Bridgerton 1×03 “Art of the Swoon” Review

NETFLIX © 2020 

“Art of the Swoon” and the importance of transparency—the third episode of Bridgerton is all about the hands. (Was that not the thing we’ve all taken away from this?) While the episode might be somewhat lacking a bit thematically, it succeeds in making us swoon. And I suppose that’s the point. We’re not mad at to be frank. For the first time in my life, I wanted to be spoon—I imagined I’d say a lot of crazy things in my life, but that certainly wasn’t one of them. I wanted to be a spoon. We all did. And that’s the tea.

Well gentle readers, Daphne has started dreaming of Simon—as we all have, and it’s a beautiful dream to say the least. The set design on this series continues to astound me. There’s nothing … ugly. I almost want there to be because frankly, it’s setting up some unrealistic examples for my future. Daphne’s dreaming of the duke, and the duke is still denying all emotional attachment. But he is acting as her general and doing a fine job of it, especially where moments of faux jealousy are concerned. It’s always fun and games until a prince joins the equation and that’s when dukes get jealous for real.

But what sets up this series most excellently and what makes our hearts soar is Violet telling Daphne: “You must simply marry the man who feels like your dearest friend.” (Shout this from the rooftop. Write it on the skyline.) Friendship is fundamental in romance, and where all couples are concerned, this is the very detail that differentiates dalliances from love matches. Daphne and Simon are friends to begin with. Anthony and Kate will be friends. Benedict and Sophie … aren’t normal, but you get the point. Colin and Penelope are the epitome of friends to lovers. A romance’s success is based entirely on friendship and the decision to choose someone every single day. That is what it will come down to with all couples. That is what it comes to down to with Simon and Daphne.

I don’t know what part of their ruse this week I enjoyed the most, the two of them making fun of traditional courting stunts, engaging in intimate conversation, or Simon dotingly mocking her snort. While I adored the scenes with the hands, Simon’s reaction to Daphne’s laugh is one of my favorite moments between the two. It’s a small moment but oh so telling of just what happens when two people are in good company.

The beauty in a romance that is developed from friendship results in couples organically getting to places of endearing intimacy. As the two of them found their way into an isolated room at Somerset House, they were given a moment to bond over what’s presumably Simon’s mother’s favorite painting. And it was a moment of stunning vulnerability to say the least. Sure Daphne could engage with other men about waking up in the country, but could she really lose herself in a painting and the emotional resonance of losing oneself in desire? For a moment, sound and mind, the two of them were comforted. For a moment, they could both picture the intimacy of a sunrise on the countryside and what that could evoke in two people longing for something more—longing for each other.

And then—the hands. The way in which hands could evoke so much in viewers never fails to astound or crack me up. In this scene especially, for it to come after Daphne describes an ultimate moment of comfort, a moment of intimacy makes it that much more beautiful. It was fun and games before, but there is longing now, there is an understanding, and there is desire. Lady Danbury even tells Violet, it’s a love match. We can see it. It absolutely is and it’s building up in a moment of shared serenity where neither of them needed to hide their true selves but could talk freely of what would bring them joy. Their friendship does. The other’s presence is as comforting as serenity on the countryside and that is where we find ourselves swooning. Or crying. Probably a bit of both.

This is also the episode where the importance of a friendship leads to a conversation that would’ve been… different had they been courting traditionally. Daphne asks about physical intimacy and Simon talks to her about self-pleasure. And thus the series gives Daphne the place to explore while unsurprisingly thinking of him. (This is what fake dating does, folks. You fall for them. It’s inevitable. Don’t do it. Unless you know, you want to fall and feel all sorts of things. Then go forth.) But he tells her that you’ll know when you know, and for him, the clarity comes from realizing, that he is in fact falling. He knows he’s too far gone now, and if he doesn’t leave now, he will lose all control he has attempted to hold. These men. The drama.

It’s all fun and games until one person decides they’re done—it’s too much, and as Simon attempts to walk away being called foolish in the process rightfully so by Lady Danbury, Daphne passes her feathers along. The prince wasn’t catching her attention before, but now the duke has left the picture, well, there he is. Poor Prince Friedrich is just a pawn for jealousy—a delightful little peach, we hope he finds love, too eventually.

As mentioned in “Shock and Delight” conversation matters—while most characters do not always hear each other out amidst them, some do. And that’s certainly the case with the seconds—Benedict and Eloise. Another late night cigarette passing leads to the kind of conversation that’s absolutely necessary and riveting in terms of highlighting just how much women were lacking in opportunities. Eloise voices her frustrations about not being able to attend university in the previous episode, and she continues this week by calling Benedict out on the fact that as a man his privilege is immense. He is the only thing standing in the way of achieving his goals. “If you desire the sun and moon, all you have to do is shoot at the stars…so do it. Be bold.” If I loved this moment less, I might be able to talk about it more.

As we mention in our Character Deep Dive, for Benedict, he is the brother who listens, the one who stands in the background and actually hears people out, thus the declaration that he would support Eloise if she were Whistledown was an incredible homage to the character. Plus, we need, it’s not a want, it’s a need, for Eloise to call him out in the future with Sophie too. We love the man, but sometimes he needs to bite his tongue. (Kind of, sort like at Somerset House when he shat on Henry Granville’s work in his presence. Facepalm.)

Eloise Bridgerton making sure people follow their dreams since 1813. She’s an interesting little gem this one. This also takes us back to the conversation she and Daphne have which is so reflective of how siblings, sisters especially behave. No one can annoy someone more than their siblings. But also, no one can love someone more. Eloise and Daphne, as mentioned before are foils of each other, they don’t quite understand each other, but they want the best for each other nonetheless, and Eloise telling Daphne to at least give her number a name is fascinating. This is a woman who cares so fervently about the mind. She cares about people doing things for themselves. She wants Daphne to be happy, she wants her to be enriched and celebrated, but she cares more about what people can offer than what they look like. Which is why dresses and frocks aren’t her cup of tea, but if Daphne had given her number a title, it would’ve meant that much more to Eloise that she’s practicing incessantly. But also, siblings annoying each other is the very heart of this series.

Siblings bicker and siblings don’t always understand each other, but the conversation continues in the kitchen with Anthony and Daphne as they try to figure out how to warm milk. It is however, yet another fascinating showcase of privilege, and we’ll get to it in a bit, but Anthony essentially opening up to Daphne about Simon’s upbringing made for a great scene. He isn’t fighting against their relationship because he doesn’t want Daphne to be with his friend, but more than anything it’s because he knows Simon has always been against marriage. He knows that Simon’s past with his parents is a dark one, and unlike the Bridgertons, he hasn’t had great examples to look up to. Anthony believes he is protecting his sister above all things, because he is believing in the words his friend has often told him. He also believes that he’s in love, which leads us to pinpointing the amount of desperation that is actually in Anthony regarding Siena, and regarding the idea of love.

But first, privilege is an incredibly important theme throughout the series and while the Bridgerton family does understand it to a degree, they haven’t quite processed it as vigorously as others have. That’s why the conversation with Madame Delacroix and Siena is so captivating. It’s a moment I appreciated the series giving us because it’s a broad showcase of two classes—people who don’t have to work for a living and people who do. People who have a large roof over their heads and people who don’t. This is the moment where I wanted to know more about Siena: who were her parents? What kind of a relationship did she have with them? What led her to the life she leads? And the same with Genevieve Delacroix who we know, dons a faux French accent in front of the ton because they’re so pompous, they would buy from her as opposed to someone who is actually English.

The two women bonding over their frustrations related to the ton was surprisingly delightful. It’s a fascinating moment to show the audience once again, just how much harder most women have it. And it’s as Eloise says, no matter what their occupation, there’s always so much more work that has to go into it to succeed even a little. To be treated as human beings. Thus, we get it. We get Siena needing to find another man to protect her, because at the time, it’s the best she can do. Her career is one thing, but it is sadly not enough, not at the time. And to be honest, we would’ve loved way more scenes of these two. This series does not lack in romance, but compelling female friendships is always something we’ll take more of.

We also need to make note of Kathryn Drysdale’s effortless switch between accents was an impeccable performer moment–this cast is talented, but so much of the show succeeds because even the newer characters have a tremendous amount to offer. If you go into a series with characters you already adore and find more to be fond of then that’s succeeding in our book. It is certainty the case with Madame Delacroix.

Remember when we said we were going to talk about Anthony’s physicality a lot this season because we can’t disregard the incredible work Jonathan Bailey is doing? Well, here we are. In “Art of the Swoon” it was no small feat on Bailey’s part in showing us just how much of Anthony’s spirit is in shambles—just how hard he is trying to keep it together. Does he miss Siena or does he miss the physical excitement? Both we’d say. Anthony Bridgerton was never a man incapable of love prior to Kate, but a man who wouldn’t let himself have it. And while we don’t think Siena’s the one for him, the attachment is understandable, the desperation and the obsession both make sense. Anthony missing her makes sense when he is a man who’s trying to do right but failing. Anthony missing her makes sense when he is clouded by the belief that he does in fact care for her, which he does—we’ll give him that much. He cares and he cares deeply. But as a daily reminder that loving someone and being in love with someone are different things, what Anthony needs above all things, as always is someone to talk to.

It’s all fun and games when he’s winning gambling rounds and having a drink with friends, but when the night falls and loneliness takes over, what else is he to do? And that loneliness is what’s so riveting because it’s something everyone feels. The desperation to have someone—to talk to someone. It’s not Siena, but Kate’s not around so he runs back to her. And we get it. We also get and fully support her refusing him away because he is still the same man and his status hasn’t changed. He cannot marry her. They aren’t suited and we’ll always take a woman standing her ground.

But finally, it’s the conversation with Violet that floors me where vulnerability is concerned. As mentioned in the character deep dive, she has no idea how crippling the idea of time is for her son. Time is of the essence for their family sure, but in that moment where she mentions the actual time, you can pinpoint the exact moment where Anthony’s fear takes over him. You can pinpoint the moment where it appears as though he’s been unmasked and stripped of the one thing no one knows, and Bailey brings those emotions to light with such palpable vulnerability, I nearly wept. The anxiety, the façade, for a moment time took everything from him again and so much dawns on him—he must step up. He must continue to try. He must conceal. And that’s what’s so harrowing about his arc this season, which will make the next one so incredibly beautiful when he’ll finally have his person to share burdens with.

Finally, our sweet summer child Penelope is doing the best she can and helping Marina sneak in letters. But it all comes crashing down when Portia and Mrs. Varley forge a letter that states George doesn’t care so Marina’s future is presumably out of the picture. We’re not too fond of this storyline if we are being honest, and this is a shitty thing to do, but next episode is about to get worse so we’ll address more then.

 “Art of the Swoon” made us indeed swoon, and it made us think a lot about what it means to be a woman in the 19th century. We love the costumes, but we ultimately don’t want to switch roles with any of these ladies.

Afternoon Tea and Reflection
Further Thoughts

  • What did Benedict’s face do this week? A lot. But we’re still reeling from his no no no’s when Violet tried to auction him off to debutantes and Colin was forced to be the one on Violet’s arm when both A&B left. We’re here for it. He is also a whole damn mood. Raise your hand if you’re also incapable of sitting straight on a couch and grumble when someone tells you to move.
  • The Bridgerton family moments in the drawing room are some of our favorites, for instance, Gregory stealing food from Anthony’s plate? Gold.
  • Okay but Eloise is going to write a novel, eventually right? She must. Jane Austen did it. Eloise Bridgerton should too.
  • Listen, we get Lady Featherington wants all the attractive men to swoon over her daughters, but you couldn’t choose someone at least of normal age for Marina? Not cool.
  • I still don’t understand how no one knows how to work a stove in this family. It’s really not that hard…But it’s great.

What are your thoughts on Bridgerton’s third episode, darling readers? Do tell.

Leave a Reply

Powered by WordPress.com.

Up ↑

%d bloggers like this: