Warning: This article contains discussion of sexual assault

Warning: Major spoilers for The Winter King season 1 episode 2 below!


  • The Winter King episode 2 features a shocking Avalon raid that rivals the brutality of Game of Thrones‘ Red Wedding. It is unexpected and makes for a tough watch.
  • The massacre at Avalon is particularly shocking because it comes early in the series and there is little build-up to it. The peacefulness of Avalon is shattered by the sheer brutality of the attack.
  • The Winter King also delivers its own version of Ned Stark’s shock death from Game of Thrones. King Uther’s early demise mirrors Ned Stark’s unexpected execution in the first season of Game of Thrones.

The Avalon raid in The Winter King episode 2 gives the show its own version of Game of Thrones‘ Red Wedding. Few shows hit the zeitgeist in the way that Game of Thrones did. Based on George R.R. Martin’s fantasy novel series, HBO’s adaptation quickly became one of the most popular shows on television. It featured a great cast, an absorbing story, a well-fleshed out world and brought a uniquely cinematic sheen to TV. It also featured some unforgettable sequences, from Ned Stark’s (Sean Bean) execution to The Viper vs. The Mountain.

Game of Thrones also paved the way for sprawling fantasy TV shows like Outlander, with MGM+’s The Winter King being one of the latest to challenge its crown. The show is based on Bernard Cornwell’s The Warlord Chronicles, which featured a grounded reimaging of the legend of King Arthur. The Winter King episode 1 did a great job setting up the main characters and establishing the world, but the second episode features a harrowing setpiece that establishes the stakes in an uncompromising fashion.

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The Winter King’s Shocking Avalon Attack Rivals The Brutality Of Game Of Thrones Red Wedding

Simon Merrells as Gundleus in the winter king

The Winter King is set during the so-called “Dark Ages” in Britain when the Romans withdrew from the island and it was left vulnerable to invasion from the Saxons. In the world of the show, this has left the country in dire condition, though King Pendragon (Deadpool 2’s Eddie Marsan) hopes the birth of his new heir Mordred will eventually turn things around. He appoints Gundleus (Simon Merrells) – the brutal King of rival kingdom Siluria – as one of his son’s protectors, with the child being taken to be raised at Merlin’s (Nathaniel Martello-White) safe haven community Avalon.

However, when Gundleus arrives at Avalon to meet the new King, a massacre ensues. Gundleus asks to hold the baby Mordred, only to proclaim a child can’t rule Britain. He stabs the child to death, while his men proceed to massacre the village. Lunete’s (Olumide Olorunfemi) farmer father is killed in battle, while Gundleus murders Queen Norwena (Grace Ackary) after forcing her to get on her knees and swear allegiance to him. Gungleus also commits sexual assault on the priestess Nimue (Ellie James), an act that may have also severed her connection to the Gods.

The Winter King’s Avalon raid, like Game of Thrones‘ Red Wedding, is shocking because it’s so unexpected. It’s only the second episode of the series, and while Gundleus’ monstrous past deeds had been established, there’s little build-up to the massacre. Avalon had been set up a peaceful little haven for the kingdom, and the sheer brutality of the attack makes the sequence a tough watch. The “Red Wedding” in Game of Thrones season 3 outing “The Rains of Castamere” similarly came out of nowhere, and resulted in the deaths of major characters like Robb (Richard Madden) and Catelyn Stark (Michelle Fairley) after a relatively peaceful episode.

The Winter King Episode 2 Delivers Its Version Of GOT’s Shocking Ned Stark Death

Ned Stark's Death in Game Of Thrones

The Winter King not only delivered its take on the Red Wedding, but it has shades of Ned Stark’s shock death in Game of Thrones season 1 too. Eddie Marsan is arguably the most famous actor in The Winter King and while the show establishes King Uther’s failing health, it still comes as a big shock when the character dies so early in the second episode. This mirrors Ned Stark’s demise somewhat, as Sean Bean was easily the most famous player in Game of Thrones season 1, and as the main character, few expected his planned execution to actually go ahead.

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