Simon Bassett (Regé Jean-Page) does not return for Bridgerton season 2, so how does the show explain his absence? This announcement disappointed many viewers of the first season who adored watching the romance between Daphne Bridgerton (Phoebe Dynevor) and the Duke of Hastings, but Bridgerton season 2 has moved on from the Duke’s alluring spell to focus on Anthony Bridgerton’s romance with Kate Sharma.
In Bridgerton season 1, Daphne and Simon agreed to pretend to court so that other eligible men would try to steal Daphne’s attentions away from Simon while the duke would be free from having to seriously worry about marriage for himself. Inevitably, these plans went awry when the pair fell in love and eventually married. Jean-Page quickly became a Bridgerton fan-favorite, and his absence from season 2 will surely sadden many, but those familiar with the book series would not have found the decision surprising.
The first season of Bridgerton was based on the first book of Julia Quinn’s series. The Duke and I centered on Simon and Daphne’s relationship, but each of the remaining books focused on different Bridgerton siblings. The second novel, The Viscount Who Loved Me, is about Anthony Bridgerton (Jonathan Bailey) and Bridgerton season 2 follows suit. With the TV show continuing to closely follow the books, Anthony is the main character and while Daphne does return, her husband Simon does not return for Bridgerton season 2. And here’s why and how the show pulls it off.
Why Regé Jean-Page Didn’t Return For Bridgerton Season 2
Regé Jean-Page was only ever contracted to appear in a single season of Bridgerton. That was part of the appeal for him accepting the role in the first place, leaving him free to pursue other projects after the season wrapped. In an interview with Variety, Jean-Page explained why his one-season role on Bridgerton was actually the perfect move, and why it’s ok that he won’t be returning for Bridgerton season 2:
“It’s a one-season arc. It’s going to have a beginning, middle, end – give us a year… [I thought] ‘That’s interesting,’ because then it felt like a limited series. I get to come in, I get to contribute my bit and then the Bridgerton family rolls on.”
In the same interview, Jean-Page went on to say that he has “nothing but excitement for Bridgerton” but that “there is also value in completing these arcs and sticking the landing.” Because the Duke of Hastings’s storyline has concluded by the end of Bridgerton season 1, it was always on the cards for him to make a graceful exit ahead of Bridgerton season 2. Considering Regé Jean-Page’s upcoming movies and TV shows, such as a leading part in the film adaptation of Dungeons & Dragons, it was not worth navigating his busy schedule for a small appearance in season 2. In the books, his character did not have any more story arcs to complete or major character development to undergo. Any minor references or additions to his story in the future could easily be revealed through Daphne, making it somewhat unnecessary for Jean-Page to show up in person for Bridgerton season 2. So how does Bridgerton explain his absence, especially since his wife Daphne still appears?
Where The Duke Of Hastings Is During Bridgerton Season 2
Since Anthony Bridgerton is the star of Bridgerton season 2, the duke’s story is no longer a main point of the show, which is the main reason why Regé Jean-Page didn’t return. Thanks to the format of the show, Bridgerton‘s remaining unmarried characters receive greater screen time in his place, with each season focusing in increasing detail on a new character. That said, the other Bridgerton children each have prominent roles in season 2 (other than Francesca, who bafflingly does not appear), and Daphne continues to visit her family home. Her role has changed dramatically from Bridgerton season 1, with her appearing mostly just to offer help or advice to her mother and siblings. She plays a particularly important role in guiding Anthony’s story too.
While visiting Anthony, Daphne plays the role of morality tale, recounting tales of her own happy marriage that occur off-screen, allowing viewers to broadly remain up-to-date on Simon’s Bridgerton whereabouts even though they do not actually see him. The Duke of Hastings could have any number of reasons as to why he is unable to visit himself during the course of Bridgerton season 2’s events, but the reality is that only one excuse is used – ill-health. Other than that, Simon merely remains off-screen because he’s busy with his own life and the affairs of his estate. Most importantly, despite Simon being missing in Bridgerton season 2, Daphne is far more key to keeping her family together and his presence is related solely through her mentions of him.
Why It’s Good Simon Isn’t In Bridgerton Season 2
Rege-Jean Page was the breakout star of Bridgerton season 1, and since Bridgerton season 2 is solely focused on Anthony’s story it’s for the best that Simon isn’t around. His narrative isn’t really necessary to the plot, since audiences already got to see Simon’s romance with Daphne play out in the previous season. The Netflix show is taking a page from the books by having each installment focus on a new character, which is good for the series since it takes away the prospect of the narrative going stale. Since Anthony, Simon, and Daphne are vastly different people it also opens up the opportunity for Bridgerton to explore new romance tropes. In Bridgertson season 2 alone, romance tropes like forbidden lovers and enemies to lovers are prominent parts of the narrative. As the show continues, more characters will get their time to shine, like Eloise and Benedict, giving audiences a deeper look into the Bridgerton family as a whole. Simon’s story has already been played out, and him distractinly pulling focus from Anthony’s tale would have been bad for Bridgerton season 2.
The way that Simon is simply written off the show is rather lamentable, but it is necessary. Unfortunately, there have clearly been some sacrifices made to the coherency of the plot in order to explain Simon’s absence. The idea that Simon would not appear to offer Anthony support as his family threatens to fall apart, despite them being very close friends is simply inconceivable. And Bridgerton season 2 simply says Simon is busy elsewhere in service of making Anthony more isolated and the drama of his romantic love triangle working better.
Bridgerton creator Chris Van Dusen has spoken about Simon’s absence in season 2, suggesting that he did want Page to return as the duke:
“We do reference Simon. In the very first scene of Season 2, Daphne mentions she left her husband and baby at home [to be there for Eloise’s debut]. Unfortunately, it didn’t work out in terms of Rege being a part of the second season, but he will always be Bridgerton‘s Duke. He’s not going anywhere in the world of the show. And just because we don’t see him, it doesn’t mean that he’s not there.”
Positively, Bridgerton season 2 does work without Simon, as Anthony and Kate Sharma’s love story soars. Let’s just hope that they aren’t forced to sit out season 3.
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