Because I can think of very few things that are better than listening to Julie Andrews’ prim and proper Lady Whistledown persona announce who’s the diamond of society, I almost binged the entirety of Bridgerton season two when the episodes magically appeared in my Netflix queue. For those who need a refresher, in Regency-era England, ladies are preparing to come out in society whilst battling the rumors published in a newsletter penned by the untraceable Lady Whistledown. Season one followed Daphne Bridgerton, who the queen proclaimed as one of the most desirable ladies of the season, as she fell in love with the cold and distant duke, Simon. After an eight-episode coming-of-age sequence in which Daphne learns about sex and sexuality, love versus duty, and how to play the role of Duchess, she and Simon end up in happy matrimony and have their first child. And there is an abundance of steamy scenes sprinkled throughout it all.
Though I loved following Daphne’s story as she shed her innocence, this second season parallels Julia Quinn’s original Regency romance and focuses on a different member of the family: Anthony, the eldest of the Bridgerton brood. Naturally, I couldn’t keep all of my thoughts to myself as I watched the guy I knew as an opera singer’s most aloof boyfriend fall madly in love with a lady in society, so I wrote down every single thing that popped into my head as I watched the new season. If you’re looking for a spoiler-free review, close out this window right now and go watch the season and come back. Seriously. Spoilers are ahead.
1. Eloise is so underrated.
In season one, Eloise was known for being rebellious—but that seemed to be just about it. So when one of the very first moments of season two revolved around the entire Bridgerton family coaxing Eloise to make her entrance into society while holding up the weight of a two-foot feather hat, I knew we were finally going to get some more depth to her character (about time). Not only was she just saying she rejected societal norms, but she actually decided to do something about it. Running away from the queen as she’s being presented in front of what seems like the entire town? Genius technique. Calling out a possible suitor for making fun of ladies for “not being educated enough?” Eloise, you are the manifestation of the voice inside my head that I need to listen to more often.
2. Was dating ever easy?
In a post-quarantine, jaded Gen-Z attitude toward dating, I might have what some would call a slightly pessimistic view of dating apps. But in 19th-century England, where the thought of a cell phone hasn’t come to exist yet, it seems that Anthony’s having just as hard of a time. Though I wasn’t a fan of the way he treated Siena and only thought about his own interests, it seemed like he really was trying to get to know the women he was courting in the montage of smiling eligible bachelorettes. Unfortunately, the chemistry just wasn’t there, and he had to resort to asking questions that gave me past job interview heebie-jeebies. Never thought I’d say it, but Anthony’s whole courting experience is eerily similar to online dating, and I’m not a fan.
3. Should I turn to the equine world to meet my match?
A mist-filled field, horses galloping across the grassland, and a mysterious cloaked lady? Anthony straight up served Jane Eyre’s Mr. Rochester in that horseback-riding meet-cute with Kate and you can’t convince me otherwise. I took horseback riding lessons as a teenager and they were never as dreamy as this, but after seeing this, I might have to re-enroll.
4. Penelope is Lady Whistledown!
Yes, yes, we all knew it by now, but I just have to say it again. The moment we found out Penelope was running a tabloid all on her own, I had to see how she does it. And put simply, Penelope is a businesswoman making money moves. I think I actually grinned when she shed her typical timid demeanor and replaced it with a stern disposition as she negotiated with her printer. And her quick thinking when she’s realized by Madame Delacroix along with her completely convincing argument for why Madame should help her? Honestly, Penelope is an inspiration.
5. Is Colin even the same person?
I don’t know if it’s just me, but Colin this season seems like a completely different person. Yes, he comes back from his travels with the knowledge of the world and an apparent realization that he doesn’t actually have to shave every day. The five o’clock shadow may have been the first thing to tip me off, but his sudden obsession with Miss Thompson—uh, Lady Crane? Colin, we all saw you completely lose interest as soon as you realized she was pregnant and using you in season one. What changed? Colin is almost unrecognizable to me and the only thing that seems consistent is Penelope’s love for him—and frankly, Colin’s sudden wishy-washy attitude proves that our favorite writer can do so much better, period.
6. You just have to love the bond between Edwina and Kate.
They might have a bit of a more complicated family setup, but up until the wedding episode, Edwina and Kate are sister goals. Kate plays the part of a protective older sister who’s seen too much while Edwina enters society with the wide-eyed naivety synonymous with being the younger sibling, and I love them both so much. Though there’s a little—OK, a lot—of jealousy over who Anthony’s affections are directed at, Kate really only wants the best for her sister. They confide in each other about the difficulties of courtship and speak highly of each other. And when Edwina worries she didn’t study the Bridgerton family enough and that there must be something wrong with her (girl, as if), Kate reminds her sister that she’s the diamond of the season who can take her pick among different suitors (yes, you read that right, Anthony). Their bond is super strong and even Regency suitors couldn’t tear them apart.
7. These flashbacks are absolutely heartbreaking.
I was completely caught off guard and left speechless as I watched Anthony’s sweet memory of hunting and bonding with his dad suddenly turn into a backstory behind Edmund Bridgerton’s death. Between watching as his father dies and trying his best to console his heartbroken mother and step into the role of Viscount, I have so much more respect and empathy for Anthony. I understand Violet Bridgerton was devastated by her husband’s death—and who wouldn’t be—but expecting Anthony to master the role of Viscount and never make a mistake? Violet, give the man some grace. And to break the third wall for a second, I was glad that the show finally addressed how Edmund passed away and contextualized the whole timeline of his death and legacy in the family.
8. This instrumental music is literally giving me life.
I thought the Wildest Dreams instrumental from last season, paired with a certain, very steamy outdoor scene was one of this series’s best moments, but somehow, they did it again. I got literal chills with that Material Girl instrumental as Kate and Edwina evaluated the season’s men. But the Dancing on my Own cover is one of my favorite TV moments ever—like out of all the TV shows I’ve watched. I don’t know the science behind it, but Kate and Anthony’s undeniable tension and the familiar synth-pop song somehow made 19th-century dance moves sexy, and my ears and eyes couldn’t get enough of it. And that Sign of the Times instrumental (don’t worry, we’ll talk more about it later)? *Chef’s kiss*
9. Lady Featherington: What are you thinking?
Marrying one’s cousin is “regal?” Ma’am, you’ve gone way too far this time.
10. I’m living for Kate’s subtle roasts.
Of course, it’s regency era, so they are the most polite insults I’ve ever heard. But comparing Anthony’s affinity for his croquet mallet to a child’s blankie in front of all of his siblings? A bit bold for a lady. And the way Kate challenges him when Anthony second-guesses her ability to go on a hunt (what, like it’s hard)? Kate has wit and a fire inside her and knows how to put a man back in his place while Anthony, as Daphne got right on the nose, wants a challenge in his life. Kate and Anthony’s flirtatious/ultimately degrading comments toward each other only make them want each other more, and I can definitely get behind a slow-building romance. The enemies-to-lovers trope never gets old.
11. Kate and Anthony’s (first) almost kiss was everything!
Oh my gosh. Never have I been so invested in a love triangle. Emotions were already running high as Kate contemplated her sister’s possible marriage and Anthony was trying to talk to her about said marriage. But when that bee showed up (PSA: I now hate bees so much more than ever before) and Anthony (rightfully so) started freaking out, Kate immediately knew how to calm him down. And the way she put his hand on her heart and touched his chest—there was so much tension. I was on the edge (and I mean edge) of my seat as they stared into each other’s eyes, breathing like they just ran a marathon, and leaned forward toward each other—but then they didn’t kiss, which only made me want them to kiss even more.
12. Anthony, get off your knee right now!
Even Kate thought he was talking to her! Sir, this is an order!
13. That ring-fitting scene was so awkward.
Mr. Brookes inviting himself for tea and sandwiches? Made me cringe but hopeful for a little flirtation between Anthony and Kate. But why did he have to suggest that Anthony put the ring on Kate? In my opinion, we flew right past potential for flirtation and stumbled headfirst into a scenario that was clearly so uncomfortable for Kate and Anthony. And just when I thought it couldn’t get any more awkward, the ring gets stuck on Kate’s finger and Edwina and Mary show up. And the part that made it even worse was that Edwina didn’t think anything was awkward at all. Sigh.
14. I really hope Anthony falls in the water again.
Even before this episode, Netflix made the magnificent decision to choose a still of a completely soaked Anthony in a wet shirt as the preview image each time I hovered over Bridgerton on my Netflix homepage. So basically, I was yearning for this moment even before he went for an impromptu dip in the pond. I was right there with Kate and Edwina as they stared at Anthony’s suddenly very visible muscles as he hauled himself out of the water. I may have rewound the last minute so I could watch him trip over Newton and reveal his Adonis-like abs one more time.
15. I hate the Sheffields.
This whole situation topped even my worst Thanksgiving dinner nightmare. From the moment the Sheffields showed up, I knew that they were ready to start an argument. And of course, that’s just what they did. I couldn’t help but feel terrible for Edwina, since Kate and Mary wrongfully (and I repeat, wrongfully) kept their financial situation from her, completely blindsiding her and making her feel like a child. Kate and Mary: If Edwina’s old enough to get married, she’s old enough to handle the dirt on her family. That said, the Sheffields, who, might I remind you, disowned their own daughter, made my blood boil. From dissing Kate right in front of her, bringing up the Sharma’s money troubles in front of the Bridgertons, and straight up refusing to make it halfway through the meal before causing smoke to come out of Mary’s ears, the Sheffields were the only villains here.
16. I think this wedding made me feel every emotion you could ever feel.
I was in awe of Edwina as she walked down the aisle to a freaking instrumental version of Sign of the Times. Getting inside Kate and Anthony’s heads as they locked eyes during the ceremony felt so wrong but so right. When Anthony imagined himself marrying Kate instead of Edwina, my heart literally ached for Edwina. I almost felt like panicking as Kate and Anthony reached for her bangle and the ton realized that Anthony was up there marrying the wrong Sharma sister. And then it felt like my heart was hit by a truck as Edwina realized that her own sister was in love with her fiancé. This whole wedding was disastrous and an emotional roller coaster, and after watching, I needed a few minutes to put together what I just watched.
17. Edwina deserves so much better.
I would like to issue a formal apology to Edwina for ever underestimating her. Though she was the last person to realize Kate and Anthony had more chemistry than [insert the names of almost any famous duo here], she’s not a kid and not as clueless as everyone thought. Though she’s angry and uncertain, she handles the failure of her own wedding with grace. But what made me like her more was the compassion and beyond-smart approach she took when the king showed up. By reminding the king and queen of their own bond, she simultaneously calmed down everyone in the room and became my new hero. Edwina, you deserve love, honesty, and a million dollars after what you’ve been through.
18. Kate and Anthony are finally kissing!
And I repeat: This is not a drill! With all of the tension building and the stress of a failed wedding, I—uh, I mean, they—needed this. After waiting for the two to kiss for what felt like an eternity, this scene was everything. Her hands in his hair, the impassioned music, and the camera crew blessing us with a 360-degree view—and it only got better with the, ahem, steamy scene in the gazebo later. Watching what we’d been teased all season finally become a reality felt like a birthday, Christmas, and New Year’s all rolled into one. Thank you, TV gods.
19. Penelope and Eloise’s friendship breakup was so hard to watch.
I was hoping we could go another season without someone else finding out Lady Whistledown’s true identity, so watching Eloise give Penelope the evil eye as she began to realize that her own friend was England’s most popular gossip was painful. But then it got even worse. With Eloise arguing that Penelope damaged her and so many others’ reputations (OK, fair) and Penelope claiming that Eloise is all talk and no action when it comes to rebellion, their words left scars that won’t heal easily. And as Eloise sobbed during the fireworks—no one should ever feel sad during a fireworks show—I felt for her. Someone get this girl a tissue.
20. I’ve said it before, but seeing Kate and Anthony together is the best feeling.
Anthony “rescued” (to quote Lady Danbury) Kate when she fell off her horse! The queen is endorsing Kate and Anthony! Edwina even gave her stamp of approval! Finally, everyone is rooting for them to be together. I won’t lie, the last 30 minutes of the season finale felt a little rushed, but it was extremely fulfilling to finally see these two happy. When they confessed their love for each other in the garden, it felt like the perfect tie-in/throwback to Daphne and Simon’s own garden escapades. And that final shot of the two going back to their competitive croquet-playing roots and kissing as sunlight radiates off the two in the most ethereal way possible? I love you both, too.
But did anyone else catch the queen’s matchmaking prowess? Maybe we have an Edwina and Prince Friedrich love story in store for us in season three.