Bridgerton, you’ve done it again. The second season of the Netflix show follows the love story of eldest Bridgerton sibling Anthony and Miss Kate Sharma, a headstrong and independent woman who challenges the viscount every step of the way resulting in fiery emotions that confound them both. Based on the Bridgerton series of novels by Julia Quinn, this chapter is adapted from The Viscount Who Loved Me.
*****LOTS OF SPOILERS FOR BRIDGERTON SEASON 2 AHEAD
Anthony (Jonathan Bailey) has decided that it’s time to find a wife and his mother the dowager viscountess is more than happy to help him find a suitable match. Except that he views the entire business as a transaction meant to fulfill his familial duty to continue his family line. He has a strict list of qualifications he wants in a wife and arranges interviews with the eligible ladies of the Ton to find his bride.
Enter the Sharma sisters who have come from India with their own agenda in the marital department. Elder sister Kathani “Kate” Sharma (Simone Ashley) who is determined to see her sister Edwina (Charithra Chandran) wed in a true love match. However, she withholds important information from both her sister and stepmother Lady Mary Sheffield Sharma (Shelley Conn). Her mother had been ostracized from society when she had chosen to marry their father and absconded to India. Now they were in the brink of financial ruin and have come to London not only to find Edwina a match but in addition to secure the support of her stepmother’s family, the Sheffields. Kate wants her mother to have monetary security and that would only be possible if Edwina married into a nobleman’s family.
Edwina enters the viscount’s circle and he finds that she embodies the qualities he is looking for in a bride. However, Kate hears him declare to his friends that he isn’t interested love and only sought a lady with a pleasing face, acceptable wit, and genteel manner. This rubs her the wrong way as she only wants the best for her sister.
From the moment that Anthony and Kate meet while horseback riding in episode one, vexations were aplenty. They are both very strong-willed and fiercely loyal to their families putting them above all else, themselves included. In Edwina, the viscount sees the amiable relationship to fulfill his duties, but Kate will try to thwart him at every step of the way. Through this however they are forced to more time together and eventually their intense feelings of dislike morph into love.
As a fan of the novels, I had high expectations of how Kate and Anthony’s story would be brought to life on screen and this season absolutely blew me away. It diverged a bit from the book but done so in very interesting ways that only added to the wonderful complexities of the narrative for both the leads and the supporting characters. For instance, originally Kate and Anthony were caught in a compromising situation and were forced to marry, but this was changed in the series. Having the two decide on their own that they loved each other and wanted to spend their lives together made a larger impact to this viewer because it showed the power of choice despite circumstances.
Speaking of choice, it was such an important theme this season for so many characters. Both Anthony and Kate made choices that they felt were right for their loved ones and they were willing to forgo their own happiness out of their sense of duty. It ends up being Edwina to tell the viscount and her older sister that she was done being told what to do and how her life was going to be like. She was going to live her life for herself and no one else.
Meanwhile Eloise (Claudia Jessie) and Penelope (Nicola Coughlan) were struggling with the limitations of their own choices. Eloise was going through her first season with so much pain and discomfort because she did not want to conform to society’s views of a woman’s purpose being to get married and have children. She ends up meeting a commoner in her continued search to find the identity of Lady Whistledown and develops feelings for him. Things get more complicated when she is seen visiting the printshop by the queen’s footman and the monarch now thinks that she is the gossip monger. Queen Charlotte (Golda Resheuvel) personally tells her to either align herself with the crown or she will reveal to the Ton that Eloise is behind the scandal sheet.
She shares this all with Penelope who is then placed in a difficult spot herself. Miss Featherington wants to help her friend but is uncertain on how to do so. This season she has elicited the help of Madam Delacroix to supply her with more tantalizing gossip as the modiste after she was spotted at the print shop. The two women come to an understanding though and Penelope uses Lady Whistledown to help the other woman regain her customers. Madam Delacroix suggests to Pen that she should write something about Eloise that the other woman would never write about herself to prove to the queen that she could not possibly be the author. At first Penelope says she could never do that but ends up doing so after being unable to find any other way to help.
This decision proves disastrous for their friendship as Eloise eventually puts the puzzle pieces together and confronts Pen. The two have a very heated exchange and it’s uncertain if they will be able to get pass this. Eloise feels horribly betrayed while Penelope says that Lady Whistledown is all she has given her own difficult circumstances.
The most surprising choice of this season though must go to Lady Featherington (Polly Walker). She has always been focused on improving her and her daughters’ standing in the Ton. After the death of Lord Featherington, his heir arrives, and the man appears to be as conniving as her. To protect herself and her girls, she orchestrates a meeting between Prudence and the new Lord Featherington (Rupert Young), accusing him of impropriety with others present. He is forced to propose to Prudence but reveals to her mother that he is in fact broke. Jack had been working on Cressida Cowper to secure her large dowry. Lady Featherington though is tenacious and she devices a scheme to dupe the men of the Ton into investing into Jack’s fake ruby mines in the Americas. As their plan works, he tells her that they need to leave London as it’s the only solution for people will want a return of their investments soon. On the eve of when they are to leave for the new world, Lady Featherington turns the tables on him. In a show of true love for her daughters, she tells him that he clearly doesn’t care about them and so she has had his bags packed so he can depart alone. She’s going to keep a portion of the money so that her family can survive and has had her housekeeper forge his signature on a contract to say that her future grandson will be the heir to their title. Bested, he leaves without further discussion.
As for Benedict (Luke Thompson) and Colin (Luke Newton), they too faced challenging choices. For the brothers it was finding their purpose in life. Benedict took the leap and decided to apply to a prestigious art school to seriously pursue his passion in painting. While he was accepted, he later finds out that Anthony had made a sizable donation and there are those who believe this was a big factor.
Colin in the meantime was stuck in the past for a bit and goes to visit Lady Crane (the former Miss Thompson) who now has two children. She admonishes him for indulging in foolish fantasies and refuses to get dragged back into them. While her marriage to Sir Philip may not be perfect, she’s content in her life and she suggests that he look to those who love and care for him instead of going to her. Lady Crane singles Penelope out as one of those people. This seems to make an impact on him as he confides in Pen more but at this point it seems that he still views her as a very close friend. He does though also realize that he needs to find something to do with his life and was close to investing in the fake ruby mines. It was the interfering of former boxer Will Mondrich that clued him in on the Featherington scheme. While he pretends to trust Pen’s cousin, he secretly investigates and discovers that the rubies are fakes. He even threatens the lord with revealing the truth unless he returns all the money he’s taken from others and leaves the country immediately. Colin as an honorable man brings over patrons to Will’s new club to repay the other man’s kindness.
It was honestly so thrilling to see so many memorable scenes from The Viscount Who Loved Me in live action. Standouts are the Pall Mall game (of course duh), the library scene between Kate and Anthony (be still my heart!), the bee sting, and Kate falling from the horse (though it was a carriage accident in the book). The last two especially really made my insides tense with so much emotion because of the gravity of those two situations.
The bee sting it was such a pivotal moment in the book where Anthony ends up trying to suck the venom from Kate’s neck and they are caught and forced to marry. This was altered in the series, but it was just as powerful because this time Kate realizes how distressed Anthony and even though she doesn’t understand why, she makes him feel her steady heartbeat to calm him down. She of course doesn’t know at this point that his father had died of a bee sting before his very eyes.
In episode seven when Kate is angrily riding her horse in the rain and Anthony goes after her, he witnesses her fall and, in that moment, realizes how much she means to him. In the book the accident makes the viscount admit to himself that he cannot live his life without her. He is terrified though because he’s seen the pain of what losing a loved one is like after his father died. It takes a conversation with Lady Violet for Anthony to understand that it’s better to love and go through the pain of loss than to have never attempted it at all.
Both Simone Ashley and Jonathan Bailey were just brilliant in their roles and captured their characters so well. Anthony finally crying after hearing that Kate was awake from her coma displayed how much he had been controlling his emotions for so long after losing his father. It took nearly losing Kate for him to be honest with himself and talk to his mother.
For Kate being told by her sister that they need to stop caring about what society thinks and to do what they want is finally what gives her the courage to dance with Anthony in the final episode at the Featherington Ball despite so many judging eyes upon them.
What a fulfilling relief it was when these two kids finally admitted their love for each other after all the drama.
Family, duty, love, and honor were ever-present in season two of Bridgerton and it was glorious. It pulled on the heartstrings and reduced me to a weepy mess at various moments but oh how worth it. For those who are debating whether to watch it or not, just do it! I for one will never hear Wrecking Ball the same way again.