Shock and delight
Photo: LIAM DANIEL / NETFLIX
It’s another bite of historical romance, and it means it’s time to uncover some deep trauma inflicted on parents that will haunt our main characters from now until the moment they seem to have passed the chance to happily reach the end of life! Seriously, one of the parts of reading historical romance with the most hope is encountering a multitude of human wrecks about which there is almost no childhood, and then watching them grow a lot, both for love and through love, all without the help of modern psychotherapy.
Simon Arthur Henry Fitzranulph Basset was born when his mother died. The number of names of the weeping infant points us to the source of his inner pain: The surviving parent does not look upon him as a person but as a means of continuing the lineage. Simon is so resistant to the fate that his father imagined that he refuses to even remove the dust cover on the duchess’s chambers for fear that he will find in them a woman who could continue what he considers a cursed family line.
In the introductory scenes, we get to know the origins of the most terrible seasonal antagonist (Simon’s own resistance to love and family): the original Duke of Hastings, played with conviction and enthusiasm by Richard Pepple. “Shock and delight” begins with the duchess’s death and ends with her duchess, but while Simon’s mother remains a mystery, his cruel father is etched in his mind. The episode suggests that Bridgerton The Hastings lineage is not a long-established dynasty The Duke and I., the original material, and Pepple’s Hastings sees his son’s perceived shortcomings as cracks that will cause the duchy just assigned to the family to dissolve in one generation. Simon learns to control stuttering and threateningly hovers over his father’s deathbed, but the first shots of love remove his defenses and compensatory strategies. For Simon, falling in love and continuing the family line would mean giving up the great slab of foundation on which his armored, safe, and debauched adult is based.
Whistledown announces that Daphne has returned to the spotlight after a triumphant appearance at Vauxhall thanks to a double dance with the elusive Duke of Hastings. Simon, fulfilling his reputation as a rapacious predator, slips out of bed with a burgundy blanket with a contented lady to walk Hyde Park with Daphne as part of their social deception. Violet and Lady Danbury write some SimNe’s (or is it DaphOn?) Fantasies alongside the Serpentines as they watch them together. The fake the couple negotiates their further courtship with chemistry to spare.
Back at the Featherington house, the girls speculate about Marina Thompson’s condition, betraying that they have no idea where the babies are coming from. Ugh, ladies, there is a whole genre of book that could help you. Lady Featherington declares that Miss Thompson must be kept away because her condition is “catching up,” which is exactly what a young person needs to be told if they want her to launch a congressional investigation into the causes of pregnancy.
On the streets of London, Eloise delivers a feminist monologue, so we’re confident that even if Daphne seems more or less willing to lean toward the status quo, future seasons will bring some Wollstonecraft-related content. Penelope reveals to Eloise that she knows a pregnant woman – in this case a “maid” – and both girls wonder how an unmarried woman gets pregnant.
At Bridgerton Salon, Hyacinth helpfully explains that Francesca’s third youngest sister will stop practicing piano with Aunt Winnie in Bath this season, in case you accompany all eight siblings. Eloise comes in and asks for some sex education before the fans come in to visit the hot girl du Daphne one more time. Lord Berbrooke arrives and complains that he wore satin knee-length trousers for the visit, which is probably a vulnerable version from the early 19th century “I shaved my legs because of this?”
Anthony, who is extremely hard to love these days, promised Daphne a hand to Nigel Berbrooke, which begs the question: Why on earth does everyone want to marry this girl so much? On the pages The Duke and I., Daphne is in her second season – she doesn’t seem to be more than 20 years old – and is therefore a hair closer to a spinster, but Bridgerton makes her a debutant from the school classroom. She is rich and would have had some modest support even if she had not married. I don’t look at criticism of the show for historical inaccuracies (especially since it’s speculative history) or deviations from books, but obviously illogical moments like this give it a fairytale quality that clashes with later, more down-to-earth traits.
Too much pressure on Daphne to marry means that the duke’s romance must happen convincingly. Simon is boxing with his friend Will Mondrich before Anthony shows up to perform the protective-older brother by banging and shouting which seems a bit overblown and intimidating. The point is to show that the Bridgertons are a family, which little Simon does not return thanks to his father, who rejects him because of his delayed speech.
The original Hastings says that the monarchy approved this ducal line to the Basset family, but they are in an uncertain situation because it will remain theirs only as long as they remain extraordinary. The choice of words goes back to Pope Pope’s famous speech Scandal about having to be twice as good. Given that Simon Basset is from The Duke and I. The book is the tenth Duke of Hastings Bridgerton an alternate universe we don’t know yet, most likely related to aristocratic black families like Bassett in the series. In Bridgerton, Simon’s father says the continuation of his dynasty depends on their excellence – which is at odds with the way the historical hereditary aristocracy works. There’s a touch of mystery and suggestion that we’re really in an alternate universe, and that brought me together.
Locked up in her bedroom at Featherington House, Marina Thompson reveals how she fell in love (and with the child) by Sir George Crane, while Queen Charlotte invites Violet Bridgerton to some scandalous soup.
Flashback Lady Danbury coaches young Simon as he stutters, and they get into the ball today. Simon dances gracefully with Daphne – like a hoax, just a hoax! Berbrooke and Simon perform the tense duet “The Chit Is Mine” across the table with lemonade. Simon, fed up with Berbrooke’s constant ejection of the microphone, reveals to Anthony that it was Daphne who put the bruise around Berbrooke’s eye. Anthony’s overturned aggression once proved useful and he set off with Berbrooke forever. Daphne, perfectly capable of knocking a man out with her impressive right hip, is not happy with Simon’s intervention.
Berbrooke follows Simon on his walk home and insinuates that Hastings did not propose because he had already slept with Daphne, and then peels off the most painful and private details from the history of the Basset family. In this case, yes, the answer is violence! The fact that Simon only beats Berbrooke’s face, not invites him to a duel, is proof of his cold-bloodedness, and the show’s interest in quickly bringing us back to the reaction, where Lady Danbury represents Simon’s school-age father, who led everyone to believe he was boy dead. The original Hastings is deliciously cruel, leaving Simon with a bunch of dad’s problems and a bunch of unopened letters to his father.
Daphne tries out new Cloud Paint cheek colors and decides they’re in line with her cool-girl brand before joining the family at a socially distant picnic in Hyde Park. Simon gallops in another vest with a statement and tells Daphne – while her heart flutters her sleeve – that she would be the least awkward option if he got married. Daphne manages to keep her clothes despite sexy gossip, which is good because Berbrooke runs to the park, with a special marriage license with Daphne that was triumphantly held and a speech full of blackmail threats.
Anthony is considering a duel with Berbrooke, which is a rare actually valid idea from that quarter, but the family knocks him down. At home, Daphne throws out dreams of a love match along with flowers from the suitor, while Violet assures her that at least the children and the administration of her household will fill her life. Eloise and Benedict smoke on the family swing and do a dialogue equivalent to the song “I Want,” with a grind of contemporary gender roles.
At Buckingham Palace, Violet takes tea with Queen Charlotte, who enjoys a snuffbox that corrects the period and suggests that her affection should result in Daphne landing, say, the Duke. The implications are clear: Daphne’s successful and Queen-friendly match will benefit the entire Bridgerton family, leading Violet to plot on her way out of the palace to reverse the mess with Berbrooke. Lady Berbrooke appears at tea, giving us the opportunity to discover that every member of this family is portrayed as grotesque; the camera focuses on her mouth and the sounds of her chewing, just as she zeroed in on Lord Berbrooke’s mouth and teeth. It’s kind of an upper body, kind of more like a fart joke. This kind of grotesque humor, to the detriment of a bad family, matches well with the culture of the early 19th century, but it is somewhat at odds with the tone of the other stories in this episode.
Lady Berbrooke’s maid spills the family secrets below, namely that Lord Berbrooke has an illegitimate son with a former maid whom he refuses to support. I didn’t expect this to be so disqualifying in the world Bridgerton (don’t these rakes have random babies?), but perhaps the real sin is the general lack of control over bodily functions (including gender) that marks the Berbrooke family as vulgar and bad tons.
Violet knows how women divert public opinion – despite a lack of formal power – through gossip and sets out to plant the story of Lord Berbrook around town to get back to Lady Whistledown. In the tailors, in the market, and in the park, the story circulates until Whistledown herself takes the story and starts it. Berbrooke leaves London after the scandal, freeing Daphne from a terrible marriage.
Eloise asks the assembled Daphne if she is afraid of marriage and children. Daphne admits the anxiety their mother experienced giving birth to the youngest child, Hyacinth, but ends up like every reported article and personal essay on parenting with “But in the end it’s the child and we love them!” You say that now, Daph, but wait until you’re stuck supervising the children’s alchemy lessons Zoom because of the plague. Eloise leaves a critical comment on the speech and goes to complain about it on Twitter.
At the latest ball, Daphne gets her cosplay Natasha Rostova / Eliza Doolittle, as she establishes her agency and dances closely with Simon, who gets them by their first name. Simon surrenders to Daphne to another suitor and watches from the edge of the ballroom, where he stutters when Lady Danbury asks what is bothering him. On the way back, we see Simon enter his father’s sick room. Elder Hastings finally accepts his son, but Simon finally strikes a blow: He will never marry or give birth, which means Hastings ’line will die when he does. In a call back to his father’s cruelty years before, Simon commands his father to speak as the death rattle rises. Simon’s grim smile as he examines his father’s corpse signals that in the absence of modern therapy it will take metric fucking tons of emotional work to sort it out. Luckily we have six more episodes!
For more information on premodern birth practices, see Court midwife,, midwives of 17th century celebrities to Empress Justine Siegemund. Curious why Grace struggled on her back when earlier midwives like Siegemund put most pregnant women in a far more productive upright position? The creation of a midwife the oceans of rage will sparkle.