Did you hear what Bridgerton season 3 is up to? Scandalous!

Penelop, a short and curvy red-haired woman, wears a teal dress and stands next to Colin, a tall dark-haired man
Photo: Liam Daniel/Netflix

The Ton’s newest gossipmonger, Lady Polydown, is on the case

Dearest Reader,

Another season (of Netflix’s Bridgerton) is upon us, and once again, it is filled to the brim with romance and scandal. As your ever-watchful Lady Polydown, it is my duty to assess all the comings and goings of the Ton, and let my gentle readers know who is worth keeping an eye on — after all, there are so very many members, but not all of them are as compelling as others!

This season, all eyes turn to Miss Penelope Featherington (Nicola Coughlan). After two seasons of watching her pine for her best friend Mr. Colin Bridgerton (Luke Newton), it’s high time this wallflower takes matters into her own hands!

But is Mr. Colin worthy of Miss Penelope’s affections? This is a conundrum that has puzzled me season after season. Miss Penelope has been nothing but a loyal, devoted, and supportive friend to him. Whilst away from her company, Mr. Colin has changed a great deal, but is his newfound sturdiness and swagger enough to mend the wounds on Miss Penelope’s heart?

Colin (Luke Newton) and Penelope (Nicola Coughlan) share some steamy eye contact as she mends his wounded hand
Photo: Liam Daniel/Netflix

Mr. Colin’s affections, at least, do change this season, after Miss Penelope enlists his help to attract a suitor. Her brief flirtation with the reclusive naturalist Lord Debling (Sam Phillips) is actually most compelling — though it is clear that even if they would make a lovely match on paper, her heart may still be stuck on an old chapter. But this author wishes there were a bit more proof of Mr. Colin’s feelings, beyond a couple of heated dreams.

As for Miss Penelope’s side venture as the other gossipmonger… let’s just say it has not been forgotten. It lingers, especially because it utterly destroyed her relationship with one Miss Eloise Bridgerton. And this season, Miss Eloise (Claudia Jessie) is in the company of Miss Cressida Cowper (Jessica Madsen), the past few seasons’ continual villain. Yet, if there’s a glimmer to be found, it’s this facet, a development that yields an actually meaningful friendship, giving Miss Cowper’s character depth and maturity. What a surprise to find myself rooting for this previously unlikeable debutante! Even when she’s plotting against Miss Penelope, I am sympathetic, now that we know more about why Miss Cowper is the way she is. And the friendship she shares with Miss Eloise is particularly evocative, as three seasons in they are both shunned by the current marriageable market.

Eloise and Cressida standing at the edge of the ballroom
Photo: Liam Daniel/Netflix

But the love story that has captured the heart of this author isn’t the one at the center of the season. No, it is the one between shy Francesca Bridgerton (Hannah Dodd) and the stoic Jonathan Stirling, the Earl of Kilmartin (Victor Alli). Miss Francesca would simply like to be left alone this season, and the only one who understands that is Lord Kilmartin. Compared to the big flashy courtships of her siblings, Miss Francesa’s is incredibly subdued and quiet — and yet, it is a different sort of romance, one we’ve yet to see in previous seasons, and one that has completely stolen my heart. The Queen may not approve, but this author is utterly charmed!

Ah, the Viscount Anthony Bridgerton (Jonathan Bailey) and his new bride Kate Bridgerton, nee Sharma (Simone Ashley) have returned from their honeymoon — and they are here to kiss and look very beautiful. Do they add much to the fraught pageantry of this current season? Not particularly, but they are so very darling and in love (and also, they do not take up too much time away from the main action). I acknowledge that I am being completely and shamelessly catered to, yet I do not care, as it fills my heart with joy to see this happy couple once again.

Anthony holds Kate in his arms
Photo: Liam Daniel/Netflix

Meanwhile, Mr. Benedict Bridgerton (Luke Thompson) has once again found himself cavorting around town and getting caught up with yet another woman introduced just this season. The one thing Mr. Benedict had going for him was his love of art and painting, but after finding out that his brother paid for his admission into the Royal Academy of Art, Mr. Benedict made quite the ruckus, and consequently abandoned his artistic pursuits. And yet, without his proclivity for the paintbrush, where does that leave Mr. Benedict? A boring bachelor, that is what. Now, all he does this season is sneak around with his sexually bold lover, without even really interacting with his siblings or doing much else of interest.

What has most befuddled me most, dear readers, is the constant fixation on Mr. Will Mordich (Martins Imhangbe) and his family. If that name does not ring a bell, don’t feel guilty; I certainly would not have remembered his name, were he not the owner of what was once a popular club. But thanks to a distant relative’s perplexing will, which leaves a lordship to Mr. Mordich’s eldest child, the Mordich family is thrust into high society. A noble effort, but one that still singles them out from the rest of the Ton’s players. Yes, Mr. Mordich is good friends with the Duke of Hastings, but the Duke has been off with his lovely Daphne for two seasons now. Too often, Mr. Mordich and his family feel too minuscule when isolated against the spectacle of the rest of the season. What is the point? I do not know, but at least it is charming to see the child lord learning about silverware.

Francesca Bridgerton sits with Lady Violet Bridgerton on a couch
Photo: Liam Daniel/Netflix

As for elsewhere on the Ton, well, they all get some sort of minor plotline. The Dowager Viscountess Violet Bridgerton (Ruth Gemmell) finds herself smitten with her dear friend Lady Danbury’s brother (which I, personally, am in favor of, considering we learned in Queen Charlotte that Lady Danbury once had an affair with Lady Violet’s father back in the day). The Featherington sisters, meanwhile, are racing to produce a male heir with their husbands — a most amusing plot to see these clueless young couples be romantic together (what matches made in heaven!). And of course, the queen is determined to oust Lady Whistledown, though that game has been at a bit of a stalemate for a while now.

I am torn, dear readers. On one hand, I came to this season expecting some delicious romance and I have most surely gotten that! Not just between Miss Penelope and Mr. Colin, but also between Miss Francesca and her surprisingly charming suitor. And other relationships continue to intrigue me, like Miss Eloise and Miss Cowper’s unexpected friendship. Yet, there are so many superfluous people to keep track of this season, to the point where I am wondering why their actions are even worth paying attention to. That is, alas, the Bridgerton dilemma: for every interesting sibling and their romantic partner, there are dozens of dull stories twisting in and out of their lives (some with looser connective threads than others).

But even when the sea is calm, the tides of courtship may yet turn. After all, the season is still young. There is plenty of time for those less enlightening individuals to become a little bit more interesting (and for Mr. Benedict to remember he has a passion for something other than bedding rich widows). We shall see what the second half of the season holds for us. Till then, this lighthouse keeper waits atop her tower, a watchful eye cast across the Ton.

Yours Truly,

Lady Polydown

The first half of Bridgerton season 3 is out on Netflix now. The second half (also four episodes) arrives on June 16.

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