What to Remember About Bridgerton Before Watching Season 3

Just over two years after its second season, the first part of Bridgerton Season 3 will finally drop on Netflix on May 16, with the second batch of episodes arriving June 13. Starring Nicola Coughlan as Penelope Featherington, the youngest of the Featherington daughters, and Luke Newton as Colin Bridgerton, the third oldest Bridgerton son, the new season has been positioned as a friends-to-lovers plot.

The upcoming episodes untangle some thorny plotlines woven through the first two seasons, notably Penelope’s girl-next-door crush on Colin, and the ongoing fallout between Penelope and her best friend Eloise Bridgerton (Claudia Jessie), the second oldest Bridgerton daughter, Colin’s younger sister, and most contrary of the Bridgerton bunch.

Here’s what you need to know before watching Season 3.

Read more: Everything to Know About the Bridgerton Books

Lady Whistledown’s identity

Claudia Jessie (left) and Nicola Coughland in 'Bridgerton'<span class="copyright">Liam Daniel/Netflix</span>
Claudia Jessie (left) and Nicola Coughland in 'Bridgerton'Liam Daniel/Netflix

At the very end of the first season, we learn that notorious gossip columnist Lady Whistledown, builder and destroyer of reputations and perpetual thorn in Queen Charlotte’s (Goldie Rosheuvel) side, is none other than Penelope Featherington herself. And in Season 2, Eloise finds out—in the worst way possible.

Shortly into Season 2 Eloise reinvigorates her quest, begun the previous season, to unmask Lady Whistledown, but this time to convince the writer to comment on more important matters than gossip. She ends up tracking down her printer and associating with the printshop’s assistant, Theo Sharpe (Calam Lynch), who invites her to a meeting on equal rights. Penelope warns her that visiting Theo is dangerous to her reputation, which does not dissuade Eloise from continuing to meet him.

Worse still, Queen Charlotte is also on the hunt for Lady Whistledown, and ends up thinking she’s Eloise after catching her sneaking to the printshop. The queen has a private meeting with Eloise and insinuates that her life may be on the line if she does not start writing in a more complimentary way toward the Crown. Penelope thinks that the queen will never believe that she is actually Lady Whistledown, and so writes about Eloise’s scandalous behavior to throw Queen Charlotte off course—why would Lady Whistledown write something so ruinous about herself?—and save Eloise’s life.

It works, but Eloise faces considerable damage to her reputation, which puts the family in a worse position given the other events of Season 2. A comment from Penelope at the Featherington Ball in the last episode of the season accidentally reveals to Eloise that Lady Whistledown has been her best friend all along. The two have a massive fight.

Eloise is understandably furious that Penelope has written about both of their families in ways that have damaged both of their reputations. She also insults her by calling her “an insipid wallflower,” which Penelope’s longtime bully Cressida Cowper (Jessica Madsen) had said earlier in the season. Penelope, hurt by the insult and tired of being taken for granted, reminds Eloise that while she may talk about doing something different with her life, she, Penelope, actually has.

The trailer for Season 3 shows that Eloise has found an unlikely friendship with Cressida. It remains to be seen how Eloise and Penelope’s relationship will be repaired—if it can be repaired at all. Also on the line is the secret itself. Will Eloise tell anyone?

Penelope isn’t the only “spinster”

Jessica Madsen as Cressida Cowper, Luke Newton as Colin Bridgerton<span class="copyright">Courtesy of Netflix</span>
Jessica Madsen as Cressida Cowper, Luke Newton as Colin BridgertonCourtesy of Netflix

Penelope considers herself a spinster because she’s in her third year on the marriage mart “with no prospects to show for it.” But she’s not the only one without any suitors—mean girl Cressida is also without prospects, despite her wealth, flirtatious wiles, and beauty.

Now that Penelope’s (former?) friend Eloise is friendly with Cressida, the love triangle of this season might just be a platonic one over Eloise’s affection. What will Cressida have in store for Penelope this season? And what will Penelope and Eloise do about it?

Francesca Bridgerton…exists

Hannah Dodd as Francesca Bridgerton<span class="copyright">Courtesy of Netflix</span>
Hannah Dodd as Francesca BridgertonCourtesy of Netflix

Francesca who? Francesca is the third Bridgerton sister, and the most absent. While she appears occasionally in Season 1, played by Ruby Stokes, she is in the background for most of that season, and mostly away learning the pianoforte at an aunt’s home in Bath in Season 2. Now she’s back, played by Hannah Dodd, and next up for a societal debut.

Audiences will finally get to know the mysterious Francesca. Who is this Bridgerton in a sea of other Bridgertons? And what is she looking for this season?

What Colin said last season

Luke Newton as Colin Bridgerton in Season 3<span class="copyright">Courtesy of Netflix</span>
Luke Newton as Colin Bridgerton in Season 3Courtesy of Netflix

Every Bridgerton has their own “thing” and Colin’s is traveling. While he is away, he often sends missives to his family and friends, and we learn in Season 2 that Penelope is really the only person who regularly responds and actually wants to hear about his adventures.

At the end of that season, Penelope overhears him in conversation with some gentlemen at her mother’s ball scoffing at the idea of ever courting her. She is, naturally, devastated.

In a sneak peek clip released in March, we learn that Penelope has stopped bothering to write back to Colin, which he finds confusing. She confronts him on his hurtful words, and now it’s Colin’s turn to feel bad about taking her for granted—as a friend. Colin attempts to make it up to her by offering to help her become more confident so that she may finally find a husband. Because that’s what friends do in Regency era England. Nothing could possibly go awry.

Anthony’s disastrous maneuvering

(L to R) Simone Ashley as Kate Sharma and Jonathan Bailey as Anthony Bridgerton in <i>Bridgerton</i><span class="copyright">Liam Daniel—Netflix</span>
(L to R) Simone Ashley as Kate Sharma and Jonathan Bailey as Anthony Bridgerton in BridgertonLiam Daniel—Netflix

Season 2 follows the oldest Bridgerton brother, Anthony (Jonathan Bailey), as he makes a total mess out of finding a perfect wife by pursuing the younger sister of the woman he’s actually in love with. After Edwina Sharma (Charithra Chandran) leaves him at the altar upon her discovery that her sister, Kate (Simone Ashley), has reciprocated feelings for him, both the Bridgerton and Sharma families are on the cusp of social ruin.

Everything is resolved for them during the Featherington ball in the last episode of Season 2, in which Edwina gives her permission for the two to dance, and the queen vocally approves of the pair.

A clip from Season 3 shows them married and gloriously in love, apparently in perfectly fine societal standing after the last season. The same clip shows that Anthony is deferring to his sister Francesca’s wishes as she begins her debut season, a contrast to how he steamrolled Daphne’s desires in Season 1 and almost destroyed her chances at a good match. After spending the first season meddling in Daphne’s affairs and the second one nearly ruining his own life, it looks like the Viscount is finally relaxing.

The Featherington finances

Polly Walker as Lady Portia Featherington, Rupert Young as Lord Jack Featherington in Season 2<span class="copyright">Courtesy of Netflix</span>
Polly Walker as Lady Portia Featherington, Rupert Young as Lord Jack Featherington in Season 2Courtesy of Netflix

The Featheringtons’ financial situation is a roller coaster through the first two seasons. First, Lord Featherington gambles his money away. Though he eventually wins enough to pay off his debts, his unsavory “associates” murder him.

This leaves Lady Featherington and her three daughters—Prudence, Philippa, and Penelope—at the mercy of the new Lord Featherington, a.k.a. Cousin Jack, an adventurer in America with gemstone mines. Cousin Jack sets his sights on Cressida, gifting her a ruby necklace, but Lady Featherington doesn’t want to lose control over the household, and tricks him into encountering Prudence alone. When Lady Featherington “stumbles” upon them with other members of the Ton in tow, the two are forced into an engagement.

Cousin Jack then reveals to Lady Featherington why he was looking to marry Cressida in the first place: the Featherington finances were still in shambles and his mines are empty. The two of them then concoct a plan to encourage other wealthy elites to invest in his mines, and pocket the money.

Colin shows interest in investing in the mines, but Lady Featherington does not want Jack to encourage him, as the Bridgertons are in quite high social standing. After the events in Season 2 lower that standing, Lady Featherington tells Jack to go ahead.

Before he can procure Colin’s money, Colin figures out that Cressida’s necklace and Cousin Jack are both frauds, and privately reveals the truth to Lady Featherington and Penelope, with Cousin Jack also in the room. Colin admonishes Cousin Jack, and Jack is forced to flee. Jack tries to convince Lady Featherington to come with him, but she has forged a document that will pass the Featherington title to one of her daughters when one of them has a son. Jack leaves, and Lady Featherington pockets the money, all the while blaming Jack for stealing it. It’s anyone’s guess as to how the money—and title—plays out in Season 3.

Violet Bridgerton is also seeking this season

Shelley Conn as Mary Sharma, Ruth Gemmell as Lady Violet Bridgerton, Adjoa Andoh as Lady Danbury Season 2 of <i>Bridgerton</i><span class="copyright">Courtesy of Netflix</span>
Shelley Conn as Mary Sharma, Ruth Gemmell as Lady Violet Bridgerton, Adjoa Andoh as Lady Danbury Season 2 of BridgertonCourtesy of Netflix

Season 3 occurs after the events of Queen Charlotte: A Bridgerton Story, the 2023 spinoff which chronicles how the diverse world of Bridgerton came to be through flashbacks from the series matriarchs: the titular Queen Charlotte, Lady Agatha Danbury (Adjoa Andoh), and the Dowager Viscountess Violet Bridgerton (Ruth Gemmell). In Queen Charlotte, Violet reveals to Lady Danbury that she is interested in looking for companionship again after the traumatic death of her much beloved husband.

Promotional materials for Season 3, including the trailer, show us a possible companion with a connection with Lady Danbury. Violet appears intrigued. Lady Danbury appears discontented.

Contact us at letters@time.com.