Bridgerton “Oceans Apart” Review
What we say versus what we believe can sometimes differ and that is certainly the case in Bridgerton’s incredible penultimate episode. Since these stories do technically end after each season, it seems fitting that “Oceans Apart” would be the one before the remarkable finale. Tensions are running high in the Hastings/Basset household, the Bridgertons are dealing with the aftermath of Whistledown’s reveal, soirees occur, garden parties, shenanigans on staircases, and the one where everyone gets called out, rightfully so setting character development into motion with astounding vigor.
Conversations are finally happening, and we’re on our way towards transparency being front and center. But the fact that conversations are happening, without holding back is perhaps the most excellent feat—so much of the last episode was an outcry regarding the consequences of its lack, whereas “Oceans Apart” tackles it head-on—figuratively and physically for some. And it ends with what might be the most heartbreaking scene of the season.
“Oceans Apart” is the thematic showcase of attentiveness and risk—the importance of deciding what matters in love and ensuring that two people would fight for it every day for the rest of their lives.
Most couples have a long way to go before understanding what it truly means to choose love every day for the rest of their lives—heck Anthony, Benedict, and Eloise haven’t even met the people who’d be worth it for them. Simon and Daphne will get there, but the only couple who is there, and the couple we sadly get far too little of is, Henry Granville and Lord Wetherby.
As we saw in “The Duke and I,” Henry was seen with a man that wasn’t his wife. And as we learned in “Oceans Apart,” it’s a simple explanation, he is in love with Lord Wetherby, and the arrangement he has with his wife, Lucy allows him the chance to be with the one he adores most while she’s granted the freedom to do as she pleases. If we weren’t in 19-century England, they wouldn’t have to be oceans apart, they could just be—in public, in front of the world to see, no facades, no hiding. But in a series where transparency is taken advantage of by members of the ton, two people in this universe would’ve basked in it—used it, rightfully so, to showcase their love for one another.
And as far as speeches in the season go, I think it’s safe to assume that Henry’s, though in a moment of confidence and not public declaration is equally as grand as Simon’s to the queen. Perhaps, even a little more because it’s rooted in a profound understanding no two people share quite yet. “We live under a constant threat of danger. I risk my life every day for love. You have no idea what it is like to be in a room with someone you cannot live without and yet still feel as though you’re oceans apart. Stealing your glances, disguising your touches, we cannot so much as smile at each other without ensuring that no one else is watching. It takes courage to live outside the traditional expectations of society.” (Cue the tears. We’ve got plenty of them.) How tragic once more, that the healthiest couple in the room, the healthiest couple in the whole show is the one that cannot publicly be? How tragic that they must hide away in art houses and form arrangements to ensure they’re given the time to be together.
It takes us back to the idea that Henry’s artwork, the ones he does for himself are that much more incredible—warmer and more beautiful because they are the pieces that come from his heart as opposed to for a job. In the same way that while he and his wife have a mutual understanding, the story that makes our hearts ache, the warmest one is that between him and Lord Wetherby. Again, why didn’t we see more of this? We wasted precious screen time watching Lord Featherington throw away his family’s money while simultaneously being the worst, most useless character when we could have gotten quiet moments of intimacy with Henry and Lord Wetherby. I said what I said–there is no part of me that cares an ounce about Lord Featherington, not even a teeny tiny bit compared to the tremendous amount I care about this love story.
This is the love story between two people who are meant to be but can’t because society wouldn’t allow it. They’d be scorned and ridiculed and far worse tragically as bigotry is at large in this time period. Where two people understand one another, fully and wholeheartedly, their love story makes them better—stronger, miserable apart and happy together, which is the opposite of what members at the ton are in line with. This is the couple that got less than two minutes of screen time, and yet, they’re the healthiest display of adoration we’ve seen on the series. Their very short scenes, the quick glances and Henry’s speech reiterated the deep connection that’s severely lacking elsewhere and brought to light the idea that true love is transparent, endearing, and a choice people are to make every single day. Henry and Lord Wetherby choose one another every single day—to be in love with each other guarantees this. They risk their lives and they take chances whenever they can to ensure the other knows they are cherished. We didn’t even have to see it, though we would’ve much preferred to, but Julian Ovenden’s gripping performance in that moment said enough to fortify every word that Henry spoke. This is real. This is true. And this is how it should be.
As fans of the book will note, the scene also served as an Easter egg for Benedict’s story where he falls in love with a servant, and as far as class differences are considered, this is a big one. We also hope that Henry essentially calling Benedict out on being all talk will force him to handle situations better when his love story is concerned. By the end of the episode, he is already on the path towards making his own decisions, putting actions behind his words and choosing to embark on whatever “friendship” he has with Madame Delacroix. (Which we freaking love by the way.) This is the first step in Benedict having the courage to live outside society’s confines, and it’s setting up his story so incredibly. It’s also great to note that he listened and took Henry’s criticism to heart because moments like this serve as great character development.
We’re getting a glimmer of transparency with Benedict and Eloise, accompanied by one heck of a scene in the carriage when she starts to believe that Madame Delacroix is Whistledown. This is also the episode where we get a beautiful moment between her and Penelope. Whistledown doesn’t have Eloise’s respect if she’s ruined her best friend’s reputation. And that served as a great moment between the two for Penelope to know that she is more important than her alter ego, in spite of the fact that Eloise doesn’t know. But it serves as a reminder for her in knowing that at the end of the day, she does truly always have Eloise by her side–no matter how dark it gets, she’ll be there, and if the roles are reversed, Penelope would be there, too.
We’ve got to address the incredible detail of male pride once more, which we’ll also get to in the finale with Eloise, knowing full well that men jump back easily. And that’s not to diminish Colin’s grief or his pain in any way because it’s entirely real, but it is easier for them to essentially fight through it. Colin could get up and go travel in this society. He could find his person and could move on to someone else, but if this happened to a woman, she’d be dealing with the aftermath her entire life. It isn’t the same for men where gossip is concerned especially straight men. And that’s what this episode was a reminder of ultimately–the toxic masculinity of this time. Will we ever get tired of Eloise calling men out on their privilege? No. No we will not.
Eloise is also making her debut at the concert and though she’s really going for the queen, it turns out she’s no longer responsible for uncovering the identity as Bow Street Runners have been tasked to silence Whistledown instead. Well that leaves a sting for her, doesn’t it, but at least Benedict is there wanting to leave as well.
Fights and Apologies
It’s an episode focused on calling people out while showcasing the importance of transparency. Sometimes, where there’s a tremendous amount of it, a fight is bound to follow with Simon and Anthony. There is something so riveting about Jonathan Bailey and Regé-Jean Page as scene partners when they’re tackling Anthony and Simon’s innermost demons. Thus far, all of their scenes at White’s have been so satisfying in both layering the characters and forcing them to have the conversations that are most uncomfortable. While Anthony goes in to discuss what Simon has done to upset Daphne, Simon gets into maintaining duties, which leads to pointing out the fact that Anthony makes being head of the household appear as the most difficult of tasks.
They each point fingers at one another, mention their fathers, and once asked whether the former viscount would be proud, an enormous fight breaks through resulting in broken tables and bruised faces. It’s not pretty and it’s not great, yet it’s absolutely necessary in addressing not only their issues, but forcing them to confront their demons. Plus, the performances are truly such a gut-punching thrill to watch.
And yet, this is another fascinating episode where Anthony’s character development is concerned because he’s again trying to make matters right. While he scorned Colin in “Swish,” he’s here today to apologize—really and truly without sugarcoating any of it. As we’ll admit, one of our biggest issues with the show is that apologies sometimes get glossed over and we are to assume they happen off-screen or meant to accept some form of it without the words “I’m sorry” actually being used. But Anthony Bridgerton apologizes—he apologizes in “An Affair of Honor,” he apologizes in “The Duke and I,” and he apologizes in this moment to Colin.
It results in a fascinating conversation between the brothers where thankfully nothing is broken and instead drinks are shared discussing love and what that means. It will be as though it never happened. And it’s a work in progress for sure, which is what we’ve been saying all along with Anthony’s character that we stand by with Colin’s as well. In order to know real, true love people must know themselves, which works with Henry and Lord Wetherby and how their relationship differs from Anthony and Siena’s along with Colin and Marina’s. Though they cannot be together because society won’t allow it, they choose each other because themselves and each other entirely. The absence of transparency has been the lamenting theme with both these couples and allowing the brothers a moment of vulnerability like this was incredible. Anthony and Colin have a lot to learn–about themselves and each other as well.
Additionally, what was also incredible was giving us the bonding moments between Colin and Daphne, which is alluded to more in the books. After learning about what happened through Whistledown’s latest article, Simon and Daphne return to London, and she’s given the chance now as duchess to perhaps make matters right. There’s loads of awkward tension in the drawing room addressing why Colin cannot see Marina, but when Daphne follows him out, the two are given a chance to be vulnerable together.
They discuss his feelings for Marina, and Daphne brings up the detail that it’s great he learned the truth before he married someone he didn’t know. And though this is different than her story, there are parallels to which Colin notes to and asks her about. See, moments of vulnerability—conversation matters, and this could have led to something great, but it wasn’t the time, and instead, Daphne decides she’ll arrange a rendezvous for him to see Marina one last time.
It is during this rendezvous however where it becomes painfully clear why Colin and Marina were never suited. The fact that she was in love with another man is one thing, but the detail that she wasn’t honest with Colin is another. And that’s what he mentions, rightfully so, further showcasing his innocence and heart—if she had just been honest about her condition, he would have married her anyway. That is how in love he believed to be.
We have talked about belief here a lot at Marvelous Geeks, and we have talked about how much power it holds, but we haven’t addressed the fact that sometimes belief can be wrong. And it’s wrong when it isn’t strong enough. Colin believed himself to be in love, but does Colin really know what love is? Is lusting and burning for someone the same as love? Is being in love with someone you don’t fully know the same as being in love with someone who’s also your dearest friend? We wouldn’t say so. It’s the same situation with Anthony—is his fascination and obsession with Siena the same as love? We wouldn’t say so. Belief can be skewed in the wrong direction, and in these cases, they are. Belief needs to be solidified with far more than just desire, it needs proof of some kind, and it needs to be anchored in something far greater than emotional pull. Mind, body, and soul must agree where belief is concerned, and that’s the case with Lady Danbury’s belief in Simon, for instance. That’s what makes their belief so different than this, and additionally, Colin’s use of belief in the past tense is also that much more telling as well. You don’t stop believing in someone even when they betray you, somehow, you keep going, you keep fighting. When it’s right, you keep choosing to believe in them, and you keep choosing to believe in your love for them.
Daphne takes a lot on her plate in this episode and decides regardless that she’s going to help Marina locate George. She hears her out and figures out a way to speak to the general through his wife at Lady Danbury’s soiree. This is just as we pictured when we imagined how Daphne would behave like a duchess—using her title to help others. And though Marina is upset by the fact that she believes it won’t be received since Simon didn’t sign away either, we’re still going to give Daphne credit for trying—she did the best she could among her own troubles, and it made for a fascinating scene between Phoebe Dynevor and Ruby Barker.
The lack of success in locating George and the scandal her engagement to Colin has brought results in Marina making some sort of an abortion tea, followed by Penelope finding her unconscious. We’re all about a woman’s choice and agency here; we have made that very clear, but safely executed, not in a way that could be so harmful. That said, spoiler alert, we’re glad to know she’s fine.
We also would really love to score an invite to Lady Danbury’s soiree—how is she the actual coolest woman in every room she enters? And she’s even the coolest around Queen Charlotte, too sorry, not sorry, but Lady Danbury is everything. It’s her world, and we’re all just living in it. It was nice to see Daphne away from her family and perhaps on her way to making some friends because every single one of the women was gracious and inviting. A party with all females where no one is insulting each other, no one’s looking down at each other, and all they’re doing is talking about how nice it is to be away from their husbands? Yes, please. There’s nothing we can’t stand more than female relationships full of jealousy and scorn, but to have moments like this is always so refreshing and thus proving how lacking it also is on television. Ladies deserve time away, and ladies deserve to have a blast doing so.
If people just spoke to one another, openly and sincerely, a lot could be avoided, and in “Oceans Apart,” Daphne gets to voice her frustrations to her mother and the use of vague metaphors. The scene between the two in the garden was so fascinating to watch—yet another riveting display of performances, and in this episode, Ruth Gemmell and Phoebe Dynevor were exquisite scene partners, too. Between addressing the fact that Daphne wasn’t remotely prepared for marriage to the scene at the concert where she got her period, we were floored by the transcendent work the women put in to showcase how mothers and daughters could be at times. Transparency matters, we keep saying this, and we’ll keep saying it until it’s painfully clear just how important it is for people to know what’s in store for them. People with wisdom and information need to share said wisdom boldly and clearly. And especially back then where doing one’s own research wasn’t at their disposal as it is for us.
And where transparency is concerned, this is finally the episode where Daphne learns why Simon refuses to have children. But before that, we get bickering and brief moments of vulnerability that made my heart ache. We also get a strong opener with Daphne aggressively playing the piano while Simon’s outside shooting, and though there’s an open door between them, they could not be more distanced.
In the books, Daphne runs away after learning what he’s been doing, but I appreciate the detail of her staying in the series and trying. Because marriage isn’t running away, it’s staying put, it’s trying to work things out, and sure sometimes, it’s being petty, but most importantly, it’s trying. At least we as the audience got a bit of entertainment there even if the servants didn’t.
After Simon comes home late from spending time boxing with Will, Daphne questions his loyalty to her, and that doesn’t sit well with the duke. And this is a fascinating moment to address belief again because when Daphne assumes that Simon believes there’s nothing left in their marriage, he questions whether that’s truly something she believes, which leads to a stunning moment of vulnerability. Here’s the thing, sometimes two people are too stubborn and too stupid to let their walls down, and in moments such as this one—their bodies do the talking. The longing—the pull to be with one another is far more powerful than the issues they’re fighting over, and it’s not a want but a need. They needed to be together one more time, however brief the moment was, it was potent in exhibiting that no matter what’s going on between the two of them, they love each other.
That’s certainly the case when Daphne sees Simon tending to his wound and offers to help him. (Raise your hand if you’re garbage for the hurt/comfort trope like we are!) This is one of the most beautiful, one of the most vulnerable scenes in the entire series with the two of them, and part of the reason why this is episode is so special. Page and Dynevor were astounding in the words they spoke in silence as she cleaned to the wound on his face. The way Simon then couldn’t hold back and needed her closer thus illuminated just how much he truly loves her, how much he needs her, and how difficult this all is for him. Though he has a great amount of control at times, he also has very little because that’s how harrowing and deeply rooted fears can be. The way they looked at one another in those moments were filled with both so much pain and adoration.
And when Daphne asks why he won’t unfold himself to her—I lost it. It is moments of vulnerability such as this one with couples that always solidifies whether or not they are meant to be, and this was a gorgeous one for the two of them. Daphne wants to know Simon—every bit of him—she wants to understand him, she wants to see his heart, she wants to learn from him, and more than anything, she wants to love him. Openly and without reservation–she wants to be his wife. She wants all of him, as does he, but because of how broken he is, because of his inability to let go, unfolding himself doesn’t come easy.
Their kiss opens up so much of the longing and fire that’s burning within them. The inability to let go, to walk away without intimacy, is the very showcase of how real this is. She is right for him, and he is right for her. Their friendship has led them this far, and there are still ways to go, but the moment leads to him admitting that he made a vow and another fight that reveals that love is indeed a choice. It’s a choice they’ll make in the finale and one we’ll cry about writing through. But progress is starting somewhere and finally admitting the why was so important for Simon to let something off his chest.
This episode ending with Daphne sobbing after getting her period and framing the scene in such a way where Simon is seen teary-eyed as her cries drown out the sound of Vivaldi’s “Four Seasons” was masterful storytelling. “Four Seasons” is representative of movements; it’s timeless, which in this scene reflects the idea that this isn’t their time—this is the apparent end. The moment that for Daphne signifies not only the fact that she isn’t pregnant, but that in this way, she loses her husband as well. Simon understood what happened at that moment—he realized it, and his tears, too signify the end. He’s a stubborn man, true to his words believing that he must do as he said, and they will only be married by name now. Then why are they both hurting so much if that’s the case? Why ache as they do? Why cry?
The wedding bliss has passed, their season is coming to an end, and their love for one another is burning through more fervently than ever masked with darkness they aren’t sure how to get through. It’s storytelling at its finest: Simon is figuratively in a box, literally in his own head, unable to get through his trauma because unfolding to someone, sharing his demons with someone is the hardest thing he’s ever known. And that’s the thing with vulnerability—it isn’t easy. Opening up is hard. It takes courage to choose someone every day, it takes courage to risk everything for love, and it takes courage to live without armor.
And throughout the episode, where every minute was leading to this ending—you could pinpoint the exact moment where Page’s performance reveals that Simon’s entire heart has just broken. He’s been through a tremendous amount of darkness and pain in his life, and yet in this very moment, his shared trauma with Daphne breaks him completely. This is the worst of it all. This is the hardest moment of his life. They aren’t even in the same frame, yet Page and Dynevor were on the same frequency with intrinsic performances that are both so haunting and so reforming.
To end there is just a daunting travesty, but the season finale makes up for so much of the pain felt in this episode.
Afternoon Tea and Reflection
- Did anyone notice the telescope in Eloise’s bedroom? Or dressing room? Whichever, point being, it brings a whole new meaning to what she said to Benedict about shooting at the stars. Eloise Bridgerton the English/Astrophysics professor? In another life, that’s likely it, but seriously, someone get this girl to university.
- Siena’s got a new protector and she’s making sure Anthony sees that she’s into him. He’s still stressed and tense about everything, but what else is new?
- What was Benedict’s face doing this week? Being an absolute momma’s boy, that’s what. Jesus Christ—the man’s what 26-27 and he makes up his mother calling him to avoid conversation then tells his younger sister not tell their mother about his liaisons. Okay, buddy. Okay.
- How hilariously awkward and delightful was the carriage scene though? Eloise’s expression changing as she started to believe that Madame Delacroix could be Lady Whistledown was comedic gold!
- How stunning was Daphne’s emerald dress? Favorite costume of the night hands down.
- Daphne’s comment to Cressida about judging not lest we too be judged was fascinating. The Cowpers need to shut it.
- How stunning was the cinematography on the stairs with Simon and Daphne? On top of everything, they’ve been going in circles indeed and the way that shot was framed was incredible.
- The tension between Violet and Portia is a whole lot of yikes.
- The look between Anthony and Benedict when they had no clue what Daphne and Violet were talking about is peak male siblings, and as we’ve been saying, it’s the little moments. It really is.
- Have I mentioned how much I hate the useless piece of sh*t that is Lord Featherington enough times? Because really, I do. There’s not a single character I care less about.
- “I did not come here to be shamed by you, nor anyone else.” This was an amazing line by Marina and Barker’s delivery of it was phenomenal–we’re glad something along these lines was included.
- We never want to see Colin Bridgerton or Penelope Featherington cry again in our lives unless it’s happy tears because of each other. That shot of Colin on his bed was so heartbreaking.
- Lady Danbury’s kindness towards Daphne was just so lovely. This combined family dynamic is perfect. It really is. And that garden scene? Superb in beauty and context.
- Violet also having that moment with Eloise where she states that she might be rushing Eloise was interesting to look into after the conversation with Daphne. She needs to be ready, and questioning herself is a great moment of character.
- Watching the Featheringtons be sent away from the party actually hurt? It had to happen, but Penelope doesn’t deserve that in spite of the fact that she brought it upon herself, but we’ll get into that more in the finale.
Bonus Content: Listen to the Lady Geeks’ Society Podcast Episode of “Oceans Apart” for more Bridgerton
Now streaming on Netflix: What are your thoughts on Bridgerton’s “Oceans Apart?” Let us know in the comments below.
Gissane (pronounced Geese-enny) or, as people often call her, "Goose," is a Christ fan above all and a romance enthusiast who's taken her Master's degree in English and love for essays into writing lengthy analyses about pop culture.
She is the founder and Editor-in-Chief of Marvelous Geeks Media and the co-host of Lady Geeks' Society Podcast. She drinks too much coffee, wants to live in a forest, and cries a lot because of her favorite characters. She's a member of The Cherry Picks and can also be found writing features for MovieWeb and Looper.