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Netflix's Bridgerton season 3 part 1 ending explained (and a tease of mayhem to come in part 2!)

Netflix's costume drama Bridgerton returns with more romance, new characters, and so many costumes in season 3

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After over two years off the air, Netflix’s fan favorite costume drama Bridgerton is finally back with the first half of its third season. Based on the popular series of novels, each year of Bridgerton focuses on the Bridgerton family as it navigates the Regency era London’s social season. Past seasons have followed oldest daughter and son Daphne and Anthony as they each tried to find (or resist) a marriage match.

Meanwhile the Bridgerton’s neighbor Penelope, who is largely ignored and rejected by everyone except for the Bridgerton family (especially best friend Eloise), writes a take-no-prisoners gossip column using the pseudonym Lady Whistledown

While past seasons have each focused on one member of the journey to marriage for one member of Bridgerton family, season 3 actually has 4 four different relationships unfolding, with the early episodes focusing especially upon Penelope’s relationship with her lifelong friend Colin Bridgerton.

Warning! This article contains major spoilers for Bridgerton season 3!

What happens with Colin and Penelope in Bridgerton season 3?

Having heard Colin tell others at the end of season 2 that he would never consider going out with her, Penelope decides in season 3 to try to find herself a husband. Meanwhile Colin returns from his travels abroad with a new sex appeal and outfits that are the definition of the word “snack”. The two quickly fall back into their friendship, with Colin offering to help Penelope figure out how to navigate the social scene and find a man.

But when it comes out that he’s been helping her (in no small part because she feels she has to write about it as Lady Whistledown), Penelope is shunned by everyone. When Colin stops by to comfort her, she asks him to kiss her, so that she can know what that feels like before resigning herself to life as a spinster. That kiss opens Colin’s eyes to how much he loves her. He spends the rest of part 1 desperately struggling with whether to tell her or not while she begins to connect with Lord Debling, a conservationist who is looking for a wife before he begins a three-year trip abroad.

In the end Colin interrupts Penelope and Lord Debling just as he is preparing to propose. Realizing that Penelope does have feelings for Colin, Lord Debling decides not to propose to her after all. Afterward Colin races to catch up to Penelope’s carriage and reveals that he loves her. The two make out (and then some), before arriving at his family home, where Colin proposes.

What happens with Penelope and Eloise in Bridgerton season 3?

Season 2 saw the seemingly unshakable relationship between Penelope and Eloise collapse, after Eloise learns that Penelope (as Lady Whistledown) was responsible for the social shunning she faced. As season 3 opens she has been spending her time instead with Cressida Cowper, who despite her tendencies toward meanness has actually begun to grow as a person as a result of their friendship.

Eventually Eloise makes her peace with Penelope, after watching Penelope ridicule herself in Lady Whistledown’s pages. But the two do not return to their prior friendship. Instead, Eloise works to support Cressida as she tries to find a husband for herself before her father can give her to someone else.

Are there other Bridgerton season 3 romances?

Yes, many! It’s actually Francesca Bridgerton’s introduction to society, and while she is far more matter of fact than any of her siblings about being paired off, wanting simply to get it done, she still comes to win the Queen’s attention, after Charlotte discovers Francesca playing piano just for herself rather than to impress others.

The Queen sets out to help Francesca find a man, and brings to court Lord Samadani, who like Francesca is one of 7 kids, but unlike her wants to have 8 of his own. (Yikes.)

Fleeing him, she encounters a strange man, Lord John Stirling, who stands happily in silence with her for a time. While at first she doesn’t know what to make of him, after he gives her a piece of music they’d heard on the street, rewritten in light of her critique of it, she falls for him and leaves Lord Samadami behind, seemingly for good.

Benedict, who spends the early part of part 1 running away from mothers who want to shack him up with their daughters, meets in the midst of one such escape Lady Tilley Arnold, a widow who challenges the conventional views of the men at a meeting. The two end up starting an affair.

Lady Bridgerton herself also feels some sparks when she meets Lady Danbury’s brother Marcus, himself a widower who understands exactly what it’s like to want to look out for your children.

What is Queen Charlotte's Bridgerton season 3 story?

Having failed to successfully match her diamond in season 2, Queen Charlotte starts season 3 rather cold to the whole social season. It’s only Lady Whistledown calling her out as gunshy that sets her into motion again. After coming upon Francesca by herself playing the piano, Queen Charlotte decides she shall be her “dazzling” gem of the year, and sets out to match her to her friend Lord Samadani.

Queen Charlotte is so pleased to see her match praised by Lady Whistledown, she considers the possibility of viewing her as an ally rather than an enemy. But then in 304 she sees Francesca walking away from Lord Samadani to leave early, a choice that clearly displeases her.

What are the other Bridgerton season 3 big stories?

Gentleman's club owner Will Mondrich and his wife Alice face a major twist in their own lives when they’re informed that Alice’s great aunt, the Lady Kent, has died and left her estate to their young son Nicholas. Becoming landed people creates new challenges for Will. He’s informed by other gentelmen that he must give up his club, as people of their status are not supposed to have jobs. When he refuses, they stop coming. Lady Danbury warns Alice she must convince Will to change, as the Queen will not tolerate him continuing to work.

Lady Featherington, facing the possibility once again of having to marry, forges a document from her cousin saying that the first son born to one of her daughters will become the new Lord Featherington. When an official from the Crown begins looking into the possibility that this is a forgery, warning her estate will be taken away if it is, Lady Featherington begins pressuring her daughters into having kids immediately. And by the end of part 1, both daughters believe they have indeed gotten pregnant.

Do they find out who Lady Whistledown is in Bridgerton season 3?

No. In fact, after a brief mention early, the question of Lady Whistledown’s identity does not come up as a plot point in the first half of season 3. But the trailer for part 2 (see below) suggests that is very definitely about to change.

Are there any Bridgerton season 3 deaths?

Thankfully, there are no bee stings in Bridgerton season 3 part 1, and no one dies.

Do we get to see Daphne and Simon or Anthony and Kate in Bridgerton season 3?

Kate and Anthony show up in episode 301 and basically spend it rolling around in the hay, so much so that at the end Kate suggests they allow Lady Bridgerton to keep running the house for a while longer so they extend their honeymoon.

Daphne and Simon, sadly, do not show up. Neither does Edwina, Kate’s sister and Anthony’s former love interest. But in 302 we hear that she’s made a splendid match abroad.

Who are the new Bridgerton season 3 characters?

Francesca Bridgerton has been seen before, but having been recast with Hannah Dodd for season 3, she’s almost totally unrecognizable. Dodd brings to the character of the family pianist a quiet strength and Cinderella-at-the-ball type beauty.

Lord Debling (Sam Philips) joins the series as a passionate naturalist who comes looking for a bride that can accept him being away for years at a time. While he’s viewed skeptically by most, he immediately connects with Penelope, who knows exactly what it’s like being on the outside.

Introduced halfway through the first set of episodes, Lady Tilley Arnold (Hannah New) is the widow who has no fear of challenging old customs, and strikes up an affair with Benedict.

Lord John Stirling (Victor Alli) likewise shows up in the latter half of part 1 as the quirky, mysterious man who helps Francesca realize she really can have a love match.

Finally, Lord Marcus Anderson (Daniel Francis) is Lady Danbury’s brother. A widower, he comes to town looking to find a new wife. A chance encounter with Lady Bridgerton leaves both their hearts beating faster.

Does Bridgerton season 3 feature covers of any pop songs?

As has been true in prior seasons, Bridgerton does indeed involve modern pop songs reimagined as early 19th century productions.

While BTS, Nick Jonas, Gayle, and Taylor Swift all get covers, the most striking songs are Sia’s “Cheap Thrills” set to violins as the Bridgertons arrive at Lord and Lady Hawkins’ Innovations ball, and Pitbull’s “Give Me Everything,” which fittingly plays as Colin and Penelope consummate their relationship in her carriage at the end of 304.

Does Bridgerton season 3 have any great new costumes?

Oh yes, dear gentle reader, and in tremendous variety. For those who love a princess look, Francesca Bridgerton delivers in every outfit she wears. Queen Charlotte’s wigs are likewise universally fabulous, as always. Her final wig in 304 features an open middle section within which two glass swans can be seen swimming.

Cressida and Penelope’s reversals of fortune are also carried through in their costumes, with Cressida’s looks all coming off as just a little bit sad or desperate (though in 303 she briefly wears a pink number that feels Barbie-inspired in a great way). Meanwhile Penelope discards her hellscape floral arrangement pieces for a variety of shades of green that all look gorgeous. Her emerald green dress in 301 is a stunner.

The other most striking looks are those of Colin and Lady Arnold. Having spent the past two seasons in the typical frills and foppery of his brothers, Colin return from his time abroad loving a vest with open-throated shirt that gives dashing hero and just the right amount of scamp. And in 303, Lady Arnold shows up in a stunning sleeveless dress of such dark blue that it looks like black leather and tells you exactly how naughty she wants to get with Benedict.

Does Bridgerton season 3 feature any steamy moments?

Oh yeah. Colin and Penelope steal the show, with a series of passionate kisses (real and imagined), and an end scene in the carriage that is every bit as steamy as anything we’ve seen in prior seasons.

The first episode also has plenty of moments of Anthony and Kate demonstrating just how great their honeymoon was.

Is there a mid or end-credits scene in Bridgerton season 3?

After episode 304 ends we get a teaser of “Batch 2,” which focuses largely on Lady Whistledown. Having seemingly come to see Lady Whistledown as an ally, Queen Charlotte for reasons unknown now offers a $5000 reward to anyone who can bring information about her identity.

Meanwhile, Eloise is absolutely not having the idea of Colin marrying Penelope. She gives her one day to reveal to him the truth that she is Whistledown, or else Eloise will. (Notably they’re in different costumes than at the end of batch one, so who knows how many days later that scene takes place.)

Cressida is for some reason intent on getting the reward money—probably to get free from her awful father, who has some husband waiting in the wings for her; the Queen is seen wearing a popping cerulean dress and crimson wig; we get glimpses of Francesca with John Sterling and Benedict once again in bed with Lady Arnold; Anthony and Kate return. And the teaser ends with a very strung-out Penelope passing out in Colin’s arms as a clock strikes midnight.

Will there be more Bridgerton?

Yes! The series returns with the final four episodes of season 3 on June 13th. Netflix has also already confirmed a season 4 to come.

Whether its the bane of your existence or the object of all your desires (or both), Bridgerton is back. Read all our spoiler-y thoughts on Bridgerton season 3 here, and then delight at a guide to how to watch all of Bridgerton (and the spinoff), an our exclusive interview with the show's costume designer John Glaser, as well as some recommended reads for all Bridgerton fans.