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Bridgerton season 3 ending explained (plus such a tease for season 4!)

Steamy romance, pristine weddings, and wild twists abound in the second half of Netflix's blockbuster costume drama

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Having released the first half of its third season in mid-May, Netflix continued its mega-popular ongoing adaptation of the popular Bridgerton series Thursday with the release of the final four episodes of season 3, which feature the love story of Colin and Penelope and the question of whether or not Penelope’s identity as take-no-prisoners gossip columnist Lady Whistledown will be revealed.

In the new episodes, Lady Whistledown writes that “Surprise is one part secrecy and one part speed. The new episodes deliver all of that, plus great songs, delicious costumes, and gay romance!

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

What happens with Colin and Penelope in Bridgerton season 3?

Having finally realized that they belong together, Colin and Penelope spend the final four episodes of season 3 dealing with the one thing that stands in their way: Lady Whistledown.

In a wonderful Cinderella-at-the-ball sequence in episode 305, Eloise gives Pen until midnight to tell Colin about her secret identity. But just at the stroke, Anthony and Kate reveal they’re going to have a baby, Cressida announces she is in fact Lady Whistledown (we’ll get there), and Penelope passes out.

Colin finally learns that Pen is Whistledown after he follows her to the press where she drops off a new column. While he allows the wedding go forward, Colin insists she give up Whistledown. Meanwhile Cressida accidentally discovers the truth and blackmails Pen, and the Queen shows up at the wedding reception and tells the Bridgertons she knows that it’s one of them.

In the end, Penelope reveals the truth to the Queen and with her permission publicly pleads her case at a ball. She speaks eloquently about her own experiences of not being taken seriously and discovering how that is actually many women’s experience, and thanks the queen for forcing her to come out of the shadows where she must truly be herself. Colin admits he’s been wrong in trying to stop her from being Whistledown. He realizes he’s lucky to be loved by a woman so brave.

What happens with Lady Whistledown in Bridgerton season 3?

At the end of season 3 Penelope finally reveals that she is Lady Whistledown to the world. The Queen allows Penelope to continue writing, with the proviso that she doesn't get nasty.

What happens in the Bridgerton season 3 time jump?

At the end of season three, the show jumps 9 months forward to reveal that Penelope and her sisters Prudence and Phillipa have all had their babies. Prudence and Phillipa have each had girls, while Penelope and Colin have a son. He will be the next Lord Featherington.

Colin has also published a book about his travels abroad called Traveling with Myself. (Oh Colin...) And Penelope’s new column is out. It's still called Lady Whistledown’s Society Papers, but now comes signed with her name.

In a nice touch, as Lady Whistledown’s narration of her column rolls, her voice shifts from that of Julie Andrews, who has voiced the character for the last three years, to Penelope herself.

What happens to Cressida Cowper in Bridgerton season 3?

After spending the prior two seasons being all kinds of awful, season 3 of Bridgerton is a wake-up call for everyone's favorite Regency mean girl. Having failed to procure a husband in the first half of the season, in the second half Cressida finds her father trying to marry her to some ancient lord who plans to lock her away from society and wants four or five children.

Horrified, Cressida takes the crazy step of announcing to the world that she is Lady Whisteldown, thinking it will put off the old man and other suitors, and also that it will enable her to collect the five thousand dollar reward the Queen has put out for information about Lady Whistledown. But when the Queen insists on proof of her identity, Cressida's column can't hold up to the real Whistledown.

Destined to be sent to live with her horrible Aunt Joanna in Wales, Cressida makes a plan to flee. In the process she accidentally stumbles onto someone with a key detail about Whistledown: She has red hair.

With that information in hand, Cressida blackmails Penelope, which leads Pen to come out instead. What that means for Cressida’s future is left unclear. (Could this be Cressida's Convent Era?)

What happens to Eloise in Bridgerton season 3?

After learning that Penelope is Lady Whistledown at the end of season 2, Eloise has no time for Penelope in the early goings of season 3. Instead she hangs out with Cressida Cowper and tries to finally embrace the goings on of high society.

When she learns that her brother Colin has proposed to Pen, Eloise insists that Pen tell Colin about Whistledown immediately, or she will. When Cressida claims to be Whistledown instead, Eloise relents, thinking this will enable Pen to get out of having to lie any more. But Penelope cannot accept the idea of someone else claiming credit for her work. After she comes clean publicly, Eloise fully reconciles with her.

Having spent another year feeling out of step with everyone else, Eloise ends the season traveling to Scotland with Francesca and John Stirling, hoping to see the world and have some adventures.

What happens to Benedict in Bridgerton season 3?

In the first half of season 3 Benedict meets Lady Tilley Arnold, a widow and modern woman who challenges conventional ways of living. The two end up starting an affair. In the second half of the season, Lady Tilley introduces Benedict to another lover, Paul Suarez. The two invite Benedict to be with them both. Benedict hesitates, but eventually the three have quite a night together.

Afterwards, Lady Tilley admits that she doesn’t like sharing Benedict with Paul, and wonders if she and Benedict might become something more serious. Benedict reveals that being with Lady Tilley has opened up his world. But now that that’s happened, he’s not ready to settle down. He ends the season alone again, but believing that the something new and important is headed his way.

What happens to Lady Bridgerton in Bridgerton season 3?

As in seasons 1 and 2, Lady Bridgerton spends most of her energy in season 3 working to help her children find spouses. In season 3 her focus is particularly on her daughter Francesca, a talented and shy pianist who doesn’t hold much stock in romance, but becomes the Queen’s favorite for the season. While the Queen tries to set Francesca up with Lord Samadani, in the end Francesca falls in love with the equally shy John Stirling, and eventually Lady Bridgerton sees them wed.

Meanwhile Lady Bridgerton finds herself attracted to Lady Danbury's recently arrived brother Lord Anderson. Lady Danbury initially does everything in her power to keep a match from happening. But eventually she and her brother talk through their issues, and at the season’s final ball, Lady Bridgerton and Lord Anderson share a dance.

What happens to Queen Charlotte in Bridgerton season 3?

Having spent the first half of season 3 trying to recover from the failure of her matchmaking in season 2, Queen Charlotte spends the last four episodes refocuses her attention on discovering the identity of Lady Whistledown. A five thousand dollar reward offered for information yields only a pretender and lots of bad information.

But in reconsidering the evidence that she has, Queen Charlotte realizes the culprit must be a Bridgerton. The pressure she puts on the family finally convinces Penelope to reveal herself to the Queen. And having been counseled by Lady Danbury that maybe destroying Whisteldown isn’t what she actually wants, the Queen agrees to allow Penelope to continue as long as she proceeds more gently.

Does Bridgerton season 3 connect to the Queen Charlotte prequel series?

The final half of season 3 has a nubmer of nods to the prequel, including one important one: In the prequel series, Lady Danbury has an affair with Lady Bridgerton's father. Late in season 3 of Bridgerton, she talks to Lady Bridgerton about the relationship. Lady Bridgerton reassures her, she holds nothing against Lady Danbury.

Who is Michaela Stirling and why are we immediately obsessed with her?

Introduced in the closing minutes of season 3 and played by newcomer Masali Baduza, Michaela Stirling is John’s cousin, who comes to join him and Francesca and Eloise on their trip back to Scotland.

In the books, Michael Stirling becomes Francesca’s second husband, after John unexpectedly dies. But based on the change in Michael's gender, and the fact that Francesca nearly swoons when she meets Michaela, the show’s story looks like it will be quite a bit different.

Do we get to see any of the other Bridgerton couples in Bridgerton season 3?

Having spent the first half of the season largely off-screen honeymooning, Kate and Anthony return at the top of the second half, now expecting, and appear intermittently after that to offer marriage advice to Colin and plan their trip to India, where Kate will give birth.

Daphne and Simon, sadly, do not show up. Neither does Kate’s sister Edwina, although we do learn she is happily married in India.

Are there any other big stories in Bridgerton season 3?

Lady Featherington spends the season trying to find a way around a solicitor sent by the Crown to investigate whether the Featherington family fortune is legitimate or is the product of theft perpetrated by her cousin Jack. When he finds out the truth, the family stands to lose their standing and home. But in revealing herself as Lady Whistledown, her daughter Penelope gives her mother an alternate source to point to for the family's income. The two end the season as close as they have ever been, each of them finally appreciating who the other is and what they’ve been going through.

Meanwhile Local club owner Will Mondrich and his wife Alice face a twist in their lives when they’re informed that Alice’s great aunt Lady Kent has died and left her entire estate to their young son Nicholas. Becoming landed people creates opportunities for the family, but also challenges, as Will is forced to sell the club he spent his life building. In the end they host their first ball. It’s a smashing success.

Does Bridgerton season 3 feature covers of any new pop songs?

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

The first half of the season featured covers from BTS, Nick Jonas, Gayle, Taylor Swift, Sia and Pitbull. The second half includes Ariana Grande’s “POV,” which plays in episode 305 in the incredible extended sequence in which Pen and Colin finally consummate their relationship; Demi Lovato’s “Confident,” which plays when Cressida shows up at a ball in episode 306, after having revealed she’s Lady Whistledown; Coldplay’s “Yellow,” to which Penelope processes in at her wedding in episode 307.

Episode 307 also ends with Pen and Colin dancing to a cover of Taylor Swift’s “You Belong With Me.” Episode 308 includes Ellie Goulding’s “Lights (Stripped Version),” which plays at the final ball, and Tori Kelly’s “All I Want,” which runs over the season’s end credits.

Does Bridgerton season 3 have any great new costumes?

So many. For those who love a princess look, Francesca Bridgerton delivers in every outfit she wears, including her understated lace wedding dress in episode 308. And her brother Colin returns from his travels abroad discarding the typical frills and foppery of his brothers for a usually open-throated shirt that gives dashing hero with just the right amount of scamp. (His hair is also suddenly incredible.)

Speaking of hair, Queen Charlotte’s wigs are universally fantastic, as always. Her final wig in 304 features an open middle section within which two mechanical swans can be seen swimming. And her dresses remain equally on point, including a red and purple number in episode 307 as she comes to her theory that the Bridgertons are harboring Lady Whistledown that gives just the right amount of the Queen of Hearts.

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 and desperate. Meanwhile Penelope discards her hellscape floral arrangement pieces for a variety of shades of green that all look gorgeous on her in the first half of the season, and some brilliant blues in the second half. Her rose-colored wedding dress in 307 is an absolute stunner.

Will there be more Bridgerton?

Yes! Netflix has also already confirmed season 4. And based on the ending, there’s lots of story to come for Benedict, Francesca, Eloise, and Lady Bridgerton herself.

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