Bridgerton 2×08 “The Viscount Who Loved Me,” isn’t just the best episode it could be under the circumstances, it’s just a very good episode. Just like the last one was. It, sadly, doesn’t cap off a great season, or at least, it doesn’t cap off the season it should be capping off. There are so many things about Bridgerton Season 2 that should have been better than what they were.
There’s still a lot of good things to say about this hour, one that examines grief and healing and how often those two states exist in a loop. You grieve and you heal, but you never fully stop grieving or needing to heal a little more. One day, though, if you’re lucky, you understand that even though grief might always be a part of you, there’s more to you than that pain.
And that’s been the journey, not just for Anthony Bridgerton, but for Kate Sharma as well. The journey of finding themselves outside of grief, duty, and expectations. Who are you when you put yourself first? Happy might just be the answer for these two characters.
So let us talk about the grief, the love, and the setup for Season 3 as we discuss Bridgerton 2×08 “The Viscount Who Loved Me”:
ARE YOU ALRIGHT?
Where else can we start but with Benedict’s question, not just because of what it says about Benedict that he’s asking, or what it says about Anthony that he’s been obvious enough for someone to ask – but because of the fact that, just as the question leaves Benedict’s mouth, we have to wonder: has anyone asked Anthony this before? At least in the last decade or so? Has anyone taken care of him? Has he been allowed to have feelings?
And of course, this isn’t all on Anthony’s family. He made his own choices, and so much of this moment is about those choices. If the answer is no, it’s because Anthony put himself in a position where no one could ever reach him. But let’s not discount the fact that, for his family, it was easy to let him take control. To let him shoulder the burden. He was willing and able, after all.
Benedict helps in Bridgerton 2×08 “The Viscount Who Loved Me” not by confronting Anthony with the truth, or with his failings like Daphne tried to. That was always the wrong approach because Anthony is really good at being self-deprecating. If anything, Benedict helps because he goes out of his way to care for his brother, in a way Anthony isn’t used to. And when you’re so used to being the strong one, being given permission to take a break is both unthinkable and like coming up for air after almost drowning.
For so long, Anthony has carried the weight of the world on his shoulders. That’s where the guilt comes from. He thinks everything is his fault, Kate’s accident, his dad, everything that has ever ailed his family, and possibly all the problems in the world. That’s why, later on, when Kate refuses his marriage proposal, Anthony just accepts the no, instead of fighting for her. He doesn’t think he deserves it. Her, happiness, peace.
If there’s a common thread for Anthony in Bridgerton 2×08 “The Viscount Who Loved Me,” it’s acceptance. Of his grief, of his place in the world, of his love for Kate, and almost as importantly, of what he needs to do to reconcile all of those. Because he loves her, yes, but he cannot keep her in his life unless he’s willing to love her out loud. And he cannot be happy, truly happy, unless he’s willing to let himself feel. That’s a very big journey, and it all started with his closest friend in the whole world, his brother, asking him if he was okay. Sometimes the smallest things can start the biggest of realizations.
I WOULD STILL CHOOSE THE SAME (REAL, TRUE LOVE IS WORTH IT)
Violet also plays a big role in helping Anthony get to where he needs to go, though. It’s ironic how Daphne has been the most right of all the Bridgertons, but her way of trying to get Anthony to see the truth has been the least successful. During Season 2 Daphne constantly confronts Anthony with the truth, and time after time, he lashes out, often doing the opposite of what Daphne is advising, to prove to himself, and to her, that she is wrong.
Benedict gets more with casual understanding and caring, and Violet, well …she gets to Anthony by doing the one thing he didn’t really think he needed – apologizing. For letting him shoulder all the burdens. Not just that, for forcing him to grow up in an instant. For breaking apart. Not that she should apologize for the last part, of course. We’re all entitled to our grief. But Violet is a mother, and she understands that her grief over Edmund left her so broken that, for a while there, she forgot Anthony was also grieving.
She let him be the adult and by the time she looked up and tried to be his mother once again, there was no going back. He’d already erected walls around his heart and stepped into the position of the Viscount so thoroughly, that’s who he was now. She lost Edmund, and then, in her grief, she lost a part of Anthony.
But there’s no changing the past, and the apology isn’t about that. Her apology is about love, the love a mother feels for her child, and the love a mother wants for her child. Because Violet loves him and wants the best for him. And she recognizes that the best for him is Kate Sharma. Sees it so clearly, just as he sees his hesitation, his fear. And like all of us, Violet recognizes the root of that fear: loss.
This is why she tells him that yes, losing Edmund was the worst time of her life. The kind of pain she wouldn’t wish on anyone. But she still wouldn’t change a thing. If she had to do it all over again, she’d love him once more, even if that meant she was going to lose him. Because love is worth it. The love she shared with Edmund; the one Anthony feels for Kate …that’s worth fighting for.
Almost as importantly, though, Anthony listens. In this, one of his lowest moments, he allows himself to be guided by his mother, to take the comfort he has always provided everyone else. The apology opens the floodgates and for a moment, Anthony is once again Violet’s son, not the Viscount, and he can let himself accept his mother’s wisdom in a way that, perhaps, he never has been.
In truth, Anthony, who has always modeled himself after his father, has always been so much more like his mother than he’d like to admit. And that has always been part of the fear. He saw Violet after Edmund died and he always understood that could have been him too. So, he never let it. He shut out the part of himself that was like Violet Bridgerton because he always saw that part as weak. But in doing so, he also shut out the good things. The love and the laughter and the joy. And that’s what Kate brought back into his life, and it’s exactly what his mother wants him to hold onto, with both hands, and never let go of.
A CONVERSATION AND A DANCE ARE NOT NEARLY ENOUGH
Bridgerton 2×08 “The Viscount Who Loved Me,” magically fixes Edwina and Kate via the strength of a conversation and a dance. Sure, before that, they put Kate in mortal peril, a convenient excuse to have Anthony face his fears and Edwina realize that she cares more about Kate than she cares about the drama for the sake of drama the show saddled us with.
And that part is real, okay? Fear makes you see things differently. It’s entirely believable of Edwina to be like, the things I thought I was mad at you about, they don’t really matter. The problem is, of course, the show then gives us a good conversation, a moment between them on the dance floor near the end and …that’s all. It’s all good?
For all the time the show spent centering the sisters, in not a great way, they should have spent at least a quarter of that fixing the relationship that never needed to be ruined. In Bridgerton 2×08 “The Viscount Who Loved Me” Kate apologizes again, for what she did to harm Edwina, and she finally gets to explain, which are all good things. Edwina deserves to hear that. But we get no acknowledgment of the sacrifices Kate made, much less a mention of the horrible things Edwina said in the aftermath of the failed wedding. It’s all water under the bridge, because that’s Kate, and she loves her sister above all things.
But do we? Has the show given us enough to forgive Edwina as quickly as Kate does? To forgive Edwina the way we have Kate? The answer is a clear no. We barely know Edwina Sharma, and even though she tells Kate she doesn’t know herself; the fact is the elder Sharma has a more defined personality than Edwina. That’s why it’s easier to forgive her shortcomings. She’s been her own woman, made her own mistakes, and expressed her own opinions. Edwina has been nothing more than a plot device, and even in this final moment, as she’s pushing Kate to be herself, or later, as she’s encouraging her to shine on her own, she still is nothing more than that.
A plot device, to keep Kate and Anthony apart, first, and then to bring them together. Not a fully realized character, or even a mildly intriguing one. And despite all the other things the show manages to fix in Bridgerton 2×08 “The Viscount Who Loved Me,” the fact that they wasted so much time on other storylines that they couldn’t really fix the sisterhood between Kate and Edwina, or make us care about Edwina on her own, remains the biggest misstep of the season.
IMPOSTOR, PARTY OF TWO
In one respect Bridgerton Season 2 really, really delivers, and that’s the setup for every one of the other Bridgertons. Daphne, who already got her chance to shine, gets to showcase a different side. Benedict, who comes next, absolutely steals the season with his gentleness and wit. Colin has great moments and bad moments, but they all seem to be leading somewhere.
The same goes for Eloise, and even, obliquely, for Gregory and Hyacinth. Only Francesca is missing from the obligatory setup, which is a damn shame considering Francesca has a husband to fall in love with, meet, and lose in short order, if the show is going to follow her book.
Benedict, in particular, who Bridgerton 2×08 “The Viscount Who Loved Me” is meant to set up more than the rest, comes out of the season lost and a little bit broken, but so much more interesting than before. Plus, “The Viscount Who Loved Me,” also manages to showcase the ways in which Benedict’s journey will differ from Anthony’s. He is, after all, all heart in a way Anthony could never be. But he’s also so, so gifted at seeing what others need, that he might, at times, miss what he needs.
Then there’s Eloise, who has wanted her independence more than anything and yet has loved her family more than she’s ever let herself show it. She’s still far away from her own love story, but it seems like her bond with Benedict will ensure a big role for her next season, particularly after everything comes out in her fight with Penelope. We’ve already discussed how the show nailed the dynamics between the two ex-friends, and something tells us that though Penelope seems to be entering her villain era and Eloise wants nothing to do with her, Lady Whistledown might, perhaps, be needed at some point next season.
Perhaps because Benedict has found himself his own scandal. And, if so, it’s pretty convenient that Eloise knows who Lady Whistledown is and might even be able to get her to write a favorable thing about someone …after a real conversation, of course.
NOT IN A MILLION YEARS
Bridgerton Season 2 established Colin and Penelope as friends, and that was a very important thing to truly establish. Particularly after a Season 1 where Colin wasn’t arguably Pen’s friend, just someone who, at times, felt bad for her. But in Season 2 Colin truly appreciates Penelope, and in some ways, he even sees her. It’s not an empty friendship, they share part of themselves with each other that they don’t share with anyone else.
But there’s nothing romantic about Colin’s feelings for Penelope yet, and that he expresses it in the way he does, in public, and not to his brothers, but to a group of men who take the opportunity to laugh at Penelope, is a dagger straight to the heart. And sure, it might work to give Colin a chance to shut some mouths and be proud of Penelope when the time comes, and it’s also a case of protesting too much, which is likely the reason they did it, but for now …it just hurts. Us, and her.
However, in a way, this scene does something that the whole Marina debacle didn’t manage to do, it pushes Colin off that pedestal Penelope had him on. It brings him down to the ground and makes him a real person. And that absolutely had to happen if they were ever to start a real relationship, one of partners. It couldn’t be – shouldn’t be – just Penelope thanking her lucky stars that Colin finally noticed her. It should be both of them realizing that, in each other, they’ve found the partner they need.
Penelope deserves to be seen, truly seen. And though Colin has, indeed, gotten closer to seeing her this season than anyone else, even Eloise has, he still isn’t cracking through the shell. Part of that is on him, and another part is that …well, Penelope is trying too hard to just show the good parts of herself to Colin, always desperate to impress him.
But you know what would be more impressive? The real Penelope? The smart, witty, amazing woman she’s been letting out only on the pages of Lady Whistledown. And that’s who Colin will fall in love with, the real Penelope. It’s painful now, but I feel they’re closer to finally seeing each other the way they have to for this journey to begin.
THE ONLY FATHER HE’S EVER KNOWN
The moment with Gregory showcases the Bridgerton dynamics in a way the show never has before, but one they absolutely had to touch upon on a season with Anthony as the main character. Gregory was a baby when Edmund died. Hyacinth wasn’t even born. For both of them, in particular, Anthony has been not just an older brother, but the only father figure they’ve ever known. He understands that as well as they do, and that’s why these two are perfectly positioned to make Anthony finally accept some things about himself.
Shutting himself off has been the easiest way to deal with life, and with his responsibilities. Anthony has loved his family more than anything for years, but he hasn’t been very open or loving with them. That’s why the moment with Hyacinth last episode, and the moment with Gregory in Bridgerton 2×08 “The Viscount Who Loved Me,” mean so much to the two of them respectively. And that’s why it matters so much that Anthony is finally in a place where he can not just understand what they need from him, but what he needs from them.
It’s the same thing, really. Love. He isn’t Edmund, and he will never be that, but that has never been what his family needed, much less what they wanted. Instead, what the Bridgertons wanted was just …Anthony. The real him. The one Anthony hid, whether to protect himself or the others. The one that laughs, the one that loves, and the one that understands that perfection is impossible. All the Bridgertons need to be happy is just …each other. Nothing more, nothing less.
EVERYTHING I DID …I OWED IT TO YOU
The most heartbreaking moment in a very emotional episode comes via Kate and Mary, the other relationship Bridgerton 2×08 “The Viscount Who Loved Me” really had to fix, and one it repairs much more effectively than the sisterhood. Because this hour makes it clear that Kate loves Mary as much as she loves Edwina, but a part of her has always felt like she needed to prove that love. To prove that she deserved to be part of her family.
At the root of Kate being able to forgive herself for not realizing her feelings for Anthony soon enough, and for not sharing them with Edwina once she did, is this idea that she only has value if she’s perfect. That Edwina and Mary will not love her if she cannot fulfill a role she gave herself. But Mary, like Violet, is quick to shut that notion down. Because in this case, Mary was in the wrong.
She let Kate take on too much, just like Violet did, because it was easy and because Kate was able and willing. Yes, Mary was grieving, but she was a mother, Kate’s mother as well as Edwina’s. And Kate never had to prove herself to Mary, or earn anything, because Mary loved her from the first instant, just because of who she was.
“Love is not something that is ever owed,” Mary tells Kate in Bridgerton 2×08 “The Viscount Who Loved Me.” And that is, in many ways, the permission she needs to forgive herself. To open up again, and perhaps, let someone in. Because the thing about Anthony Bridgerton is that he is the first thing in Kate’s life that she didn’t feel like she had to earn. His feelings, her feelings, just were, and that’s why she fought hard against them. How can you believe in something that doesn’t follow the rules of love you understand? You can’t, at least not till you finally realize the problem was the rules.
PERHAPS I NEEDED SOMEONE TO STEADY ME
As Kate and Anthony dance near the end of Bridgerton 2×08 “The Viscount Who Loved Me,” as they come together, it’s clear that, as Kate herself says, he steadies her. But she does the same for him. That’s why, later, when the eyes of the entire ton are upon them and Kate feels like she is going to falter under their scrutiny, all she needs is Anthony’s eyes on hers and a reminder that no one else matters but them.
To be fair, no one else has for a while, but that’s harder to believe when your relationship is made entirely of stolen moments than it is to believe when you’re finally owning your feelings in front of the entire world. And though that’s not their moment, it could never be in front of all those people, it’s still a very important declaration of what they can be together.
Later, Anthony comes armed with words, and his love confession is as good as Daphne’s in Season 1, if not better. Like his sister before him, the confession is about him. He’s not asking anything of Kate, not even for her to truly accept his love, just believe that it exists. And she responds in kind because she loves him too. Even if he vexes her. Probably because he vexes her and makes her feel alive and like she will never be able to catch her breath again while they’re together.
If the truth does anything, it’s set them free. To jump into each other’s arms (and Kate does just that, jump), to be their best selves together. Anthony promises a life that suits them both, and Kate promises to always keep that spark – even if they use other words for that promise. He calls her Kathani Sharma as he wows to humble himself before her, but Kate doesn’t need that, has never wanted that. What Kate wants is an equal in everything, particularly in love. And Anthony Bridgerton is never one to back down from a challenge.
Things I think I think:
- Imagine Anthony during the time it took to get Kate back to the house. Just, like …imagine.
- Maybe I was already too emotional, but seeing Benedict turn to Anthony and ask if he is alright broke me.
- Colin, you cannot be this gullible, can you?
- I almost threw my remote at the screen at the Portia/Jack moment. Ugh, no.
- The way it hurt Kate that Anthony hadn’t come to see her.
- The Anthony and Violet scene might just be one of the best of the season. She’s so careful with him, even when she mothers him, and this time she lets it all out. And he listens, he truly does. He allows himself to be guided by his mother.
- He could try looking less like a besotted fool when he finally sees Kate, but I guess that’s his prerogative.
- That he just walks away and accepts it when Kate says no says a lot about him.
- “I thought I could deny my feelings” – for your sake goes unsaid.
- I already word vomited about Anthony and Gregory, so I just want to add that I hope we get to see Gregory play a prank or two in subsequent seasons.
- Mary and Kate got to me in their scene, too. Like truly got to me.
- “But I do not forgive myself.”
- That’s the crux of the matter, isn’t it?
- The Bridgertons always stay together. It’s just …so nice to see.
- I truly appreciate that you were indeed not that gullible, Colin. I do.
- And you treating Penelope like a friend, I appreciate that too.
- “You are special to me.” You just don’t know how much yet.
- I appreciate Edwina basically pushing Kate to go to Anthony. But I think we needed more of a convo not just about the situation and what Kate did wrong, but the things that were said, mainly by Edwina.
- Can a classical dance be hot? Yes, it can.
- “No one else matters.”
- Queen deus ex machina!
- She would have kissed him right there, in the middle of the dance floor.
- He had to take a deep breath not to.
- Tiny approval moment from the Queen is good, I guess.
- I already went into their dynamics in the last episode, but the Penelope and Eloise of it all hurts, especially as they both have some points. But, ultimately, since this was Eloise, I think I agree that Pen should have just …confided in her so together they could have tried to find a way out of it.
- Which doesn’t mean I approve of Eloise’s cruelty. Penelope didn’t do anything maliciously, and Eloise of all people, should know better.
- Okay, so Portia Featherington gets a line because, for one moment, not only does she win, I almost, almost believe she cares about her daughters. Just for a moment.
- “You’re beginning to sound like me,” is basically Anthony telling you not to make his mistakes. Which you certainly will, I’m sure, Benedict.
- I don’t see how Benedict just …not processing the good things that Anthony says, and walking off, and just …seeming more lost than ever, isn’t set up for his own story.
- To be honest, “I want a life that suits us both” is almost better than the speech before. And the speech was good.
- “Is that a promise, Kathani Sharma?”
- The way he SMILES into the kiss is a lot.
- Happy about Colin and Mondrich, really.
- I would have watched five episodes worth of those last five minutes.
- So give us so much more of that in the next few seasons. Not the focus, no, but more of Kate and Anthony together and happy, please.
- There’s a beautiful symbolism in the final shot. Benedict, Colin, and Eloise walk off frame first, together, towards their destiny. Daphne stays in the frame for a bit longer …because she’s already found hers and she wants to celebrate her brother.