Now that Edwina’s been named diamond, she’s swimming in suitors. The catch? They all must deal with her Gandalf-like sister! Kate’s been researching possible husbands for Edwina and has named Lord Lumley as her top choice. (According to Kate’s notes, a fellow named Lord Wyndham’s best quality is he abstains from gambling. Even in escapist romance, the bar is low.) As discerning as Kate is, it seems her only hard-and-fast rule is that a candidate can’t be Anthony Bridgerton.
Defending her omission of the viscount, Kate says he doesn’t believe in love and is only seeking a wife out of duty. (Meanwhile, at the barber, Anthony explains to Benedict how it’s actually because of his love and duty to his family that he’s seeking a wife.) Lady Danbury dryly points out how most marriages are business transactions. Love matches are rare.
Freshly shaved, Anthony hopes to get some quality time with Edwina by escorting her to the races that afternoon but finds himself at the end of a long queue of men. Kate encourages him to leave altogether, citing his regrettable spiel from Danbury’s ball once again and her new knowledge of his rakish, libertine ways. The viscount is good on paper, unless Lady Whistledown’s doing the writing.
Speaking of Whistledown, Eloise and Penelope are at the Bridgerton household discussing the gossip queen (and Eloise’s renewed interest in finding her) when Colin shows up. He’s sporting a faint circle beard, presumably to indicate the passage of time. Penelope sees each whisker with heart eyes and compliments his new look.
Then it’s off to the races! Before taking their seats, Lord Lumley waxes poetic on, well, poetry to Edwina, and a Lord Dorset shows up wanting an introduction with … Kate! She’s pleasantly surprised, especially when he mentions that he went to Bombay one time. It feels a bit like when a man pointedly tells me he loves Indian food — yeah, duh, it tastes good — but Kate appears charmed. I suppose she is far from home, and reminders of it are nice.
Anthony rallies up the Bridgerton clan to attend the races with him, mainly so he can humblebrag to Edwina about his close-knit family. While walking around with Lady Bridgerton, Eloise finds a dog-grooming pamphlet she’s certain must be printed by the same company as Whistledown’s work.
When Anthony approaches the Sharma sisters, Dorset introduces himself to the viscount. Lumley scampers off to get his date some lemonade — a suggestion from Anthony, who then practically stage dives into the grandstand, stealing Lumley’s seat. He has a wild, self-satisfied grin; he’s making gains, and better yet, Kate must watch. Bridgerton has always been buoyant, but this season already feels more comedic than the last thanks to the rivalry between these two clowns. Simone Ashley has mastered the art of a smug smile and killer verbal jab, while Jonathan Bailey is really leaning into the viscount’s ridiculous cockiness, which only makes the moments when he flails more hilarious and satisfying. It’s fun to watch!
Edwina asks Anthony which horse he predicts will win. He chooses Nectar, and Kate scoffs, giving a play-by-play on why High Flyer’s the better choice. He says she thinks too much about it, and she says he thinks too little. Petty, petty, petty.
Lumley returns just in time for the race to start. He squeezes in on the other side of Edwina, forcing Anthony and Kate to sit even closer. As the horses gallop toward the finish line, Anthony and Kate are properly losing it, each egging on their choice (she even pulls out her hand ocarina). Ultimately, Kate — I mean, High Flyer — wins. The celebratory vibes dwindle quickly: Kate realizes Dorset is an old acquaintance of Anthony’s, presumably there to distract her. She pulls Edwina away from Anthony, warning him again to stay away.
Back at the palace, while awaiting the queen, Edwina is speaking with Kate in defense of Anthony. She says he did what he had to do, and according to their late father, a courageous man goes after what he wants. Kate retorts that their father also said the mark of a true gentleman is honesty. But their conversation is cut short when the queen arrives, sporting a periwinkle-blue beehive and ulterior motives: She wants to know if anybody tried to befriend Edwina. She says it’s in order to protect her beloved diamond, but really it’s to unmask Whistledown.
In a scene that feels a bit like the Spiderman-pointing meme, the three eldest Bridgerton brothers all don white and take turns fencing each other in the yard. Anthony describes Kate as pompous, arrogant, and a know-it-all — sound like anybody else we know? We’re really starting to establish how Kate and Anthony are actually pretty alike. They’re both stubborn control freaks, they’re extremely competitive, and they have an unwavering sense of duty to their family while pushing away any personal pursuit of love. It just goes to show that sometimes the people who irk us are just mirrors of ourselves. But of course Anthony can’t see this; he’s riled up, incensed that Kate is such an obstacle to his goal. Benedict calls Anthony out on his hypocrisy and how he sees Edwina as more of a prize to be won than a person.
So does Anthony do some soul-searching and reevaluate his approach? You bet your ass he does not. Instead, he shows up at Lady Danbury’s with Nectar the horse in tow — a present for Edwina. Kate storms up to him, and, surprise, they bicker. The viscount insists he’s not the villain she paints him to be. Every other woman in the ton would happily marry him, he points out, and while Kate might not like what he has to offer, maybe Edwina should decide for herself. Enter Edwina, who’s touched but taken aback by his gift — she’s more into Newton-size animals. ’Twas a commendable attempt by Anthony, but Kate wins again.
Lady Danbury hosts what’s basically a talent show for Edwina’s suitors to shoot their shot. Kate keeps Anthony off of the guest list, but he learns of the get-together when his mother, Eloise, and Colin head over. Instead of feeling sorry for her son, Lady Bridgerton points out that if he wasn’t so loud about his disdain for love, maybe he’d be invited, too. Afraid he’ll lose ground to more romantic suitors, the viscount drags Benedict outside of hunky former boxer Will’s new club. Anthony begs his creative brother to play Cyrano and compose a love poem that he can play off as his own.
Penelope makes small talk with Edwina but books it for Colin when he arrives at the affair. The bewhiskered Bridgerton dropped a bombshell at the races, saying he didn’t spend his travels “on his own,” and Penelope self-torturously must know more. Colin then divulges that the person he met on his travels is … himself. Okay? (Doesn’t Colin know the difference between alone and lonely?) But that’s not all: Colin’s temporarily swearing off women, though he reassures Penelope he doesn’t see her as a woman but a friend. Poor Pen. Deflated, she retreats to a corner and channels her inner Biz Markie.
Anthony rushes in as the soirée draws to a close but is allowed to read “his” poem. He utters a few lines, exploring what it means to truly admire a woman, but once he locks eyes with Kate and then his mother, he crumples up the paper and comes clean. He admits he’s no poet — he’s a man of action, not pretty words of affirmation. He tells Edwina he might not offer the passion she seeks or deserves, but he’ll always be dutiful. He’s an acts-of-services kind of guy.
Edwina’s touched by his confession. Kate emphasizes his admission that he can’t provide what she deserves, but Edwina highlights his honesty. (Edwina constantly defers to Kate when assessing men, so it’s nice to see her put her foot down here.) As Edwina and Anthony share a drink, his eyes meet Kate’s again — this time for a little too long. Flustered, Kate leaves the room.
Lady Danbury checks in on the frazzled sister and advises Kate to focus on her own life, not run interference in Edwina’s. Kate insists she will be happy to go home alone* (*Colin, note her word usage) once her sister is married. But Danbury calls her bluff, suggesting Kate reconsider the path she’s on.
When Eloise spots a typeface irregularity shared between the various pamphlets she’s been collecting, Penelope needs to throw her off Whistledown’s trail. She adopts her commoner disguise — complete with an Irish brogue that makes me miss Derry Girls — to buy a new letter for her printing press of choice. But she panics when Madame Delacroix spots her in the market alone and undercover. Meanwhile, the queen is presented with a collection of Whistledown suspects — women seen speaking with Edwina — and Penelope’s in the mix. Woof, can’t this girl catch a break?
• It’s sweet to hear Kate and Edwina call each other Didi and Bon without explanation or translation.
• Kate’s obviously being too harsh on the guy, but we watched Anthony scare off most of Daphne’s suitors last season, so he’s really just getting a taste of his own medicine. The Sharmas are doling out karma!
• “Yes, I am having such fun.”
• Eloise gets egg on her face after assuming a printer’s assistant is a dumb, sexist pig instead of possibly an intellectual, feminist king.
• Albion Finch and Philippa Featherington get hitched! And it looks as if the new Lord Featherington, who gave necklaces to the Cowper women, is hoping to soon do the same.
• To the Paul F. Tompkins look-alike who thinks crashing cymbals together will win Edwina’s heart: I see you and appreciate you.