Bridgerton 1×05 “The Duke and I” Review

NETFLIX © 2020 

In which we are once again at the place where we scream at our television for two people to just talk to each other and put us out of our misery. It’s the one with all the hookups, the one where we roll our eyes too many times, and the one with the wedding. “The Duke and I” is overall a fairly solid episode with some beautiful moments that reiterates the importance of transparency in relationship. Whether that’s romantic or platonic, it matters and we’ll keep saying just how much until it’s no longer our concern. Much like Queen Charlotte, we could all tell when someone’s lying, except maybe Daphne, but that’s neither here nor there, the point of “The Duke and I” is marriage. Marriage is what brings us here today. (I hope you read that all in the voice of the priest from The Princess Bride. If not, please go back and do so.) It’s the episode where two become one and more animal metaphors confuse the living daylights out of women. 

We’re now five episodes in and situations have escalated, characters are revealing their true motives—some not as great as others. But we have a wedding to plan, and it doesn’t go as quickly as desired because the queen demands a show, which we’re not mad at because that was our favorite moment in the episode. However, it’s the aftermath of last week that we’ll get into first, and Anthony choosing to apologize to Simon is a great step. The thematic importance of choice carries on in this episode as Anthony decides to be the bigger man and apologize to Simon for shooting at him. He also plans to discuss Daphne’s dowry, but Simon isn’t into the idea stating that he isn’t marrying her for money, plans to provide for her, and the money can be placed in a trust. What an excellent decision because yes, the concept of dowries are indeed a custom we find somewhat offensive as well. Simon and Anthony need larger moments of vulnerability, but that’s hopefully something that can be rectified next season—as far as this moment goes, it further serves to improve Anthony’s character in allowing him the opportunities to showcase growth. 

It’s also something we get into with Daphne when he mentions that Simon refused his dowry, and she’s free to do with the money as she chooses–bringing up children, which undoubtedly then sets Daphne off. There’s a lot of running away in this episode, and we’re kind of, confused by it.  (But the shot of Daphne running up the stairs is stunning!)

Reeling from the cyclonic night Benedict previously had between seizing his freedom and then almost losing his brother, he chooses to attend one of Henry Granville’s parties. (How do we score an invite?) And things get…spicy, to say the least. A very merry time indeed for the second son and his escapades with the modiste? And Lucy Granville? Makes sense. No, but really it does—especially when you think about the fact that in his own book, he is basically fantasizing the idea of being in a throuple with the same woman. If any of the Bridgerton men was going to canonically partake in a threesome then, it would be Benedict. However, before that he accidentally walks in on Henry Granville and another man, (Lord Wetherby, as we will later learn.) but as mentioned in “An Affair of Honor” this is a no judgement zone.

It’s later however, when Benedict sees Henry Granville at Daphne and Simon’s wedding where he comes to the understanding that the other woman he slept with was Granville’s wife, Lucy, his cyclonic day continues. Drink up, Bridgerton. You need it. We’ll get into more of Henry and Lord Wetherby in episode seven, but we ship it, no questions asked. (We are frankly very disappointed in how little we got however. That split scene? Not enough. Not even close.)

While both of the eldest Bridgertons are running from the yoke, sweet baby goat Colin is running straight towards it and good Lord, are we surprised…For a moment, Colin being so green felt odd, but upon further thought, it’s actually fascinating that we are getting to see this side of him prior to the one we knew of in the books. Colin won’t even kiss Marina—that’s how much of a gentleman he is. When we left him after the duel, he had just danced with her, but now, he’s courting her and Penelope’s heart is breaking. As is ours. Colin courting Marina is perfectly fine, do you, number three–but Marina seducing him is big, huge no. We get her situation, we would loathe to be in it, but she knows he is innocent, and she is taking advantage of that. That much is simple. We do not want her with Lord Rutledge (cannot believe someone wanted him), but she had plenty of suitors she could have seduced into marriage. Recognizing someone’s innocence like she did Colin’s, reiterates the idea that transparency would have been better, this is solidified later, but we’ll discuss it then. For now, Penelope suggesting Greece to him was fantastic—get him out of there. Because a marriage proposal during his sister’s wedding is just. Oof. (Also people just shouldn’t be Anthony’s study unchaperoned, we know what happens there.) 

Transparency is tragically absent in the queen’s life, too as this is the episode we learn just how much the king’s state of mind is deteriorating, and he believes that she has harmed their child. Is it any wonder she seeks an escape? Is it any wonder she seeks entertainment? We certainly can’t blame her, and Golda Rosheuvel is fascinating in this episode. After being denied the special license, Simon and Daphne must go to her for one–and here come the waterworks. 

“The young lady flatters me. It was not love at first sight, for either of us. There was attraction, certainly. At least on my part. But Miss Bridgerton thought me presumptuous, arrogant, insincere–all fair really. And I thought her a prim young lady barely out of leading strings. Not to mention the sister of my best friend. So romance was entirely out of the question for both of us. But in so removing it, we found something far greater. We found friendship. You see, Miss Bridgerton and I have been fooling Mayfair for quite some time. We have fooled them into thinking we are courting…when really all along, we simply enjoyed each other’s company so much, we could not stay away from one another. I have never been a man that much enjoyed flirting, or chatting, or indeed talking at all. But with Daphne…Miss Bridgerton…conversation has always been easy. Her laughter brings me joy. To meet a beautiful woman is one thing, but to meet your best friend in the most beautiful of women is something entirely apart. And it is with my sincerest apologies I must say it took the prince coming along for me to realize I did not want Miss Bridgerton to only be my friend, I wanted her to be my wife.”

Did we all just collectively fall in love with Simon all over again? Yes, yes we did. The man is poetry personified and we’re just supposed to be casual about this? We’re just supposed not fall in love and not demand that all men be this way? This level of transparency needed to carry on into their bedchambers, but that’s a topic of discussion for the next episode, instead we’ll now note back to the importance of friendship and the fact that where real, true love is concerned, friendship matters more than anything. And that is what they have found in each other, their truest, best friend.

When love is real, laughing together is effortless, being together is calming, talking to one another is easy. That’s what it continues to come down to in romance and where they’ll find themselves a little later, but when they weren’t thinking, they were being. It was easy to fall in love with each other because it was easy to talk to each other. It was easy to fall in love with each other because it was easy to laugh together. What wasn’t easy however, what is often met with a plethora of sexual tension and colossal angst is admitting just how easy it was. Regé-Jean Page and Phoebe Dynevor are sensational in that scene. Between his transparency and her complete shock, I was floored in every way. I felt for them. And while I fully admit their story isn’t among my favorites in the book, this moment solidifies that in the TV series, they’re climbing the charts for me. It’s a stunning, completely vulnerable display of adoration and though others are present, it somehow makes it better—more real. To stand there in front of the queen and declare all this, then to have the queen ask Daphne if she wants to marry him was everything we did not know she needed. Repeat after us again, agency. This series acknowledges it and we’re here for it. And even when it doesn’t, we’ll discuss that too, but in this moment, it’s as close to perfect as it gets.

A hungover Simon earlier on leads us to an angsty one at the wedding who’s staying away from Daphne with the firm belief that he is trapping her into a marriage. In the same way, she believes she is the one to trap him. We get why conversation is so important right? If these idiots just talked to each other as they finally did after pacing no longer did the trick in dimming the fire that burned through them, we would have gotten here much sooner. But we’ll always be here for one party opening the door to find the other only to see that they’re right there waiting to knock.

They both went into the garden on purpose, she went because burning for him was colossally overpowering, and he followed because he could no longer hold back. Flushed and distressed and in love. Simon was always the one she couldn’t sacrifice and saying that to him, beautifully delivered by Dynevor in a moment of pure vulnerability made the night that much more stunning—that much more wonderful.

This is ultimately where it gets tricky and where we’re all probably ready to strangle both of them because they could give each other the world if only they had opened up about all the demons deep within. Talking to Daphne is easy, but Simon still isn’t ready to talk about the trauma his father caused him. Simon still isn’t ready to talk about the fact that he not only overcame a stutter, but he’s fighting the horrific rejection from a man who was supposed to love him through everything. She knows his father wasn’t like hers, but what she doesn’t realize is just how awful he was. And we really just wish she did. Instead of saying he can’t give her children, we really wish he said he wouldn’t, but again, we’ll get into that in the next episode.

The episode is all about the wedding and consummating the marriage—a thing these women still don’t know about because Violet could not for the life of her do better than basset hound metaphors. But she has learned of self-pleasure now, and she learns that though Simon said he cannot have children, they could still find pleasure with each other. And we’ll give it to the series’ intimacy coach for staging a moment of intimacy that not only catered the female gaze, but showcased it through a beautifully, emotional and expressive manner. She is his, and he is hers, and a little transparency will take them much farther, but for a moment, we got a stunning moment of intimacy while Hillary Smith’s “Strange” played in the background.

“The Duke and I” focuses on transparency in an episode that isn’t exactly as so for all characters. Simon and Daphne end their night happily. Benedict’s having yet another day. Colin is making some grand decisions he should at least talk to one other person about. Eloise’s hunt for Whistledown continues now with Queen Charlotte’s blessing. Hyacinth really hopes that the duke’s proposal was half as romantic as the prince’s, and Siena has officially left town leaving Anthony distressed. Or has she? “The Duke and I” rightfully focuses on Daphne Bridgerton and the Duke of Hastings, but it leaves a whole lot of room for Lady Whistledown to talk about the others.

Afternoon Tea and Reflection
Further Thoughts

  • Madame Delacroix standing up for Siena is excellent. Ladies defending ladies and wanting the best for them is always our jam.
  • That’s not the case with Cressida and Daphne, but I did appreciate Daphne’s comment about her either being a friend of a duchess or her enemy. Daphne’s always been a kind woman, as all Bridgerton women generally are, but this little detail, this moment of standing up for herself and to Cressida especially was excellent. They’ve all got a bit of fire in them after all.
  • That awkward moment between Eloise and Penelope isn’t flying with us. No one wants to see these two fight. Patch things up stat.
  • A hungover Violet is just as much of a mood as drunk Violet was except we’re not envious of her situation and hard pass on raw eggs + garlic.
  • This week’s favorite costume? Queen Charlotte’s red dress with the bejeweled gold details at the center? Where do I get one?
  • Also Daphne’s wedding dress was a stunning one!
  • On this episode of what on earth was Benedict’s face up to? All up in booze. Understandably so. Also, does the man own an umbrella? Surely the family can afford it. Does he just, I don’t know, not want one? Are we surprised that the man gets sick in his own book? Maybe you should’ve taken an umbrella instead of walking in the rain? I don’t know, I have questions. What I don’t have questions about is his neck—his beautiful neck, which I kept saying to myself, Fleabag voice and all. Can anyone even blame me? (But also a quick little ode the scene where he first meets Genevieve, and the instantaneous change in his physicality once he’s recognized is so revealing of the details in the books with how each of the men carry themselves when recognized as Bridgertons. It’s subtle, but Thompson’s demeanor is greatly telling of how a future Benedict will approach a future lady in silver.
  • There’s a painting in Daphne’s room with a mother and children that we noticed in this episode and it crushed me. On top of that we had Simon waking up in a kid’s bed at Will and Alice’s while the two of them stood as beacons of true love in his eyes except he still didn’t get the picture. You could have all this too, my dude. You could have all of it. You just have to let yourself.
  • Lady Danbury’s comment to Simon about bringing the bar with him was A+.
  • Daphne holding both Hyacinth and Gregory’s hand before leaving also crushed me. She was meant to be a mother, but she made the choice to be with Simon, in spite of all this because reputation aside, she loved him. Whether she realizes it or not, she loved him. The family parting sort of owns me now. Be still our hearts, she’d miss them, all of them even Anthony. (Is anyone else crying or am I just a weepy mess?) The best part of it being the moment between Daphne and Eloise where she states that no matter how different they are, they both know, without a shadow of a doubt, that Eloise is going to make her own way in this world. And dare we say Eloise actually looks sad parting from her. Who else is she going to pester now? As different as the women are, they are foils of each other, they are everything to each other, and this was a stunning moment to really showcase that. But there’s also the bit with Violet saying goodbye to Simon in the background, and we wish we got to see their conversation.
  • I understand the fact that the wedding happened in haste, but it doesn’t change the fact that I’m kind of, sort of, super pissed that Francesca missed it. Hopefully this is the first and only one because if the series wants us to be attached to her, she needs to be there more often.
  • The wedding ceremony with Sufjan Stevens’ “Love Yourself” playing was perfect and I can’t think of ending on a more perfect note than acknowledging the use of that song.

What are your thoughts on Bridgerton’s fifth episode? Do tell us in the comments below.

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