Bridgerton season 2 gets underway quickly — so quickly, in fact, it’s easy to second guess which season 1 details you actually remember from when it aired in December 2020. Some of the season 2 changes are pretty obvious: the Duke of Hastings won’t be returning, as he is happily married, and living a life off in his country estate. (The Duchess Daphne of Hastings, neé Bridgerton, makes appearances but breakout star Regé-Jean Page and his character remain “in the country” and never pop in for a visit.) Instead, this season is a whole new, passionate world with Anthony Bridgerton at the top, looking for love while trying to ignore how vexed he is by Kate Sharma.
To prepare for Friday’s season 2 premiere, we’ve collected all the key tidbits from Bridgerton season 1 here, so you can quickly get back up to speed. And for an extra bit of fun, we’ve ranked them (in ascending order) for how much the season reminds you you need to know them.
[Ed. note: Spoilers abound for season 1 of Bridgerton, as faithful readers might expect.]
9. Colin becomes a study abroad kid
Suffering from a broken heart, from the broken betrothal to his would-be lady love Marina (more on that below), Colin goes to Greece to emotionally recuperate. This is ranked low on the list both because it’s not terribly important, and also because season 2 very quickly brings viewers up to speed when someone announces to a parlor room that he’ll be stopping off at Albania on his way home. ‘Nuff said.
8. We know who Lady Whistledown is
In the final moments of season 1, Bridgerton threw a curveball: We were let in on the show’s biggest secret, the identity of ton gossipmonger Lady Whistledown. She turned out to be none other than Penelope Featherington, whose time at the edge of ballrooms paid off in gossip. It’s unlikely you’ve forgotten this Gossip Girl-esque twist, but since the show is going to remind you very quickly, don’t fret too much if you have!
7. Eloise is obsessed with figuring out who Lady Whistledown is
While we know Lady Whistledown’s identity, Eloise Bridgerton spent much of season 1 desperately trying to figure it out. She was so diligent, if unsuccessful, that the queen herself asked Eloise to report back. But when the young Bridgerton saw what she believed to be Whistledown’s carriage being approached by one of the queen’s spies, she told Whistledown to flee (without catching a glimpse of who it was).
Perhaps most crucial to remember: Eloise isn’t on the hunt just because she’s trying to get the next bit of gossip. She respects Whistledown’s disdain for the establishment and success as an independent woman.
6. Benedict is an Art Hoe
Like Eloise, Benedict Bridgerton marches to the beat of his own drummer. In season 1, he was finally convinced to follow his heart and pursue art — though for much of the season this mostly amounted to him getting into trysts (with the dressmaker Genevieve Delacroix, among others) and observing affairs (like that of artist Henry Granville and his boyfriend). But as Benedict oft repeats in season 2, his passion is art. It just happens to involve nude models.
5. Where is Marina Thompson?
A late season 1 twist revealed Marina had gotten pregnant out of wedlock with a man who died in the war. Luckily, his brother Philip Crane eventually came to make things right by marrying her, rescuing her from what would have been a serious scandal, in Regency times. Colin had broken off their engagement after Lady Whistledown — who you’ll remember is Penelope Featherington — blew up Marina’s situation. It’s mid-tier important because it’s something you need to know for a bunch of other stories, but not so much Marina’s. It does, however, speak volumes about Penelope.
4. The King of England is having a rough time right now
Behind her wigs and opulence, the queen hides that the king has had an onset of what appears to be dementia, making him prone to confusion and angry outbursts. It doesn’t come up much, but it’s important to remember that everything the queen does is in service of protecting the King’s (and her) place in society.
3. The Featheringtons lost everything
After fixing a boxing match, Lord Featherington died, seemingly murdered by his bookies, who also took their money back. Since the Featheringtons had only daughters, the estate went to another, unnamed man in the family.
2. Anthony’s a capital-R Rake
Across season 1, Anthony Bridgerton had an affair with an opera singer he was passionately in love with, despite their class divisions making the romance a hopeless affair.
She called his bluff at the end of season 1, telling him that he “was lost,” and that she wouldn’t let him “set [her] adrift as well.” She reminded him that there are men in her life who don’t need her to dress herself up as something she’s not in order to make her “respectable.” As a result, Anthony decided he was ready to find “and promptly declare” his intentions to a viscountess. But because he got burned by the opera singer, he goes into the arrangement a bit hopeless: “I’ve finally determined the difficulty, love itself. Removing it from all romantic relations shall make me all the better for it.”
It’s ranked here because although Anthony is the protagonist of season 2, his heartbreak over his old relationship is relatively forgotten (but vital!).
1. There was a sports plot line
Will Mondrich, boxer and friend to the Duke of Hastings, was called upon by Lord Featherington to throw a fight (the one from a few blurbs ago), which would pay off lucratively for both of them. While his choice to throw the bout upset the Duke, the money meant Will could retire from boxing and settle down with his wife Alice, finding new ways to provide for themselves.
Although this plotline isn’t vital to the first episode of the season, it’s the most cryptically alluded to, and clearly looms rather large over how Will conducts himself in season 2.