The ninth episode of The Winter King, goes into some unexpected territories, but if you’d noticed the hints from the first episode, you’d have seen this one coming. People had questioned Arthur’s intentions since the moment he returned. In fact, even earlier, Uther didn’t trust Arthur, and he had banished him, marking one of his most significant decisions, one that was potentially his worst. After he returned, Arthur was questioned by people like Owain, Gorfydd, and Cadwys, who seemed too gripped by their own personal interests to really make us see Arthur’s vulnerabilities or make us question whether Arthur had malicious intent. But now, even those people in his life who respected him and cared for him have started to turn against him. Morgan, Derfel, and Guinevere were the ones who were questioning Arthur’s decisions, and he too, for a brief moment, showed that he was ultimately Uther’s son, carrying the gene with the desire to rule the kingdom with an iron fist and not paying heed to any counsel.
How Did Derfel Prove Nimue’s Innocence?
After having seen Bedwin’s dreadful end in the previous episode, Morgan and Derfel were both released and allowed to go back to Caer Cadarn, surprisingly. It seemed for a moment that Morgan would be held captive as leverage, and Derfel would be sent back to give Arthur the message. But there was a reason Gorfydd was confident enough to not be bothered about having leverage against Arthur, which was revealed later. Morgan had seen the love of her life perish in front of her eyes, and when Derfel returned to Caer Cadarn, he got the news that Nimue had been banished by Arthur. There was dread all around and love was nowhere to be found it seemed. Morgan had lost it in Powys and Derfel desperately needed Nimue around.
A frenzy took over Derfel, and he left all other business and tried to find out why Nimue was banished. Soon, he found out that Arthur had banished her for poisoning the men, even though he didn’t have enough proof. Nimue was a druid, which is perhaps why she was banished to the Isle of Death, a place no one returns from. Derfel’s heart could not accept Nimue’s guilt in the matter, and he found another reason that Sansum’s three men could have died. The recently departed men were all woodcutters who had drank from a poisoned well, and Derfel found the rotting carcass that had made the water so. He had proof that Arthur’s decision was a hasty one, and that he hadn’t done enough to find out the truth because he was indebted to Sansum for having married him and Guinevere. Guinevere, too, was of the opinion that Arthur had been harsh towards Nimue, and she was an asset that shouldn’t have been let go so easily, even though Arthur might have felt an unspoken pressure to punish her in front of Sansum. Hence, Guinevere wanted Nimue back, which is why she pushed Derfel towards finding out the truth about the poisoning.
What Knowledge Did Morgan Return With?
Morgan and Derfel reached Caer Cadarn, carrying Bedwin’s remains, but right when they were thrown out of Powys, they had been intercepted by Ceinwyn, who cleared some of their doubts as to why Gorfydd had the audacity to murder Bedwin, a peaceful negotiator, and that too so brutally. Ceinwyn told Morgan that Gorfydd had made an alliance with Aielle, the Saxon King, and had made up his mind to marry Ceinwyn off to him. This is the reason he wasn’t worried about Arthur’s retribution, as he now had the Saxon army with him. When Arthur came to know about this, he was perplexed, as Tewdric, Arthur’s ally keeping tabs on Powys, had said nothing about such an alliance. Aielle, showing his nature as that of an opportunist, had approached Gorfydd himself after he got to know that Arthur’s alliance with him had failed. This was quite uncharacteristic of the Saxons, but now the problem was that Arthur had to fear a two-pronged attack, one from Gorfydd and the other from Aielle. Morgan had a lot on her mind as to Arthur’s decision to run off with Guinevere in a juvenile fashion, going against his word of forming an alliance with Gorfydd. As she put it, Arthur was blinded by his desires and was indirectly the reason for Bedwin’s death. And now he may just be the reason for Dumnonia’s downfall.
How Did Guinevere Resolve Her Issues With Arthur?
Domestic quarrels are one thing, but if the couple sits at the throne of the most powerful kingdom in Britain, the quarrels can have devastating effects. Derfel, the boy saved by Arthur, had given him a lecture on passing judgment prematurely, and Arthur knew Guinevere had something to do with it. He sensed that she had nudged him in the direction of uncovering the truth about the poisoning, which is why she had gone to Avalon. Arthur was in desperate need of some encouragement. He was given counsel from all sides, as if no man had erred as much as he had in Dumnonia’s history. Under such pressure, seeing Guinevere work behind his back made the warrior Arthur seem like a boy who was sulking after seeing his lover’s behavior. Arthur, in such a moment, grew a strange affinity with Uther’s dilemmas and how he must have ruled Caer Cadarn during such times when nobody supported him. He even questioned Guinevere’s intent and mentioned Gorfydd’s warning when it came to Guinevere’s cunning nature. She at first didn’t understand Arthur’s urge to empathize with Uther or bring such nasty attacks on her character, but later she understood that Arthur was deeply scarred by Uther’s treatment, and if not supported in such moments where he knew he had faltered, he would withdraw and become a tyrant like Uther. Guinevere hence called for a truce and made him believe that she was always by his side, even through such conflicts. Arthur, after having a tender moment with Guinevere, knew that he had to look for Nimue, but Derfel had already left for the Isle of Death.
How Did Arthur Plan To Deal With The Gorfydd-Aielle Alliance?
Before looking at Nimue’s situation, he had the Saxons to worry about. The Saxons were not a monolith. There were inner divisions, and each one of them had its own way of going about things. Sure, Aielle had made an alliance with Gorfydd, but that didn’t mean Arthur couldn’t buy some time by making an offering to these sub-tribes of the Saxons. Arthur planned to reach one such Saxon tribe before Aielle planned his attack with Gorfydd, and hence he would have time to deal with the individual attack from them. For the offering, he planned to offer the Saxons a load of tin, which they needed to mend their broken weapons. Guinevere counseled Arthur to gift the Saxons some land as well, in case they refused the tin. Arthur refused as he remembered Uther’s motto to never offer a Saxon even an inch of land.
Episode 9 Review
The ninth episode of The Winter King seemed to have the objective of putting Arthur through an emotional grind, and it successfully managed to do so. Never before had we seen someone this helpless, but it also showed that Arthur was a vulnerable man, and if he didn’t lose touch with his emotional side, he would always receive help. The hint that Guinevere was hiding something and perhaps manipulating Arthur became one of the most interesting aspects of the show, apart from Arthur acting like Uther for a second. Why Guinevere asked Arthur to offer that specific piece of land in the end seemed odd, but it would be interesting to see if Arthur’s decision to not have a land offer would affect him in dealing with the Saxons. He didn’t have Derfel by his side, who understood the Saxons’ language, which was another major issue. The next episodes will shed light on where Derfel went and whether he found Nimue or not. Also, Arthur will have to negotiate to perfection if he wants Dumnonia to survive the double attack.