Photo: LIAM DANIEL/NETFLIX
The penultimate episode of this season finds both the Bridgerton and Sharmas doing damage control in the wake of the failed wedding. The story they’ve gone with? There’s no bad blood; the cancellation came out of a mutual understanding on a private matter between Edwina and Anthony.
Their home lives are more revealing. Anthony lies in bed, brooding, while Kate lies in her bed, fantasizing about their kiss (girl, me too). It’s probably a nice way to pass the time for Kate, particularly when Edwina’s still understandably nursing a grudge.
Each family goes on a promenade, and unfortunately, each family is treated with distance and hostility by other inhabitants of the town. Meanwhile, Eloise, who skipped the excursion, is bouncing out the door to go “shopping.” But someone’s waiting for her outside the Bridgerton family home: the queen! Her Highness reveals she’s convinced Eloise is Whistledown. But there’s more: the queen wants to become allies. If Eloise refuses, she’ll get doxxed, which would ruin both her and her family. The queen gives her three days to decide. Her Highness pretty much threatens to kill Eloise — it’s a lot!
After their alienating promenade, the Sharmas, Anthony, and Lady Bridgerton agree at Lady Danbury’s to brainstorm how they might turn their blacklisting around: by having a ball! Would two scandalized families really throw a party together if everything wasn’t a-okay between them? What if the theme was “harmony”? Too on the nose?
Anthony’s concerned a ball would put them under more intense scrutiny, but Edwina, still smarting from the betrayal, suggests it should be easy for her sister and the viscount to keep hiding their feelings from everyone. Then Newton — sweet, precious Newton — scampers into the room and tries to jump up on Anthony (with nary a growl!). Kate ushers Newton away from Anthony, and they both get up, standing too close, essentially checking each other out. Any body-language expert would tell you these two are mad horny for each other. Edwina stars at them agost: “Was I truly that blind?” Needless to say, Kate and Anthony are ordered to stay away from each other at the ball to avoid further scandal.
Back at the Bridgerton home, Penelope finds Eloise in her room, surrounded by a pile of Lady Whistledown pamphlets she’s about to toss. Eloise explains her predicament with the queen, and Penelope’s horrified. She tells Eloise to wait for Whistledown’s next issue — maybe it’ll help prove her innocence.
Penelope pays an after-hours visit to Madame Delacroix, who ultimately suggests that Whistledown publish something about Eloise that she’d never want public, but Penelope can’t fathom ruining her friend’s reputation. Back to square one.
Anthony seeks out Benedict, who’s sloshed at a school party. The viscount scolds his brother about his familial duty, and Benedict immediately knows this is about Kate — he’s noticed how Anthony looks at her. He asks miserable Anthony how long he’ll punish himself, giving him some free artistic education: If you don’t like what’s in front of you, change your perspective! It’s good advice, but I wonder if he just read it off a classroom poster.
Time for a field trip! The next day, the two families venture to the museum together to help improve their public image and spin their story before the ball. Anthony arrives with powder-pink roses for each of the Sharma women (Edwina immediately hands hers to a footman). When Kate walks by the viscount, he breathes in her scent, and Lady Danbury clears her throat in warning — none of that today, buddy.
Anthony takes a turn around the room with Lady Mary and apologizes for what’s happened. She doesn’t blame Anthony entirely, though. She wishes she had shouldered the burden when her husband died, not Kate. Hearing how Kate sacrificed so much for her family stills Anthony, and he watches her from afar.
Kate’s gazing at a statue of two lovers when Edwina comes with good news: People seem to buy their story on the canceled nuptials. She says she learned to become a great liar from the masters: Kate and Anthony. Edwina’s clearly still punishing her sister, but what’s maybe worse is she tells Kate she doesn’t believe in happy endings anymore. After Edwina goes off, Anthony walks to the other side of the statue, hidden, saying he’d like to speak with Kate privately. She says there’s nothing to talk about, but he brings up their kiss. She briefly ventures into gaslighting territory before acknowledging what happened. She says they should be ashamed of what they did and walks away.
It’s time to prep for the ball! Flowers and ornate candlesticks are brought in. Art featuring the Bridgerton family crest is freshly painted on the floor. The hosting families get dolled up.
And nobody else shows!
But Anthony’s trying Benedict’s “new perspective” advice. In a move that feels extremely off-brand (but reminiscent of his father, perhaps?), Anthony insists there will still be dancing. He calls out to the youngest Bridgertons, Hyacinth and Gregory, to come downstairs and join the party. They all stand in a circle, holding hands, and begin a lively country dance. There’s no need for formal pairs — the numbers mean a set of three sometimes splits off — and everyone looks like they’re having the time of their lives, breathless and laughing. They clearly needed this! But when Edwina notices that Anthony and Kate ended the dance paired together, it’s clear she’s upset.
Lady Bridgerton asks their housekeeper, Mrs. Wilson, if she knows why no guests came, and she brandishes the latest Whistledown issue, hot off the press. It reveals that Eloise has been sneaking out unchaperoned with “political radicals.” Eloise runs to her room in tears. Meanwhile, back at the Featherington home, we see Penelope snap her quill and throw it into the fireplace as she weeps with perfect, shampoo-commercial-quality hair.
Kate asks her sister if they should head home, and Edwina scoffs at the idea that Kate cares about what she’d like. “I may not know who I really am,” says Edwina, before walking away, “but at least I know I’m kinder-hearted than you.”
Kate tries to walk it off on the Bridgerton grounds. She finds a candlelit pergola adorned with flowers. And Anthony. She apologizes and says she’ll go. Then he says he was just leaving. Of course they argue, and as she’s about to walk away, he asks: “Can you ever just agree?” He says she’s been stubborn from the moment they met, and she comments how that must really bother a man who’s used to getting his way and ordering people around. They may bicker a lot, but this is truly the most heated we’ve seen them. It’s rapid-fire roasting!
Finally, he says he’s never met anyone like her and it’s consuming him. He mentions how his family’s on the brink of ruin and that they all hate him despite him living his life only for them, but all he thinks about is her. I am swooning. He speaks of wanting to run away with her and “of acting on the most impure, forbidden desires.” Okay, now I’m sweating. He walks toward her, mentioning how he must remind himself he is a gentleman and she is a lady. He then runs his nose alongside his cheek, smelling her — which did make me giggle — and saying her scent’s stayed with him since that night she chewed him out at the season’s first ball.
And then he pulls his head back, shakes it, and says to her, “You have to stop.” (ANTHONY FICTIONAL CHARACTER BRIDGERTON, I SWEAR TO GOD.) She responds, saying he’s the one who’s been spinning her world off-axis. She came to London for her family’s sake and — much like the viscount with the Bridgertons — everything she’s ever done is for them. (Anthony completes her thought here, and it’s a nice, brief moment to show he understands her.) And so, Kate explains, Anthony’s the one who must stop before —
“Before what?” he asks. “Before we both finally do something for ourselves?”
It’s taking a lot of willpower not to write the rest in all-caps, but, please know, that is how the moment feels. Anthony steps back and shakes his head, gruffly instructing her to go inside. She doesn’t move: “What did I tell you about you and your orders?”
And with that, Kate and Anthony are on each other (and my hand is on my mouth). He lifts up his dress and then as if he burned himself on a hot stove, he walks away with his hands up: “I will stop.” But this time, she explicitly tells him NOT TO.
We did it, kids! It’s finally happening! I think I’m short-circuiting!
They undress each other — so many pieces of clothing to undo — and her lavender lingerie looks like something that Savage X Fenty should make (please). His pants stay on, but finally, our guy Anthony gets to roll down his stockings! They make out and he goes down on her, holding her hand as she climaxes. I’m trying to be brief, but just know this long-awaited scene is done well — the acting, the lighting, the music, the editing. It’s very, very sexy.
This season differs from the first in that we’ve actually seen very little sex, which I understand might be a letdown for some viewers. In Bridgerton‘s initial season, the raunch was established quickly and pointedly; supporting characters were getting it on, and we later saw the leads Daphne and the duke going at it constantly, everywhere. With Kate and Anthony, though, it’s so much more about the swoony, slow-burn build-up and their yearning. This season has served as the TV equivalent of edging, and I am here for it. I don’t think this scene would’ve been nearly as satisfying if it had happened much sooner.
The next morning, Anthony wakes up smiling until he realizes he’s alone. Kate has gone home and is recalling the raciest moments of the night. But instead of enjoying them — as I am — she’s spiraling, freaked out over what happened and its potential repercussions.
Anthony grabs his mother’s betrothal ring and, in the pouring rain, goes to Lady Danbury’s to speak with Kate. But she’s gone, and so is one of the horses.
Cut to Kate on her steed, running away from — let’s face it — everything while Anthony rides away hoping to find her. He sees her in the distance, amid the rain and mist. He watches as she gallops toward a hedge, and she attempts to clear it—attempt being the operative word.
The horse balks and rears, throwing Kate off its back. She hits her head and is out cold. Anthony, having witnessed everything in horror, rushes toward her. Another memory to add to the trauma bank.
• As nerve-wracking as the queen’s confrontation is, Eloise (played by Claudia Jessie) has some hilarious reactions. Her comedic instincts are always *chef’s kiss*.
• Colin’s hoping to invest in Lord Featherington’s mines, and I can only wonder how he’d feel about NFTs.
• Theo turns Eloise away when she comes to check on him, and everything he says is fair, I guess, but the moment still felt harsh, and I’m hurting for her.
• Kate’s flashbacks from her night with Anthony are so crazy hot, and I would like to formally request that an extended version be released. For research purposes.