'Bridgerton': How Regé-Jean Page's Absence Is Addressed in Season 2

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Spoiler alert! Do not proceed if you have not watched the season 2 premiere of Bridgerton.

Bridgerton kicked off season 2 shifting its focus to Anthony and Kate's love story. But with knowledge that breakout star Regé-Jean Page would not be returning for the new season, the popular Regency drama wasted no time acknowledging the Duke's absence.

In the opening minute (or rather, opening seconds) of the first episode, newlywed and new mother Daphne (Phoebe Dynevor) makes her way to the Bridgerton family home in a gilded carriage. At first, it's unclear why she's returned to the estate. But, as it's quickly revealed, it's because her younger sister, Eloise (Claudia Jessie), is preparing for her first debut season as an eligible bachelorette.

"Do you realize I left my husband and child at home for this?" Daphne says when she arrives at the family home, eagerly awaiting -- alongside her siblings -- outside Eloise's door as the clock ticks down for the all-important meeting before the Queen. Moments later, Eloise unwillingly opens the door, revealing herself in a fancy gown, matching cape and feather headpiece.

"Don't say a word," Eloise demands of her brothers and sisters, who look at her shell-shocked at the rare sight before they all gather at the Queen's estate so she can suss out the season's newest "diamond."

So, if anyone was wondering how Bridgerton was going to address the lack of Simon Basset in season 2, the answer to that question was quickly answered in Daphne's brief remark.

Page shocked fans when it was revealed last April he would not be reprising his role for the sophomore installment, an unexpected development that made waves considering how closely tied the character is to Daphne and Anthony, who is Simon's closest friend. Though season 2 is loosely based on Julia Quinn's best-selling sequel, The Viscount Who Loved Me, and refocuses the central romance on Anthony, Simon still remains a presence in the books throughout the majority of the book series.

Page tweeted soon after news broke he was parting ways with Bridgerton that "the love is real and will just keep growing" even though he won't be an active part of the series, and executive producers Shonda Rhimes and Chris Van Dusen affirmed to ET's Lauren Zima recently that the door will always be open for a triumphant Duke of Hastings return.

"First of all, the Duke is never gone," Rhimes assured. "He's always available on Netflix to be binge-watched over and over and over as I like to say, and I definitely would work with Regé again. He's a wonderful man, he's a great actor and he is so, so talented."

"I’ll never say never about Regé returning," Van Dusen said of future seasons, as Bridgerton has been picked up through season 4. "He’s not in season 2. Who knows what the future will hold."

Bailey credited Dynevor for being a great guide in ceding the spotlight to him in season 2. (She has a smaller presence in the new season.)

"Phoebe’s been amazing," the season's leading man said. "Luke Thompson... says it really well. He just says, 'We are a family and being able to see Phoebe go forward from Regé and tell their story means that we're not gonna be the first and that by no means would be the last because there are six other siblings.' So, it's just amazing to be able to tell the story. We love our characters and it's just great to see Anthony be [at the center of the story]. Everything else that comes with it will be fine because we're surrounded by the best people."

Bridgerton is streaming now on Netflix.

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