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Bridgerton Season 3 Tackles a Friends-to-Lovers Story as Penelope and Colin Step Into the Spotlight

Here's everything to know about the new season of Netflix's hit period drama.
  • Luke Newton and Nicola Coughlan in Bridgerton Season 3 (Photo: Netflix)
    Luke Newton and Nicola Coughlan in Bridgerton Season 3 (Photo: Netflix)

    Dearest gentle reader: A new season of Netflix's Bridgerton is upon us, and with it comes a new love story. For the first time, the show is shaking up the order of Julia Quinn's novel series to focus on a different Bridgerton sibling, the always-searching Colin (Luke Newton), who has just returned to the ton after a summer trip around the world. When Colin learns that Penelope Featherington (Nicola Coughlan) wants nothing to do with him, he resolves to win back her friendship — but in true Bridgerton fashion, it's not long before he develops feelings for his most trusted confidante.

    While we're still a few months away from the debut of "Polin," as the couple has been affectionately dubbed by fans, their romance has been in the works for years, so it's never too early to start preparing for their coming-out party. From Colin and Penelope's friends-to-lovers arc and her big Lady Whistledown secret to new cast members, here's everything to know about Bridgerton Season 3.

    When Does Bridgerton Return?

    The Bridgertons aren't exactly royal (more like royal-adjacent), but Netflix is still looking to The Crown for inspiration when it comes to the Bridgerton release schedule. Like the recently wrapped period drama, Bridgerton Season 3 will premiere in two installments: Part 1 drops on May 16, followed by Part 2 on June 13.

    Production on the third season began in London in July 2022 and ran until March 2023, so the drama was unaffected by the recent Hollywood strikes.

    How Many Episodes Will There Be in Bridgerton Season 3?

    As has been the case in the past, Bridgerton Season 3 will consist of eight episodes, split evenly across both batches. For now, the mystery revolves around how the drama will conclude in Part 1 — perhaps with a kiss between Penelope and Colin?

    During a global fan event on February 14, new showrunner Jess Brownell, who takes over from Chris Van Dusen, revealed the episode titles for Season 3 and encouraged viewers to start theorizing:

    • Episode 1: "Out of the Shadows"
    • Episode 2: "How Bright the Moon
    • Episode 3: "Forces of Nature"
    • Episode 4: "Old Friends"
    • Episode 5: "Tick Tock"
    • Episode 6: "Romancing Mister Bridgerton"
    • Episode 7: "Joining of Hands"
    • Episode 8: "Into the Light"

    What Is Bridgerton Season 3 About?

    After two seasons as the wallflower of the ton, it's Penelope's time to shine. Since Bridgerton revealed that the youngest Featherington was behind gossipmonger Lady Whistledown, she's taken on a greater role as she's worked behind the scenes to keep her identity a secret. In Season 3, however, she's finally ready to step into the spotlight and make a go at the marriage mart, but in order to find a suitable husband — ideally, one oblivious to her alter ego and wealthy enough to fund her lifestyle — she must first let go of her unrequited crush on Colin. At the very least, he's made that easy: In the Season 2 finale, Penelope overheard Colin telling a group of friends that he "would never dream of courting Penelope Featherington," a callous admission that left her devastated.

    For his part, Colin returns from his travels with a new confidence, but he fails to charm Penelope, who is no longer interested in maintaining their friendship. Determined to win back her affection, he offers to guide Penelope through the courtship process, only to become jealous when suitors begin lining up at her door. As the season progresses, Colin must come to terms with his growing feelings for Penelope, who remains hesitant to let him into her heart after the rejection she's faced in the past.

    Beyond advancing the Polin romance introduced in Quinn's fourth book, Romancing Mister Bridgerton, Season 3 will follow Penelope's ongoing effort to keep her identity as Lady Whistledown under wraps. Last season, Eloise Bridgerton (Claudia Jessie) uncovered the truth about Lady Whistledown, and now that she and Penelope are feuding, Pen's secret could be revealed at any moment. During the February 14 fan event, Jessie teased that forgiveness doesn't come easily for Eloise, who begins the season "fuming" at her friend's betrayal. Their relationship remains a major focus moving forward, as Peloise is "the second love story of the season," said executive producer Shonda Rhimes.

    While Colin and Penelope's love story drives Season 3, other Bridgertons get their due, including Eloise, who makes a new, as-yet-unnamed friend, and newlyweds Anthony (Jonathan Bailey) and Kate (Simone Ashley). According to Brownell, Anthony and Kate are in a much calmer place after their intense enemies-to-lovers arc in Season 2. "We're not really interested in introducing any big new conflicts into their relationship," Brownell recently told Entertainment Weekly. "We feel like they've been through the hard stuff, and we want viewers to get to see them in a more playful, lovey space."

    The writers have also made an effort to spotlight supporting characters, particularly Will Mondrich (Martins Imhangbe), the former boxer who owns the ton's most popular club. Will has been on the fringes of the action for the past two seasons, but Imhangbe teases that his character is "drawn out of the shadows" when he's given a surprising new title. His family's new position sparks an internal conflict for Will, who struggles to maintain his integrity while navigating the expectations of polite society.

    Producers and the cast were careful to avoid spoilers during the fan event, but they agreed that Bridgerton Season 3 is both "so different" from what's come before it and deeply "familiar." Brownell says Polin's friends-to-lovers arc allowed the writers to "play with classic rom-com tropes" — expect lots of "awkward banter" — while still maintaining the "coziness" that makes the Netflix drama so unique. "This is for the wallflowers," says Adjoa Andoh, with Coughlan adding that Season 3 will "make people who aren't seen feel seen."

    Which Cast Members Are Coming Back?

    Nearly the entire Season 2 cast is expected to return for Bridgerton's latest outing. In addition to Nicola Coughlan and Luke Newton, Jonathan Bailey and Simone Ashley reprise their roles as Viscount and Viscountess Anthony and Kate Bridgerton, while Claudia Jessie is back as Eloise, the fifth Bridgerton child. Luke Thompson will also continue to "bounce around" as Benedict Bridgerton, Brownell reveals, though any major developments with his character will likely come in a later season, as the creative team skipped over his installment in the book series (An Offer From a Gentleman, the third book) in favor of prioritizing Penelope and Colin's romance.

    Other series regulars coming back include:

    • Adjoa Andoh as Lady Agatha Danbury
    • Ruth Gemmell as Dowager Viscountess Bridgerton, the family matriarch
    • Golda Rosheuvel as Queen Charlotte
    • Polly Walker as Dowager Baroness Portia Featherington
    • Harriet Cains and Bessie Carter as Philipa and Prudence Featherington
    • Will Tilston and Florence Hunt as youngest siblings Gregory and Hyacinth Bridgerton
    • Julie Andrews as the narrator and voice of Lady Whistledown

    That said, there is one main cast member who won't return for Season 3: Phoebe Dynevor, who played Duchess of Hastings Daphne Basset (née Bridgerton) in Seasons 1 and 2. (Her on-screen partner Regé-Jean Page has not appeared since the first season.) In early 2023, Dynevor told ScreenRant that her character will not be making an appearance in the upcoming installment. "Sadly [I'm] not in Season 3. Potentially in the future," she said at the time. "But Season 3, I'm just excited to watch as a viewer."

    Who's New to the Bridgerton Universe?

    While the bulk of the Bridgerton cast remains consistent, fans will notice at least one unfamiliar face in the family's salon come Season 3. Shortly before filming began, the drama recast the role of Francesca Bridgerton, the sixth Bridgerton child, with Hannah Dodd replacing Ruby Stokes (who left to star in Netflix's Lockwood & Co.). Dodd has already made a name for herself on Netflix, appearing in Anatomy of a Fall as a younger version of Sienna Miller's character and Enola Holmes 2.

    Season 3 will also introduce a few new characters, including Hannah New (Black Sails) as Lady Tilley Arnold, a widow making the most of her financial and sexual freedom; Sam Phillips (The Crown) as Lord Debling, Penelope's new suitor; Daniel Francis (Stay Close) as charismatic newcomer Marcus Anderson; and James Phoon (Wreck) as the dashing Harry Dankworth.

    Here's Your First Look at Bridgerton Season 3

    Over the past few months, Netflix has released a cache of photos from Season 3 that tease Colin and Penelope's evolution. (Fans of the book will recognize the shot of Penelope tending to Colin's cut hand.) The images also introduce Penelope's new suitor, Lord Debling, and suggest Anthony and Kate are settling into married life just fine:

    Photo: Netflix

    Photo: Netflix

    Photo: Netflix

    Photo: Netflix

    Photo: Netflix

    Photo: Netflix

    Photo: Netflix

    Netflix's Bridgerton teases continued on February 1 with a short clip from Season 3. The sneak peek offers new insight into Penelope and Colin's flirtation lessons, which start to feel all too real as they stare into each other's eyes.

    Another minute-long clip was released on February 14. The scene, which comes from the Season 3 premiere, sees Penelope confront Colin about his claim that he would "never court" her, reflecting the confidence she's developed while he was away.

    Join the discussion about Bridgerton in our forums.

    Claire Spellberg Lustig is the Senior Editor at Primetimer and a scholar of The View. Follow her on Twitter at @c_spellberg.

    TOPICS: Bridgerton, Netflix, Claudia Jessie, Jess Brownell, Jonathan Bailey, Luke Newton, Luke Thompson, Nicola Coughlan, Shonda Rhimes, Simone Ashley