It only took Shonda Rhimes three years to start working her magic for Netflix after dumping those fools at ABC, and her inaugural Shondaland production for the streaming service, the historical romance Bridgerton, has everything: Sexually charged conversations about dowries! Julie Andrews narrating the Regency-era version of Gossip Girl, XOXO! Cunnilingus on a staircase! It’s a perfect holiday confection wrapped in silk taffeta, which, quite surprisingly, concludes by revealing to the audience the true identity of narrator Lady Whistledown, by far the season’s most scandalous secret. (There’s also a major plotline about a duchess learning what semen is)
Although a second Bridgerton season has yet to be confirmed, in the spirit of Whistledown taunting her readers by saying “other endings will offer new beginnings” in her finale-closing column, we’ve compiled a few lingering questions that we haven’t been able to stop thinking about since we finished bingeing. Some of these may already be known to readers of the Julia Quinn book series that Bridgerton is based on, but here’s what those of us flying blind are left pondering at the end of “After the Rain.”
Why did Penelope become Lady Whistledown?
Saving the most important reveal for last, a red herring involving a stylish French clothier crumbles to reveal the true identity of Lady Whistledown: It’s none other than Penelope Featherington, the family’s overlooked but kind youngest daughter. Surprise, bitch! It’s a great reveal that features an even greater smirk, as she taunts her readers by assuring them that “there is no ending in sight for this author” and her ruthless society pages. With the mystery out of the way, we’re now hopeful that we can learn the origin story of Penelope’s literary savagery (which is extra amusing, given that she frequently writes about her own family in such unfavorable terms) or, at minimum, how the column came to be. If the Duke of Hastings was given several flashbacks about his terrible father and childhood, Pen should be awarded with flashbacks about her burgeoning career, too.
Who exactly knows Penelope’s secret identity?
As we learned, mostly through the detective work of the fabulously wigged Queen Charlotte and her chatty guard, Lady Whistledown enforces a strict schedule when she delivers her column: She arrives at the printing press in a carriage during a big event to avoid suspicion, passes off her writings to the workers, and turns around. This means a carriage driver knows her identity, and perhaps a handful of printing press workers, too. But who else is privy to Penelope’s secret? Maybe her lady’s maid? And does Pen exclusively work alone, or operate with a network of loyal tipsters? Getting into the logistics of it all — even with something as simple as where she writes and if she’s ever had any close calls — would be interesting.
Who inherits Lord Featherington’s estate?
In what was by far Bridgerton’s most tedious plotline, Lord Featherington (a.k.a. the guy from Paddington 2, a.k.a. the guy from Death in Paradise) was revealed to have a crippling gambling addiction, wasting away the family fortune at one too many boxing matches and depriving his daughters of dowries and new dresses in the process. Things momentarily look up for the lord when he’s able to convince Will the boxer to help fix the match in his favor, but his monetary euphoria is short-lived, quite literally, when two bookies discover his deception and have him killed. As it’s 1813, Lady Featherington can’t inherit the estate as a woman, and reacts with distress when her lady’s maid hands her a piece of paper with the name of the located inheritor. It’ll be interesting to see if this man has already been introduced (please, anyone but that Berbrooke jerk from the first two episodes), or if we’ll get a brand-new Featherington-adjacent character.
Which Bridgerton sibling will be season two’s focus?
The one thing we’ll note about the Bridgerton novels is that each book focuses on the courtship and romance of one of the eight siblings. With Daphne having completed that particular journey — and learning about fun things such as ejaculation and daddy issues — who will endure the marriage market next? The two eldest (and matured) Bridgerton brothers seem to be the likeliest candidates, although we’d argue it would be more fun to shift the focus to middle sister Eloise, who’s essentially the 19th-century version of Diane Keaton. It also works out, timing-wise, as she’s preparing to “debut” for the next society season. She’s our pick! But speaking of …
How will Eloise and Penelope’s friendship be affected by the Whistledown reveal?
The young women, who are arguably the most educated and interesting siblings in their respective society families, fought this season over the importance of marriage and how it will dictate the rest of their lives (a difference in ideology that’s also fueled by Penelope dealing with unrequited love for one of Eloise’s brothers). Their BFF status returns by the penultimate episode; however, when Eloise comes face-to-face with Lady Whistledown’s carriage at the printing press before shooing her away to escape a queen’s handler, does she know that Pen is in that carriage? Like, is the carriage identifiable to Eloise as being owned by the Featherington family? Does she see Pen’s reflection under her bonnet? Or did Eloise shout, “It’s a trap!” just to ensure Lady Whistledown’s journalistic anonymity remains, and she has no idea who was in that carriage?
The latter is most likely the case, as Eloise seems truly shocked when her brother tells her that her lead suspect, Genevieve the modiste, was in the throes of passion with him the entire evening. Whoops! Either way, it’s interesting to see what action Lady Whistledown takes in the aftermath of this failed coup: She writes in her latest column that she “recently became aware of a scheme to unmask me by one worthy opponent indeed. Perhaps I will come forward one day, though you must know, dear reader, that decision should be left entirely up to me.” Editing choices make it obvious that Eloise is the “worthy opponent.” This can’t be good.
What’s next for Daphne and the duke?
Well, since Daphne was able to successfully reverse her husband’s lifelong commitment to never having children thanks to their underlying love and passion for each other, they seem … more than fine. The duke also jokes, after the birth of their first child in the season’s final (and very affecting) scene, that he “believes” the child’s name “must begin with the letter A,” as a nod to the first names of the eight Bridgerton children following alphabetic symmetry. So, seven more kids for them? Other loose relationship threads include eldest Bridgerton brother Anthony and his salacious opera-singer lover, as well as pregnant Featherington ward Marina and her new husband, who’s the brother of her ex-lover who died in the war. Gotta love the Regency era.