The Winter King Episode 4 hinged on the arrival of King Gofydd. Arthur had let Gundleus go in the previous episode, keeping his beloved Ladwys as leverage. Meanwhile, Owain had left Arthur and gone off on his own adventure with Derfel and the others to get the tax from Cadwys. Arthur was left waiting for Gundleus’ return. He also had to keep an eye on Ladwys, because if she died, Gundleus wouldn’t ever return. The Edling King’s Naming Ceremony was inching closer, and as the days passed, everybody’s faith dwindled in Arthur’s seemingly whimsical decision to let Gundleus go. Nimue, too, finds herself in a dilemma after Merlin returns to Caer Cadarn. There are a lot of things to cover in The Winter King Episode 4, so here’s a recap.
How did Owain deal with Cadwys?
Owain had stomped off after talking to Arthur about his decisions regarding Gundleus and also about his vision for changing the ‘old ways.’ Owain left to collect tax from Cadwys, who had been a defaulter for five years. He knew that Cadwys would roll out the usual story about having a bad harvest, due to which he wouldn’t be able to pay tax again, so this time Owain appointed Derfel as the man who would outwit him. Owain sent a man to Cadwys house to notify him about his arrival. He knew that upon hearing this, Cadwys would empty his treasury and hide in a safe spot. Cadwys didn’t disappoint, and Owain’s plan worked. Derfel knew the spot where the wealth was hidden, which later became a leveraging point for Owain after Cadwys declined to pay his taxes on the pretext of a bad harvest. Cadwys had to give away a tin mine he was eyeing, and Owain shook hands on the deal.
How did Merlin’s return impact Arthur and Nimue?
Arthur had returned to Caer Cadarn, but his mentor and friend Merlin were still away. Merlin was first greeted by Nimue herself, and they discussed the tough times that lay ahead and how they had to listen to the will of the gods. Merlin may have given his advice to Nimue, but his main focus was still on Mordred. He knew the Edling King would grow up and become one of the most evil kings Britain had ever seen. He didn’t ask Nimue’s help in the matter, as he knew he had to do it himself. He met with Queen Morgan and checked on Mordred again. The vision he had when he first held Mordred hadn’t changed a bit. He saw something so terrifying that he decided the needful had to be done. But there was Arthur standing in his way.
Arthur had sworn an oath to be the Edling King’s protector. Bedwin was powerless without Owain, so Arthur stopped Merlin himself, as he couldn’t allow him to kill Mordred on the basis of a vision. Merlin tried to deceive him and told him that he would take Mordred away to the mountains, where he would live to lead an inconsequential life, and that raising him as king would be Arthur’s biggest mistake. But Arthur knew Merlin’s tricks. He didn’t allow Mordred to be taken away.
Arthur’s relationship with Merlin had always been like that of an old friend, but there had never been an issue so visceral that it would cause a rift between them. Mordred had. As far as Nimue was concerned, she too, received unpleasant news from Merlin. Nimue was pregnant with Gundleus’ child, and Merlin ordered her to keep the child as it was a king’s progeny. Nimue couldn’t bear the idea of keeping her assaulter’s child in her womb, but she couldn’t directly refuse Merlin. When pressed about the matter, she found it better to just run away and let the gods decide.
How Did Derfel’s Life Change After Owain’s Raid?
Owain had made a deal with Cadwys to steal the tin from the mine. Derfel was praised for locating Cadwys’ hidden treasures, and Owain got him on his raiding party. The idea was to camouflage the unit as the raiding party of an Irish raider, Oengus MacAirem, so that even if they were caught, the blame wouldn’t come back to Owain and Dumnonia. Owain had assured Derfel that the raid would strictly be a non-violent affair, but as soon as the miners found out about the raid, they came out and fought valiantly to protect their hard-earned tin. The raid turned bloody at the drop of a hat, and even Derfel had to kill. He didn’t want to, but it was a kill-or-be-killed scenario, and he chose the former. Derfel, who was away from Nimue, passed his time with Lunete, but he never would have expected to become a soldier in such an abhorrent manner. The man he killed was not a soldier. All of them were simply workers, and now Derfel’s attitude was bound to shift against Owain.
Did Gorfydd Arrive?
While Arthur had no idea of Owain’s ordeals, he was primarily concerned with keeping Ladwys alive. He had small chats with Morgan about the tales of ‘Excalibur,’ the legendary sword, that he had heard about in his childhood, but his mind was preoccupied with Gundleus and his return. Ladwys once tried to commit suicide, but Arthur saved her. Now, he waited for Gorfydd to arrive for Mordred’s naming ceremony. This would be his chance to bring up the subject of the ‘Council of Kings.’ He was betting on Gorfydd’s cooperation in the matter, but first, Gundleus had to get his uncle to Caer Cadarn for all that to happen. There was also a proposal to postpone the naming ceremony, but Gorfydd finally arrived. Arthur’s plan had worked. Gundleus had kept his promise, or rather, Arthur’s threat of killing Ladwys had not fallen on deaf ears.
Gorfydd was of the same mind as the High King Uther. He loathed Arthur, and even talking to him seemed to pollute his royalty. He started provoking Arthur to lose his calm, so it was clear that he wasn’t fit to be anywhere near Mordred. Gorfydd could have wanted to kill Mordred himself and then try to be king himself. But Arthur kept his cool and ordered Gundleus’ arrest. He was still his prisoner, and nowhere had he said to him that if he brought Gorfydd to Caer Cadarn, he would earn his freedom. The situation escalated, but Gundleus’ sword was no match against Arthur’s. Even Gorfydd saw Arthur’s simmering passion to do the right thing. Arthur commanded Gorfydd to pledge allegiance to the Edling King, or else there was no force in the world that could save Gorfydd and his men.
Episode 4 Review
The Winter King Episode 4 maintains a balance between all the characters, focusing more on Owain’s plotline. Although there were a few parts of the raid Owain had planned I couldn’t understand. It was supposed to be during the night, but later, Owain didn’t hesitate to go in during daylight. The scenes between Owain and Cadwys are humorous, with both performers, Daniel Ings and Billy Postlethwaite, respectively, taking immense pleasure in saying their lines. As for Arthur’s story, it seems to be nicely shaping his arc. Excalibur was brought up in the episode, nicely building up a solid background for his future endeavors.
Yet, after all is said and done, the conflicts in the show still don’t break their narrow boundaries. Gorfydd’s intentions about Arthur were never revealed before The Winter King Episode 4, and his dialogue comes off as a bit too theatrical, considering he had just met her. There wasn’t any formidability in the characters. The interesting ones, like Gundleus, seemed too powerless against Arthur, which does not help in making the conflicts appear potent. The latter episodes will have to be much more stark and brisk in pace to be able to command the audience’s attention. Nimue seems to be a character of importance and, for now, seems to be Arthur’s true adversary with the power to stand against him. Let’s see what the next episodes have in store for us.