‘Queen Charlotte’ Episode 3 Recap: Coronation Day
Written by B87FM on May 12, 2023
Editor’s note: The following article is an op-ed, and the views expressed are the author’s own. Read more opinions on theGrio.
It’s coronation day in “Queen Charlotte,” Episode 3, “Even Days.” But what’s a royal celebration without a little drama?
The young queen’s bodyman Brimsley is once again quarreling/foreplaying with his lover, King George’s bodyman Reynolds. It’s established that, after Charlotte (India Ria Amarteifio) overheard George tell his mother in Episode 2 that he only charmed and slept with Charlotte because it was his duty as king to consummate his marriage, the king and queen are no longer speaking.
Yet, it is the day that Queen Charlotte receives her crown and Brimsley and Reynolds agree that the king and queen must keep up the performance of a happy couple for the sake of their royal court and Parliament.
Still, Brimsley fears that Reynolds is cheating on him because he’s down in the cellar where he should not be. He expresses as much, in deeply coded language so the kitchen staff won’t overhear, and Reynolds adorably reassures Brimsley that he has no other riders; he’s simply doing his duty to the king. As Brimsley leaves, reassured, he sees the king in a cellar room where a doctor is tending to him. Reynolds basically tells him he hasn’t seen what he’s clearly seen.
Down the road, a young girl, Violet Ledger, is hearing her mom say (“Bridgerton-coded”) racist things about the queen, the upcoming coronation and the new Black members of the Ton. She checks her mother’s racism with the support of her father, Lord Ledger, who’s apparently not only anti-racist but practically a (Regency-era) feminist, calling his daughter “brains” and encouraging her studies.
Soon, viewers learn that Violet grows up to be Lady Bridgerton – mother of the children at the center of the “Bridgerton” series. Apparently, she’s always been anti-racist, which is why she had no problem with her daughter marrying the Black Duke of Hastings in “Bridgerton” Season 1 and her eldest son marrying an Indian woman in Season 2.
Meanwhile, in the “Bridgerton”-present day, the elder Queen Charlotte (Golda Rosheuvel) is still going off like Vanessa Lachey at the “Love Is Blind” reunion, demanding babies from her adult children as Lady Whistledown’s narration insults the queen’s daughters as spinsters.
(I’d like to point out here that “spinster” originated as a word to refer to unmarried women who were employed spinning wool. Eventually, it became a legal term to identify a woman in any occupation who was independent. Of course, men took a word that used to describe a self-sufficient woman and turned it into an insult. But, I digress).
I started to be disappointed that Rosheuvel’s Charlotte was losing all the juicy story to her young Charlotte counterpart, Amarteifio. The elder version of Charlotte is worrying for yet another episode about which of her children will continue King George’s line, and I’m wondering how far this paper-thin storyline can stretch!
Though the elder Charlotte’s problem seems slightly frivolous and even boring compared to Amarteifio’s young Charlotte storyline in the past, what I now see is the glaring absence of King George in elder Charlotte’s life. In the origin storyline, the young queen is still fighting to form a bond with her husband and have an heir at all.
In the “Bridgerton”-present day, the elder Charlotte is fighting to preserve George’s line all on her own. She is cold and hilariously sharp with her children about their failures, but by Episode 3, we see how potentially decades of ruling and managing a large family alone has weighed on her and caused her to wear the facade of strength in the face of it. I still wish Rosheuvel and the fabulous elder Lady Danbury (Adjoa Andoh) had more to do. I’m just not convinced that if this is their only storyline that they need to appear in every episode of this spin-off. If the young cast has the juice, let them cook!
And the young cast is indeed killing it. Young Lady Danbury (Arséma Thomas) is giving the king’s mother, Princess Augusta, fake tea about George and Charlotte’s marriage so she and her husband, Lord Danbury, can maintain their new, equal status with the white members of the Ton. She even manages to throw the first integrated ball, which is also the first ball of the season, against the princess’ wishes, and to her lord husband’s delight.
This episode, we get a whole 18 minutes before Lord Danbury uses Lady Danbury for sex again. He still looks a mess thanks to a colorist storyline and hair and make-up design. At this point, the very handsome actor they’re ruining with this absurd writing and costuming, Cyril Nri, might be entitled to compensation.
Anyway, Charlotte and George perform their duties and the role of a loving couple at their coronation and agree to have sex on even days. On odd days, they don’t speak to each other. Apparently, the anger and hurt from the days they aren’t talking makes for great foreplay on even days as they rip each other’s clothes off on site, and do it on dining room tables, in bathtubs, in hallways, despite who might be watching.
Brimsley breaks Charlotte out of her post-sex haze by telling her that the king never does social engagements, and it might have something to do with the doctor he saw the king with in the cellar on coronation day. This divulgence of course gets Brimsley in trouble with his lover, Reynolds. Both are fiercely loyal to their lieges and won’t compromise their duties, even for each other.
Post-sex, Charlotte confronts George about the doctor, and George deflects. After she spots him outside, covered in dirt, she confronts him again. He again deflects, sharing he is a farmer as well as a king. His story checks out, but she’s still suspicious.
In the “Bridgerton”-present day, the elder Lady Danbury sees Lady Violet Bridgerton at church lighting candles for the dead Lord Bridgerton. As Lady Bridgerton laments the loss of her husband, Lady Danbury says Lady Bridgerton should consider herself fortunate. We’ve now seen what an unromantic and unappreciated chore it was for Lady Danbury to be married, so we understand Lady Danbury’s remarks, even if a grieving Lady Bridgerton doesn’t and finds them insulting. Later, Lady Danbury explains, and Lady Bridgerton comes to understand.
Back in the past, young Violet’s racist mother is leading the charge against young Lady Danbury’s ball, organizing the other ladies at court not to attend, all but ensuring that Lady Danbury’s ball will be a failure.
As Charlotte spirals about George farming when they have staff for that, a desperate Lady Danbury shakes Charlotte awake from her childish “simpering” and into her duties as queen – specifically to the new Black members of the Ton who will lose their status if the white folks continue to discriminate against them. Lady Danbury lovingly reads the young queen, and before you know it, the never-social King George and his queen are on schedule to make an appearance at Lord and Lady Danbury’s ball.
It’s a raging success with Violet’s racist mother the first guest in attendance, along with her father, Lord Ledger, who insists that he and Lady Danbury become friends. He also invites Lord Danbury on a hunt that he’s been hoping to attend all season.
Though both the Black and white members of the Ton show up, the white folks still refuse to co-mingle with the Black ones. Then the queen and king dance, which causes Lord Ledger to ask Lady Danbury to dance, much to the chagrin of his racist wife. Soon all the Black and white folks are dancing together, and it’s all but declared: interracial love has solved racism!
Their successful turn also sparks more deep conversations between the king and queen. The king declares they are a team, and the queen says no more odd and even days; they’ll just have days. Their lovely scene bleeds into one final disgusting scene of Lord Danbury using Lady Danbury’s body for sex. I say final because midway through, he keels over for dead. Lady Danbury and her maid rejoice at his death, and honestly, if this production refuses to do right by Cyril Nri, I’m as glad as Lady Danbury that it’s over.
That same night, the young queen finally witnesses George in the midst of a manic episode and does her best to calm him down and comfort him.
In the present, the elder Queen Charlotte asks her loyal servant Brimsley why he thinks none of her daughters married. He finally admits that being King George’s queen has trapped and stunted Charlotte’s growth, leaving her perpetually waiting for her husband’s mental health to return. Her daughters have stayed unmarried to support her. But Charlotte can’t hear that. She lashes out at him to add more gold to the Christmas tree, retreating once again into her frivolities and cruelties to mask the pain of truth.
Brooke Obie is an award-winning critic, screenwriter and author of the historical novel “Book of Addis: Cradled Embers.”
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