Bridgerton Season 2 is not a complete disaster. It’s also not a home run, either. I would even hesitate to call it a double. If we want to keep the baseball metaphor, it’s like a ball that the right fielder lost in the lights and that’s why the runner got to first base. Sure, it’s a hit, but it was more blind luck than anything else.
Well, blind luck and Simone Ashley and Jonathan Bailey as the leads, because the two of them deliver the kind of performance, the kind of chemistry, we will be judging other romance adaptations on. Sadly, the plot doesn’t always go hand in hand with the level of their performance or take advantage of their chemistry the way it should.
So, today, before we get into episode-by-episode breakdowns (starting tomorrow!), let us go into a more general overview of the season and discuss what worked, what didn’t, and what we want from Season 3.
Kathony, Kathony, Kathony: The main couple is sublime, and if we have any complaints about them, it’s merely that we didn’t get enough of the two as an actual couple – or got to see their wedding! The UST is next-level good, and there are multiple moments where Ashley and Bailey say everything without words. Season 1 might have taken the “I burn for you,” line, but Season 2 is certainly “I yearn for you,” and that part works so, so well, it almost saves the season from disaster.
Anthony Bridgerton: I will write essays in defense of loving, kind, lost, broken Anthony Bridgerton. Yes, he makes bad decisions. And then he doubles down on them. But he never does anything out of spite, or because he’s trying to hurt anyone – other than himself, that is. He’s constantly putting others first at the expense of his heart, and Season 2 and Bailey brilliantly convey the pain of wanting and not knowing how to reach for what you want.
Kate Sharma: Though Kate’s trauma is minimized, and Ashley gets much less dialogue about her feelings than Bailey, she does the utmost with silence. Kate is Anthony’s mirror, so Ashley gets the arguably harder acting job of showing things that don’t need to be articulated by Kate. I’d argue she deserved more words, and more focus on her trauma, but the character still undoubtedly works, even when we don’t agree with her decisions.
The Bridgerton family: The entire Bridgerton family dynamics work in Bridgerton Season 2, from a Violet who knows how to be stern, proud, loving, and supportive, while still being, well, Violet, to every one of her kids. Francesca doesn’t get much to do, but there’s a little spark in the few moments she gets, and the same goes for Hyacinth and Gregory, who both get at least one moment where you go oh, this is why we want eight seasons.
But the three oldest get to shine more, with Colin trying to find his way in the world – and around Penelope, and Daphne and Benedict as two sides of the coin that Anthony is trying to decide on. Daphne is fantastic as the self-assured, but ultimately loving Duchess who just wants the best for her brother, but who is way past taking his BS. But it’s Benedict’s kind, gentle ways, who steal the show, and who, ultimately, force Anthony to reflect.
Eloise and Penelope: The true sisterhood of Season 2, Eloise and Penelope lie to each other, keep things from each other, and yes, love each other even while doing both those things. They end the season broken, but you cannot argue that the good and bad decisions aren’t coming from a place of love. Perhaps, out of the ashes of this mess, these two can salvage a friendship of actual equals.
WHAT DIDN’T WORK
The love triangle: The romance genre isn’t about love triangles, it’s about internal obstacles. But even putting aside that, no one wants a love triangle involving two sisters – particularly when it’s a real one, where both have feelings or think they have feelings for the same man. And if you take that to the extremes Bridgerton Season 2 took it (the altar, really?), then you have a recipe for disaster.
Edwina Sharma: Where is the Edwina from the books? Charithra Chandran does all she can with a character who is more a plot device than a character, and who in her righteous anger ends up saying some things the narrative, and Kate, forgive her for way too easily. There was no need to put Edwina in the position the plot put her, and there really was no need to make her cruel as a result of that. But there especially was no need to do all of those things and then just handwave the resolution away. The Kate and Edwina sisterhood needed to be at the center of the story, and they deserved as good of a fix in the last two episodes as Kate and Anthony got.
The pacing: We spent way too long on the Edwina love triangle, and way too little with Kate and Anthony actually together. We didn’t even get to see their wedding, but we had an entire episode dedicated to the wedding that wasn’t to be. Plus, episode 6 drags on, for absolutely no reason, other than drama for the sake of drama. If the love triangle had ended in episode 5, the season would have been much stronger for it.
The Featheringtons: Did anyone care about cousin Jack? I will trade every second of him for more of Kate and Anthony, or more Kate and Edwina, or more Bridgerton family, or more anything.
WHAT WE WANT FROM SEASON 3
More Kathony: Not as the focus, no. Every couple deserves to have their season, and Season 3 should be about Benedict and Sophie. But we got precious little of these two as an actual couple, and the show should make it up to us by having them be adorable in the background of every shot they possibly can in Season 2, please and thank you. Well, we also need some shots of them being adorable not in the background, but yeah, just …more.
More of the family dynamics: The family dynamics are well established; they just need to go deeper. This means that Eloise’s bond with Benedict needs to be particularly important in season 3 (and maybe, maybe …be the catalyst for the Penelope/Eloise reconciliation), and we also need to see Anthony being there for Benedict the way Benedict was for him.
We wouldn’t say not to some matchmaking from Colin, as we’ve seen precious little of that so far, and oh yes, Daphne should have more opinions – though with Benedict, she should find new ways to present them.
The book, but without some bits: Some parts in the book are questionable, to say the least, and the show has a chance to update the story in a way that keeps the good things (the pining, the “love triangle” that exists only in Benedict’s head, the dynamics between Benedict and Sophie), without the parts that would absolutely ruin the characters we have come to love.
Sophie Beckett: Some people dismiss An Offer From a Gentleman as just a Cinderella retelling, but the book is so much more, and a great part of that is the person they haven’t brought in yet, Sophie Beckett. No matter who is cast, we need the show to remember that Sophie is more than her circumstances. She’s smart, she’s kind, she’s determined, and she is not a damsel in distress, even if she might need some help at times. If anything, she’s the person who’s finally going to see – and love Benedict – for who he is. And we can’t wait for that.