Bridgerton 2×02 “Off to the Races” picks up after a first episode that sets up the people, by setting up the dynamics that are going to take center stage this season – which means, the Sharma sisters with each other, Edwina and Anthony as our decoy, and of course, Kate and Anthony as the two people in this show who, without wanting to, almost without meaning to, end up developing the strongest connection.
It’s also, however, about setting up the future, in a way this show has always been very cognizant of. Just as Season 1 did a great job at setting up Anthony’s journey, Season 2 has done an amazing job of setting up Benedict and even Colin’s turns, by presenting more of both characters and doing so in a way that feels organic to the story they’re focusing on now, which is Anthony’s.
Because, well, when your brother is falling in love or attempting to court someone, you pay attention. You have opinions. But also, that’s his life, not yours. You can mock him and the situation and then forget about it, because it isn’t your problem, not really, and this episode is very cognizant of that. Family will always be family, but everyone has an individual story to tell, in due course.
So, let us go into who Edwina is, the Kathony dynamics, the Polin setup, and Eloise’s storyline in Bridgerton 2×02 “Off to the Races”:
THE DIAMOND OF THE SEASON
Edwina has been crowned the diamond of the season, and it’s easy to see why. She’s kind, smart, and serene. She seems both the kind of person you want to be friends with and the kind you might fall for if you spend a little time with her. Or, at least, she does, for anyone other than Anthony Bridgerton. Because the things that make Edwina such a diamond are the things that make her totally unsuitable for Anthony.
The Viscount needs someone who challenges him, someone who never lets him get away with things, and yes, someone who isn’t afraid to love him out loud. Edwina could be a good companion, and she might certainly be more suited for him than all the other ladies he “interviewed,” but that doesn’t mean she’s right for him.
But then again, that’s exactly what Anthony is looking for. Someone that fits on paper, not someone that really fits. A person that will do their duty while he does his and will never, ever ask him for more than that. Someone who won’t expect him to feel things, and even someone who doesn’t feel things for him. That’s Edwina Sharma, at least right now.
Because Edwina feels a tad too …superficial, in Bridgerton 2×02 “Off to the Races.” She’s all the good things I said before, and she’s probably genuine in all those things, but it’s hard to gauge how much of that is Edwina and how much of it is Kate and Mary’s upbringing. Though there are sparks of character in this hour, Edwina has, for two episodes, done what Kate has wanted in most instances. What does Edwina Sharma want? Who is she, outside of familial obligations? We don’t know, and most importantly, it doesn’t seem she knows.
Here’s to her finding out, sooner rather than later. The longer she takes the more chaotic this is going to get.
YOU THINK TOO MUCH – AND YOU TOO LITTLE
The sparks between Kate and Anthony are clear enough that even the two of them have noticed. This, of course, puts them in a very uncomfortable position. Because Anthony is courting Edwina, yes, but also because Anthony is convinced what he needs is a woman like Edwina, and Kate is convinced her sister’s happiness is the only thing that matters.
But even while caught in this uncomfortable situation, there’s something about the two of them that cannot be denied. In Bridgerton 2×02 “Off to the Races,” at times, it feels like it’s just plain antagonism, but there’s an undercurrent of more. Yes, they vex each other, but a part of them also recognizes that, perhaps, the reason why they do, is because they match so well.
Sometimes the people you need the most, the dynamics that bring the most to your life, are some of the hardest ones to establish. It isn’t easy to be pushed outside of your comfort zone, to be asked to reexamine the way you look at life. Anthony does that for Kate, and Kate does that for Anthony. So, of course, there’s resistance at first, from both of them. Not just because of the circumstances, but because accepting change is hard, particularly when you’ve done things the same way for so long.
Their journey is just beginning. There will be bumps on the road before they can help each other to a place where they can both look ahead and be better for the fact that they’re looking together. Anthony will have to not just understand what he wants but accept what he needs. Kate will have to allow herself to want something, and then accept that reaching for it doesn’t make her selfish. But we can see the foundations of that already in Bridgerton 2×02 “Off to the Races,” and we can’t wait to see more.
And yes, they will probably continue to vex each other every day of their lives, but they will also challenge each other, make each other laugh, make each other better and because of those things, make each other truly, truly happy.
A WOMAN’S PLACE?
Bridgerton 2×02 “Off to the Races” examines a woman’s place in Regency society in a what this show has obliquely referenced before but never delved into head-on. And it does so, of course, through the character of Eloise, the consummate outsider, someone who doesn’t just want more, but believes she deserves more than what society expects of her.
Of course, despite her position, there’s still a lot of privilege to Eloise’s belief and the fact that she can hold it. She is part of a loving family that will point her towards the society-approved “happy ending,” but she isn’t part of a family that will force her. And just the fact that she’s got these ideas, that she’s able to coherently articulate what it is she’s missing, what it is women are missing, speaks to the way she has been raised and allowed to think for herself.
Ironically, as much as he comes off as a hardass, let us remember Anthony pretty much raised all his siblings to some degree, as we consider Eloise’s path.
Her budding friendship or whatever it ends up being with Theo has all the makings of a tragedy. But that doesn’t mean it isn’t easy to relate to Eloise wanting more, just as it’s easy to relate to Kate’s frustration at the role she – and Edwina – have been forced to play. Yes, there are some decisions they can make, but the burden and the freedom to make most of the choices are on men, not on them.
Which doesn’t mean the women have no power. This is, in a way, what Lady Danbury is trying to tell Kate, and what the show is trying to tell us, even as it examines womanhood and the way women wield a power that is certainly much more different than the one we’re used to wielding today. I wouldn’t trade my situation for the Regency era, but I cannot help but sit here and admire the way, in a situation that puts them at a disadvantage, these women never give up on trying to make a name for themselves, one way or another.
YOU ARE PEN. YOU DO NOT COUNT
Colin is kind and sweet, and he is Penelope’s friend in Bridgerton 2×02 “Off to the Races,” in a way that makes it hard to find any fault with him. He isn’t condescending, or dismissive. He truly appreciates her and he’s not afraid to tell her so. That is why the way he reaffirms what she is to him – a friend, and nothing more – cuts so deep.
Penelope hasn’t really allowed herself to hope Colin might care for her, but the heart is a tricky thing. The moment Colin is there, in front of her, not running away from her or looking at her with pity, but instead looking at her with interest and affection, a reckless little part of her wants to believe there is something more. Or that there could, in the future, be something more.
But Colin isn’t seeing Penelope, not really. Not yet. He’s seeing his friend Pen, and for him, that friend isn’t a woman, not really. She’s safe, because she’s not someone he’s ever thought of as a possible romantic partner, and not someone he could ever imagine would think of him as one.
They have a long way to go still, even longer than Kate and Anthony. But it’s still good to see Colin appreciate Penelope much earlier than he did in the books. Even if his reassurance about her place in his life ended up being more hurtful than he would have wanted.
Things I think I think:
- I would take an entire episode of Benedict making faces at Anthony.
- Frannie is still around! Gasp.
- Was Colin about to embrace Pen? And, if so …how very dare you, Hyacinth?
- The facial hair works on everyone …except Colin.
- Look, Anthony and Kate can just find each other in a crowd. That’s endgame ship stuff right there.
- Kate’s eye roll is a thing of beauty.
- The way Penelope says, “You always do,” doesn’t exactly seem like she’s happy Eloise found her, right?
- Edwina should have just followed her first instinct of rolling her eyes at Kathony and just looking the other way.
- Anthony and Kate would pick a fight at the races. Of course, they would.
- Though, Anthony, the whole sending someone to distract Kate was a looow blow.
- Eloise, what are you doing?
- This applies to 97% of what she does, honestly.
- The Queen can be devious when she wants, and I respect that.
- Colin and Benedict calling Anthony out is very much my jam. Especially as all they’re doing is pointing out how similar Anthony and Kate truly are.
- “You take too much upon yourself,” is very true, Colin.
- And Benedict calling him out on what he wants vs who he wants, ahem, slip of the tongue.
- If the show is going one thing perfectly it’s setting up Benedict’s season. Very glad they’re using Will Mondrich for that, too.
- Dear God, the way Colin and Eloise enjoy when Violet is mothering Anthony.
- The way I enjoy it.
- “There’s a lesson here for you somewhere, Anthony.”
- Eloise and Kate are going to be perfect together when they get more time.
- “If Penelope can see me this way, then surely I can too.”
- Oh, Colin. Half the lesson. Half the lesson.
- Nicola is so good at the tiny moment of heartbreak after Colin calls Penelope his friend.
- Nooo, Cressida. Ugh, noooo, Jack. Nooo.
- Anthony always calls Benedict “brother” instead of Benedict.
- The way I loved Benedict in this episode. Give me this man’s season now. Well, like, after I’m done with Kate’s season, and she has a chance to shine.
- But, like, can you IMAGINE the speeches we’re likely to get in Season 3?
- Anthony, if you can’t keep looking at Edwina, you should not be courting her.
- “I do not care what a single person here thinks of me.”
- But, is that true?
- Lady Danbury with her truth was A+.
- I kinda like this Genevieve twist, I’m not gonna lie.