Bridgerton Season 3 Part One Is a Messy, Sensational Drama

Bridgerton Season 3 Part One still of Penelope (Nicola Coughlin).

Bridgerton Season 3 Part One unfolds with increasingly complex collection of relationships. So, the first episode feels a bit scattered. But the show quickly finds its stride. Viewers get to see the aftermath of Eloise severing ties with Penelope after realizing Penelope is Lady Whistledown. While this season juggles more, Penelope Featherington and Colin Bridgerton take center stage. In addition, another Bridgerton makes their debut this season. Besides the witty banter between different sets, the burgeoning chaos that overshadows Penelope and Colin makes Bridgerton Season 3 Part One stand out. 

This season of the Shondaland series gets divided into two part, with both parts consisting of four episodes. Created by Chris Van Dusen, the series follows the Bridgerton family through high society in London. The first season focuses on Daphne Bridgerton’s debut and her meeting (Phoebe Dynevor) the dashing Duke Simon Basset (Regé-Jean Page). Eloise Bridgerton’s (Claudia Jessie) debut gets attention during the second season. However, it hones in on philandering yet duty-bound Anthony Bridgerton (Jonathan Bailey) and his enemies-to-lovers relationship with Kathani ‘Kate’ Sharma (Simone Ashley). 

Last season ends with Eloise and Penelope (Nicola Coughlan) on the outs. Colin Bridgerton (Luke Newton) read by Marina Thompson (Ruby Barker), now Lady Crane. In addition, Penelope overhears Colin’s declaration to a bunch of men that he would never court her. This season starts after summer passes, with Penelope and the rest of her family again avoiding destitution through unknown means and returning to the ton. 

Bridgerton Season 3 Part One Has Even More Stunning Outfits

Bridgerton Season 3 Part One still of Queen Charlotte (Golda Rosheuvel).
Bridgerton. (L to R) Golda Rosheuvel as Queen Charlotte, David Mumeni as Lord Samadani in episode 303 of Bridgerton. Cr. Liam Daniel/Netflix.

Costume designer John Glaser continues dazzling with his creations, surpassing the arresting designs of the previous seasons. Queen Charlotte’s (Golda Rosheuvel) attire stuns and surprises. From her hair to her outfits, she looks every bit the regal queen. Another visual delight is that Kathani’s dresses this season are gorgeous. But the highlight, as it should be, is Penelope’s clothing. Considering her red hair, they dress her in dazzling shades of green. These run from forest green to emerald green to mints with tints of blue. 

Penelope Shines But a Problem Looms

The captivating friends-to-lovers romance between Penelope and Colin in Bridgerton Season 3 Part One speaks to Penelope’s character development. After all, Penelope being Lady Whistledown is enough to make viewers lock in. But the oft-disregarded Penelope shows a personality beyond gossip or jealousy this season. As their love blossoms, the question becomes when Colin will discover her identity. But the character, driven by actress Nicola Coughlan, epitomizes that fight for self as she breaks out of her wallflower mindset to shine. Colin, next to Penelope, is just not that interesting. Therein lies the problem, one that might plague the series going forward.

Personality-wise, the previous Bridgertons delivered fascinating, if somewhat annoying, characters. However, the next Bridgertons feel far more forgettable. Francesca (Hannah Dodd) makes an impact, but it’s because she’s far more staid than her other family members. In fact, her mother, Lady Violet Bridgerton (Ruth Gemmell), questions her choices and demeanor. Bridgertons like Daphne, Anthony, and Eloise made an impression in earlier seasons. They exhibit distinct personalities. However, the rest feel like Penelope’s prior—and undeserved—label, “wallflower.” 

A Lot of Moving Parts to Build Future Seasons

Bridgerton Season 3 Part One still of Lady Danbury (Adjoa Andoh).
Bridgerton. Adjoa Andoh as Lady Agatha Danbury in episode 302 of Bridgerton. Cr. Liam Daniel/Netflix.

Sometimes, the breadth of what the series attempts feels too vast. Aside from the Bridgerton siblings, Alice (Emma Naomi) and Will Mondrich (Martins Imhangbe) get more surprises. Plus, Lady Danbury (Adjoa Andoh) gets unforseen drama. So, all around a lot happens this season. Still, the series handles navigating from one relationship or character to the next well, even if the occasional gnashed teeth occur with the ill-timed transition. But each time Bridgerton Season 3 Part One returns to a favorite, excitement ramps back up. But as seasons continue, moving through all these will become more challenging for the series and more frustrating for viewers. 

Types of Love Deserve Recognition

There’s an oddness permeating this season regarding love. While previous seasons showed passionate, all-consuming love, Bridgerton Season 3 Part One has an opportunity to focus on other loves. However, the series seems to imply that when an individual meets “the one,” passionate love is part of the package. If so, that’s a problem. 

Love can be soft and caring, and that is the best kind. Whereas previous seasons showed people mired in bouts of selfishness or martyrdom, showing how people can exhibit quiet love demonstrates a broader understanding of love and romance. Yet the series seems to lean into one type of love that causes as much anger and sorrow as affection. Bridgerton Season 3 Part One is a stunning, hilarious soap opera but can be so much more than entertaining. Sometimes it leans into the soap opera aspect to caricature levels. But there’s enough here to entertain thanks to chaotic array of drama unfolding in everyone’s lives. 

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