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Bridgerton: Season Three, Part Two

“It has been quite a journey we have taken together. And so it is with the heaviest heart that I write this final, unbelievably short sentence as Lady Whistledown. Goodbye.”

It’s the end of the show as we know it and I feel fine.

This review contains spoilers for season three of Bridgerton.

That all happened so much. I don’t know where would be appropriate to begin but I know where I want to begin...

I got my gay rep! Times two, if you can believe it. Benedict became one third of a steamy throuple and cemented his place in my little gay heart. Francesca too! I’m not as nuts about that one in fact. Mostly because Violet Bridgerton’s whole arc this season was about unlearning that everything has to be romantic in one, specific way and now the show is like “Whoops never mind. She was right all along.” I mean, I’m not trying to look a queer gift horse in the mouth but I’m far more excited by Benedict’s future than Francesca’s. Will we see much of Francesca, Lord Kilmartin, and his affable cousin going forward? The trend has been to downplay married couples but something tells me that’s going to change.

Penelope is now out of the Whistledown closet and there’s no going back. I did get a little tired of her travails this season. Penelope was kind of playing Whack-A-Mole with her secret, as Colin found out, then Cressida, then her mother. Penelope was cornered and decided to be incredibly bold and out herself to the queen, calling upon Charlotte’s mercy and benevolence. Queen Charlotte, satisfied with winning, has let the whole thing go thanks in no small part to Lady Danbury’s tactful chess moves. I love that she figured out Whistledown’s identity on her own. Lady Danbury knows what it is to be overlooked and minimized just as Penelope does. I think Lady Danbury sees some of herself in Penelope.

There were several love stories going on this season: Penelope and Colin, Francesca and Lord Kilmartin, Violet and Lord Anderson, Benedict, Tilley, and Paul, but to me, the best one was the one between Penelope and herself. Thanks to Colin, Eloise, and even her mother, Penelope finally comes to terms with who she is and the power she holds. She makes amends with those she’s wronged (paying for her sisters’ ball was just precious) and comes clean with those she loves. Everyone (except for Eloise, Benedict, and the littlest Bridgertons) are neatly paired off and everyone is happy. Penelope is even the mother to the new Lord Featherington, who will be a Bridgerton, which is confusing as heck to me, being as I am, American and untitled. Eloise is off to live with Francesca in a castle in the Scottish Highlands, at least until next season, and Benedict finds himself questioning where next the wind will carry him. I don’t know which of the two of them will be the next up for romance but I did hear through the Hollywood rumor mill we’re in for a long wait for next season.

Cressida reverting to form and becoming the season’s true villain was somewhat unexpected. I was a little late to watch this season and I inadvertently saw a lot of spoilers, but this was a surprise. First she decides to claim the Whistledown title for herself, in a last-ditch attempt to thwart an arranged marriage with an elderly and quite unpleasant man. She is ruined but manages to find out Penelope’s secret and decides blackmail her. In truly one of the most “what were you thinking” moments of the season, Colin goes to her and appeals to her better nature. Whoops. She doesn’t have one and doubles the requested funds. Here you can really see how their upbringings created different people. Colin is confident (perhaps overly so) and believes in the inherent goodness of people and that one’s family will always be there to support them. That’s been his life. Cressida was taught from a young age that she was on her own and there was little value in relationships of any sort. You had to come away from these scenes hurting for Cressida. The way she was raised informed her nasty, bitchy personality and she can’t help but always be on the defense.

Shockingly, the actor who I half fell in love with this season was Polly Walker aka Lady Featherington. Her interactions with Penelope were so interesting. She fawned over her like mad once she knew of her engagement and delivered one of the most important speeches the show has had: “Ladies do not have dreams. They have husbands.” Here too, we see how Lady Featherington’s upbringing and the common “wisdom” of the time has impacted her and her relationships with her children. It’s the most realistic this show has possibly ever looked and it’s sad that she sees the world that way and that women during this period (and let’s not forget, for long after) were taught that their jobs were to marry well and produce heirs. Lady Featherington, whom I’ve always loved to hate, made me feel for her and her predicament. Of course this is Bridgerton and so the reality that women were not allowed to have dreams beyond who they would marry is quickly canned as Penelope becomes a wife, mother, editor of her husband’s novel, and columnist. If I was going to pick apart every inaccuracy in this show we’d be here for years and Bridgerton has always catered to the more fantastical and less grim of history. So I’ll just say I’m content that Penelope has reimagined her place in society and has found her happy ending with her dream guy.

Bits and Pieces

Nicola Coughlan and Luke Newton literally broke that divan filming the mirror scene.

The music was less memorable this season than it has been in previous installations but I did love Penelope and Colin dancing to “You Belong With Me” by Taylor Swift (as covered by Duomo).

Not 100% sure why Shonda felt the need to dangle the threat of the queen’s solicitor over the whole season only to resolve it quickly off-screen.

sunbunny

4 comments:

  1. Please don't take my comment as a downer, because I really like Bridgerton. That's been a surprise to me from watching episode s01e01. Time upon time, I find I'm invested in the interesting characters and the dynamics between them. But there's a thing that bothers me more and more as we watch these lives unfold. It's that we're zooming in on a very narrow slice of that society, the lives of the super rich. I'm, like, increasingly aware there must be a large underclass who are constantly slaving away to maintain these people's dreamy life styles. Their stories are never told, in fact, their existence is never acknowledged in the show. It's like they're carefully manicured away from the image so we're left with only pretty things. This stings me more and more (in my professional life, I work for a network of poverty-alleviating and human rights NGOs).

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    1. Stijn, you're right of course. Bridgerton is a Regency romance fantasy world taken a step further into the unreal with a color-blind cast that certainly didn't reflect the early 1800s. It's not intended to be anything close to reality. I like it for what it is, but it's not for everybody.

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  2. This was my favorite season, hands down. And it was definitely Penelope finding herself that was the best part about it. I also finally liked her mother.

    Actually, I agree with your entire review, Sunbunny. :)

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    1. Putting my remark in on the series as a whole, I wanna stress that I do love the characters and how they're all humanized. I really like the character of Pen, and Pen and Colin's love scene in episode s03e05 is, like, one of the most romantic - and sweet - I've ever seen!

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