch of warring tribes and clans against the Saxon invasion.
Despite being a skilled warrior and leader, Arthur is despised by his father, King Other, who banishes him after a conflict with the Saxons that results in Arthur’s brother’s death. Arthur’s initial moments show him holding his brother’s body. He’s exiled to save his life, advised by Merlin, who also reveals that Other refuses to recognize Arthur as his son.
Arthur rescues a Saxon slave named Durfeel and escapes to Avalon, a refuge guided by Merlin. Eight years later, Durfeel has grown and is secretly in love with Nimeo, a priestess with magical abilities.
The tribes’ lack of cooperation and Saxon territorial expansion worsen Britain’s situation. King Other fathers another child, Mordred. Durfeel’s and Nimeo’s relationship is forbidden due to Nimeo’s magical destiny.
The Warrior King Episode 1 Ending Explained
Merlin explains that Nimeo must remain chaste to retain her powers. She chooses the gods over Durfeel, leading him to become a warrior. Durfeel’s hidden training is discovered by Owen, Arthur’s friend, who promises to teach him sword skills.
The birth of Mordred is pivotal, as Merlin foresees his dark future. Despite this, King Other is overjoyed, ignoring Merlin’s warnings.
Merlin proposes finding Arthur to unite the tribes and save Britain, but Other refuses due to his unresolved feelings. Durfeel discovers that Gundlius, ruler of a neighboring nation, killed his mother. Gundlius swears allegiance to Other, and Durfeel, aware of his past, anticipates future conflict.
The Warrior King Episode 1 Review
In what seems to be a big season for a show based on a book dating back to the early 1990s, with three volumes and lots of stories to tell, the debut episode presents us the story, the main characters —Arthur, Merlin, Durfeel, Nimeo— and what will Arthur Pendragon’s main challenge be as he strives to unite warring clans against the Saxons.
There are three main things in this episode that set us up for what is ahead: Firstly, we are in the middle of a war. Secondly, Arthur was banished based on the status of being a bastard child, and that is a big motivator for a man like him to seek conquest and revenge.
Also, and lastly, we see Durfeel’s romance with Nimue, one of the forbidden varieties, that will plant the seeds for alternate plots in character story development.
Culminating with a hopeful note with Merlin meeting Arthur and inviting him back home after three months of searching, The Warrior King aims big.
Can the Warrior King become a hit? If you’ve read the books, you’ll know there’s a lot ahead, and this isn’t your fairy tale; it can get as dark and violent as Game of Thrones but expect no GoT also. In any case, I consider that the beginning of the show sets a stage and a tone that seems a bit slow but gradually, like all epics, turns out to be a huge thing.