Season 3 of Bridgerton Has a Big Comeback in Store

What will Mr. Colin Bridgerton have to say about this?
IMAGE NETFLIX

No sooner did Bridgerton’s long-awaited season two land on Netflix than fans started clamoring about season three. You can’t have too much of a good thing, right? Lucky for us, season three (and four!) is already in the pipeline—plus a prequel, more on that below—and shooting is already underway. Which is all to say that we could be getting back to the ton very soon.

Read on for everything we know about Season Three of Bridgerton, so far.

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Is Bridgerton Renewed For Season 3?

Yes—plus season four, and the nascent prequel about Queen Charlotte. Announcing the renewal, Bela Belajara, Netflix’s Vice President of Global TV, said, "Bridgerton swept us off our feet. The creative team, led by Shonda [Rhimes], knew the material and delivered a beautiful, emotional, romantic drama for our members. They have some exciting plans for the future, and we think audiences will continue to swoon for this show. We’re planning to be in the Bridgerton business for a long time to come."

Though only four seasons have received the green light thus far, Rhimes, for her part, is gunning to make eight. "There are eight Bridgerton siblings, and as far as I’m concerned, there are eight Bridgerton seasons," she said. "And maybe more.”

What Will Season 3 Be About?

Despite following the order of the book series for the last two seasons, season three is set to deviate. While many fans (ourselves included) speculated that the next season would be the Cinderella-esque story of Benedict from the series' third book, An Offer From a Gentleman, we now know that the next batch of episodes will focus on the complicated story between Penelope (Nicola Coughlan) and Colin (Luke Newton). Netflix confirmed as much in a new official synopsis:

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From Shondaland and new showrunner, Jess Brownell, Bridgerton is back for its third season and finds Penelope Featherington has finally given up on her long-held crush on Colin Bridgerton after hearing his disparaging words about her last season. She has, however, decided it's time to take a husband, preferably one who will provide her with enough independence to continue her double life as Lady Whistledown, far away from her mother and sisters. But lacking in confidence, Penelope's attempts on the marriage mart fail spectacularly."

Meanwhile, Colin has returned from his summer travels with a new look and a serious sense of swagger. But he's disheartened to realize that Penelope, the one person who always appreciated him as he was, is giving him the cold shoulder. Eager to win back her friendship, Colin offers to mentor Penelope in the ways of confidence to help her find a husband this season. But when his lessons start working a little too well, Colin must grapple with whether his feelings for Penelope are truly just friendly. Complicating matters for Penelope is her rift with Eloise (Claudia Jessie), who has found a new friend in a very unlikely place, while Penelope's growing presence in the ton makes it all the more difficult to keep her Lady Whistledown alter ego a secret.

Colin and Penelope's story is set to be adapted from the fourth book in the series, Romancing Mr. Bridgerton—parts of which have already been explored in previous episodes. Perhaps we should have all seen this coming. Speaking with Entertainment Tonight, Rhimes said, "We're not necessarily going in order—but we are going to be seeing each one of the siblings and their stories." Simone Ashley, who plays Kate, also fanned the flames when she said, "I'm super excited for the world to see Nicola [Coughlan] and Luke [Newton] rock it, but also to just play with the Anthony and Kate story now that they're loved up and they've kind of sorted themselves out."

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It's not hard to see how the love story between "Polin" (as the pair are affectionately known) is up next. After all, the second season lays much more groundwork for this couple than it does for Benedict's romantic future. Throughout the season, Penelope continues to pine for her unrequited love, but her dreams are dashed when she overhears Colin scoffing to a group of gentlemen, "I would never dream of courting Penelope Featherington." We know from the books that Colin and Penelope are endgame, but Newton hints that for "Polin," the journey to the altar may not look the same as it did for the other Bridgertons. “As much as there’s been some progression, it’s not been the heated, steamy scenes or that relationship growth that we’ve seen from other characters," he said. "But I think it’s really nice to show both sides of what it can be like to fall in love with someone.” Don't expect the same tone as Season Two, either; when asked if the mood of Season Three would be straight-up sexy or a slower burn, Coughlan said, "I think, because we've had two seasons of build up, it's probably going to be the former."

Season three will also find Penelope on the outs with Eloise Bridgerton after their friendship went up in flames when Eloise discovered Penelope's secret identity. Coughlan hinted at the fallout, saying, "I think Penelope is going to have to learn she can't lie to the people that she loves." But we suspect these two lifelong pals won't be on the outs for too long. “They have to [reconcile],” Coughlan told Entertainment Tonight. “They have to, because it would break my heart [if they didn’t]. Also, I think, in deep life-long friendships, there are moments like that when you do fight and you’ve just got to learn to grow a little bit. But I think Penelope has got some apologizing to do."

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Season three filming is already underway, and our first sneak peek of the season promises more of Bridgerton's trademark decadence. In paparazzi photos from the set, we see the trappings of a fabulous ball going up at someone's palatial estate. The betting on which instrumental cover you'll hear at this ball starts now.

Will the Cast Return?

Anyone could come or go (just ask Regé-Jean Page, who shocked fans when he exited the series after season one), but we have a hunch that most of the principals are contracted to return. It’s hard to imagine characters like the Bridgertons, the Featheringtons, Lady Danbury, or Queen Charlotte leaving the show. As for Page, fans are still atwitter about the prospect of his return, but he's as firm as ever about closing the door on Bridgerton. When asked if producers could recast Simon for future cameo appearances, Page told Variety, "They're free to do as they like." Admitting that he hasn't seen the second season, he went on to remind fans that Simon's arc of transformation is complete—meaning that the Duke should shuffle offstage already. “We did so well on that redemptive arc that people forget that Simon was kind of horrific," Page said. "He was the best example of a Regency fuckboy that any of us had come across. And so, because we came around full circle so well, because we stuck that landing, you’re left with this great feeling. You really do have to be brave about ending stories like that.”

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An Offer from a Gentleman

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The dream of the Duke's return may be dead on arrival, but will Anthony and Kate, the leads of season two, also make a Simon Basset-style disappearance? Don't worry: they'll be back. Ashley revealed to Deadline, “We’re going to be back! Kate and Anthony are just getting started. We have the amazing Jess Brownell who is taking the lead as show-runner in Season 3. In Season 2, there was a lot of push and pull between Kate and Anthony, there were complications with the family, and then they find each other towards the end. I think everything is just starting. I’d like to see Kate just let go a bit more and play more in season three and kind of swim in that circle of love together. I think they both deserve it.”

But what exactly will Kate and Anthony do—just play pall-mall on the sidelines while Colin and Penelope flirt? Ashley teases that the Viscount and Viscountess will have more to do than just ride off into the sunset. "I'm excited to see Kate become viscountess and head of the household," she said in a new interview. "I think she has much to learn from Anthony. They'll be two little partners, doing it together. I'd love to see them have a baby, to put it simply. Maybe that will happen, maybe it won't. But hopefully, it will." More baby Bridgertons to run around with Simon and Daphne's son Augie? Sign us up!

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Speaking to Esquire, Quinn advised viewers to take the structure of a romance novel as a serious clue about the structure of the series, saying, “If you get another one, you're going to get two different main characters, but you'll have the same supporting cast.” It seems like Anthony and Kate may transition to supporting characters. Plot-wise, there's a strong case for them to stick around. As the heads of the family, the Viscount and his new Viscountess are the most visible members of the Bridgerton clan, and will no doubt remain a large part of the other Bridgertons' lives. As Ashley says, “She’s in charge of the household now and she’s got big boots to put on. I think she can do it. I want to keep that softness and vulnerability to Kate, for sure, and she can share that with Anthony. I’m just excited for her to have a home and to have a family. I’m excited to see her grow. I think I’d like to see Kate being much braver and less headstrong and more heart strong.”

Speaking of returning cast members, season three has a big comeback in store: a character who never left the show, but was somehow always gone. Remember Francesca, the elusive sixth Bridgerton sibling? You'd be forgiven if you don't—shy, pragmatic Francesca has been virtually MIA throughout the series, making just two appearances in season one before she departed to "visit Aunt Winnie in Bath and practice pianoforte," then just three appearances in Season Two before she disappeared early in the season without any explanation. Elusive Francesca didn't even show up to her own brother's wedding (not that any of her family members seemed to notice). One aggrieved Reddit user wrote, “As much as I enjoyed this season, I spent much of the final episodes being distracted by my desperate mission to spot this missing Bridgerton to finally reassure myself of my sanity.”

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“I love Francesca, but we lost her midway through season two,” Van Dusen said. “After exhausting all other options, she unfortunately had to come out due to reasons beyond our control.” Van Dusen is alluding to how Ruby Stokes, the actress playing the part, was too busy playing the lead in Lockwood & Co., another Netflix series. Now, the Bridgerton team has recasted the role with Anatomy of a Scandal's Hannah Dodd. Here's hoping this means we'll get more of Francesca in Season Three, and finally put the mystery of her disappearance to rest.

Will There Be New Characters?

Glad you asked. Three new gentlemen are joining the ton, played by Daniel Francis, Sam Phillips, and James Phoon. It sure sounds like Penelope will have her hands full of suitors. Their official character descriptions follow, courtesy of Entertainment Weekly.

Francis will portray Marcus Anderson, a charismatic presence who lights up any room he enters, attracting the notice of certain matriarchs in the ton—and the ire of others. Might he be a potential suitor for Penelope?

Penelope's secret identity and Eloise's outspokenness won't be the only eccentricities this season. Phillips is Lord Debling, described as a genial lord with unusual interests. But wealth and a title excuse nearly everything, so he'll have no problem catching the eye of eligible young ladies.

And lest you think Bridgerton doesn't have enough pretty faces, Phoon joins as the handsome, yet dim-witted, Harry Dankworth.

When is Bridgerton Coming Back for Season 3?

Speaking to PopBuzz on the red carpet at the Season Two premiere, Rhimes said, "We're already working on Season Three, so we can have a shorter time between seasons." Now, filming is well underway, having kicked off earlier this summer. What that means for a release date remains to be seen, but rest assured, we (and Lady Whistledown) will keep you in the loop. Watch this space for updates as we continue to learn more.

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Adrienne Westenfeld
Assistant Editor
Adrienne Westenfeld is a writer and editor at Esquire, where she covers books and culture.
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