“Oceans Apart” is both my favorite and objectively, the strongest episode in Bridgerton’s first season. And apparently, writing 4,461 words wasn’t enough because I’m back to talk about it more.
Anthony Bridgerton is a work in progress, and in this episode, so is Colin Bridgerton. All the Bridgerton family members are, if we’re being honest. However, this is a scene that acutely showcases growth, and it does so in a moment of vulnerability that’s exceptional (and rare) for the regency period we’re in.
And that’s something Bridgerton continues to get right by allowing the men ample opportunities to be vulnerable. It’s especially the case with Anthony who’s literally the only man in the series to actually use the words “I’m sorry.”
There are other ways to apologize so this isn’t by any means attempting to dismiss former instances with other characters, but there is something to be said about Anthony’s word usage, and why it matters along with the fact that he is always the first to do so.
It’s a healthy display of what I had said I really needed after breaking down Anthony’s refusal to listen to Benedict before the duel. Transparency and healthy conversations matter, and they are crucial for a number of reasons in this scene. It’s not only a moment of healthy discourse between brothers, but it’s a moment where each of them are given the chance to really look into themselves.
It’s also a moment that displays how perfect casting is because both Jonathan Bailey and Luke Newton play off one another and show what’s buried deep beneath the surface most exquisitely.
The problem with most of the Bridgerton family members in this season is that they aren’t talking to each other, and when they do, it gets messy with flaws thrown into each other’s face. (The exception being Eloise and Benedict.) It happens with the women too and it happens with the men, but this is the one scene where two broken people are given the chance to vocalize their emotions in order to carry through the weight of the other’s heartache with them. (Or at least to try.)
Neither Anthony nor Colin know how to nurse a broken heart, and neither of them are in the right headspace to really understand (romantic) love quite yet. And it’s ultimately because neither of them have sat with themselves as diligently as they do in this scene. It’s a start, and it’s an important one because it shows the strength in conversations, and the strength in transparency.
In an episode where nearly everything blows up in people’s faces, this is one of the scenes where the potency of bravery screams in silence. Where Anthony’s first conversation resulted in a violent outburst, this is the aftermath of understanding just how important it to is to ensure that he is doing right by their father and his siblings.
When Simon had asked if the former viscount would be proud if he saw him today, it struck a nerve because he knows that the answer is no. And it’s not because Anthony was ever deliberately terrible, but rather because his demons are so boisterous and his trauma is so demanding, he has yet to deal with the aftermath of the volcanoes that have erupted in his life.
It’s partly due to the fact that men are subjected to the rules of the patriarchy and thus, they aren’t encouraged to work through their emotions, and it’s partly due to the fact that no one really speaks up as much as they need to about the loss they all lived through in this family.
It’s buried under the rug, swallowed up often with a strong drink, or brushed aside with generic sentiments. There is not a single member of this family who wouldn’t benefit from therapy, but Anthony Bridgerton especially because what he has had to take on as an 18-year-old isn’t something to ever be looked at lightly. It’s 2021 and most of us in our 30s still don’t have together—imagine the weight of a viscountcy, surrogate-fatherhood, and the colossal loss of losing the parent you idolized. It’s unbearable and it shows.
It’s unbearable and we see the aftermath of his inability to cope in his behavior—though subtly on display in the first season (whether you’ve read the books or not), when you look closely, it’s evident that a treacherous darkness looms over Anthony and consumes his entire being with a deep, protruding, ever-present shadow of desolation.
And yet, he keeps trying, which continues to be so astounding because he was wrong in how he handled Colin’s news. (As was Colin in blindsiding the family.) But as the eldest, Anthony needed to be rational about the situation, and while he’s still a human being who’s going to mess up, fixing the situation after the damage was done is what matters. Anthony listens and he does so attentively. Anthony listens to backlash and he tries. It’s something that Colin understands in this moment too because he also realizes his fault in the situation as well.
Heartbreak doesn’t usually manifest itself in the same way. Anthony’s is focused on rejection while Colin’s is cemented in lies, but the two of them taking a (tiny) moment to express those aches lightens the load as much as it heals their bond.
It’s also necessary to note that Anthony didn’t need to open up about forgetting a lost love (however vaguely), but it’s something he chooses to do because here, he is the eldest brother. Here, he is choosing to be vulnerable in order to make Colin’s heartache more bearable. Here, he is carrying his brother’s pain along with his own. Damned be conventional rules where men must mask their trauma, for a moment, Anthony allows himself to be vulnerable in order to truly show Colin that his apology is earnest.
And a part of me wonders if Anthony’s apology is what prompts Colin to extend it to Penelope in “After the Rain.” Vulnerability demands to be sat with. It demands excavation and it demands quiet contemplation. A moment like this could have certainly prompted Colin to sit with his broken heart a little longer only to realize that Penelope was part of the equation as well, thus understanding that she was looking out for him all along (just as Anthony was).
On screen, no one told Anthony to apologize. The words I wanted to apologize, arguably tell us it was his choice to do so. It was his choice to make matters right with his brother because that’s not only something that would make his father proud, but it’s something he realizes matters because he can’t yell at Simon to make matters right with Daphne when he knows he’s disappointed Colin in more ways than one. Disappointment doesn’t sit well with Anthony, we see the aftermath of it countless times with Violet in both “Diamond of the First Water,” “Shock and Delight,” and “Art of the Swoon.“
He might not realize the colossal impact his absence has had on his family, but there is a lot Anthony doesn’t exactly sit with to process when a 101 thoughts cross his mind every day, each to do with something and someone other than himself. But where need be, Jonathan Bailey shows the audience just how tormented Anthony is all throughout the season.
A broken heart demands to be stomped on a few more times, and for both brothers, that’s certainly going to be the case before they find the women they’re meant to be with. (Anthony’s will come sooner, of course because you know, Kate Sharma is on her way.) And there are ways to go for Colin and Penelope, but they’ll get there.
Shared brandy with brothers amidst a moment of true vulnerability however tells us that this is indeed a moment the late Edmund Bridgerton would be proud of. He wouldn’t have been a few hours ago, but moments like this between the siblings are what matter.
There will always be disagreements and harsh words, but the sincere apologies matter more than those moments as they push growth further and strengthen their relationships while healing those broken hearts in the process.
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