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 “Diamond of the First Water”, we dive right into London society and the marriage market season.
It goes without saying that this recap will contain spoilers for Bridgerton; if you haven’t watched it, check out the series here!
The Bridgerton series opens as Lady Whistledown (Julie Andrews) https://www.geekgirlauthority.com/tag/bridgerton-recapsets the stage for the upcoming social season. We are first introduced to the Featheringtons. Lady Portia Featherington (Polly Walker) is assisting her three daughters Phillipa (Harriet Cains), Prudence (Bessie Carter) and Penelope (Nicola Coughlan) dress for their debut. Lady Whistledown doesn’t have high hopes for the girls, though it seems Lady Portia is going through every effort to make them look their best.
On the other side of Grosvenor Square, we find ourselves in the home of the widowed Viscountess Violet Bridgerton (Ruth Gemmell). This family is a stark difference from the Featheringtons. The Bridgerton family is shockingly prolific, with four handsome sons and four beautiful daughters. The household is bustling as they await Daphne (Phoebe Dynevor) to finish reading herself for her debut.
While Benedict (Luke Thompson) and Colin (Luke Newton) bicker back and forth about who is Daphne’s favorite and who will usher her along, Eloise (Claudia Jessie) takes matters into her own hands. She does what every younger sister does and screams up the stairs at Daphne to make haste. It is clear to see how this family can be just a tad bit unconventional.
As the Featheringtons and Bridgertons make their way out to their carriages, Daphne makes her first appearance. She is beautifully dressed in a white gown fit for a girl making her debut into London society. Before setting off, Lady Violet asks Benedict where his brother, Lord Anthony Bridgerton (Jonathan Bailey), is. Though Benedict says he doesn’t know, we get to see that he is across town otherwise occupied at the moment.
Anthony makes it just in time to escort Daphne and his family into the castle to meet with Her Majesty Queen Charlotte (Golda Rosheuvel). The tension can be felt throughout the room as each girl makes her debut. But while others fail to grab the attention of the Queen, Daphne has it all. After receiving excellent praise, she is named this season’s diamond of the first water.
Later back home, the four sisters, Daphne, Eloise, Francesca (Ruby Stokes) and Hyacinth (Florence Hunt), are discussing the event when their mother arrives with Daphne’s new dresses. Eloise introduces them to the newest scandal sheet written by Lady Whistledown. This one differs greatly as all the subjects within are named in full. When Lady Whistledown names Daphne this season’s incomparable, everyone seems happy with the sheet.
Except those on the other side of the square at the Featheringtons. Lady Portia remarks that Lady Whistledown must be non-other than Lady Violet herself. But Lady Portia has more important things to worry about as she needs to find husbands for her three daughters while also taking her husband’s cousin under her wing as well. Lady Portia thinks Miss Thompson (Ruby Barker) will be nothing better than a farm girl, but upon meeting her, it’s clear that this girl might stand in the way of her own daughters.
Elsewhere in London, Simon Basset, the Duke of Hastings (Regé-Jean Page), has finally returned and pays a visit to Lady Danbury (Adjoa Andoh). He has returned in the wake of his father’s debt to settle affairs and nothing else. He tries to get out of attending her ball that evening though she denies his regrets and tells him to leave his flask at home.
While everyone is preparing for the evening’s ball, Anthony visits the opera and his mistress Siena Rosso (Sabrina Bartlett). She asks him to stay with her, but he reminds her he must leave. It is up to him to chaperone Daphne to the ball and help her find a match in place of their deceased father. Siena becomes upset with Anthony when he remarks about not every woman being a lady who needs their virtue protected. He promises that he will always to protect her.
Later that night, the ball at Lady Danbury’s is underway. With everyone’s eyes on Daphne, Anthony takes it upon himself to continue to protect her. It becomes obvious that no one is going to meet Anthony’s high standards for Daphne. However, Colin seems to be having the night of his life upon setting his eyes on Marina Thompson.
Simon finally makes his appearance, only to be instantly swarmed by every debut and their mother. While trying to flee the swarm around him, he runs into Daphne who is trying to flee Lord Berbrooke (Jamie Beamish). She asks for his name and Simon thinks she is just trying another tactic to accost him. He refuses and then Anthony spots them. He introduces Daphne and Simon feels guilty for accusing her of trying to trick him but doesn’t apologize. Anthony bids Simon goodnight and takes Daphne home before she can even have her first dance.
The next few days pass as both the Featherington and Bridgerton household are filled with suitors. While Lady Portia is dealing with Marina’s popularity, Daphne is dealing with Anthony’s overbearing presence. Lady Whistledown reports that the Queen might have been wrong in her assessment of Daphne as the suitors have all stopped coming. This unfortunate turn of events leads Lord Berbrooke to throw his hat in the ring and a miserable Daphne.
On the other hand, Simon has declared to everyone around him that he has no intention of marrying. During a visit with Anthony at their club, he shares that he is overwhelmed by the overzealous mothers that await him around every corner. He swears that the title he has inherited from his father will end with him: no marriage and no children. Simon throws the question back at Anthony, who says that his brothers will be responsible for carrying on the Bridgerton name.
During the opera, later that evening, Lady Violet and Lady Danbury discuss how both Simon and Daphne are not what Lady Whistledown suggests. They come to an agreement that maybe it would be best to push both Daphne and Simon in the same direction and help Lady Whistledown see the two of them a bit more clearly. The next morning Marina awakes to find her sheets clean, which provokes her into a rage. What might she be hiding?
Lady Violet takes Lady Danbury’s advice and invites Simon to dinner with the entire family, including the youngest children. We finally get a chance to see Simon and Daphne together again and after reminding him that she knows he is a rake, they agree that neither have any interest in each other. Anthony becomes uncomfortable with the two of them talking and realizes exactly what his mother is up to.
After dinner, Anthony questions his mother’s choices leading to an argument about duty and responsibility. Lady Violet shares that he has no right to comment on those as he is ignoring them completely. She informs him that she knows of the mistress he keeps and that he has no right to play the man of the house while trying to push his other duties onto his brothers. The next morning, Anthony informs Siena he will no longer be able to see her.
That night at Vauxhall, Colin seeks out Penelope in hopes of seeing Marina. Penelope informs him that she is ill at home with her mother. Back at the Featherington household, Lady Portia’s housekeeper brings her Marina’s clean sheets when Lady Portia confronts Marina, who admits that she is pregnant and has every intention of sending her back home.
Anthony, taking his mother’s advice, secures a marriage proposal for Daphne with Lord Berbrooke. He informs her during the Vauxhall event of all the good things about him. She is clearly unhappy with the news and with Anthony for choosing her. Daphne runs away from the party for a bit of air when Lord Berbrooke finds her. She tells him that she will never marry him and he argues back with her.
Simon overhears the argument. He arrives to see Daphne punch Lord Berbrooke right in the nose knocking him flat out. When Daphne questions what he is doing out here, she realizes that she has just created her own scandal, finding herself alone with not one but two gentlemen. However, this scandal might get her out of marrying Lord Berbrooke. However, she doesn’t have a choice at the moment as she has no alternatives.
Simon comes up with a plan to help Daphne find more suitors while helping him escape the overzealous mothers. Both will pretend to fall madly in love with one another. This will make him look taken and thus stop the hoards of suitors following him. Daphne, on the other hand, will draw the eyes of every suitor. Cleary wanting her now that she has caught the attention of a duke. The plan is perfect as long as both remember that neither wants to marry each other.
They return to the party, turning heads as they dance the rest of the evening away. Clearly, the plan is working as intended. Lady Violet and Lady Danbury both seemed pleased, believing their matchmaking is working, while Anthony is not happy seeing Simon and Daphne together. “Diamond of the First Water” comes to a close as Lady Whistledown reports on the event, stating she has every intention of uncovering how the two have come together.
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