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. It promises us romance and quite a bit of scandal as the eight Bridgerton siblings find their happily ever afters. In “Art of the Swoon”, we are left with quite a few broken hearts and a phoenix or two rising from the ashes.
It goes without saying that this recap will contain spoilers for Bridgerton; if you haven’t watched it, check out the series here!
“Art of the Swoon” opens as Simon (Regé-Jean Page) and Daphne (Phoebe Dynevor) are dancing at yet another ball. While they spin away, Simon removes Daphne’s glove and wraps her arm around his neck. An almost ethereal feeling falls over the scene as the other dancers disappear around them. As Simon and Daphne come closer, it becomes clear that the two might kiss. But before they do, Daphne awakens to find herself alone in bed. It appears she is a bit conflicted over her feelings for Simon.
As the city awakes and the world starts moving about, Lady Whistledown (Julie Andrews) shares that Daphne has declined three offers of marriage this week. Though many believe she is clearly thinking ahead and deliberating wisely, Lady Whistledown thinks that she is holding out for a proposal from Simon. Daphne joins Simon for ice cream and she reminds him that they need to push forward with the ruse to find her more suitors, ignoring her feelings for him.
Back at the Featherington household, Penelope (Nicola Coughlan) is waiting for the post to arrive. While she passes Phillipa (Harriet Cains) and Prudence (Bessie Carter) on the stairs, they gossip about a prince’s arrival. Penelope ignores them and sifts through the mail, displeased that something has not arrived. But it isn’t Penelope who is expecting mail. Marina (Ruby Barker) is the one awaiting a letter from Sir George Crane and is worried that he will not write back. Penelope tells her to have hope and maybe he is already on his way back to take her home.
Before the conversation can continue, Lady Portia (Polly Walker) rushes into the room. She reprimands Penelope for cavorting with the expectant and ushers her away. Marina tells Lady Portia that she can not keep her locked away forever and surprisingly, she agrees. She is to reenter society and find herself a husband. Marina tries to argue that she doesn’t want any husband, but Lady Portia will have none of it.
On the other side of Grosvenor Square, the Bridgerton siblings discuss the upcoming ball with Lady Violet (Ruth Gemmell). Anthony (Jonathan Bailey) shares that suitors have been asking him about Daphne, though Lady Violet reminds them the only one who matters is the duke. Daphne knows that she is lying to her family but must keep up the ruse to secure a worthy marriage proposal.
Later that night, Daphne and Simon attend another ball. She attempts to hold conversations with her different dance partners, though she finds that each of them is quite lacking in one way or another. Lady Violet shares her worries over Simon and Daphne’s relationship with Lady Danbury (Adjoa Andoh). Lady Danbury still has hope the proposal is coming; one only needs to look at them to see how in love they are.
As Simon and Daphne discuss her latest round of eligible bachelors, the Queen (Golda Rosheuvel) arrives alongside the mysterious Prince Friederick (Freddie Stroma). Daphne makes quite a fool of herself by snorting in front of the Queen and Prince after her introduction, which she blames completely on Simon. The two have a good laugh (and more snorting) before Daphne is whisked away again by another suitor.
Genevieve Delacroix (Kathryn Drysdale) is closing up the modiste shop for the night on the other side of London. She hears a strange sound at the back of the shop. When she investigates, she finds it is only Siena Rosso (Sabrina Bartlett) and Genevieve drops her fake French accent for her very plain London one. They discuss Sienna’s need for a new gentleman to take care of her and how she might go about finding one.
At Anthony and Simon’s club, we see the two of them gambling alongside Lord Featherington (Ben Miller), who seems to have quite a problem winning. Simon and Anthony have a moment to discuss Simon’s intentions with Daphne before a group of working ladies make their way into the club. Upon spotting Siena, Anthony excuses himself. Before he can leave, he catches sight of Sienna approaching Simon and inviting him to visit her after her next performance.
Daphne is struggling to sleep at home and decides to slip to the kitchens for some warm milk. She runs into Anthony, who decides to join her. After a silly moment where neither knows how to turn on a stove, the two discuss Simon’s opposition to marriage. Anthony shares how lonely Simon’s childhood was. However, for as long as he has known him, he knows Simon prefers to be alone. He imparts some brotherly wisdom that some people are just not meant to be. But one only needs to look at him to know he is thinking of Siena.
While Marina is being fitted for a new wardrobe, Lady Whistledown remarks on the opening of a new wing at Somerset House, where Marina will be making her grand reentrance into society. Genevieve apologizes for possibly taking Marina’s measurements wrong when the corset is a bit too tight, but Lady Portia chaulks it up to Marina’s fondness for cake.
At Somerset House later that day, the ton is overwhelmed at the presence of Prince Friederick. It is even believed that a certain lady has been seeing a Prussian tutor. But Lady Violet has other things on her mind as she attempts to introduce Anthony, Benedict (Luke Thompson) and Colin (Luke Newton) to the ladies in attendance. Lady Portia is struggling as she attempts to introduce Marina to possible future matches. However, Marina still has no intention of marrying.
This event seems to have everyone on the worst behavior as Benedict downright bashes a piece of art to Lady Danbury and her guest. When Lady Danbury suggests asking the artist himself why his piece was not left out, she turns to the man next to her and asks the artist himself Mr. Henry Granville (Julian Ovenden). Thoroughly embarrassing indeed on Benedict’s part, but Lady Danbury does get quite the chuckle out of the event.
Daphne herself seems to be having a grand time at Somerset House. It appears she has caught the eye of Prince Friederick, though, during their conversation, she becomes preoccupied with Simon passing in the hallway beyond. She excuses herself quickly and follows Simon. They find themselves alone and discuss how Lady Whistledown is sharing glowing reviews of Simon’s performance.
While discussing the intimacy of a piece donated by Simon, the two share another brief moment. Unconsciously their hands drift towards each other and upon contact, it is clear that both are affected by each other’s presence. Further proof that this charade of love might have just a small pebble of truth to it. The moment is broken when Cressida Cowper (Jessica Madsen) swoons in front of the Prince and causes quite the scene.
Upon leaving Somerset House, Simon’s footman reminds him of his plans for the opera and what we could only assume was to be a meeting with Siena afterward. Simon changes his mind, however, and requests to be taken straight home instead. We then see Siena alone after her performance, upset that no one, presumably Simon, was not waiting for her.
The next morning, Lady Whistledown writes a new piece on how Prince Friederick may have won most of the young eligible woman of the ton, he has yet to catch the eye of a certain diamond, Daphne. The Queen believes that there is no one more suited for him, with her being the season’s incomparable. The Prince, however, has doubts as he believes Daphne’s heart is already spoken for, but the Queen cares little about where a heart belongs if the hand is still free.
Back at the Bridgerton house, Benedict struggles with his sketching while Daphne and Eloise (Jessie Claudia) bicker between themselves over how neither can see from each other’s perspectives. Daphne wants to follow her heart, while Eloise wants to nurture her mind.
Lady Portia tries another way to get Marina to see reason by taking her to visit the rookeries. Marina stands by the fact that Sir George Crane loves her and will return to take care of her and the child. However, Lady Portia informs her that while men will speak of love to convince a lady to sleep with them, they rarely speak of it when the repercussions of the act are brought to their attention.
During a morning promenade, Lady Violet and Lady Danbury discuss how Cressida Cowper has caught the Prince’s eye. However, Lady Danbury realizes that his eyes are actually on Daphne instead. Though Daphne makes no notice as she is enthralled with her conversation with Simon. The two discuss the inner workings of marriage and the personal intimacy of the bedroom. It is quite clear that mothers in London tell their daughters next to nothing.
In the carriage home, Lady Danbury confronts Simon about his intentions with Daphne. She knows that Prince Friederick has his eye on her and that it would be an extraordinary match. However, if Simon’s intentions are true, she wants to see the two happy. But if he is cruel and simply dallying with her, he needs to walk away before it is too late.
Later that night, Benedict finds Eloise smoking in the backyard again. She informs him that she has found his work and that if he truly wants to be an artist, do it. He is a man and can have everything he ever wants, unlike a certain Lady Whistledown who needs to hide behind a fake name. Benedict questions whether Eloise is the scandal sheet writer, but she denies it. Though if she were, would she actually admit it?
Inside, Daphne thinks back to her conversation with Simon and takes his advice. The next morning when she goes to meet with Simon, she finds a very different man. He tells her that the ruse must come to an end. She has the attention of the Prince among several other suitors. Their job is done and with his personal affairs handled as well, he plans on leaving. Simon leaves Daphne heartbroken after informing her she was nothing more than a convenience.
Later that night, after Siena’s opera performance, Anthony visits her dressing room. She claims he is jealous that she attempted to persuade Simon to be with her though Anthony claims otherwise. He wants to be with her and will do anything he needs to. Siena cannot forgive him for making her a fool and will not allow him to do it again.
At the Featherington household, Marina finally receives her letter from Sir George Crane, though it appears Lady Portia was right. He claims that there was nothing between the two and that he wants nothing to do with her situation. However, unknown to Marina and Penelope, the letter is a fraud written by Lady Portia and her maid Mrs. Varley (Lorraine Ashbourne).
Daphne has yet to tell her family of her “breakup” with Simon. During a visit to the modiste, she overhears her mother speaking with Cressida’s mother (Joanna Bobin) about how lucky they are that Daphne has the Duke as Cressida would be no competition against her for the Prince. Daphne returns home with a newfound strength as she readies herself for the night’s ball. Lady Violet tries once again to convince Anthony to take her role as head of the family seriously, reminding him that time is of the essence.
“Art of the Swoon” draws close as Simon informs Lady Danbury of his early departure from London. We also get to see both Daphne and Marina’s reemergence into society following their heartbreaks. Daphne appears ready to win herself a prince, while Marina seems to be heeding Lady Portia’s advice in finding a husband. All seems to be going as well as can be for the ladies. However, it appears that Simon isn’t as unaffected by Daphne’s choice to move on as he has led everyone to believe.