Finally, we’re here. The wedding episode! As expected, the queen’s going all out. There will be fireworks! There will be peacocks! There will also be a trap: Rumors are to be planted at the wedding, and, depending on which ones Whistledown repeats, the queen will trace their source.
Both parties are doing the traditional prep the night before the nuptials: The Sharma women perform a Haldi ceremony while the Bridgerton boys get wasted and play pool. (Note: Traditionally, haldi — a paste made with turmeric — is applied to both the bride and groom, often on the morning of a Hindu wedding.) Surrounded by marigold while a lovely classical version of “Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham” underscores the scene, Edwina admits she’s nervous about her expedited wedding. Edwina also spreads haldi on Kate’s cheek, citing the belief that it can help an unmarried person find a mate.
Meanwhile, at the bachelor party, Benedict pokes fun at his brother’s hastiness, suggesting he might be a minuteman on his honeymoon, too. But self-pitying Anthony is not in the mood for jokes and instead laments the burdens of being a first-born. The viscount’s younger siblings decide to toast not to the future but to Kate(?!) — and how Anthony ultimately bested the evil, gatekeeping sister. The groom gulps his drink down.
On the morning of the wedding, Kate offers Edwina a pair of thick, jeweled bangles that were worn on her biological mother’s wedding day, but Edwina insists Kate wear them instead. Meanwhile, Daphne has a wedding gift to offer Anthony too: her opinion! She urges Anthony to follow his heart. She adjusts his cravat and wonders what their father might’ve said — speculation that Anthony bristles at. She remarks on how their father’s death changed Anthony, but he says he changed so the family could survive. She says the family pities him rather than admires him. Cool — good talk, good talk. And with that, he’s off to get hitched!
A strings cover of “Sign of the Times” plays as Anthony makes his way to the altar. Welcome to the final show, indeed. He’s transfixed when Kate (whose skin is dewy and glowing) walks down the aisle as maid of honor. Meanwhile, Daphne and Lady Bridgerton’s eyes are glued to Anthony’s reaction, not her. Kate shares a quick glance with Anthony at the altar but smiles with genuine pride and fondness when her sister appears.
As the archbishop begins his spiel, Anthony daydreams that Kate’s in front of him wearing a white gown instead. Earth to Anthony, the archbishop needs his attention. Still in a daze, Anthony’s eyes meet Kate’s, but this time Edwina notices. Trying to get back on track, she tells Anthony he’s supposed to repeat after the archbishop.
Kate’s fiddling nervously with one of her bangles, and suddenly it falls to the ground. Anthony lunges to retrieve it for her (“Allow me”) and touches Kate’s hand tenderly as he hands the bangle back. The gesture would go unnoticed by most people, but Edwina sees it, and, just like that, she knows. She pulls a runaway bride, Kate runs after her, and the fireworks go off — literally — illuminating the hall’s stained glass from outside.
Back in their dressing quarters, Edwina calls Kate out and asks if she loves the viscount. Lady Mary’s horrified, and Kate’s at a loss for words. So Kate goes into a closet and cries, as one does. Meanwhile, the Bridgertons convene, each with their own theory on what’s happening (e.g. Eloise thinks Edwina simply realized that marriage is code for a women’s prison). Anthony makes telling eye contact with Daphne before leaving the room, and Lady Bridgerton notices. She pulls the mom card to demand intel. Elsewhere on the premises, the queen’s concerned Lady Whistledown will use a failed wedding as ammunition against her, so she orders Lady Danbury — who suggested Edwina as diamond in the first place — to fix things.
Anthony pays Edwina a visit, insisting his intention to marry her never wavered. “Because you love me?” she asks, and he takes way too long to answer before offering the verbal consolation prize of “I understand you.” He says they both have roles they didn’t ask for but must fulfill. In short, he thinks they’d be a good team. When asked about her sister, Anthony calls Kate the “thorn easily removed from the blossoming flower of our lives” — a statement which seems to startle Edwina (and kind of goes against his no-poetry schtick?). Edwina says she needs time to think.
Kate leaves the closet, sees Anthony, and pulls an all-star move by running back inside. He follows her, gracing us with a brief moment of levity where he questions her choice of locale (fair). Anthony wants her to help sway Edwina, but Kate doesn’t want to scheme anymore. He asks if she’s really going to hide in a closet while her sister ruins her own life, and Kate corrects him: “I have ruined her life.” He grabs her hand to stop her from leaving, drawing both of their attention to her bangles — the catalyst of their current situation. He asks her to wait, and you can tell she’s tempted to stay, but, of course, she doesn’t.
Kate goes back to her sister with a heartfelt apology, insisting Edwina was born to be viscountess. Edwina notes that Anthony said the same — as if they both practiced the same speech — and wants to know why she so deserves to marry him, but Kate doesn’t. Kate explains that when their father died, she resolved to prioritize the needs of her mother and sister. (Moments later, Edwina corrects her: half-sister — ouch.) She reminds Kate that she’s a grown woman and she’s finally going to make a decision for herself, by herself.
Edwina and her mother meet with the queen, who’s with the newly reconciled Lady Danbury and Lady Bridgerton. But before they can get into the nitty-gritty of Edwina’s decision, King George stumbles into the room in his pajamas, extolling the fireworks show and referring to the shocked queen as his bride. When palace workers come to take the mentally ill king away, he’s confused and looks to his wife for understanding. Edwina, the one in an actual wedding gown, speaks up kindly: “She will make a most excellent queen, Your Majesty.” Edwina speaks with admiration of their challenging yet devoted courtship (their interracial marriage is what elevated people of color into nobility), and she suggests the king should now rest up for his long-awaited wedding. He nods. Overwhelmed and maybe melancholic for times gone by, the queen smiles tearfully at her love and he leaves willingly. This scene made me unexpectedly emotional; even on her worst day, Edwina’s the best.
On a related note, I know Simone Ashley and Jonathan Bailey are bound to get a ton of much-deserved attention for playing Kate and Anthony; their chemistry is impossible to ignore and they’re each captivating on their own, too. (I’m low-key obsessed.) But I hope Charithra Chandran also gets major love because she is so great as Edwina. Her emotional range is vast, she nails the tone of every scene, plus she makes some really lovely, grounded choices that only elevate the character.
And I’m not the only Edwina fangirl! The queen finds the youngest Sharma looking at some crown jewelry, and they share a private moment together. With a newfound tenderness for her diamond, Her Highness won’t tell Edwina what decision to make, though she does think we all deserve to feel the power of true love. “But one must know it is the hardest and greatest choice one can ever make,” says the queen.
Kate and Anthony both receive notes they (wrongly) think are from each other, calling them to the wedding hall. They soon realize the false pretenses, and Edwina arrives to announce her decision: She won’t marry Anthony.
He can’t give her what she — and everyone — deserves in a marriage. Edwina doesn’t think true love involves deception, wandering eyes, or roles to be fulfilled. Next, she addresses her sister; Edwina says this whole time she had simply adopted Kate’s feelings, dreams, and plans as her own, but today she’s reclaiming her time and power. “And that is victory enough for me,” she says before walking away.
Moments later, Kate and Anthony stand in their respective places, not having budged. Anthony comments on how Edwina is braver and wiser than both of them: “She had the courage to act on what she sensed between us. And here we are, standing perfectly still, having felt it for months.” Kate explains her lack of movement is because after they leave that hall, they must face the failure of their duties.
She walks up to face Anthony, who’s at the altar. They look at each other, both with sad, furrowed brows. “Goodbye, my lord,” she says. And then they kiss (!!!!).
• Even though he’s engaged to her daughter Prudence, Cousin Jack is suddenly getting the hots for Lady Featherington. I know Bridgerton is about fantasy fulfillment, but I didn’t know it’d cater to the lusting-over-your-mother-in-law crowd. At least they don’t share a bloodline?
• Eloise and Theo both confess that they liiiike each other.
• The wedding wasn’t a complete disaster for the queen: She’s been informed of a Whistledown suspect (who I’m presuming will be revealed in the next episode).
• This episode stands as firmly anti-peacock! The queen’s unimpressed when she learns they can’t fly and then later Lady Bridgerton and Lady Danbury crack up together at the sight of them, calling them dreadful creatures. The conspiracy theorist in me is convinced either someone on the show harbors intense peacock-related trauma, or this is all meant to be a dig at NBC’s Peacock, which will soon be airing a Bridgerton-meets–The Bachelor reality show.