We’re still at Aubrey Hall, and party prep is under way! Lady Bridgerton, with the help of Daphne, is getting ready to host her Hearts and Flowers Ball, and the who’s who of the ’ton are all trekking to the country for it.
But not everyone’s in a festive mood. Anthony’s downcast and Kate’s been laying low since the bee-sting incident. She hasn’t told anyone Anthony was there for it (or that they kind of got to second base). The secrecy’s understandable, especially when Edwina still insists the viscount is who she wants. In her eyes, the only reason Anthony hasn’t proposed is because of the tension between him and Kate (I mean, she isn’t wrong!). So Edwina asks Kate to spend more time with him, hoping that they warm to each other. “I thought I needed your help getting him to fall in love with me,” says Edwina. “But I have realized what I need is your help getting him to fall in love with you.” Oooh boy.
Anthony’s made plans to go shooting with the other gentlemen and Edwina suggests that Kate — who learned how to hunt in India — join the party. When a flustered Anthony objects (“Ladies do not hunt!”), Kate takes offense, saying it’s not that they don’t, but aren’t allowed. Benedict, our artful shit-disturber and brother-torturer, suggests they make an exception to the rule since they’re on private lands. And so Kate, accompanied by a female chaperone, joins the men on their excursion.
With so much unsaid between the two, Anthony and Kate chat cautiously at the beginning of the hunt. But Kate soon gives in to her frustration — at how much these men suck at finding game. At one point, Anthony offers his hand to help her step over a log, but she hikes up her skirt and goes it alone. He catches a glimpse of her white, knee-high stockings, and this alone is clearly too much for him! The viscount averts his eyes and, in a flash, Kate sneaks off by herself, determined to make a kill.
Anthony finds her crouching down, aiming her gun. She shushes him, but he goes on a whispered tirade about her disregard for rules. Maybe if she actually followed the rules, that whole bee/bosom/boner situation the other morning could have been avoided, he says. Something rustles and Kate takes aim again, but Anthony notes she’s not holding the gun — a British one — properly. So he sidles up behind her and takes a hands-on approach to help guide her. These two just can’t help themselves, can they? The scene slows, the music swells, his hands rest on top of hers as he breathes on the back of her neck … but then Benedict and the boys show up and it starts to rain — nature’s cold shower.
Later that night, as a storm rumbles outside, Kate goes to the library to distract herself, and Anthony finds her there, thinking he left a candle lit. They’re both dressed down and look so ridiculously sexy — she’s in an all-white, embroidered nightgown with her wavy hair loose and cascading; he has his sleeves rolled up on a slightly undone white shirt, suspenders hanging down, and just-got-out-of-bed hair. Kate explains how storms have always troubled her, how her father used to read to her during monsoon season to calm her nerves. Anthony reveals the library they’re in actually belonged to his father. Kate asks how he died and, in answering, Anthony divulges why he was so terrified when she was stung; she’s visibly moved and concerned. They both stand by the window, bathed in moonlight and moving glacially toward each other, her doe eyes switching focus from his eyes to his lips — this woman loves looking at his mouth! But the sound of thunder crashes through the moment, and Kate books it out of there, lest they be found together alone.
The next day, Daphne and Lady Bridgerton chat while arranging flowers for the ball. Daphne remarks that Edwina is surely a diamond but that she always imagined Anthony with someone challenging like himself. Bridgertons do like to be challenged! So Daphne visits her brother and presses him to consider whether he knows Edwina well enough to propose. Daphne inquires whether he’d rather marry someone more similar to him, and then, foregoing any subtlety, asks how the hunt with Kate went. He tells her to mind her own beeswax (I’m sorry) and leaves.
At the ball, after dancing with Anthony twice and feeling damn good about it, Edwina suggests that the viscount now dance with Kate (with the hopes he’ll ask for her blessing). Kate and Anthony look at each other trepidatiously. They are playing with fire here. He extends his hand: “Miss Sharma, may I have this dance?” and she says, “You may, my lord,” and I am dead — RIP me. I know God is a woman, etc., etc., but every time she calls him “my lord,” it becomes hotter and hotter.
A classical cover of Robyn’s “Dancing on My Own” plays as they move across the floor and silently eye-fuck each other. Everyone’s watching; it feels voyeuristic. I got chills. Chills! Kate finally speaks as they move in tandem, him holding her from behind (for the second time today!). Before giving her blessing, she needs to know if he can make Edwina happy. She asks if his silence means he’s reconsidering, and HE ASKS HER IF SHE WANTS HIM TO RECONSIDER.
She says it doesn’t matter what she wants. He disagrees(!). But then she drops the bomb that she’ll be returning to India once her sister’s married, and Anthony’s blindsided, unable to process this. The song ends and he leaves the dance floor.
Anthony storms into his father’s library with Kate on his heels. He asks incredulously whether she’ll leave ASAP once Edwina’s married (she presumes so) and if she’ll try to find her own partner (she wonders why that’s of his concern). He accuses her of doing whatever she can to keep him from marrying Edwina; he asks why she does not like him. She spits out that he vexes her. “And what is it, do you think, you do to me?” he shoots back.
He suggests that she hates him, and she agrees. He walks toward her, his lips millimeters from hers, and utters, “Say you do not care for me. Tell me you feel nothing, and I will walk away.” She struggles to respond and they are interrupted by Daphne. Shocked by the scene at hand, Daphne apologizes and exits, with Anthony on her trail.
Daphne’s gulping down a drink when Anthony finds her. He assures his sister nothing happened and he still intends on marrying Edwina. Flabbergasted, Daphne reminds him that she too had intended on marrying someone else until she was caught in a compromising situation with the Duke. Anthony pours himself a drink. “There is obviously something between you,” she says. “One way or another, these kind of feelings always have a way of coming to the surface.” Like a robot, he asks what kind of feelings, and she says love, duh. He stands up straight and nods: “Then I know what I must do.” Eureka?
Later that night, Lady Danbury finds Kate outside, getting some air. She encourages Kate to tell her sister about the inheritance arrangement, but Kate’s not even sure the viscount will propose to Edwina anymore. Kate says she doesn’t understand why she’s ruining everything and Lady Danbury, who’s suspicious if not fully aware of the situation, again pushes for honesty, not only with Edwina but also Kate herself.
The next morning, the Sharmas are leaving Aubrey Hall, Edwina without a ring on her finger. Kate is remorseful that things didn’t go as expected, and Edwina says it’s not her fault; the viscount’s feelings are probably just elsewhere. Kate looks like she’s about to come clean to her sister, but the voice of Anthony interrupts them. He walks deliberately toward the pair but detours around Kate to Edwina, dropping to a knee. He proposes, Edwina says yes, the credits hit, and I’m still reeling. NEXT EPISODE NOW!
• When Kate has to “inform” Anthony she got stung and then reveals she is well, his response goes from a nonchalant “ah” to a quiet, genuinely relieved “ah,” and it’s such a perfect, delicate, efficiently worded moment. Hemingway would be proud.
• Anthony offers himself up to Kate as a target if they don’t have any luck hunting.
• Madame Delacroix is now using her designs as a Trojan horse, sewing Whistledown’s reports into their silky folds and delivering those dresses to the printer.
• Colin overstays his welcome when visiting Marina, who advises him to get over her and pay attention to the people who love him — his family and Penelope.
• Eloise dances with supposed fellow rebel Lord Morrison — a coupling set up by Lady Bridgerton. But they clash — he says she’s smart, not like other girls. Offended on behalf of her gender, Eloise cuts the dance short, accuses her mother of seeing her as a disappointment, and goes to bed in tears. No one wants to be a “cool girl”!
• Lady Featherington sets up Prudence and Lord Featherington so they’re found alone together and he must marry her. (“Oh, I would be delighted to marry you, Cousin Jack!”) But later, we learn Lord Featherington was pursuing Cressida Cowper for her wealth; he’s actually broke, and marrying into the Cowper family would’ve brought the Featheringtons money. Whoops.