Dearest gentle readers, we’ve made it to the end of Bridgerton’s second season! I’d be sad it’s over, but I already know this is something I’ll revisit as a comfort watch (and isn’t it rare to feel that way when there’s so much good TV to fly through?). Perfect casting, perfect chemistry, perfect corgi — what’s not to like? Bridgerton is also proof that reincarnation is real, because it has caused me to die multiple times. Now let’s take a breath and do some much-needed trauma healing! Surprise: You might cry!
Anthony, who frantically rescued an unconscious Kate, has convinced himself he’s to be blamed for the state she’s in. It’s been over a week since that fateful day; she remains unconscious at Lady Danbury’s and he hasn’t even checked in. This is a rare occasion where a “You up?” inquiry is the most wholesome thing to do.
Instead, he’s become more tyrannical at home than usual, even though his family is already miserable from being treated as outcasts. Meanwhile, the Featheringtons’ social capital is on the upswing, so they’re using their dirty money to plan a ball called — get this — the Featherington Ball.
Back at Lady Danbury’s, Edwina pleads with a still-unconscious Kate to come back, and, moments later, she awakens. (Did they not already try that before?) Lady Mary and Lady Danbury run in, thrilled. Kate asks about Anthony and they tell her how he gallantly rescued her. But after she presses, they reluctantly reveal he hasn’t been around since. Of course, she’s disappointed.
Lady Bridgerton approaches Anthony, and somehow he already knows. “She’s awake?” he asks, his eyes glistening before he places his head in his hands. (I teared up too, but over Anthony’s palpable relief.) Lady Bridgerton says it’s unthinkable to find someone you love like that and begins to cry: “I am so sorry it was you who was with your father that day. And I am sorry for everything that happened in the days that followed.” (Violet acknowledging this feels seismic; children aren’t ever meant to be caretakers.) With a tear running down his cheek, Anthony admits he doesn’t think he can bring himself to see Kate. But Lady Bridgerton tells him not to lose her. She says she’d still choose the life she led with Edmund again, knowing she’d face that same pain at the end: “Real true love is worth it.”
Whew. Maybe it’s just the exquisite performances of Jonathan Bailey and Ruth Gemmell here, but this scene floored me. Last season, we witnessed the duke’s trauma from not being loved enough. But this season highlights the pain that can come from loving someone so much. Grief is usually left unexamined because it’s seen as depressing or debilitating. But we’ve seen recent descriptions of grief as “unexpressed love” or “love persevering” go viral for a reason, and I think people are (maybe unknowingly) hungry for explorations of it in splashy, popular media. I generally watch Bridgerton to witness horniness, not heaviness, and yet I found this moment so affecting and cathartic.
Next time we see him, Anthony’s carrying a bouquet of tulips. He finally visits Kate (who looks like a literal angel — are we sure she’s alive?). He keeps his distance, as if he’s afraid he could hurt her if he gets too close. He reveals he came there to apologize for the morning after their night together: “You deserved so much more than that. I took liberties. I did not want it to happen like that.” His guilt is so sweet to see, not because it’s warranted (it takes two, yadda yadda), but because it shows his reverence for her.
So Anthony apologizes again and proposes(!). Is this how it happens?! I am waiting for tears and confetti to start falling.
But no. She won’t hear it. She says she’s returning to India once she resolves things with Edwina; she’s certain her family will do well without her. Anthony accuses her of running away, but Kate secretly believes Anthony’s only proposing out of obligation, not love.
Back at home, Anthony’s gazing at a portrait of his father when Gregory comes into the room distraught. Anthony helps him clear up a schooling issue and then bonds with him, telling him all about their dad. For the first time, we’re seeing Anthony act as a real father figure instead of as some strict, managerial head of the family, and it’s heartwarming.
A dolled-up Lady Mary drops in on Kate, who’s packing in her room, unsure if she’ll attend the ball that night. Mary tells Kate that running away is never the right move. Poor Kate tears up, saying everything that happened is her fault (these kids and their self-blaming tendencies!). Kate brings up how Lady Mary took her in, never treating her differently, and Lady Mary is horrified to realize Kate feels indebted to her. She insists that Kate never had to earn her place in the family. She’s only ever seen Kate as a daughter: “It grieves me to think you do not believe you deserve all of the love in the world.”
This scene also walloped me big time. (Am I just hormonal?! Maybe!) That last line is a great example of something you should know is true, but sometimes it has to be articulated before it feels real. That sentiment also ties to why I think Kate and Anthony’s romance works so well. Obviously it has the elements that make all enemies-to-lovers stories so absorbing: inherent conflict/tension, witty banter, a slow burn, and the anticipation underlying it all. But what’s especially great about Kate and Anthony’s dynamic is seeing how their friction helps them spotlight off-putting qualities they see in each other and within themselves. The two are so ridiculously alike that by loving the other person, their relationship encourages self-acceptance too. It’s a two-for-one deal!
Time for the Featherington Ball! Having cleared the air in a heartfelt conversation earlier, Edwina suggests she and Kate take to the dance floor together: “They cannot possibly say anything about us that we have not heard before.” They dance and laugh and are met with tons of disapproving stares, but there’s at least one admiring pair of eyes: Anthony’s.
Edwina tells Kate she can’t keep avoiding the viscount and that she shouldn’t. That’s his cue: Kate turns around and there’s the viscount. He says they should probably continue to keep the distance between them, but Kate has other plans: “Perhaps we should not.” She cheekily begins to invent an excuse, saying maybe her recent injury meant she needed someone to steady her, and he’s the first person she found. This is the first time an improv exercise has ever been sexy.
And friends, Anthony looks SO happy. He even teasingly asks her how many fingers he’s holding up. And oh my God, I know we’ve spent an entire season watching them gaze at each other longingly, but this look between them feels very different! It’s playful and sweet and caring. Still hot, but no longer tortured! She asks if he’s going to ask her to dance one last time, and he asks if she’s going to say yes.
She takes his hand and “Wrecking Ball” — the classical version — begins. But soon other couples start leaving the floor due to their scandalous pairing. Kate asks if Anthony wants to stop, and he tells her to just keep looking at him: “No one else matters.” Some guests beside the queen speculate that Kate and Anthony were why the wedding was canceled, but the queen claims it was her decision. Edwina says she thinks they look beautiful together and Her Highness agrees, forcing everybody around to echo the sentiment. Slowly, other couples resume dancing.
The song ends, and Lady Featherington orders everyone outdoors for a surprise. Anthony finds Kate standing alone outside. He asks if she’s still leaving for India, which she confirms.
But it’s now or never for Anthony. He admits he didn’t visit her because he was terrified of losing her. And then he says it: “I love you.” He lists every time they’ve ever been together or apart — yep, he loved her then too. “You do not have to accept it, you don’t have to embrace it or even allow it. Knowing you, you probably will not. But you must know it, in your heart. You must feel it because I do.” He puts his hand to his heart and repeats those three words.
And she says it back! He launches into future plans, saying he wants a life that suits them both: “I know I am imperfect, but I will humble myself before you because I cannot imagine my life without you, and that is why I wish to marry you.”
Kate reminds him: “You do know there will never be a day where you do not vex me.” And then he looks at her SO mischievously and asks, “Is that a promise, Kathani Sharma?”
As someone who also has an Anglicized nickname for a very non-Anglo, easily butchered name, I am telling you this is the hottest, most endearing thing I have seen and heard in a long time (maybe ever??). His proper pronunciation paired with the implication that he knows who she really is — so swoony. I keep thinking about it and blushing! Also, actual fireworks start going off in the show right after this, so I can’t be the only one who understands the sheer heat of this moment.
Let’s flash forward. Kate and Anthony are rolling around naked in bed, and he calls her “viscountess.” This isn’t my fanfic — it’s canon! The newlyweds put on some clothes and head outside of Aubrey Hall, where the rest of the Bridgertons are gearing up for a game of pall-mall. But they just can’t keep their hands off of each other. Anthony asks if they should ditch the game, and Kate responds, “And admit defeat? Never.” And that’s how you know they’re going to last. Not because of some romantic “happily ever after” rule, but because you know these gorgeous, competitive ding-dongs aren’t quitters. Kathony forever.
• “Let everyone be allowed to finally see how well we are doing! After such a tragic year.”
• Eloise and Theo make up, share an after-school-special-esque hand-touch, and then end things again thanks to a lie Penelope planted in Eloise’s head.
• Poor boho Benedict quits art school after learning that Anthony pulled an Aunt Becky and paid for his acceptance.
• For a season that had this beautiful undercurrent of grief coursing through it, especially concerning the loss of father figures, this episode had so many great mom moments: Lady Bridgerton’s heart-to-heart with Anthony; Lady Mary consoling Kate; Lady Featherington ditching Cousin Jack for her girls.
• Eloise figures out that Penelope is Whistledown(!), and they have an epic, painful breakup fight.
• Colin saves the day (calling out Lord Featherington on his scam and bringing patrons to Will’s struggling club) while ruining Pen’s by telling his friends he’d never court her. I know Colin and Penelope are probably endgame, but he always builds her up and then ruins it, like he’s topping an ice-cream cake with a turd. Stop it, Colin!
• The queen wants to set up Edwina with her prince nephew. Can we get an Edwina spinoff?
• The brief Penelope-narration switcheroo.
• Kate and Anthony arguing over Newton is perfection. No notes.