The Winter King Season 1 Episode 2 Recap – Who dies in the episode?

By Jonathon Wilson
Published: August 28, 2023 (Last updated: September 12, 2023)
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The Winter King Season 1 Episode 2 Recap - Who dies in the episode?


The Winter King delivers its “Red Wedding” episode early, providing many brutal twists guaranteed to shock audiences.

This recap of The Winter King Season 1 Episode 2 on MGM+ contains spoilers.

The first episode of The Winter King was a decent if standard adaptation of Bernard Corwell’s eponymous novel, the first of his Warlord Chronicles trilogy which blends the Arthurian legend with rigorous historical detail.

It was long-ish, shifted perspective a lot, had a big time jump, and was generally doing a lot of table-setting for subsequent episodes. The second outing doesn’t just eat at that table but upends it completely, delivering a couple of very nasty twists, setting both the tone and stakes for the rest of the story.

The Winter King Season 1 Episode 2 Recap

For a series about King Arthur, there has been precious little of him so far.

The premiere featured a fair bit of him, mostly being banished by his father King Uther, and then disappearing for the less imperiled climes of Gaul while Uther busied himself producing a club-footed heir to the throne following the death of the first Prince Mordred and Arthur’s subsequent banishment.

Mordred 2.0, though, bodes ill for the kingdom, since Merlin foresees him committing all manner of masked atrocities and subsequently dooming the entire country. So, he set out to Gaul to track Arthur down himself, which is where the second episode picks up. However, Arthur isn’t buying it and refuses to leave. We scarcely see him again until the end, and even then only for a second.

Who does King Uther appoint as Mordred’s protectors?

Most of the action takes place back at Dumnonia, where a dying King Uther is getting his affairs in order by appointing three guardians of his son Mordred to keep an eye on him until he’s old enough to rule. The chosen protectors are Bishop Bedwin, Owain, and Gungleus, the king of the newly allied kingdom of Siluria, who also stands to inherit the hand of Uther’s wife Norwena after his imminent passing.

This is such a bad idea as to be almost inexplicable since Gungleus is nakedly sinister and his allegiances spell so much potential political calamity that Uther’s pending demise feels like a ticking clock for the entire kingdom.

And he does indeed snuff it shortly after concentrating all this power in Gungleus’s hand, which leads to the episode’s more shocking developments.

Who dies in the episode?

Upon returning to Avalon, where Uther ordered Mordred to be raised in safety, Gungleus stabs the baby to death and launches a massacre on the community. This is presented explicitly enough that I legitimately recoiled in shock.

On the one hand, it seems a little overly provocative to show this, but it’s such an unexpected bit of brutality that it injects the entire episode with a dose of adrenaline and does an extremely good job of making the audience despise Gungleus. And he only commits more atrocities from there.

After killing Mordred – or what he believes to be Mordred, anyway; more on this shortly – Gungleus also kills Queen Norwena after forcing her to kneel in surrender, and then sets about Nimue.

Derfel, who already wants Gungleus dead after learning in the premiere that he’s responsible for the death of his mother, is able to intervene and spare Nimue temporarily, but not for long. He comes to and witnesses Gungleus raping Nimue. This horrifying sexual assault is presumably both for Gungleus’s own sick satisfaction but also because he believes her violation will sever the druidess’s connection to the gods.

Does Nimue lose her powers?

After what Merlin said last week, both Gungleus and Nimue herself are sure that her sudden lack of purity will strip her of the gods’ favor, removing her powers.

At present, we don’t know if this is the case, though it’s implied Nimue hasn’t lost her abilities just yet.

The Winter King Season 1 Episode 2 Ending Explained

Towards the end of the episode, Gungleus realizes that the baby he killed wasn’t Mordred after all. Shortly after his arrival in Avalon, Uther’s daughter Morgan had switched the infant with another child. Discovering this, he sends his men into the nearby forests where Derfel and Nimue have escaped, hoping to kill any remaining survivors and track the real Mordred down.

When the survivors are cornered by Gungleus and his men, things don’t look good, but of course, Arthur arrives in the nick of time to save the day.

You can stream The Winter King Season 1 Episode 2 exclusively on MGM+.

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