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Chemistry Blooms While Tension Fizzes — Bridgerton Season 3 (TV Review)

5 min read
Bridgerton Season 3

Image © Liam Daniel/Netflix

Having returned to a world of glittering dresses, exquisite ballrooms, and dashing suitors, it's hard not to get swept up in the fizzy excitement of . The show welcomed its viewers back into the ton with immense grandeur for the its third season, sweeping them off their feet with its usual vigour. 

Joining self-described wallflower Penelope Featherington at a crucial time in her life when she makes the decision to find a suitor, audiences are immediately met with the struggles of a lady in the Regency era. Armed with a handful of new glamorous outfits, Penelope sets her sights on the marriage mart and pries her eyes away from her longtime crush, Colin Bridgerton. Having just returned from another travel stint, Colin is amidst an identity crisis, unbeknownst to himself at first. What ensues is the depiction of the classic friends-to-lovers trope on an even larger scale than expected. 

Relationships simmer until boiling point, bubbling over in a rush of excitement, frustration, and desire. Viewers have watched Penelope sit with her feelings for Colin for two seasons, unable to express them to him. By this point, it would be impossible to label the events that transpired between them this season as particularly rushed since they have been given 16 episodes of backstory. Though the focus jumps around the Bridgerton siblings and others in the story, this season is unmistakably Penelope and Colin's, following the example set by Julia Quinn's novels. 

Bridgerton Season 3
Image © Liam Daniel/Netflix

Penelope, played by Nicola Coughlan, takes centre stage. She not only grapples with finding a match but is tormented by the possibility of her secret identity as Lady Whistledown finally being revealed. This personal struggle has run through this season and the last, providing an enticing plot. Coughlan sparkles much brighter as Penelope this time because her character is given much more breathing room and time to learn and evolve. Luke Newton portrays the enigmatic Colin, who wrestles to be more like his brothers, Anthony and Benedict, but finds himself to have too much of a sensitive disposition. Newton sees his shining moments in the quiet ones, which are laced with longing for Penelope. The pair's chemistry pops and crackles when they enter the screen, setting off fireworks by the end of the fourth episode. 

Claudia Jessie continues to stand out to audiences for her fiery characterisation. Her portrayal of Eloise is nothing short of magnetic— so much so it's a wonder what more she could achieve when given her own season. Jonathan Bailey and Simone Ashley return as Anthony and Kate Bridgerton, respectively. The pair disappear for an extended honeymoon, possibly a decision made by the showrunners to ensure they don't overshadow the couple of the season, which would be understandable given the explosive nature of their last series. But it is no surprise that they draw the eye when they are on-screen, no matter what may be happening in the scene.

However, one loose string remains — Benedict Bridgerton. With his story having been pushed by a season and therefore putting it out of sync with the novels, Benedict's life has been stalled. Luke Thompson is as charming as ever, but he has been left with little to do in the absence of the continuation of his story. Meanwhile, Hannah Dodd takes over as Francesca Bridgerton, who steps out in the marriage mart for the first time. Meeting Lord John Stirling (Victor Alli), she easily settles into the idea of courtship. This makes for a sweet story, unattached to that of Penelope and Colin, and gives viewers the respite they need to dive back into the tension that surrounds other storylines.

Bridgerton Season 3
Image © Liam Daniel/Netflix

Being a period piece, Bridgerton has had great attention to detail in its costuming department since its beginning—the blue the Bridgertons wear has become famous in itself. The colouring of each family's dresses and coattails is intrinsically essential and should be enough to identify which unit any given person may belong to. Bridgerton continues to hit this aspect out of the park, styling Penelope in more pastel shades as she moves away from the citrus colours of the Featherington household to the lighter tones of the Bridgertons. However, the makeup has taken a step in a different direction. When the show first came on the scene in 2020, Phoebe Dynevor's leading lady Daphne Bridgerton wore incredibly minimal makeup to reflect the time period the show was conveying. By the third season, there has been a dramatic change, with blush, highlighter and eyeshadow becoming clearly visible. Though there is beauty to this, it does the show a disservice to be inconsistent and can remove viewers from their suspended disbelief. 

Bridgerton is also famous for its instrumental covers. Season three's offerings included Taylor Swift's Snow on the Beach, Jealous by Nick Jonas, Demi Lovato's Confident, and a well-timed, tear-jerking rendition of Yellow by Coldplay. Though some of these didn't feel highlighted enough within the show, every single one had its right place. Set against the backdrop of glitzy ballrooms, each song carved out its own moment for these characters, thus vividly ingraining them in the viewer's memory. 

Already established as a cultural zeitgeist, Bridgerton is still managing to reach new heights in its stories, characterisation, and glamour. With all the excitement surrounding this year's buildup, it is shocking to be reminded that this is only the show's third outing. Perhaps this was ramped up by Netflix's decision to split the series into two halves, despite concerns it would hamper Bridgerton's reception. With the news the next season could take up to two years to release, momentum will now undoubtedly be ground to a halt, but the exhilaration was fun while it lasted. The only way the show is affected is in the pacing when events are slow to accommodate the severing of stories. In any case, there is no mistake in finding the blooming of this wallflower to be a heartwarming tale of love and triumph. 

 

Bridgerton Season 3 is now streaming on Netflix.