Bridgerton Season 3 Part 1 review: Nicola Coughlan shines in a not so angsty first half

The first part of the highly anticipated Bridgerton season 3 is here and from Polin’s romance to scenes that felt out of place, there’s way too much to unfold!

Aishwarya Srinivasan
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Bridgerton Season 3 Part 1 review

Bridgerton Season 3 Part 1 review: As Lady Whistledown would say "Dearest readers, we have been apart for far too long”, and I couldn’t agree more; season 3 truly has taken way too long. But step aside everyone, because Penelope (Nicola Coughlan) is no longer ‘stuck to the walls’, she is now taking centre stage and embracing herself, her feelings and all that comes with it this season. After ‘Daphmon’ and ‘Kanthony’ gave us butterflies in our stomach kind of romance, it was now ‘Polin’s’ turn to follow their footsteps. The new chapter begins where we left off in the past. Eloise (Claudia Jesse) and Penelope are still at loggerheads with each other, but the Featheringtons are back in town with monetary funds this time, Colin (Luke Newton) has also returned from his adventures in Europe, and he comes back with a certain charm that women cannot resist, Kanthony are in their honeymoon phase and couldn't care less about their duties, and last but not least, Francesca is debuting this season. 

All of this is more than enough to create chaos in the world of Bridgerton. It is Penelope’s third season as a spinster, and ever since Colin’s arrival, her entire world has turned upside down again. It is disappointing for her that he will never look at her as more than a friend, and hence, she decides to give herself a makeover. I am usually not in favour of a female characters getting a makeover just to impress the guy, but this was Penelope’s own choice to do that, and it felt like it was more for her to try styles she has always wanted and come into her own being which makes it look more natural. So, after a stunning makeover, she has turned all heads in the ballroom, including Colin’s, and the two get into an agreement where Colin will give her lessons on how to charm a guy. But of course, in the middle of all those ‘lessons’, he falls for her before he even knows it. But he has a contender now because Lord Debling (Sam Phillips) is also showing a lot of interest in Penelope. With the usual plotting of the mamas and Cressida (Jessica Madsen) being her mean girl self, it is the perfect segway for drama.

Also Read: 7 quintessential reasons why we can’t wait for Bridgerton season 3!

Nicola Coughlan plays Penelope this season in a way she never did before. In the first season, we see Simon taking the limelight, in the second season Anthony’s (Jonathan Bailey) glow-up was all we could talk about, in season 3, Penelope fully takes the show with her arc. This is her season to shatter every stereotype and emerge like a phoenix. She will forever be special as plus-size women like me felt representated on-screen in a mainstream Netflix series. She is the heroine we never knew we needed, and she makes such a lasting impression. She is smart, she is opinionated, she speaks her mind, she listens to her heart, she finds comfort in her own skin and she is quite relatable. In a scene with Colin, she says “I know I can be clever and amusing but somehow my words get lost between my heart and mouth.” That felt like she was representing the misfits, the socially awkward ones who don’t know how to express themselves. And for once, the wallflower was getting to outshine everyone. 

Colin, on the other hand, lacked a bit of angst when it came to the romance. It didn’t feel like he longed for her. The quintessential Bridgerton spark that we have seen in the previous seasons was just lacking. I feel there are a number of reasons that contributed to this. Firstly, Francesca’s arc was given a lot of screen time. I would argue her screen time was as much as Penelope’s, and that is not justified as this season is based on Colin and Penelope’s romance and not Francesca's. It simply took away from showing a lot about Colin as a character, which is why we couldn’t connect to their love story, at least so far, the way we did in the first two seasons. Another reason for this could be that the first two seasons had an enemies-to-lovers arc, which feels more feisty and romantic in nature. Penelope and Colin had a best friends-to-lovers arc, which we are not really used to. They’re sweet together, but the story as a whole is not charming enough.

But what still works wonders is the soundtrack; just like the previous seasons, this season, too, we get to see classical covers of pop songs we have loved. Never would I have ever thought that the characters could waltz on BTS’s Dynamite and Sia’s Cheap Thrills. It elevates the dance sequences a lot, especially for a modern-day audience watching a period drama. The costumes that have also played an important role every season take it up a notch this time around as well. Especially Penelope's wardrobe that portrayed her state of mind in that particular scene. The Queen’s wigs had fake swans swimming in water and we see Eloise wearing ruffle dresses and experimenting with her own style, too. It was also heartwarming to see the Indian representation continuing in Bridgerton after the wholesome reactions from last time.

This season ticks every box in terms of filmmaking, and the love story, and yet somehow feels mild and misses out on that excitement we all anticipated. Yes, there is a carriage scene at the end of episode four, and those ten minutes are the closest you would get to what you were looking for as a Bridgerton fan this season. While the first part was not absolutely up to the mark, it does its job of leaving us eager and wanting more. Although dividing this season into two parts might not have played in the show's favour, the teaser for the second part, which comes out on June 13, seems way more dramatic, and we wait to see how Penelope’s truth will test her Colin’s relationship in the most vulnerable ways possible.

Bridgerton Season 3 Part 1 is currently streaming on Netflix!

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