Bridgerton “A Bee in Your Bonnet” Spoilers Ahead
Bridgerton‘s third episode of the season, written by Sarah L. Thompson and directed by Alex Pillai, is as close to the heart of the books as it gets. It’s delightful, emotionally packed, and it primarily allows the characters to take the steering wheel. It swerves off course only when it jumps from Aubrey Hall to London, and if the emotions in one location weren’t so heavy, it wouldn’t be as jarring as it was.
Still, the episode does an impressive job showcasing the tension and longing needed in a romance while personifying the Bridgerton family’s country home in the way Julia Quinn does throughout The Viscount Who Loved Me. There’s a reason most fans favor these chapters above all others, and it’s largely due to how much changes between Anthony Bridgerton and Kate Sharma. A similar event occurs in Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice when Elizabeth Bennet visits Pemberley, allowing her to understand Mr. Darcy in a new light while showcasing the clear tonal shift in the romance. The same essentially transpires at Aubrey Hall…except, well—it doesn’t change course as the book does.
However, credit goes where credit’s due, and in Bridgerton’s “A Bee in Your Bonnet,” we could feel every ounce of the pain (and joy) that the walls of Aubrey Hall carry. It’s a prodigious testament to performers like Jonathan Bailey, Ruth Gemmell, Phoebe Dynevor, and Rupert Evans for showing us more than words can say as they bring the family’s entire heart front and center.
A Bee in Your Bonnet and The Tremendous Loss
Opening up the episode with Edmund and Anthony hunting was brutal, but in a way that works better for the silver screens. As one of the principal changes from the book, having Anthony be the one with Edmund when the bee sting happens is a change that works. Though it bears saying that, I hope the series gives Anthony and Eloise a chance to bond more, much like their conversation during To Sir Phillip With Love because we’ve noted how similar the two are at their core. In erasing Eloise’s trauma this way, I’m hopeful the series can allow us to perhaps connect with her more on how much she fears childbirth after Violet’s perilous night, which she mentions in “Shock and Delight.”
That said, no show has nailed casting as brilliantly as Bridgerton, especially where families are concerned. Rupert Evans and Jonathan Bailey have undoubtedly picked up on each other’s mannerisms, morphing versions of their characters to acutely showcase a close father and son dynamic. In the book, we read that Edmund Bridgerton is the very center of Anthony’s world, and through every doe-eyed gaze, Bailey shows us how much truth resides in this sentiment. He brings to life something so incredibly visceral, and he does so subtly, revealing his admiration through words and actions that leap off the screen.
And so, when the bee sting happens right as Edmund is picking hyacinths for Violet, Bailey not only shows us the pain that’s now looming over him but as a 33-year-old, he perfectly embodies an 18-year-old’s confusion. The hair and makeup accomplish a slight change, but Bailey hauls the weight by revealing not only how inexperienced Anthony is but, truly, how fragile and downcast.
Edmund likely believed he had years before he trained his eldest son for the viscountcy, and considering what a poor shot Anthony is, there were ways for him to go in more areas than one. There was still plenty for him to learn, but neither fate nor death care about convenience and what Bailey brings to life masterfully is the genuine disbelief of how such a small creature can bring down a great man.
There’s a matter of how flight or fight works at times. While some instantaneously know what to do, others freeze on the spot. Thus, to see flight or flight continuously take place with Anthony throughout the flashbacks as his shock and grief wrestle with what’s to take control of him, the battle within bursts from Bailey’s entire physicality as we look into the eyes of a boy who’s building walls and fighting a gut-wrenching pain there’s no cure for. The trembling in his frame, physically fighting back the tears, the quivers in his voice—with every breath, Bailey shows the audience a full range of emotions that Anthony believes he must armor himself against.
Similarly, Ruth Gemmell takes the crown for exhibiting the pangs of grief and the harrowing angles where strength is so far from reach, all one could do is stare into emptiness as the walls cave in, blurring memories good and bad in an imprisoning dance that marks the loss of love. From the moment she held dying Edmund in her arms to the way she brought her pain to the surface, Gemmell paid such brilliant homage to the endearing love story Violet and Edmund shared. It also demands noting the unwavering adoration Rupert Evans packed into Edmund’s final moments as he spoke a thousand words to his wife with his expressiveness alone.
And in seeing Violet’s heart essentially rip out of her chest, Anthony chooses to swear off love, so he never causes someone else the same kind of pain in his death. While this isn’t necessarily a change that makes me angry, Quinn writing in Anthony’s fear of never living past his father is a much more relatable angle.
Still, this change shows the audience how profoundly affectionate Anthony truly is deep down. Plus, after hearing Daphne sing to Eloise, watching Violet succumb to her grief, and seeing where it all leads each of the children individually, “but at dawn, the world had Hyacinth, and they were all the more richer for it” hurts twice as much now.
No part of Bridgerton Season 2 is as close in its adaptation the way the Pall Mall scene is. And the changes, such as including Benedict and Eloise, work even better. The energy is purely chaotic, left and right, allowing us to see the joy in how the siblings behave when they aren’t in drawing rooms waiting on callers or in their own world.
In a way, it’s also easier to appreciate this version a bit more than the book, specifically for how the mallets are chosen. Kate isn’t stuck between pink and the black Mallet of Death, but rather it’s the one she chooses with all the others around, pissing off Anthony that much more, calling him out publicly and then having the rest scour through, organically leaving him with the pink (and far more frustration). It’s juicier and pits them as rivals in a way that deliciously builds on the tension between them.
As for the role Daphne Bridgerton starts to play from this moment onward is what deserves conversation because her innate ability to sense that there’s something more between her brother and Kate is precisely how she is coded in the books. Dynevor’s expressions tell us plenty as she’s examining not only how sweet and close-to-perfect Edwina is but how agreeable, which is the last thing Anthony needs.
Though as delightful as Pall Mall is, it’s discomfiting how uncomfortable Edwina clearly is. The poor thing isn’t enjoying the game, though surely Charithra Chandran is. But this is the moment where it becomes painfully obvious, for book readers and the general audience alike that this marriage wouldn’t be amongst two equals. Sure, Anthony could listen to her talk about the books she adores, but the laughter he can fully and freely burst into is non-existent. It’s hard to even imagine how Edwina finds herself falling for him when the game should’ve been the one thing to show her that this man isn’t it for her because even with opposites who could challenge each other, the two gain absolutely nothing in their union that could benefit their characters.
In an unsurprising (but simultaneously expected) turn of events, Benedict Bridgerton is the MVP of Bridgerton’s “A Bee in Your Bonnet.” A high off his horse Benedict gawking at the exceptionally well-lit room was not on my bingo card for Season 2, and neither was Colin declaring that he once meditated over a single blade of grass.
And it’s fascinating that we’re seeing Benedict’s more relaxed, goofier sides because it’s going to make the angst during his season that much more glorious. It’s also the kind of distraction that works in an episode that’s more emotional than the rest, allowing us to see the different ways they each cope when something distresses them.
As it turns out, Benedict has applied to the Royal Academy Schools for art, and waiting for a response on his application takes his head out of the game. His acceptance on their acceptance? Genius. Luke Thompson must’ve had a ball filming that scene because I had an absolute ball watching it. And that piece he drew while high? Art. This season continues to show us more of the relationships between Anthony, Benedict, and Colin, how different they are, but how similar, and considering it’s something fans have wanted since Season 1, it’s a great improvement.
The Walls, The Declarations, The Denial
Violet’s conversation with Anthony by Edmund’s grave deserves its own excavation because while there’s an apparent disconnect between mother and son in the beginning, this is the moment where we really see how hard Violet is trying to get through to him. The moment also shows us how much she genuinely knows who her son is deep within. But much like any human being, she is imperfect, learning still, and though it doesn’t justify the conversation in “Art of the Swoon,” it’s complex writing that equates to intriguing storytelling.
It’s a moment that brings to our screens one of the most endearing parts of The Viscount Who Loved Me’s Prologue—Anthony’s heart as a child. “And Anthony would throw himself into his mother’s arms, giggling as he swore he’d protect her from the fire-breathing dragon they’d seen just two miles down the road in the village” (6). The sweet and earnest boy with kind words and a joke—the very loving product of Violet and Edmund’s love. The kid who had not yet witnessed earth-shattering loss from which he’d never recover.
Bridgerton’s “A Bee in Your Bonnet” addresses the different manifestations of grief in a way that’s utterly engrossing, revealing to us why it works that Anthony’s fear, more than anything, is to be the cause of someone else’s pain. And most importantly, it’s an homage to Violet’s capacity to love, the very same capacity Anthony carries, the one he’s running from.
It’s hard not to look back at his final few moments in “After the Rain” and question whether or not Siena Rosso’s the one who breaks him or if his denial runs so deep, he himself cannot fully grapple with his own desires. And since he rarely ever talks to someone about his actual feelings the way that he is today, the entangled mess is a puzzle much like the man.
But Violet declaring that love is his greatest strength is a part of his character arc that no one else has yet to see, and of all people to tell him this, it works beautifully that it’s his mother (the one whose heart has been broken in ways that no one else could understand). Violet wants her kids to find love more than anything, not because she wants to flaunt their prospects like Lady Featherington, but because she knows there’s nothing more worthwhile than spending life with one’s dearest friend. And it’s something we’re all here for. Sprinkling her son with this wealth of adoration even when he doesn’t fully listen shows us who she is and just how lost he is.
In Joy and In Distress
Anthony Bridgerton doesn’t need an amiable wife; he needs someone who could be his greatest strength in trying times. He needs someone who makes his breath catch, who could look into his eyes and see that the joy has completely left him. He needs someone who wouldn’t judge him, and he needs someone who’d know exactly what to do to reach beyond the walls around his heart.
Her name is Kate Sharma, and she’s his greatest challenge as well as his most effortless confidant because this is the first time we get to watch Anthony laugh freely and wholeheartedly. The two of them falling into the mud is the kind of brilliant addition I had hoped this show would’ve done, and I’ll forgive the decision to change a lake to mud because it’s that good. (Though it is mud in the second epilogue.)
Not being afraid to dirty her dress (and sardonically commenting on his boots), shows us why Kate is the heroine we’ve all fallen in love with. Because the one thing about Kate that has always worked isn’t that she’s “different” but rather that she isn’t afraid of both, she’s graceful when need be, but she could stomp her feet and cheer loudly when she wants to.
Bridgerton’s “A Bee in Your Bonnet” gives us both the joy and the distress with Kate and Anthony, letting us fall deeper in love with their adoration by seeing how they could unwind together. And we could easily understand that this very moment in the pit is what Anthony’s thinking of when Daphne starts to describe how one should feel around their partner. The pull to not only be near them but to lose oneself in them, to lean a little bit closer, to look deeper into their eyes—to memorize the sound of their laugh and etch it into the most resounding corridors of one’s fondest memories.
It’s what they’re both doing as they find the true contentment in one another that they never thought possible. That very contentment makes arguing a joyous experience, even if a tiny creature once again tarnishes it.
The bee scene tends to stir fans towards opposing directions—while some think it great, others load the dramatization. I, for one, have a strange relationship with it, but the show’s version is one I have no complaints about. (In fact, it reminds me so much of Ted Lasso’s “Make Rebecca Great Again,” and it’s a joy to combine two worlds this way.) But this version of the scene is much easier to appreciate as Kate can look straight into Anthony’s panic-stricken eyes and see that there are fears within him more prominent than what he allows the world to see. (There’s also something so achingly striking about how he is wearing two toned boots the same way Edmund was when he’s stung.)
Their understanding becomes much more profound as she tries to ease him by placing his hand on her collarbone and her other hand above his. Simone Ashley and Jonathan Bailey play off one another so beautifully in this scene that their partnership is transcendent. As Kate guides Anthony towards tranquility, she loses herself in the possibilities of what’s stirring within. Thereby, to see them both breathless and enveloped underneath the overwhelming culmination of their hearts partaking in a conversation they don’t yet understand, reveals what makes their relationship so brilliant. In the aftermath of their foreheads resting against each other’s, the symmetry in their every move, the cyclonic magnetism unraveling within as the panic subsides is becoming more difficult to part from.
They can find spearing joy together, and simultaneously, if one experiences pain of any caliber, the puncturing concern strikes bone-deep. Because as much as this moment focus on Anthony losing himself in memory, he wouldn’t be reacting this way if a footman or someone he doesn’t adore were in Kate’s position. The panic is worsened by every part of him fearing for Kate’s life. What brings this to life is Edmund telling Anthony that “you cannot show someone your best without showing them your worst.” The worst doesn’t equate to traits here; it also equates to the moments of vulnerability that no other soul has known about—fears, darkness, grief, all the painful parts humans tuck deep underneath.
Bridgerton’s “A Bee in Your Bonnet” changes the course of the novel tremendously by putting a halt in Kate and Anthony’s journey as the bee sting leaves only the two of them aware of the feelings they’ll deny and refuse to sit with. It pushes Edwina towards heartbreak as she blames herself for Anthony’s lack of proposal, and it ultimately leads us towards drama for the sake of drama. While it’s not the end of the world that they aren’t married yet, it stings a bit that the clock is ticking.
Afternoon Tea and Further Thoughts
- The way I yelped “a baaaaaaaaaby!” when Daphne walked in holding their son Augie. Motherhood does suit the duchess indeed and I’m super emotional about it.
- Benedict holding baby Francesca and Gregory in the background shattered my heart.
- There was no part of me that could be bothered to care about the Featheringtons in this episode and the whiplash their scenes gave me going from such emotional moments to farcical displays of societal duties. I’ve watched it over five times and it never gets better.
- Francesca telling Eloise to come see the baby and Eloise responding with “why has he changed since I saw him last?” is peak Eloise.
- Anthony should’ve held that baby. Why are we not letting Anthony hold babies!??
- Lady Danbury and her godson! Eeeeeeeeeekkkk!
- Francesca has suddenly disappeared after that baby scene. Did she go visit Aunt Winnie again? Why does she keep disappearing? I have questions.
- Newton and Anthony. That’s it that’s the thought.
- Eloise and Kate bonding is everything to me.
- “A Bee in Your Bonnet” is such a meh title for this episode.
- “Do not worry about my boots” in that voice!? Oof.
- Cressida being an only child fuels my theory that Sophie Beckett will somehow be related (or the servant) at the Cowper home.
- Remember last season when we’d pay homage to Benedict’s facial expressions and what exactly they did in that episode? I could (and probably should) write a dissertation on them this week. The way he held his cheeks after spilling the wine, the dramatic acceptance speech, the way he was pointing, Luke Thompson certainly understood the assignment.
- Lilacs being Edmund’s favorite flowers made me so weepy.
- Lady Danbury and Violet both listening at the doors. I love two match-making ladies.
- KATE AND WISTERIA. I HAVE EMOTIONS.
- Penelope and Madam Delacroix working together is fascinating. I’m here for it.
Now streaming on Netflix: What are your thoughts on Bridgerton’s “A Bee in Your Bonnet?” Let us know in the comments below.