Welcome back for the second season of Netflix and Shondaland’s Bridgerton. Prepare yourselves for a festive day at the races as Anthony (Jonathan Bailey) tries to catch the eye of a particular diamond. Unlucky for him that she has a defender rather determined to keep him away. Don’t waste any more time here! Let’s dive into episode two, “Off to the Races!”
DISCLAIMER: It goes without saying that this recap will contain spoilers for Bridgerton; if you haven’t watched it, check out the series here!
“Off to the Races” opens as Lady Whistledown (voiced by Julie Andrews) gets viewers up to speed on the ton’s latest competition – wooing Edwina Sharma (Charithra Chandran). But it isn’t as easy as it seems since Kate (Simone Ashley) appears to be standing in everyone’s way. Including one Anthony Bridgerton. We agree with Benedict (Luke Thompson); she can be rather thorny.
Kate’s reason for snubbing Anthony from the suitor list is that he doesn’t believe in love. Lady Danbury (Adjoa Andoh) tries to remind her that a love match in the ton is rare. Like a unicorn. But, Edwina is willing to allow her sister to guide her decision. Let’s hope that Kate is up for the challenge because Anthony isn’t about the backdown.
Later that day, at Lady Danbury’s, all of the eligible suitors are waiting to meet with Edwina. However, one Lord Lumley (Louis Gaunt) seems to be taking up quite a bit of her time. Of course, Anthony is among them, but Kate isn’t even willing to let him hang out in line. He tries to convince her to let him take Edwina to the races or spend time with her in the near future, but Kate won’t have it. Not only does she not like what she heard, but she also doesn’t like what she has read about him either. His history is catching up with him.
Over at the Bridgerton household, Penelope (Nicola Coughlan) visits Eloise (Claudia Jessie) to gauge how she felt about Lady Whistledown’s latest piece. TL: DR – Lady Whistledown could still do better. Violet (Ruth Gemmell) hopes that Eloise’s interest in the gossip page is a sign that she is willing to take her season seriously. Violet even tries to get Penelope to side with her before everyone’s attention shifts to a recently returned home Colin (Luke Newton).
It’s hugs for everyone except Penelope, who gets a long gaze. Polin fans rejoice. Moments later, Anthony arrives home to rally the troops and head off to the races. With Benedict, Colin, Eloise, Franchesca (Ruby Stokes), Gregory (Will Tilston) and Hyacinth (Florence Hunt) in tow, he sets his sights on winning over the diamond.
“Off to the Races” shifts to the Featherington household where Lady Portia (Polly Walker) and Mrs. Varley (Lorraine Ashbourne) are scouring over Lord Featherington’s (Rupert Young) collection. Editor note: Last May, I visited Monticello and the entire front room of the home reminded me of Lord Featherington’s collection. Very American. Which would make sense since he was sent to live there after undoubtedly upsetting his father.
Penelope doesn’t seem to find anything wrong with the new Lord Featherington and even calls him “Cousin Jack.” It looks like he is making a place for himself. And to help get him back into English culture, he has decided that it is time for the family to have an outing of their own. So the Featheringtons are heading to the races as well.
A Day at the Races
As the ton descends upon the races, we get glimpses of Philippa (Harriet Cains) and Mr. Finch (Lorn MacDonald) talking about their upcoming nuptials, Prudence (Bessie Carter) actually talking to Penelope, and Lord Lumley escorting the Sharma sisters and Lady Danbury. As Edwina and Lumley chat, a Mr. Thomas Dorset (Sam Frenchum) is introduced to Kate. She doesn’t seem too excited to chat, but he slowly wins her over, especially when he mentions that he has visited Bombay.
While Dorset escorts Kate and the others to their seats, Mr. Mondrich (Martins Imhangbe) and his wife Alice (Emma Naomi) meet up with the Bridgerton brothers. Our favorite boxer has retired from the ring and has opened his own Gentlemen’s club. He invites them all to its grand opening when Anthony dips off to chase after Edwina and company. Elsewhere, Violet and Eloise are shopping or more of Violet trying to convince Eloise to take the season seriously. However, Eloise seems more interested in a pamphlet on cleaning up after dogs.
“Off to the Races” shifts back to the Sharmas and their respective gentlemen when Anthony pops up and makes his introductions. Instead of telling Edwina that he was waiting in that long line of suitors, he lied about having breakfast with his family instead. Anthony then spots that neither Kate nor Edwina have something to drink and after some subtle words, Lumley jumps off to get some. Which, of course, leaves the seat next to Edwina open.
We flash to Penelope and Colin, who discusses his recent trip and how she was the only one to respond to all his letters. She is trying to figure out if Colin met anyone when Eloise rushes up during his trip—constantly breaking up the moment. Eloise shows Penelope the pamphlet and it seems she isn’t interested in cleaning up after pups but believes that the printer is the same one that Lady Whistledown uses. Penelope plays it off and heads over to her mother and sisters. But Eloise might be on to something and she even spots the stamp on the back that looks awfully familiar.
Back in the stands, Anthony and Kate banter about which horse will win the race while the other two try to pull them apart. Behind them, Lady Danbury and Violet discuss the potential match and the obstacles – cough Kate cough – that stand in the way. Lumley eventually returns and the group squeezes together to make room for him. And finally, the race kicks off. There is a lot of hooting and hollering and whistling. But in the end, Kate’s horse wins.
When Edwina mentions that the horse reminds her of one she grew up adoring, Anthony offers to take her down to see them. This gives Mr. Dorset a moment to inquire about Kate’s attitude towards Anthony, which leads to an unsettling truth. That Anthony and Dorset pretended not to know each other and that he was sent to keep Kate occupied. This doesn’t sit well with Kate, and it shouldn’t, and she scoops up Edwina and leaves. Before Edwina leaves, Anthony clarifies that he didn’t mean any harm and just wanted to spend time with her.
Secrets and Plotting?
“Off to the Races” jumps to Eloise paying a visit to the print shop only to find it closed. When no one answers her knock, she investigates a sound on the side of the building and finds a young man (Calam Lynch) still working. She tries to get information on Lady Whistledown, but he isn’t biting. He fires back at her, which only leads to a rather exciting banter between them before he drops a women’s rights pamphlet in her hand and metaphorically drops the mic before walking off. We have a feeling that Eloise might have met her match.
The next day, the Featheringtons celebrate Philippa’s wedding. When Mr. and Mrs. Finch asks about seeing Lord Feathering, Portia excuses herself and goes to find him. In the study, he is trying to work through books. He doesn’t seem to be open about giving Portia any information about his plans, other than finding himself a wife. Of course, this sets her on edge since the new wife could just as quickly kick her and the others out once he is married.
At the castle, Edwina and Kate discuss the events of the races and Anthony’s little lie when the Queen arrives. She takes them to see the zebras (and we won’t lie, it took us a moment to realize what she was talking about) and gives Edwina some helpful advice. Is it foreshadowing or plotting when the Queen tells her to let her know when her friends’ intentions change? Lady Danbury seems to think it’s plotting and even confronts the Queen about using Edwina to figure out who is behind Lady Whistledown.
No One Stands in the Way
At the Bridgerton household, Anthony, Colin and Benedict participate in a quiet afternoon of fencing and get under each others’ skins. Anthony is complaining about Kate and Benedict points out that they are pretty much the same person. They try to talk Anthony into finding someone who has a more agreeable sister, but he isn’t willing to back down from a fight. He isn’t going to let Kate stand in his way of getting what he wants. Not who, as Benedict points out, but what.
“Off to the Races” shifts to Lady Danbury’s house as Edwina and Kate arrive home. Lady Danbury recommends hosting a soiree to give Edwina a chance to chat with more of her suitors. Kate agrees, but only if they are selective about whom they invite. Of course, her annoyance is sparked by the arrival of Anthony with the horse from the race for Edwina. This leads to another bit of banter between Anthony and Kate until Edwina arrives. When she mentioned the horse reminding her of one she adored, she meant a character from a book. Smug Kate is the best Kate.
Later that night, Benedict pays a visit to Mondrich’s club. It is empty, but Mondrich is sure that it will pick up with time. He is trying to create a space people can enjoy regardless of birth, rank, financial standing. But, no women allowed. Benedict is proud of what Mondrich is creating with his own two hands. But would he feel the same if he knew his secret deal with the late Lord Featherington?
At the Bridgerton household, Anthony is finishing up tallying the books when he overhears Violet and the others preparing to leave for the evening. It turns out that he wasn’t invited to Lady Danbury’s soiree. Violet uses this to try and show him that maybe a love match isn’t the worst thing in the world. Kate is only looking out for her sister after all. Wouldn’t he do the same for his? Shouldn’t he do the same for himself?
Charming Suitors or Fools?
At the soiree, Edwina and the other ladies are charmed by flute playing, magic tricks, cymbals and even a little dance. We finally get a moment to see Eloise and Kate together, who seem to have more in common than one would expect. During a break, Penelope takes a moment to chat with Edwina before spotting Colin. She tries to talk with him again about the lady he met while traveling. But it turns out that he wasn’t lonely on his trip but because he finally took time to learn about himself. It turns out that Penelope helped him see that. And then he hits her with the “you’re my friend” comment. Poor Polin fans.
Portia isn’t having the best evening either. She finds out that Lord Featherington has been paying visits to Cressida (Jessica Madsen) and even gave her a ruby necklace. What does it mean? What game is he playing?
“Off to the Races” shifts to Mondrich’s as Anthony busts in and draws Benedict away from his conversation about a painting school to learn to read poetry. However, Anthony doesn’t know the first thing about it and Benedict gets to show off his artistic side. He writes Anthony a poem and sends him off to the soiree. Editor Note: We CAN NOT wait until Benedict gets his season and more of this beautiful poetry!
What is it, truly, to admire a woman?
To look at her and feel inspiration.
To delight in her beauty.
So much so that all your defenses crumble,
that you would willingly take on
any pain, any burden for her.
To honor her being
with your deeds and words.
Just as the soiree is finishing at Lady Danbury’s, Anthony arrives to deliver his poem. However, he cannot commit to lying about it being his or even finish it. Is it Kate that sets him straight? Or do our eyes deceive us? But his honesty about what he wants seems to win over the crowd and Edwina. However, it just seems to make Kate hate him even more. She tries to get Edwina to see that Anthony can’t provide her with what she wants, but Edwina doesn’t seem to be taking her sister’s advice anymore.
Kate causes a bit of a scene rushing out of the room and decides to hide in her room. Lady Danbury uses the moment to try and teach her a lesson about making sure her reputation stays intact. But Kate drops the truth that once Edwina is married, she is heading home to live out the rest of her days alone. Kate makes the mistake of comparing that to Lady Danbury’s life. But the difference is that our lovely Lady Danbury is a widow who spent her life alongside her spouse.
At the Bridgerton household the next day, Eloise lets Penelope in on another secret. She paid a visit to the print shop and with the new pamphlet, she found similarities with the wonky letter “k.” This unsettles Penelope, but she manages to not out herself to Eloise. We then see her again in the market buying a new letter “k” stamp when she is spotted by Madame Delacroix (Kathryn Drysdale). “Off to the Races” comes to a close as the Queen looks at the possible ladies who could be Lady Whistledown.
What is love without a bit of competition? The second episode of Bridgerton only helps set up the stakes not only in the romance category but also with Lady Whistledown. Eloise is hot on her tail and Penelope is struggling to keep ahead of her. And now that Madame Delacroix might have spotted her, what will she do? The Netflix adaptation of Julia Quinn‘s novels has done a fantastic job fleshing out the series past what we are given in the books. We are beyond excited to see what other drama we will see!
Let’s not waste any more time here! It’s time for episode three!
- Tavern Talk Thursday: Must-Read Book Series for TTRPG Players - September 29, 2023
- Netflix Drop Event: First Look at Upcoming TOMB RAIDER: THE LEGEND OF LARA CROFT Anime - September 27, 2023
- Netflix Drop Event: New Spooky Peek at MASTERS OF THE UNIVERSE: REVOLUTION - September 27, 2023