Bridgerton from Shonda Rhimes brings Regency-era London to life on Netflix. The series is based on Julia Quinn‘s best-selling series of the same name. The first season is based on the events of her novel, The Duke and I. The series promises us romance and quite a bit of scandal as the eight Bridgerton siblings find their happily ever afters. In “Shock and Delight”, Daphne (Phoebe Dynevor) and Simon (Regé-Jean Page) continue their ruse while Anthony (Jonathan Bailey) attempts to define his place as head of the household.
It goes without saying that this recap will contain spoilers for Bridgerton; if you haven’t watched it, check out the series here!
“Shock and Delight” opens with a flashback to Simon’s birth. His father (Richard Pepple) is more preoccupied with making sure he receives an heir than his wife’s (Daphne Di Cinto) welfare. While the 9th Duke of Hastings celebrates his new son, the Duchess of Hastings passes away with Lady Danbury (Adjoa Andoh) by her side. Back in the present day, a maid asks Simon if they should begin opening the duchess’ room. He declines the offer saying it won’t be necessary.
The morning following the Vauxhall Celebration, Lady Whistledown (Julie Andrews) shares Simon and Daphne’s new courtship with her readers. The news reaches everyone, including the Queen (Golda Rosheuvel) herself. During the morning promenade, Lady Danbury and Lady Violet (Ruth Gemmell) discuss how well their matchmaking is going, believing that Simon and Daphne are smitten with each other.
However, Simon and Daphne are actually just discussing the terms of their agreement. Daphne wants him to attend eight balls and send flowers to prove to the ton that they are madly in love. Simon believes that if he truly wanted to court a woman, he would need five minutes alone in a drawing room with her. Proving him to be a rake indeed.
Back at the Featherington household, Phillipa (Harriet Cains), Prudence (Bessie Carter) and Penelope (Nicola Coughlan) are discussing Marina’s (Ruby Barker) condition. Lady Portia (Polly Walker) refuses to discuss the subject with them and tries to persuade Lord Featherington (Ben Miller) to send Marina away. Penelope, wanting to know more about the subject, turns to Eloise (Claudia Jessie), claiming it is a maid who is unwed and pregnant. Both decide it is in their best interest to find out to avoid catching the same condition.
Eloise returns home to her family, currently discussing the previous night’s events, to ask the very same question. Lady Violet shuts her down immediately, even though Daphne and Hyacinth (Florence Hunt) have questions of their own. She turns to Benedict (Luke Thompson) and Colin (Luke Newton), who make a few jokes about farms and taking their sticks out…to fence, of course. The mood changes quickly as callers begin to arrive to see Daphne.
Anthony and Lord Berbrooke (Jamie Beamish) arrive to find more than just a few callers waiting in line. Lord Berbrooke is angry, believing his deal with Anthony to be broken. Anthony promises to fix the situation and forces everyone to leave. An argument breaks out between Anthony, Daphne and Lady Violet regarding Daphne’s future. Anthony is determined to see Daphne marry Lord Berbrooke, but Lady Violet believes that nothing else will matter once Simon asks for her hand. Daphne becomes increasingly worried, knowing that such an action will never happen.
Anthony leaves Daphne and Lady Violet to search out Simon, who is sparing with his old friend Will (Martins Imhangbe). Anthony takes Will’s place in the ring. Anthony shares that he has every intention of Daphne marrying Lord Berbrooke and that Simon needs to back away. He knows how he is and that he is unworthy of being a suitor for Daphne.
We enter another of Simon’s childhood flashbacks. This time his father is questioning why he has yet to speak. Simon’s nurse shares that he is quite advanced in his letters, but his father is unsatisfied. When he threatens to hit Simon with a brush, Simon finally speaks up, though he stutters through his sentence. His father declares him an imbecile and thus dead to him.
Later that night at the Featherington home, Penelope visits Marina while the rest of the family attends a ball. She asks Marina how she came to be in her condition. Marina shares how she met and fell in love with Sir George Crane, who is currently fighting in the war. He continued to write her letters, which she shares with Penelope as well.
In the royal household, the Queen shares her displeasure that there has yet to be an exciting betrothal this season. She requests her stationary and sends a note to the Bridgerton household to invite Lady Violet to a private tea. Overjoyed with the invitation, Lady Violet allows Daphne to wear the family diamonds in hopes of drawing more attention from Simon. However, Daphne’s intentions are to catch the eyes of other suitors.
After Simon arrives to pick up Lady Danbury for another ball, we are treated to “Shock and Delight”‘s third flashback. This time Simon is a bit older when Lady Danbury arrives to find him well and alive. She learns that he has been kept away because, in his words, he can not speak. She bestows a bit of knowledge on him and promises to help him with his stammer as long as he promises that when the time comes where he commands the attention of the entire room, he will be worthy of it.
In the present day, both Simon and Daphne arrive at the ball. They discuss the need to fan the flames of their charade further. She believes that Lord Berbrooke needs to truly believe that Simon is on the verge of proposing for him to back away. They must act like they are truly enjoying each other’s company even though it might pain them to do so. Or does it? From everyone else’s view, it looks as if they are undeniably in love.
The charade seems to work for them. Anthony sends Benedict to keep Daphne occupied while he confronts Simon again. During their conversation, Lord Berbrooke arrives to reinstate his intentions for Daphne. Simon lets it slip that Lord Berbrooke was careless with his honor and followed Daphne away from the party the night before, where she punched him in the face. With this new information, Anthony tells Lord Berbrooke he is calling off the engagement.
Daphne overhears the argument that is taking place in front of a room full of people. She is angry with Simon going against his word and telling Anthony and believes that Simon underestimated Nigel’s entitlement. He tries to assure her everything will be okay, though Daphne doubts he can assure her of anything.
Later that night, Simon decides to walk home and runs into Lord Berbrooke. They argue about Daphne and Lord Berbrooke demands that Simon give up his fight for her hand. Lord Berbrooke questions why Simon hasn’t asked for her hand if they are so smitten with each other. That is unless Simon has already had Daphne. He clearly doesn’t want damaged goods. Simon, understandably angry, denies anything has ever happened. When Lord Berbrooke continues to insult him, his father and family, Simon snaps and the two get into a fight.
We enter “Shock and Delight”‘s fourth flashback in which Lady Danbury brings Simon to meet his father in London. The intention is to prove to his father that he can speak clearly, though when faced with intimidation, Simon’s stammer returns to him. His father again reminds Simon that he is an insult to himself and the Hastings line. Simon finds the letters he sent as a child unopened and in his father’s desk drawer in the present day. He replaces them without a second thought.
During the next morning’s promenade, Eloise and Penelope discuss the pregnant “maid”‘s condition. Penelope tells her that this “maid” has found hope in the idea that her beloved will return and they will be able to escape to the country to get married. At the Bridgerton family tent, Anthony confronts Daphne about not opening up to him about Lord Berbrooke’s unwanted advances. She shares that she didn’t think he would believe her after ignoring her wishes not to marry Lord Berbrooke, to begin with. Before the conversation can continue, Simon arrives.
Simon and Daphne step away to promenade and he ensures her that Lord Berbrooke is taken care of. She reminds him that their ruse still must go on until she has found a husband. Simon jokes that he must deny her proposal though if he were to marry, she would be the least objectionable one available. They share a moment while Simon buttons Daphne’s cuff before Simon spots Lord Berbrooke making his way to the Bridgerton family tent.
Lord Berbrooke publically announces that he has obtained a special license to marry Daphne immediately and threatens to share with the ton that she was alone with him during the Vauxhall celebration if she does not. While alone with her family, Daphne decides the best course of action to save herself and her family from the scandal is to marry Lord Berbrooke. Lady Violet sits down with Daphne at home, telling her that while she may not be happy with this marriage, she will find something within it to be happy about.
Outside, Benedict finds Eloise smoking in secret. She confides in him that she doesn’t want the life that Daphne is currently living. She wants to make her own choices and not be forced to attend balls and find a husband. Benedict shares these same feelings letting her know that she is not alone. Simon turns to Will for another sparring match. He allows himself to take a thorough beating from Will and shares with him that Daphne is to marry. When Will reminds him that he is now free to do as he pleases, Simon asks Will for another round.
The next day, Lady Violet attends tea with the Queen. During their meeting, the Queen imparts a bit of wisdom on Lady Violet regarding how Motzart’s rise to fame not only benefited him but his entire family. Should he had stayed home, they would have all failed. It is clear to see that the Queen believes Lady Violet needs to take things into her own hands to secure Simon and Daphne’s marriage.
Lady Violet quickly returns home and invites Lord Berbrooke’s mother to tea. While she and Daphne entertain her upstairs, Daphne’s maid Rose (Molly McGlynn) gossips with the Berbrooke maid. After Lady Berbrooke departs, Rose informs Lady Violet and Daphne that Lord Berbrooke had a son with a maid. He refused to provide for the child and had him and the mother sent away. Daphne doesn’t believe that anyone will believe a group of women, but Lady Violet knows they will believe Lady Whistledown.
The ladies set off and begin to share the gossip about town with anyone and everyone they can find. Their plan works and Lady Whistledown reports on the gossip, further spreading the news into the ton. To escape judgment and scandal, Lord Berbrooke leaves town immediately. Anthony meets with his mother to thank her for helping solve their problem and that he will take better care in the future. She recommends he not have anything to do with it regardless of what society thinks his role should be.
In the Featherington household, Marina hides a letter she is writing from Lady Portia’s maid. She asks how long she will be kept locked away and the maid responds that she has only herself to blame for her misfortune.
As Daphne prepares for the evening’s festivities, Eloise seeks her out and the two discuss the darker turns of marriage and having children. While Daphne seems to have brighter hopes for the future, Eloise can only believe that Daphne is continuing to put on a fake face to fool herself, her family and the ton.
During the ball, Daphne and Simon find themselves dancing again. This time they are discussing how the ruse has changed. This isn’t just about impressing Lady Whistledown or the Queen, but about Daphne taking control of her life. She wants to find a husband so she may have children and a happy future. Simon agrees under one condition that she cease calling him your grace and use his first name. She agrees and another moment happens between them, making it pretty clear that they might not be able to keep calling this a ruse for much longer.
Simon steps away and allows Daphne to find a dance with other possible suitors when Lady Danbury approaches him. She remarks on how the two make such a charming couple. When he doesn’t respond, she questions what could be bothering him. Simon brushes her off, but there is the small hint of his stammer returning. As “Shock and Delight” comes to a close, we are treated to one last flashback. Simon has returned to London as his father lay on his deathbed. He makes one vow, the only one he will ever make. And that is that the Hastings line will end with him. No marriage. No heirs. No future dukes.
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