Bridgerton 2×03 “A Bee in Your Bonnet” is about family, and about grief. But it’s also about how one thing can help you get through the other if you let it. This episode also marks a departure from The Viscount Who Loved Me. Small details aside, the first three episodes have followed the heart of the book, but the ending of this episode proves the series is ready to chart a new path.
For better or worse.
I cannot approach these reviews, this tale, as anything other than what I am, a book fan first. The first time I read the Bridgerton series was long before anyone ever thought of bringing it to the screen, and I found great joy in this family, in their stories, in the love each of them found. I also found an understanding of my own grief in Anthony and Kate, and even a hope that there’s something beyond grief through them.
For that, I will forever be grateful. And that I will always yearn for, now that it’s become clear the show isn’t going to give it to us in the same way the book did. And that doesn’t mean everything about the show from here on is going to be horrible, or that I will not enjoy it, of course not. But it’s not going to be exactly what I thought I was getting, and that will take some getting used to.
As we process, let us talk about grief, the decisions we make because of it, and the way this story is shaping up to be something very different from the book as we discuss Bridgerton 2×03 “A Bee in Your Bonnet”:
GRIEF TRANSFORMS YOU
There’s a thing about grief that no one tells you, either because people think it’s a grim reality, or because it’s so hard to understand unless you’ve been there that no one really tries. And that is, that grief changes you. It truly does. You are not the same person after a loss, and nothing can change that. You can never go back. Time will help, yes. You can and will, most likely, go on with your life. Find comfort and joy again. But you will never be the same person again.
As someone who has lost her father, I can attest that this is especially true about parents.
For Anthony, grief, however, has never been just grief. Because it wasn’t just that pain Anthony had to contend with, it was what the pain caused. Anthony went out to hunt with his father a boy and came back a man. Not by choice, no. He was forced to become one, forced to grow up. He had to make decisions, he had to parent his siblings, and he did it. Because there was no one else.
It’s doubtful Anthony can ever truly quantify what he lost that day because he didn’t just lose a parent and role model. He lost security. He lost his belief that things would work out. And in the days that followed, he lost even more. He lost the desire to ever find himself in that position again. Bridgerton 2×03 “A Bee in Your Bonnet” shows that clearly.
Grief changes you. And sometimes, even without a conscious decision, grief makes you wary. Why feel anything too strongly, if feeling it will mean you too, will, at some point, find yourself stuck in that moment where the very air you breathe has been taken from you? And how can someone who has not felt the love understand that, in the end, even with the pain, it’s worth it?
DAPHNE SEES TOO MUCH
For a character that wasn’t my favorite in the books, Daphne has been one of the revelations of Bridgerton, and a lot of the credit for that should go to Phoebe Dynevor. In Season 1 she made Daphne relatable, even as the most stereotypical of the Bridgertons, and in Season 2, Daphne is here to be the mirror Anthony refuses to look into, something Bridgerton 2×03 “A Bee in Your Bonnet” quickly establishes.
No one sees through you quite like your siblings do. And Daphne sees through Anthony, completely. She sees through him even better than Benedict and Colin do because men aren’t used to paying attention to the little things Daphne caught on right away. And though she might not have all the answers as to why Anthony acts the way she acts, if there’s one person who can truly figure him out, it’s Daphne.
Everyone experiences grief differently, but there’s something about shared grief that can only be understood by the people who lived it. Daphne’s reaction might not have been the same as Anthony’s, and that’s understandable. Her position was much different, and she was younger, but it won’t be much of a stretch for her to figure out what’s driving her brother. And though I would have truly appreciated a mocking moment or two involving Simon, it occurs to me that, perhaps, this moment, this trauma, always had to be about Anthony and his family.
One of the things the increased screentime and focus on Lady Whistledown has allowed us is a chance to explore the reasons behind Penelope’s decision not just to become Lady Whistledown, but continue with her column, year after year. That decision means that, in Season 2, Bridgerton is in a prime position to give Penelope a partner, in the form of Genevieve Delacroix. It’s a smart play considering that Genevieve is in a prime position to get Penelope the information she needs, and also solves some of the logistical problems of how come no one ever noticed Penelope dropping off the columns herself?
But Bridgerton 2×03 “A Bee in Your Bonnet” uses their partnership to comment on women’s place in Regency-era society, and how fragile their power and influence truly is. Lady Whistledown has become the most powerful voice in England, even more than the Queen. What she says, goes. She has the power to sway public opinion. But that power depends on her identity remaining a secret.
Madame Delacroix, on the other hand, isn’t and won’t ever be truly appreciated by her work, but by the ton’s perception of it. One bad “review” can ruin her business, just as Lady Whistledown can make her the most sought-after modiste in England. Neither of them really has power for who they are, but in joining forces, they’re not just making the best of their position, they’re taking control of the narrative and that’s truly to be commended.
Pall Mall is both a game and a metaphor for Kate and Anthony’s relationship in Bridgerton 2×03 “A Bee in Your Bonnet.” During the game, and in their life together later on, these two challenge each other, never let the other skate by or get away with giving anything but their best, and in doing so, bring out the best in each other. Kate is at her best when she’s with Anthony, and vice versa.
But the game also brings out another part of their relationship, the one that’s just the two of them having fun. The things I mentioned before would not make sense if the two of them didn’t know how to also laugh at, not at each other, but with each other. Yes, there are barbs and yes, sometimes they are a little pointed, but underneath it all there are two people who truly understand each other, and who recognize that even when they vex each other – which is often – they also care for each other.
Not that they’re at a point in their relationship where they can put it into words. Instead, in the infamous bee scene that doesn’t really go like in the books (my rant on that later), we see Anthony’s panic, we see Kate’s comfort and we see them running away from each other because the thought of having found the one thing you didn’t think you need is just …too much to bear.
Anthony wasn’t looking for comfort in someone. He wasn’t looking for understanding or laughter. Neither was Kate. And yet, as he panics, as she holds him close and grounds him, there’s a clear understanding on both of their parts, of what it all means. Of the possibilities.
But that’s scary. No, that’s not just scary, it’s terrifying – particularly if you’ve spent your entire life telling yourself you didn’t want, no, didn’t need this. That part I get. The urge to run away, I get. But I really, really would have liked seeing them have to face what this means in a way that forces them to figure it out together instead of in a way that requires them to figure it out apart.
LOVE SHALL HAVE NO PLACE IN MY MARRIAGE
Anthony’s declaration during Bridgerton 2×03 “A Bee in Your Bonnet” goes hand in hand with Kate’s desire to see her sister settled and then retire to live a quiet life. Content is what they both aspire to be, and nothing else. And their reasons, though the show doesn’t explore them as fully as the book does, are grounded in that grief we discussed earlier. In loss. In pain.
Grief is personal, but it’s also a shared experience. Anthony is reacting to not just his grief with this declaration, but his mother’s. His fear isn’t just of loss, but of the effects of that loss. He doesn’t understand that love is worth it. He doesn’t get Violet wouldn’t change a second with Edmund to save herself the pain of losing him. That’s not how love works, not really. But because you don’t choose your parents, and Violet did choose Edmund, there’s an important difference there Anthony cannot grasp. One that Kate doesn’t grasp.
Her feelings seem to come from more or less the same place as his – loss. Just like Anthony, Kate had to grow up and take charge. For Mary. And for Edwina. For both of them, there’s nothing more important than their duty to their family. Not even what they’re starting to feel for each other. Not even themselves.
But that doesn’t mean it’s easy. That doesn’t mean there aren’t times where, both of them, contemplate what it would be like to just …give in. To put themselves first. To take what they want. The question now is, of course, how long can they hold?
A DIVERGING ROAD
As I discussed in the intro, this is where the show and the book diverge. In The Viscount that Loved Me, Kate and Anthony are caught in that final scene and are forced to marry. In Bridgerton Season 2, they get to run away, aren’t forced to confront their feelings, and are free to continue to make a mess of things – which they will surely do.
There’s part of me that gets it, I do. Getting caught, being forced to marry, so much like Season 1. Except, this is a romance novel. We didn’t come here for the surprising plot or the twists. We came here for the chemistry and yes, for the love story. That’s literally the genre. Pick the right actors, and it doesn’t matter if all the stories follow the same beats. We will still watch.
Bridgerton Season 2, however, doesn’t trust the genre or the viewers enough. And that’s a damn shame. Particularly because, whatever happens from here on out might be enjoyable, but it won’t really be The Viscount that Loved Me, not like Season 1 was The Duke and I.
Things I think I think:
- The flashback was the definition of pain, okay? PAIN.
- You can see the change in Anthony. Like a switch has been flicked.
- Daphne is here! With the baby!
- Francesca lives! Imma start a Frannie counter.
- Her sigh at Eloise’s entire existence is perfection.
- Everyone is better with babies than Eloise.
- The family scenes are altogether delightful.
- Daphne reminding Anthony what an ass he was last season was particularly good too.
- Only topped by the fact that at seeing Anthony with Kate …she thought that must be Edwina.
- Everyone is basically like, “Anthony, no.” Which is, of course, why he is like, “Anthony yes.”
- Gah, the flashbacks in Bridgerton 2×03 “A Bee in Your Bonnet” were brutal. BRUTAL.
- What is the point of the Featherington plot? And …does anyone care?
- Eloise and Kate need to be BFFs. I mean, they probably will be.
- Everyone’s FACE when Kate picks the mallet of death …pure poetry.
- Look, if Pall Mall didn’t teach Edwina anything about Bridgertons, then, like …yeah.
- Mary and Violet deserve many more scenes together.
- Anthony’s face when Edwina’s like, I’m out, lol.
- How is everyone NOT seeing the Kathony of it all?
- Anthony’s face at Kate walking into the mud – that’s when he fell in love, I promise.
- Or maybe it was as they laughed together? Had he laughed before? That openly?
- Daphne describing love is …well, not what Anthony feels for Edwina. But also a really good sign of what she still feels for Simon.
- What broke Anthony more, his father’s death or his mother’s reaction to his father’s death? It’s not as easy an answer as it might seem.
- “I could never be the cause of such pain.”
- Benedict getting high and the dinner after = HIGHLIGHT OF THE SEASON. I WILL HEAR NO ARGUMENT TO THE CONTRARY.
- And Colin’s reaction. PRICELESS.
- Plus, they’ve done a really good job of establishing Benedict as his own person, outside of his family. And not just that, of making us want more for him. His own love story.
- “Edmund was the air that I breathed, and now there is no air.”
- That line hurt my heart. Like, real pain.
- THE BEE SCENE! THE BEE SCENE! The looks. The panic. The way they breathe together. It’s almost too much. It’s perfect. Why did they change what happened next? Whyyyy?