Scene Breakdown: Colin and Penelope Dance on Bridgerton’s “Diamond of the First Water”

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“On the sixth of April, in the year 1812 — precisely two days before her sixteenth birthday — Penelope Featherington fell in love. It was, in a word, thrilling. The world shook. Her heart leaped. The moment was breathtaking.”

Romancing Mister Bridgerton, Julia Quinn

What other scene breakdown would be appropriate today other than Colin and Penelope’s first (on-screen) dance? The correct answer is none. There’s absolutely nothing that would have been more appropriate today and thus, we’re revisiting the moment we all fell in love that day.

There is a tremendous amount to appreciate about this scene starting with Colin’s observance in noticing that Cressida purposely spilled her drink on Penelope and to ensure that she isn’t embarrassed by it, he makes it clear that she’s the one he is to dance with. While we know there is a long time to go until these two finally get together, these little moments that showcase just how aware they both are of each other (even as friends) is crucial to their development.

And this is an integral first step for Penelope to know that Colin Bridgerton is someone who sees her. He might not be in love with her just yet, but she is not invisible to him, instead she is someone he sees and notices. In the TV series, there is a clear friendship developing between the two of them that touches on just how easy it is for them to engage in real conversation without reserve or society decorum. We see it in later episodes as well and while this (might) not be the exact moment Penelope falls in love with him in the series, it’s a moment that changes so much because here, she isn’t just the wallflower, she is the choice.

This isn’t a slow searing dance with longing glances and fire burning through their beings, but it is a dance involving two people who enjoy each other’s company. It’s a dance between two people who can just be themselves with each other and laugh together.

Say we knew absolutely nothing about the books and we knew nothing about the fact that these two were it in the end. There are a few things we’d consider then scream into a void about how these two have to be endgame. First, this is actually the first real dance between any of the Bridgerton siblings, you know, the people the show is named after. (Daphne and Simon’s first dance happens at the end of this episode, but Colin and Penelope are first.) And yes, Colin dances during the first ball with an unnamed lady, which we see and additionally joins in with Marina, but as far as a real, more personal dance, watching him ask, and seeing it with such details, theirs is the first. Penelope is wearing a dress that suits her more, that she likes more, and thus, she feels internally more like herself. And though it’s a happier, livelier dance than what we see in the end, it still rather obviously preludes that there’s something special here.

It’s the way that Colin is still holding on to her hand even as the music stops and the announcement begins that tells us that though this won’t happen immediately, the sparks are undeniable. The comfort between them is palpable, and the friendship is effortless.

Additionally, we had mentioned these details in our review for “Diamond of the First Water,” but Colin calling Penelope “Pen” in private is already a fantastic little detail to allude to the fact that she’s someone who’s close to him. Societal rules aside, he doesn’t need to call her Miss Featherington when it’s just the two of them. And though he approaches her looking for a certain Miss Thompson, we know that no one’s a threat to the endgame that’s set up for these two.

It’s not always going to be pretty or fun watching the angst build up between the two of them, but Penelope’s always been special to Colin, whether he realizes it (yet) or not. And calling her Pen so early on is a little delight for fans to hold on to. Also, there’s the little moment where suitors leave the Featherington’s house, and while no one stops to say goodbye to the girls, Colin makes sure to say goodbye to Penelope. Be still our hearts.

While it’s not always going to be easy for the two of them before their happy ending, and no one wants to see a sad Penelope when she deserves the world, we’ll be singing 101 praises about the work Nicola Coughlan’s doing and how transcendent each moment she’s on screen will be. Coughlan’s embodiment in that little scene with Colin, her awe-struck expression upon Marina’s entrance, the excitement in saying hi to Eloise, and her sadness as she stood away from the dance floor are so telling of what’s in store. This is a woman who’s so good at showcasing a full range of emotions in a character who holds so much in. Penelope might be a wallflower, but Coughlan is a star, and the myriad emotions she’ll continuously convey, even in silence, will always be a marvel to analyze.

What’s your favorite part of Colin and Penelope’s first dance?

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