Bridgerton is the gift from Netflix for viewers looking for a diverting drama filled with romance, fashion, gossip, and scandal.
There are a lot of important moments in episodes four to eight but here are a few to take special note off. Warning: MAJOR SPOILERS AHEAD!!!
Daphne, the Prince, and a Duel
At another event, Prince Friedrich presents Daphne with a beautiful necklace with the Queen’s approval and even Lady Whistledown applauding the match. Miss Bridgerton is clearly flattered though we all know her heart is still with Simon. Speaking of the duke, he is still in town to support his friend Will’s boxing match and he runs into Anthony at their club. The viscount admits that his friend was being honorable with his sister when the prince arrives and asks Anthony for Daphne’s hand in marriage.
Daphne learns of this from her brother and he this time gives her the choice of whether to accept or not (finally learning from the disaster with Nigel Berbrooke). She thinks on it with her mother saying that if she cares more for the duke then she should go with her heart but daughter reveals the secret of her ruse with Hastings.
At the ball that evening, Daphne has chosen to wear the necklace the prince had given her, signifying that she’s made her choice. But just as Friedrich is on the verge of actually proposing she freaks out and takes her leave to get some air outside. She’s followed by Simon who is there to say goodbye. But these two can’t seem to keep away from each other and end up kissing until they are found by Anthony in the garden. The viscount demands that his friend marry his sister after defiling her but again Simon refuses and so the two men are headed for a duel at dawn the following morning.
Anthony gets Benedict as his second and Simon has his friend Will (who had found him drunk only a few hours earlier). Daphne forces Colin to tell her where the event is to take place and the two race over. Just as shots are fired she comes in between the two men with her horse throwing her off getting spooked from the sound. Miss Bridgerton is just fine though and berates the two for the idiocy of their actions and asks Simon if he would really rather die than marry her. The duke and her speak in private and he finally reveals that he won’t be able to give her children, something he knows that she very much wants. He asks her to let the two men continue their duel but Daphne makes the choice that she can deal with not having kids and says she and Hastings will be married.
The Featheringtons are Super Broke
Meanwhile, Marina is being setup with the very old Lord Rutledge by Lady Featherington and while it’s understandable why the younger woman is repulsed, the elder female brings up some good points that given her circumstances it’s a respectable match with someone in need of an heir and will not ask questions. In a surprise turn of events, a gentleman named Mr. Finch calls upon Philippa and Lady Featherington is beyond delighted that perhaps one of her own girls will also be wed this season. Her husband though seems to doubt it highly.
In fact, after another ball, Lord Featherington seems to have said something to Mr. Finch that has scared him away from Philippa. Lady Featherington demands to know what he said though he refuses to say. We discover that the baron has a gambling problem after he bet against the opponent of Simon’s friend Will in a recent boxing match. He’s actually broke and in debt and can’t pay their bills at the modiste or with other establishments. He is confronted by his wife who has gone through his ledger and knows that he squandered away even his daughters’ dowries. The man breaks down in tears confessing that he has no idea what to do.
Eventually though he comes up with a scheme and proposes to boxer Will that if the other throws his next fight he will pay him half the earnings. Will is understandably relunctant to do so because of his honor but Featherington says that he needs to think about life beyond the ring and how he can ensure that his family will be provided for in the future. The baron then contacts two questionable men to borrow money from in order to place a huge bet on Will’s next opponent. The two though know how the lord’s word is worthless but the nobleman gives them the deed to his house as collateral.
Will though agrees to Featherington’s proposal and throws his next match. Both men then have a sizeable fortune which seems to have solved the baron’s money problems. Except that the two loan sharks must have found out that he fixed the fight and at the end of the series he seems to have been killed for it.
We’re Engaged! But We Still Need Special Permission
Daphne returns to her family home pretending that she had just woken up and then soon after informed her mother that she was now engaged to the duke. While the two meet later on to promenade, Simon refuses to take their hand as people begin wishing them well on their upcoming nuptials. To make matters worse, at the modiste Daphne learns that Cressida saw her and Simon in the garden alone and threatens to make things very uncomfortable for her. The future duchess reminds the debutante of her soon-to-be new title and advises that the other woman not make an enemy out of her. This encounter though convinces Miss Bridgerton that they need to get married stat and for that they need a special license from the Archbishop of Canterbury.
Sadly their request is denied and it is Lady Danbury who informs the couple that they need to plead their case to Queen Charlotte who is miffed that her nephew was rejected. When they come to court, at first Daphne is floundering and not very convincing, given how tense things are between her and the duke. In a surprising move, Simon actually speaks the truth on how it wasn’t really love at first sight for them and how they had all been fooling everyone initially. But soon they formed a friendship and really enjoyed each other’s company. It took Prince Friedrich to make him realize that he wanted her. The queen is moved and asks Daphne if she wants to marry Simon.
She does and the two are married in a small ceremony filled with just family. At the after party the new bride talks to her mother about how nervous she is in getting fully intimate with her husband and Violet relents that she’s put off the conversation long enough and does a very basic explanation that the act will produce children. Daphne brings up the possibility of no children and the dowager viscountess says that they’ll be alright as long as they love each other. It’s important to note that many young ladies are completely sheltered from how procreation works. In earlier episodes Penelope and Eloise have no idea how it accomplished (though Penelope discovered some information from a pregnant Marina).
The following day the newlyweds depart the Hastings country estate but stop by an inn for the evening. They get separate suites per Simon’s request though eventually an upset Daphne prepares to march over to her husband’s room when she opens the door and he is standing outside. They finally have an honest though heated conversation where the duke says that everything he said to the queen is true and that he burns for her. The duchess says that if he took the time to look at her for more than two seconds he would realize that she too burns for him and the two consummate their marriage.
Benedict Gets a Little Improper
In the meantime, second brother Benedict was extended an invitation by prominent artist Sir Henry Granville who’s painting he critiqued earlier to see the man’s more private works. It turns out to be kind of a den of iniquity with lots of nude models, drinks, and people engaging in torrid affairs. Henry convinces Benedict that as second sons they gave to have fun without the burden of responsibility on their shoulders. The second eldest Bridgerton ends up having a threesome with Madame Delacroix and Mrs. Granville after he witnesses his host kissing Lord Wetherby in another room.
Later at another party, Benedict speaks to Henry about what happened and the other man states that he’s in love with Wetherby and he has an understanding with his wife that affords her the protection that comes with marriage. The artist explains how he and his love cannot even openly look at each other without fear and their conversation gives Benedict the courage to pursue his own relations with the modiste and hang impropriety. However, it is important to point out that a nobleman having an affair with a tradeswoman during that time period wouldn’t be as damaging to his reputation. For the modiste though it’s a different story as a woman making her own way in the world without the protection of a man.
Queen Charlotte Tasks Eloise with Unmasking Lady Whistledown
This season Eloise has been on the case in trying to unmask Lady Whistledown. She’s suspected that perhaps their housekeeper is the mysterious writer much to the chagrin of said woman after discovering her young mistress snooping in her room. At her sister’s wedding party Queen Charlotte overhears of her efforts and charges Eloise in officially discovering the gossip writer’s identity. The second Bridgerton daughter thinks that it could be a tradesperson who would be around a lot of the nobility in order to glean juicy details. While she bounces off her theories with bff Penelope, the other woman is a bit preoccupied with her own troubles regarding Marina and Colin.
She ends up telling Queen Charlotte her theory at a symphony but is dismissed discovering that her majesty has hired a team of Bow Street Runners to do a proper investigation. However just because she was no longer commanded by her monarch, Eloise still wants to discover Lady Whistledown’s identity after the latest gossip sheet revealed Marina’s pregnancy this entire season and thus damaging the reputation of all the Featheringtons. She is determined to eventually force the writer to print a retraction to restore Penelope’s status in society. Her main suspect ends up being Madame Delacroix whom as a modiste would be exposed to many of the noble families from the Ton. She first realizes the possibility after a carriage ride with Benedict where they stop by and pick up the other woman on the way to another party as Eloise is dropped off at home.
She returns to the modiste the following morning on the guise that she needs another dress for her sister’s ball. Eloise then says that the Featheringtons are still suffering from Lady Whistledown’s latest column and wishes that the author would write something flattering about them. Madame Delacroix responds that perhaps she will because the woman clearly knows what’s good for her business and angering loyal customers is not good. Eloise agrees saying that whether the loyal customers are Featheringtons or even Bridgertons, Whistledown might want to examine what she writes about both families. The young lady then adds that it’s said men can withstand gossip and rumors but she’s not so sure about that, especially with her brother. The tradeswoman then tells Eloise that she has no intentions of compromising anyone. Miss Bridgerton is relieved but says that the Queen is enraged and that whomever Lady Whistledown is should be careful because she would hate for her to be silenced before she could make things right. The modiste comments that she thinks Whistledown is able to take care of herself.
At the night of her sister’s ball, Eloise at first tries to approach Queen Charlotte but is stopped by her gossipy servant Brimsley. He reveals that they plan on unmasking Whistledown tonight after discovering that the writer delivers her missives to a printers press on Lombard street while the Ton are distracted by big events. Eloise then takes it upon herself to help the other woman out by convincing the family carriage driver to take her to Lombard street. She arrives in time and is able to warn the carriage baring Lady Whistledown that it’s a trap. She only finds out later on from Benedict that he was at another party with the modiste all night and so the tradesperson could not have been the gossip columnist.
Anthony and the Opera Singer
As much as he tries, Anthony can’t seem to forget his opera singer Siena even though the woman seems to have moved on to a different lover. Before the duel with Simon (after discovering his sister in his arms in the garden), Anthony comes to her and says that he realizes what fool he was and he still wants to protect her and because of his possible impending death, Siena relents again. But eventually, after he asks her to publicly attend a ball held by the Duke and Duchess of Hastings with him, she turns him away. Anthony finds Siena’s new lover at the door and she comes over and asks the other man to wait for her upstairs. She turns to the viscount and says that he must let her go because the truth is that their circumstances will never work and he will always choose family and title above all else. Her new man knows exactly who and what she is and doesn’t ask her to change nor does she want too. Anthony’s heart is broken but understands and finally walks away from her.
This subplot is an interesting one to see the way in which society places rules upon women deemed proper or improper. The Ton will never view Siena as a real lady worthy of marriage because of her station in life.
It’s Complicated Between Penelope, Colin and Marina
Marina Thompson has decided that her best bet is Colin Bridgerton who seems genuinely interested in her instead of the horrid Lord Rutledge. She asks Lady Featherington to give her some time to secure a proposal from the third Bridgerton son and if not she’d marry the elder nobleman. Marina is even willing to go as far as seducing and entrapping the young man in order to secure marriage despite Penelope trying to intervene with her mother that he was too young to really consider settling down.
That evening Pen tries to plead with Marina not to do this to Colin but she refuses and says that she will be a good wife to him. Colin and Marina end up being alone and she tries to kiss him but he steps away saying that she is a lady. Mr. Bridgerton though then asks her to marry him at the end of the season and she accepts. He makes an announcement later on much to the shock of his own mother. As the two families are together the following evening, Pen can’t stand by and do nothing while he is used by Marina and attempts to tell Colin of the other woman’s love for Sir George Crane (who is the actual father of her child) but the action backfires as he doesn’t seem to care for a person Marina had previously had affections for, believing her to love him. When said pregnant lady appears saying that Penelope’s mother is looking for her, she suggests to Colin that they should run away together to Gretna Green and he agrees to make arrangements.
Undeterred, Pen finds the love letters written by Sir George to Marina and compares them to the most recent one from Spain and discovers that it has to be a forgery. She tries to convince the other woman that the rejection letter is not from the man she actually loves but Marina says it doesn’t matter. He still never wrote her back and she had to think of the life of her child now.
Things take a turn for the worse when Lady Whistledown reveals to the Ton that Marina had been pregnant the entire season. This causes the engagement between her and Colin to end with Daphne coming back into town to support her family. The duchess arranges a meeting between the two where Marina admits that it is true that she is pregnant and Colin says that had she been truthful from the beginning he would have married her regardless.
Marina’s options dwindle as the Featheringtons are ostracized from polite society for this scandal. However, Daphne Bridgerton feels compelled to help after her own difficulties with her marriage and children. The duchess offers to try and find Sir George Crane for Marina by making inquiries with General Langham. She is able to make contact with his wife Kitty as both women were invited to Lady Danbury’s soiree for married women of society. The other woman provides an address to where Daphne can write to him too though when she tells Marina the news Miss Thompson informs her that the general won’t respond. He would only do so if the duke had also signed his name on the missive.
Feeling desperate, Marina ends up brewing a tea meant to abort the baby and she thinks she’s accomplished that after Pen finds her nearly passed out in her room. An unexpected visit occurs though when Sir George’s brother Philip arrives to bring the unfortunate news that his elder sibling had died in the battlefield several weeks ago and he had found a letter partially written to Marina. He had no idea where to locate her though until Daphne’s inquiries to the general. He actually proposes to the mother of his late brother’s child because he believes it is the honorable thing do. She though refuses him because she does not know him despite Lady Featherington ask why after the gentleman leaves. Marina believes she is no longer pregnant and so doesn’t need to marry, she just wants to go home.
But turns out she’s still pregnant after all and a doctor called in says she’s crazy to think that a tea would abort the baby. Marina ends up accepting Sir Philip’s proposal and asks Lady Featherington for advice on how to deal with a loveless marriage. The elder woman says that she’ll find small things and eventually it’ll be enough.
Meanwhile, Colin apologizes to Penelope (Daphne had ended up personally inviting the Featheringtons herself to give the family a second chance) at the Hastings ball that he understands she was just trying to protect him from becoming heartbroken. Just when it seems that Pen is finally mustering the courage to reveal her love for him, he announces that he’s leaving for a trip to the continent the following morning.
The Duke and Duchess of Hastings
Life as a married couple in the beginning seemed to be going well with some hiccups like Daphne not calling a winner of best hog at the country fair causing the tenants of the area to be super pissed because that meant no one won a contract to provide meat to the estate. The new duchess was also rubbing her new housekeeper the wrong way though eventually she is able to rectify her errors.
Initially marital relations between the newly weds is incredibly vigorous and the two seemed happy until Daphne started to put two and two together and asked her ladies maid Rose how kids are really made. She then realized that Simon wasn’t entirely truthful with her in letting her believe that he couldn’t have kids when the reality was that he wouldn’t have them. She ends up tricking him one night and he’s shocked at what she’s done to which she feels justified in her actions thinking that this might be her only opportunity to get pregnant. When he asks why she angrily says that she finally figured it out and that he lied to her.
What follow is many tense scenes where the couple hardly acknowledge each other and are just going through the motions and pretending that all is well in the company of other people. They end up returning to London after Daphne discovers the scandal involving her brother. She ends up going to the Bridgerton town house where she ends up arranging a meeting for Colin and Marina to talk and the other woman does admit the truth of her pregnancy. Later on Daphne visits the Featherington home to apologize to the expectant mother for judging her strongly and wishes to help her find Sir George. That unfortunately did not turn out as planned as while they did find out what happened to him through his brother Philip (the unfortunate soldier had died in Spain), Marina ended up making the difficult choice of accepting the other gentleman’s proposal in proxy.
After Daphne returns home from attending a married ladies of the Ton event at Lady Danbury’s, she sees Simon tending to a wound on his head courtesy of a heated fight with her brother at their club. Earlier the two men came to blows after Anthony said that Simon doesn’t know how to properly run a household because his father never showed him how while Simon retorts that Anthony was doing a horrible job at it and that his own father must be deeply ashamed. Ouch. As she actually still cares and loves him, Daphne starts to clean her husband’s cut and he finally admits to her that he made a vow at his father’s deathbed that the Hastings line would die with him. She gets upset all over again that he’d rather keep his vow to a dead man whom he hated than to give himself the chance at happiness with her. But not to worry because her period is supposed to come in a few days and he adds that if she’s actually pregnant he will do his duty to them and if not well that was that and they’d continue to live separate lives. While attending the a few days later, Daphne’s courses come and she ends up sobbing in the arms of her mother.
Now that the couple knows that she isn’t pregnant they are holding one final ball for the season and will depart not too long after that. Before leaving for Will’s boxing match, Daphne asks Simon about his childhood, but he refuses to answer her. She ends up in his study where she finds all the unopened letters that he had written to his father as a child. Lady Danbury then arrives asking if the duchess had forgotten that they were to prepare for the ball tonight together. Daphne then decides to ask the elder noblewoman about the former duke and how she helped her husband overcome his speech impediment. Lady Danbury explains how the odious man expected only perfection from his son and she only helped Simon but it was his triumph alone for overcoming all of the challenges he faced growing up.
The ball ends with a downpour of rain as Lady Danbury ushers all the other guests out to give the newlywed their time alone to talk. Daphne accepts that she can’t control everything and tells Simon that she found the letters he wrote to his father as a child and that she understands why he thinks he’s unworthy of her love. All she wants is for him to be happy and she accepts all of him even the parts that he thinks are broken and damaged. Simon says that he doesn’t want to be alone but also doesn’t know how to be the man she deserves. Daphne patiently tells him that all he needs to do is to stay and work this out with her day by day. They finally reconcile and the duke is able to get passed his vow to his father.
Months later we see Daphne is giving birth with Violet and Simon by her side to a baby boy whose name will begin with a letter “A.” Family traditions after all.
The Biggest Mystery of Them All: Lady Whistledown Revealed
I must admit that I wasn’t expecting the first season to reveal the identity of Lady Whistledown so soon but at the very end of episode 8 audiences are shown who was sitting inside the carriage that Eloise warned the night of the Hastings ball. As the figure pushes down her hood we see Penelope Featherington with an impish smile on her face.
In the books we don’t find out who the author is until the fourth novel in Romancing Mr. Bridgerton so I am hoping that if the show is renewed for season two we will see how Pen continues to evade detection especially with bff Eloise still on the case. Since Miss Bridgerton now knows that she was wrong in assuming Madame Delacroix was the writer, will she continue to try and discover the truth? The biggest clue as to Lady Whistledown’s identity was her lack of content when the Featheringtons were shunned by London society. It was also a big risk for her to print the story on Marina knowing that it would damage her whole family’s reputation. She was willing to do that because of how much she loved Colin, but it also made her an unlikely suspect because why would she write such awful things about her own family.
Pen is the wallflower that no one pays attention too and is often viewed by other debutantes as timid and easily preyed upon. But she’s stands up for what she believes is right and is very intelligent and clever. It’s the ultimate con that she’s been able to dupe the entire Ton though time will tell how long she can manage to do so.
Where has Francesca been this whole time? In Bath learning new pianoforte pieces! In any case she finally returns in episode 8 though why she wasn’t called back to attend her eldest sister’s wedding seems weird.
The series didn’t shy away from addressing important issues such as classism, sexism, and racism. While on the surface it is a romantic drama filled with fashion and scandal, it also touched on topics like greed, vanity, addiction, pride, and prejudice. All in all it hooked you in and wouldn’t let go until you finished all eight episodes.
That’s it for season one of Bridgerton! It was a delightful holiday gift from Netflix and here’s hoping for more seasons to come.