Whatever happened to Reynolds and young Brimsley in Queen Charlotte?
That’s what many have been wondering after finishing the delectable Bridgerton spinoff from creator and writer Shonda Rhimes, which debuted all six episodes on Thursday, May 4.
The Netflix series tells the story of Charlotte and George’s passionate romance and how their arranged union sparks a societal shift that results in the diverse world presented in Bridgerton. The royal couple might not have warmed up to each other as quickly as they did were it not for George’s secretary Reynolds and Charlotte’s royal attendant Brimsley, whose well-intentioned meddling pushes the pair to work through their stubbornness.
Through their matchmaking, Brimsley and Reynolds also develop a gentle romance that contrasts with the fiery nature of George and Charlotte’s complicated arrangement. In Episode 6, the right-hand men share a private dance which transitions to an older Brimsley (Bridgerton‘s Hugh Sachs) dancing alone, raising many questions about why they aren’t together in the future.
“We don’t know where that’s going to go,” Tom Verica, who directed the entire season, tells TVLine of the pair’s uncertain romance. “But it certainly has struck a nerve with a lot of viewers, as it [did] with me when I was filming this and our discussions with the actors as to where it goes. We don’t know specifically what happened, but there are a couple different options. In playing those scenes, particularly when [Brimsley] was dancing alone, we had discussions about that, and we tried a couple different ways, our own theories as to what happened with their relationship or what happened with Brimsley. So a lot of that is kind of the unknown right now. I think Shonda knows. She has not shared that.”
(Note: Hugh Sachs, who plays the elder Brimsey, told Vulture of a cut scene that was never filmed in which an older Reynolds and Brimsley see each other in passing.)
Verica is a Shondaland staple, having helmed episodes of Grey’s Anatomy, spinoffs Private Practice and Station 19, Scandal, For the People and Inventing Anna, as well as Seasons 1 and 2 of Bridgerton. In our full interview below, the director shares his insight on George and Charlotte’s memorable ending scene, potential Queen Charlotte spinoffs and more.
TVLINE | The show has a seemingly impossible task, which was to deliver a couple that could live up to the high expectations of Bridgerton’s Simon and Daphne, and Kate and Anthony. Were you intimidated at all by that?
As we approached Queen Charlotte, we definitely felt that there was going to be extra eyeballs and perhaps some trepidation in accepting yet another couple. But I think we were very confident in the origin story of Queen Charlotte. And with Shonda’s script, it was so beautifully written and so beautifully orchestrated with how they came together, it was really up to us to find the right actors to be able to pull this off.
TVLINE | Do you remember any conversations with Shonda about what she looks for when she’s trying to find the chemistry with these couples?
It starts with the story, with the script and the setup of how these two meet. The first scene that we saw that Shonda wrote was the wall scene, which is their first interaction. I think it was so wonderfully nuanced with the obstacles that they both face — her not knowing that it’s him, initially. You get to see a little bit of her feistiness and that avoidance. But once the actors start reading it, there wasn’t anything specific that we wanted ahead of time. Corey [Mylchreest] and India [Amarteifio] just immediately jumped off and hit it off right away. Their chemistry just came alive.
TVLINE | There are moments in this series that provide greater context to Charlotte’s actions in Bridgerton, such as the ballroom scene in Season 2 when she defends Anthony and Kate from Ton gossip. What was important to you in terms of connecting the thread between the Queen Charlotte in this prequel and the version that we see in Bridgerton?
When we were filming [that Season 2 episode], we didn’t know what was coming. But it really helped us in navigating and giving specificity to those moments that I was fortunate enough to be part of in Season 1 and Season 2 of that character, having the little windows into how Golda [Rosheuvel] played that which gave us the freedom to draw out those moments… I think that’s the mark of Golda as an actress, and also these moments that we craft that gives the fans those wonderful little tie-ins that weave through this character as we see them in present-day Bridgerton and then, of course, in the younger world that we’re able to lay the seeds as to where that character goes to. It’s exciting to be able to bring out those little details that radically give different elements to the fullness of the story.
TVLINE | Do you see the potential for Queen Charlotte to continue?
I viewed it, when we set out to do it, as a limited series. I think there are always a lot of possibilities with these rich characters to open up that world. I don’t know that it would be George and Charlotte because we have seen everything and how they set up and we know where that goes. But it’s an exciting prospect. We didn’t go into it planning on telling this story over the years of their relationship, but I think there potentially could be some avenues to take that would incorporate that.
TVLINE | Lady Danbury has a rich story that we didn’t get to see much of beyond the Simon stuff in Bridgerton. But to see it play out in Queen Charlotte and adding different layers to the character was fascinating. Do you see a potential spinoff with her? I feel like she has more to tell.
Ultimately, I think there’s a whole area to explore with that character. It’s a powerful character, both how Adjoa [Andoh] plays her in Bridgerton and what Arsema [Thomas] has done in the Queen Charlotte world. They’re both amazing actors, and that character has really landed with a lot of people and strikes a chord of wanting to dive deeper into what her journey is. I think fans and myself would love to explore that character a little deeper and spend some time in that world.
TVLINE | I want to get into that scene in Episode 6 in the observatory when George tells Charlotte, “My heart calls your name.” It feels like one of those classic, achingly romantic Bridgerton scenes. Is the version we see on screen the same as how it was originally written?
I think that’s word for word. Once we got those pages from Shonda, it was electric and just so beautifully constructed. In most television episodes, that could be the end of a series. That could be at the end of a finale, and here it is the beginning of this episode, which I was concerned that it’s such a powerful scene and how they play it. I was concerned that it might get, not forgotten, but would… in the middle of a show that because of what happens after — so much happens after it. We just really sank our teeth into it, really explored the dynamic of that relationship and played with the rhythms of it and the levels of that palpability and that tension and how to heighten those moments, which Corey and India did so beautifully.
TVLINE | Is there anything that stood out to you while filming that scene?
I knew from an approach and design standpoint, I really wanted that explosion to really pop when he just bursts out, “I love you.” It was important for me to have this space between them and have them closing in, and particularly with young Charlotte as she closes in and demands an answer. They’re both in such vulnerable positions, so I really wanted them to be feeling each other out and playing a little bit of the mind game of what each are going through in protecting themselves.
But I do specifically remember really pushing India to go stronger after him to demand an answer because I think she was seeing more of a softer approach to it and really kind of feeling him out. I said, “You basically are facing a life of being alone without this man. Are you able to accept that?” And I said this is really a point of strength for her, that she really has to come out and poke him and shake him and demand that answer.
We all, as actors and directors, know what’s going to happen but we really need that moment to be unpredictable and a revelation for him to suddenly open up his heart and reveal that very vulnerable moment for him.
TVLINE | And it works because he stutters and it’s beautiful.
When I work with actors with emotional scenes, some of them need numerous takes to warm into it, [and] others are there ready to go right away. That will dictate to me whether I want to start with their close-up coverage or start with wider shots and work our way in because it takes numerous hours to do a scene like that. And with Corey, he was very raw and ready to go right off the bat. So we went in and did the close-ups first because they were both so connected emotionally to it that I really wanted to capture that rawness that they had. Oftentimes, when you do it time and time again, you kind of lose that ability. So we changed gears from how we normally film scenes and started with our close-ups there.
TVLINE | The episode ends with Charlotte and George under the bed, and he says, “You did not go over the wall…” Was that always how the show was supposed to end? Right there under the bed in that full-circle moment?
There was no change. [Shonda] told me she had an idea for the ending all along, so she had that brewing in her head, and it was about the journey and how we get to that moment. We flash back to seeing younger George and younger Charlotte, but I took it a step further and I asked Corey and India to learn that scene because I wanted to intercut them in those moments as if they are seeing each other when they first fell in love in that moment. I was really happy with how that came out. You take a gamble sometimes, and that one paid off.
TVLINE | The show mixes fact and fiction, but historically speaking, Queen Charlotte dies before Edward and Victoria’s child is born. Did that ever come up in conversations about her fate and how you’re going to handle that timeline?
We were very clear that this is a fictional telling of this story, but we also wanted to honor elements of the real Queen Charlotte and her story. This was all engineered by the Queen Charlotte we’ve created in the Bridgerton world with Golda playing this character. We really delve into the history of Queen Charlotte and extract the elements to ground it in some reality, but we’re very clear when we diverge from that path. So Shonda extracted real elements of the story to be able to give authenticity to the time period, but clearly in the retelling of our story, decided where it leans into our story and how we get to the Queen Charlotte that we know at that time. We were well aware. We had a wonderful historian, Polly Putnam, who we would constantly speak with and find out what was real and what wasn’t and then decide on which moments we wanted to incorporate, and other elements where we either didn’t address or didn’t feel the need with the storytelling of where Shonda wanted to go, whether that was pertinent enough to the story.
TVLINE | Will you be back to direct Bridgerton in Season 3?
I do for the last two episodes, the finale of Season 3. It’s a good one, Pen and Colin. I’m really excited for people to see their world and how they navigate the Ton and the world in which they reside. It’s really, really exciting, and I can’t wait for everyone to see what we’ve got for Season 3 of Bridgerton.