THE WINTER KING (2023)
Season 1 [Premiere]
Aired On: MGM+
Release Date: 08/20/23
"A former warrior, now turned monk, tells the story of how Arthur became the lord of war despite the illegitimacy of his throne."
The Winter King carries the weight of so many that came before and the expectation that every series like it has to be the next Game of Thrones or The Lord of the Rings - one episode in and its succeeding wholeheartedly. Captivating from the very start, the stakes are clear when the king’s bastard is exiled for the death of the kingdom’s heir. After rescuing a young injured man and giving him sanctuary in a home of druids - Avalon, we witness the boy grow as his savior vanishes. The premiere is grim, fantastical and beautifully shot, accompanied with a tight focus on the characters within - keeping the audience in close proximity to the tension building.
Ian De Caestecker’s Arthur is the sole reason to return to this legendary tale as Stuart Campbell’s draw as the young man grown from his injury is lacking some of the appeal they're striving for - with a show surrounded with gorgeous costuming and production, how could the wig be so poor? Caestecker and Martello-White’s Merlin are the main attraction as its set to be a companionship between the two as they journey back to the isle, not to exclude the genuine allure for what diabolical, self-centered action the King, as played by Eddie Marsan, may have up his sleeve
With little knowledge of the vast lore behind the tale of King Arthur, the journey to get there should be a fascinating path taken, with realism and fantasy fused. The aftermath of the violence lays a haunting image for what could be on the horizon for this powerful tale, but as it is for now the few shots of action are adrenaline boosted but held back by choppy execution. The premiere has some truly intriguing components and they’re led by the riveting performances within, and while the first of the season may not pack the largest punch as to why one may return - it’s a safe bet to assume the season will continue to ramp up from here.