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‘Even a wallflower can bloom’: a first look at Bridgerton Season Three

The highly anticipated trailer for Bridgerton Season Three just dropped, and there are plenty of details to unpack. Following on from the drama-ridden romances of Daphne and Anthony in prior series, the third instalment will trace the friends-to-lovers arc of Colin Bridgerton (Luke Newton) and Penelope Featherington (Nicola Coughlan), in a departure from the book sequence placing Colin’s love story ahead of brother Benedict’s.

Season Two left Penelope in a precarious position; her bond with best friend Eloise shattered by the discovery of her identity as Lady Whistledown, and an overheard jibe from Colin leading to heartbreak. The third season thus opens with Pen’s desperate search for security (i.e. a husband, given the period), even if it means abandoning her long-term infatuation with Colin. Who will guide her in this endeavour? Well… Colin. We all know where this leads.

Previously youthfully fresh-faced, the trailer reveals a drastic evolution for #Polin, in terms of both appearance (the Bridgerton lead glow-up is a recognised phenomenon) and character. The wardrobe transformation looks especially promising, with Pen substituting her trademark gaudy yellow and pink – colours insisted upon by an overbearing mother – for a carousel of green and blue looks, including one especially glamorous emerald get-up. This points to both an assimilation into the Bridgerton family and an embrace of her own style. Meanwhile, Colin has become decidedly more ‘sturdy’, as Benedict puts it. New styling sees him don a Mr Darcy-esque flowing brown coat and tousled hair, making for a more ‘rugged appearance.’

We can expect the characters to alter in more ways than one, with Nicola Coughlan hinting at the season’s focus on “people who don’t feel seen and have to learn to love themselves in order to find love in one another.” Pen’s mounting confidence as she emerges from a wallflower and secret penwoman into the spotlight is something I’m particularly looking forward to. Given that Anthony’s arc in Season Two turned me from a hater to a lover of his character (and, dare I say, Bridgerton as a whole?), the personal growth of the leads this season has both great potential and a lot to live up to.

New, mature appearances set the tone for the growing attraction between the leading pair, in a continuation of Bridgerton’s firm resistance to the sexless period drama mould. Already, the chemistry is palpable. Cast members have even hinted that this season will be the steamiest yet, although it is arguably difficult to top season one’s precedent. It’s true that in the space of less than three minutes, we’ve glimpsed two intense hand-touching scenes and no less than eight variously longing, smouldering and jealous glances from Colin, inflamed by the entrance of rival suitor Lord Debling. 

Things especially heat up in the last few seconds when a breathless Colin comes face to face with Penelope under cover of darkness, in what may well turn out to be the scene of a romantic declaration. After the celebrated speeches of the leading lovebirds so far – ‘I burn for you’, ‘you are the bane of my existence and the object of all my desires’, ‘I cannot breathe when you are not near,’ and so on – we can only eagerly anticipate what the scriptwriters have in store for us this time.

Additional sneak peak clips have hinted at the inclusion of fan-favourite scenes from the original book series by Julia Quinn. When Season Three was first announced, producers playfully showed Luke and Nicola together in a carriage, sending fans wild in the comments via this reference to a memorable encounter in Romancing Mister Bridgerton. The same applies to the steamy ‘mirror scene’ teased in recent promotional videos. The sultry, surreal lighting has already caused some speculation as to whether it could be part of a dream. Perhaps this may explain why a startled, half-naked Colin can be seen lurching up in bed mid-way through the trailer. One can only wonder.

Aside from the main event, there are some easter eggs hinting at sub-plots among side characters. Kanthony, the couple formed by last season’s stars Kate and Anthony Bridgerton, appear to be going strong, though Season One’s Daphne and Simon will both be absent. Eloise has formed an unlikely friendship with the ton’s mean girl Cressida Cowper, possibly to get back at Pen; the newly recast Francesca is having an eventful debut; and the Mondrich family are poised for more screen time. One shot even teases a potential love interest for Violet, the widowed Bridgerton matriarch who expressed her desire for a relationship in last year’s spin-off, Queen Charlotte: A Bridgerton Story. 

‘Dearest gentle reader, we have been apart for far too long.’ It’s true that season three can’t come fast enough; some fans have even expressed irritation at the decision to split it into two halves, with release dates on May 16 and June 13 respectively. Let’s hope that, when it finally airs in full, the series can live up to the hype, continuing the success story that has taken Netflix by storm.