Reader, I know you didn’t think there wouldn’t be any coverage of Bridgerton season three here at GBH Drama. This delightful Regency (ish) show has the internet abuzz, as usual, and I’m here to break down the first part of the season, which premiered on Netflix early this morning (May 16). Scroll down to find a brief recap of each episode, including other shows you may like to watch while waiting for the second half of the season, and a spice score so you can plan your viewing accordingly. Just be warned: there will, of course, be spoilers.

Episode 1: “Out of the Shadows”

Everyone’s back in town, including Colin, who’s used another trip abroad to apparently pick up some Regency Rizz, and Francesca, the musician Bridgerton who’s been mostly absent since season 1. Francesca just wants to play her piano in peace, which is unlikely to happen in her family/the social season. Also worth noting? In the time between seasons, Eloise apparently got a personality transplant, and is now into fashion (!) and friends with Cressida Cowper, the ton’s resident mean girl (!!). Mama Bridgerton isn’t happy with this development, but she’s got bigger fish to fry: Queen Charlotte isn’t that interested in any of the year's debutantes, despite Lady Whistledown gassing everyone up in her first pamphlet of the season.

The only person who isn’t excited to see Colin (literally: other girls are biting their gloves off to get at him) is Penelope, who remembers the mean stuff he said about her last season. He obviously doesn’t know why she’s mad at him, because he is a doofus. Speaking of the Featheringtons: remember how last season “cousin Jack” ran a fake gem racket and stole a bunch of cash? Portia Featherington has passed that cash off as an inheritance from an elderly relative, and is pushing her two eldest daughters to have babies ASAP so that they can get a son to inherit the estate. She also basically says “so glad you’ll be with me forever, Penelope” which prompts a makeover montage (my fave). Pen can handle living under her mom’s rules, barely, but not her sisters'.

Back at the Bridgerton house, Colin hands out presents from all across Europe, which ends in this exchange:

Colin: Eloise! Forget the modiste, I brought you a book. It’s a rare bavarian treatise on —
Eloise: Dude, I’m in the middle of reading something right now. It’s called Emma.
Colin: Ew, a frivolous novel?
All the Austen fandom, collectively, even the people who haven’t watched or heard of Bridgerton:

A woman holds up scissors threateningly

Eloise: Women making their way outside of society is a fantasy. I’ve settled into doing what I’m supposed to… just like you.

I don’t like that! Anyway, Eloise and Penelope keep having these horrible run-ins where they stare at each other with sad awkward friend-longing, and sometimes it devolves into an actual fight. This makes ME very sad, because their friendship is one of my favorite ships in the whole Bridgerton Extended Universe.

While they’re fighting, the Mondriches get a windfall: Mrs. Mondrich had a mean aunt who apparently had a title, and now that she’s dead, their oldest son is a baron. Entailment, am I right?

At the Danbury ball, everything looks killer, as always… including Penelope, whose new look is enough to impress even Cressida. The only issue is that Pen isn’t used to being the center of attention, and totally bungles the first conversation she tries to have with the intrigued suitors who circle her. Also having a rough time? Francesca, who literally only wants to talk about piano. The two of them link up to chat about wallflower life, how annoying it is to be different than one’s siblings, and to share a pep talk.

A woman says "eventually, maybe, but for now - solidarity, sister."

While Francesca attempts to resume conversations with suitors, Penelope gets an ice cream headache AND the interest of a handsome gent we don’t know yet: Lord Debling. It starts out ok, but then Cressida purposefully tears the back of Penelope’s dress, while Eloise watches, feels bad, and yet doesn’t say anything. Penelope runs away, and is pursued by Colin, who tries to compliment her but is met with a dressing down for what he said last season. He gapes, and she heads home to write a mean scandal sheet about it, which I low key hope she doesn’t actually publish; rage writing rarely ends well in the light of day.

The next day, the same lawyer who told the Mondriches they inherited a barony shows up to vaguely threaten Portia about the document she forged where “Cousin Jack” signed the estate over to one of her girls’ firstborn son: it’d be a pain to transfer the estate to someone else, so hopefully one of the girls has a kid soon! Meanwhile, Eloise tells Cressida she’s been cruel to Penelope, and that it might be easier to find a husband if she wasn’t such a jerk. Cressida admits that she doesn’t have any other friends anymore, and that she’s part of the reason.

A woman says "You know what that is? Growth."

Back at the Bridgerton house, our lovebirds from last season Kate and Anthony drag themselves away from their… romantic pursuits… to talk about Violet. She’s taking a while to move out of the house and transfer the Viscountess duties to Kate, but Kate isn’t bothered about it, pointing out that she and Anthony both have dutiful oldest child syndrome and might benefit from some free time… partly to resume work on making that heir everyone keeps asking them about.

Across the street, Colin visits Penelope to apologize for what he said… kind of. He compliments her a lot, says he’s not ashamed of her, and says he’s different from last season. He also offers to help her find a husband: HE had a glow up between seasons, you see, and now knows that charm is teachable. Fair play, but Pen correctly points out that he can’t hover around feeding her lines. Colin’s not worried about that: he just wants to get back in her good books and feels like he can help. They shake on it, friends again... and that’s when Penelope realizes she wrote a SUPER mean Whisteldown about Colin and it’s too late to get it back. To be fair, she hasn’t said anything inaccurate, but uh… saying someone had a personality transplant and doesn’t know who they really are isn’t kind, that’s for sure. Colin’s not so bothered for himself, but now that Lady W has gone after Marina AND Eloise, he’s aggressively anti-Whistledown: if he finds out who she is, he plans to ruin her life. As if making an enemy of her friend/crush wasn’t enough, Penelope's pamphlet also basically throws down the gauntlet at the queen: pick a diamond already!

Spicy rating: 3/5, mostly clothed or covered with a bedsheet, but still spicy.

What to watch next:
MaryLand: For those who enjoyed the excruciating sibling-argument energy between Penelope and Eloise, please check out this currently airing MASTERPIECE family drama.
Emma: Eloise suggested this one first, and who am I to say her nay. I specifically recommend the 2009 MASTERPIECE adaptation, which is on Tubi right now.

Episode 2: “How Bright the Moon”

Queen Charlotte isn’t scared of Whistledown, and she’s not in any rush to pick a diamond either. Why would she be? Her pick from last season, Edwina, is apparently happily married to someone abroad (in my head, reader, it’s the prince from season 1). Her plan is to let the girls try to impress her, which I fear will only lead to increased nonsense, but there we are.

Anyway, at the Featheringtons’, Varley, despite being very ride or die for Portia, correctly compliments Penelope’s new wardrobe when Pen heads out to meet up with Colin for flirting lessons. Does she still want his help after he got roasted by Whistledown? Yes, and Penelope even says that Whistledown was was SUPER wrong. Anyway, Colin makes her go flirt with a pack of lads and it does NOT go well: turns out her move is fanning aggressively and awkward laughing. At least she finds this disaster amusing instead of simply mortifying?

Across town, the Mondriches have been shown to their new massive estate, which is bonkers and pretty cool. The only downside is that they have been given separate bedrooms, which they… hate. Mrs. Mondrich is also not a huge fan of all the fancy dresses she’s inherited, although the jewels are nice. However, she insists on merely altering said dresses out of a desire to make the rest of the ton think she and her husband are trying to fit in.

At the Bridgerton house, Lady Danbury comes over to share the latest intel on what the queen is looking for (sparkle!) and the names of three eligible bachelors who like the arts. And across the street, Portia interrogates her daughters on their “marital relations,” which are, let’s just say, a mixed bag.

Meanwhile, Penelope and Colin meet up again and she offers him an out since her first assignment was such a disaster. But he’s convinced she needs less training, actually. Enter, backstory: they first met because her hat blew away and smacked him in the face, knocking him off his horse (Jane Eyre, anyone?). She teased him, and it was charming, ergo she can be charming if she isn’t self-conscious. Penelope tells him that she used to be comfortable at the Bridgerton house, but isn’t anymore, and before she can explain WHY she and Eloise aren’t pals anymore, she has to go home. Convenient!

Speaking of Eloise, she, Francesca, and Violet head to the modiste, where Francesca explains to her sister that she hates all this attention and is only putting up with it so that she can marry and get away from home. She REALLY does not want Violet and Lady Danbury to succeed in their plot to get the queen interested in her, and so Eloise hatches a plan: tell all the other young ladies to step up their game so they are noticed by Queen Charlotte first.

While this trip is happening, Colin invites Penelope over to the house. With the ladies away, and Hyacinth, Gregory, and Benedict distracted with a cutthroat card game, they can have the drawing room to themselves. Improper! But cute. The plan is to pretend they are at a ball, and Colin will play the role of eligible suitor. Obviously, this is awkward, since Pen is secretly in love with him, but he doesn’t know that, and presses her to just talk to him as if she were courting him. She compliments his eyes, and they both get all hot and bothered, which is even funnier because it’s just then that Eloise and co return from the modiste.

Colin hustles Pen off to hide in his study, where she accidentally finds his diary open on the table. Like a nut, she reads it, and pals, it's basically a Penthouse Forum-style reminiscence of his trip abroad. Colin, naturally, catches her reading. They argue, Colin knocks over a lamp, and he cuts his hand. Oh no, is she going to have to gently tend his wound??? Yeah, duh, and she’s also gonna hold his hand under the pretense of helping him, all while complimenting his writing style. Colin’s pretty charmed by this, even more so when he realizes which PART of the diary she read, and Penelope heads out, but not without a run in with Eloise so they can exchange longing glances from afar.

On the way to the evening’s ball, Colin and Eloise talk about what happened earlier. Specifically, how it’s weird that he’s still friends with Penelope, and she’s not. Colin correctly points out that it’s hard to support his sister when he doesn’t know what happened, and she again insists that they just “grew apart.” To her credit, Eloise also says that she doesn’t want her brother to friend-dump Penelope, who she wants to be happy. She just would prefer he not invite her over to their home. Eloise also subtly asks for a Penelope update, and is shocked to hear that her erstwhile friend wants to get married. She’s not a fan of their plan to have Colin coach Penelope like this: it’s a weird look for Penelope to be learning from a potential suitor, especially since Colin is, for some reason, the hottest boy in the ton right now.

A woman sarcastically asks her companion "what could go wrong?" and they both shrug and laugh

At the ball, Violet tells Eloise that she won’t push for her to find a husband this season, but would like her to make some more friends, something Eloise is happy to do: it gives her a chance to do Francesca a solid and tell more of the young ladies that the queen is still looking for that elusive diamond.

Meanwhile, Colin tells Penelope he’ll let her read more of his writing if she talks to a lord, and then sends her over to chat up a Viscount. It’s a full on disaster: she says life is short, and his horse just died. This is very sad for him, and very hilarious for Penelope and Colin, who laugh about it together enough that it catches the interest of Eloise, the only person to realize so far that they might actually be a possible couple. She’s bummed, and confides in Cressida, who tells her to pretend Pen is dead (lol). Cressida is also delighted by how scandalous Pen and Colin’s whole arrangement is (understandable) but urges Eloise to move on. Which she does, charming all the young ladies with her wit. Look, I love Eloise, but she’s always had a bit of a pick me vibe, so it’s nice to have her not being actively crummy to her peers.

The Mondriches come to their first ball, and are eagerly greeted by Benedict, who uses them as a convenient excuse to evade the clutches of the young lady he’s been dancing with. She’s clearly hoping he’s on the market (he’s not) and this just makes the Mondriches more aware of the social norms they don’t quite understand yet. Thankfully, Benedict has a way to make them feel better: the main reason to follow the rules is to get hitched, and since they’re already married, they don’t have to worry too much.

You know who should worry? Portia’s sons-in-law, who she’s cornered by the punch in order to scold them for not knocking up her daughters. They are, understandably, terrified. And they’re not the only ones to get a lecture tonight: her next move is to drag her older daughters into another room to interrogate them about sex. This honestly might be a good thing, because as we’ve established on this show, the young ladies don’t get anything useful in the way of sex education. It's not all that surprising, therefor, to find out that:

  • Prudence doesn’t like sex (fair, given their lack of info, and probably something Portia can advise about)
  • Phillipa hasn’t actually done any no-pants hanky panky yet, and doesn’t realize that what she has been doing would not ever lead to an heir. 


Stressed Season 1 GIF by Friends - Find & Share on GIPHY

Out on the floor, Francesca meets up with one of the music loving lords… who seems more interested in the scandalous backstory to her favorite piece than the music theory. Lady Danbury, spotting this awkward scene across the room, comes to help. And that’s how it happens that when the queen prepares to leave, sick of being flattered, she ends up being directed by Lady Danbury to “look at a painting,” otherwise known as stumbling upon Fran playing piano, which the queen finds impressive and delightful. Once the queen departs the ball proper, Eloise seizes her moment to go have snacks, and the other ladies seize the moment to gossip. Cressida, shockingly, doesn’t spill the tea on the whole Colin/Penelope My Fair Lady situation, but something tells me one of the other gals will.

And speaking of Penelope, she’s been dispatched to try and talk to another man, and this one is going much better: he’s a fan of Whistledown, you see, which she obviously finds flattering. He even asks to call on her the next day! Colin is proud, but do I detect a bit of… jealousy?? We don’t have time to find out, because it turns out that I was correct: Cressida wasn’t the only one who heard what Eloise said earlier. The gossip has navigated to the parents, and when Colin confronts them, they baldly ask why he would help a spinster, especially a disaster spinster. Penelope, embarrassed, hits the bricks, pursued by Colin and Eloise, who run into each other and immediately start arguing, since Colin knows his sister is the only person who could have gotten this info out (albeit accidentally).

Later, many of our friends head home and get busy. The Mondriches ditch the separate rooms (love that for them) and both elder Featheringtons utilize their mother’s advice successfully. In less fun news, Lady Danbury finds out that she’s going to have an unwanted visitor (intriguing) and Eloise confronts Cressida about the Penelope gossip. As usual, with Eloise, she isn’t nice about it, but Cressida, correctly, sticks up for herself: she didn’t tell, and frankly Eloise was pretty indiscreet to share that info in public. It also wasn’t very nice to spread that gossip in the first place! I don’t always love Cressida, but this is true, and Eloise has some soul searching to do.

Meanwhile, Penelope has to write about herself in the next Whistledown. Awkward. Even more so when Portia finds out.

Portia: You have to be honest about what we can do here. You really think you’re gonna find a husband after three years? And besides, being unmarried is good. Have you MET the men in this family?

Not wrong, but also not right. Classic Portia. While she continues to not notice her daughter’s worth, Colin bribes Penelope’s maid so he can check on his friend. She’s obviously not doing great, and has become convinced that she’ll die alone. So convinced, in fact, that she gets reckless, and asks Colin if he’ll kiss her. Purely so she doesn’t die a sad, un-kissed spinster, and for no other reason! He, like a good pal, eventually agrees, and reader, this isn’t a lil peck: this is a full on make out.

Colin, pre-kiss:

A says "This better not awaken anything in me."

Colin post-kiss:

A woman says "What is happening?!"

Spicy rating: 3/5, because we kick this puppy off with a THREESOME scene, starring COLIN. Good for him, I guess? Anyway, there’s also some mostly clothed action from the Featherington sisters and Mondriches.

What to watch next: 
Jane Eyre: A woman with rich interior life and nerd tendencies bewitches wealthy stranger by disrupting his horse? SOUND FAMILIAR?
Marie Antoinette: For those interested in a couple worse at figuring out how to consummate their union than the Featheringtons, plus court infighting and fabulous costumes, this is a win win.

Episode 3: “Forces of Nature”

We open with a dream sequence, which features Pen and Colin, standing in a courtyard, K-I-SS-ING. It’s pretty hot, reader, and guess who’s dream it was: COLIN’S. Anyway, he has to go join his family for breakfast after that and pretend like everything is normal. Obviously, the subject of Penelope comes up, because of the latest Whistledown, leading to Eloise fleeing the room (embarrassed that her gossip caused the situation) followed by Colin unsuccessfully pretending that Pen is just an acquaintance and NOTHING ELSE.

Eloise, it turns out, didn’t just flee the room: she left the house entirely, and has gone to the Featheringtons to visit Penelope. It sure does suck when Lady Whistledown writes about you, huh? Eloise expresses her opinion that Whistledown was way meaner about Penelope than she needed to be, and apologizes, but still turns down Penelope’s invitation inside. Baby steps! Partly at Eloise’s insistence, Penelope goes out for a promenade, and promptly runs into Colin so that they can have a SUPER awkward conversation where Penelope shuts down their lessons and suggests that they keep their distance, two things that Colin clearly does not want to do but agrees to anyway.

Penelope, about to leave: Thanks for your help! If I get married it’ll be because of you!

A man says "I've made a huge mistake."

Later, at yet another party, we learn a little more about Lord Debling, who seemed interested in Penelope earlier. Apparently he’s a big fan of wildlife, and is in fact a vegetarian. Penelope finds a corner to hide in, as does Benedict, who’s just appeared with the rest of the Bridgertons. The Mondriches also arrive, looking awesome, and tell Colin they think helping a friend is gallant. They also say that they think he’s got skills, and that Penelope will probably find a husband super soon.

Colin, once more with feeling:

A man says "I've made a huge mistake."

Debling seeks refuge in the introvert’s corner with Penelope, who tells him that usually only social outcasts are welcome, but he’s allowed since all the mamas are hunting him for sport. Turns out, he doesn’t read Whistledown, and isn’t turned off when she explains WHY she recently became the subject of everyone’s gossip. In fact, he finds her honesty refreshing. This could be a good match, but it won’t be as simple as that: Cressida, also in her third season, has set her sights on Debling as well. Eloise thinks this might be a bad idea, since Cressida is NOT an outdoor girl. Nevertheless, she agrees to support her friend, and even cautions her that Penelope, if she is indeed in the running for Debling’s affections, will not go down without a fight.

Our next opportunity for weird flirting/fancy outfits? A hot air balloon exhibition. With the crowd so distracted, Penelope is able to corner Colin and celebrate her success with Debling. She was so down that she didn’t have energy to be anything but herself, which worked: he liked her.

Colin: Do you … like him?
Penelope: Early days, but he’s nice. And relatively handsome.
Colin, realizing that she’s licking sugar off her fingers:

Man says "oh my god!" and bites his fist

So that’s going well. Outside, Debling chats with Cressida and Eloise. At first, this doesn’t go great: he’s clearly very interested in being as far away from society as possible, and Cressida loves the city. However, when she finds out that he likes to be outside to get away from his family, her face lights up: she hates her family too! Penelope, who has never seen The Bachelor and thus doesn’t know she can just walk up and “steal him for a minute,” awkwardly turns to walk away, but Debling spots her and asks her to join them! He’s happy to see Penelope, and turns this into an awkward group chat.

Benedict hits up the balloon tent, where he meets a fabulous slightly older than him lady who’s not cowed by all the naysaying men hating on the balloon. Outside, the queen introduces Francesca to a fancy gentleman from abroad who she’s invited specifically to meet Fran (oh la la). And across the lawn, Pen and Cressida are both trying to one-up each other in their effusive praise of the outdoors while Eloise wishes to be anywhere else. Since neither of them are outdoor kids, this is genuinely silly.

Colin, obviously watching this, tries to find out if there’s anything wrong with Debling. But there isn’t… and he’s also rich. But it turns out to be a good thing that Colin’s jealously watching Penelope, because that means he’s the only one who notices when the hot air balloon they’re all there to admire is pulled away in the wind, dragging its heavy basket straight for Penelope. Colin gets a group of men to heroically grab the ropes and secure the balloon, but Debling runs to Penelope’s rescue and shields her with his body. All the ladies present notice Colin's bravery, but Penelope seems to only care about that last part… especially when Cressida fakes an injury and gets all the Debling attention for herself.

Later, at the evening’s ball, the Bridgerton siblings head inside, leaving Violet all alone to have her stray glove gallantly retrieved by a handsome stranger. Inside, Colin’s mobbed by women (but can’t help staring across the room at one particular woman who's very much otherwise occupied). Speaking of whom, Penelope and Cressida face off in a race to approach Lord Debling, which Cressida, possibly aided by her absolutely GIGANTIC sleeves, wins.

Violet again runs into the handsome glove-giving stranger, who reveals that he’s an empty nester who, like her, loves his adult children. He also turns out to be… LADY DANBURY’S BROTHER, Marcus. Look, normally I’d say you don’t hit on your bestie’s brother, but since we know from the Queen Charlotte prequel series that Lady Danbury hooked up with Violet’s dad, I’m willing to allow it. Vi’s clearly into Marcus, even though Lady Danbury could not be putting out more of a “please do not” vibe.

Francesca chats with the man the queen found for her, and finds out that he also has 7 siblings, but unlike her, he likes that and wants to have 8 kids of his own. That’s enough to make her flee the ballroom, but even outside, Fran’s quiet time is interrupted. The good news? This interruption comes in the form of a handsome stranger… who’s also looking for some quiet. They just stand in silence for a bit, and then she leaves without getting his NAME. Come on, kid!

Inside, Benedict finds cool balloon lady from earlier, who is for sure too much woman for him. They flirt, and she tells him not to worry: she isn’t interested in marriage and won’t snare him.

Benedict: I’m not scared of you.
Balloon Lady: Mistake!

A man says "stop being so mean to me, or I swear to God I'm gonna fall in love with you!

Across town, Mr. Mondrich has taken the night off from partying to go back to his beloved bar. Unfortunately, it’s there that one of the other lords tells him that bending the rules really does not extend so far as to cover him working: if he wants to fit in at all, he’ll need to give up his job and lean into a life of running an estate/leisure.

Downton Abbey Weekend GIF by PeacockTV - Find & Share on GIPHY

Meanwhile, Penelope notices that Debling is alone, and grabs her chance to approach. She tells him that she lied earlier: she doesn’t really like being outside, and was pretending to be someone fake. She actually likes reading, gossip, and keeping nature on the other side of a window. He’s, unsurprisingly, pretty into that: she knows who she is, which is something he’s looking for, especially since he’s embraced his own unique personality. He’s so taken with this that he hands the lemonade he was supposed to be fetching for Cressida to Penelope.

A man makes an awkward face

Taking a break from watching this go down, Colin talks to his mom about her whole marriage philosophy: she’s said that she wants her kids to find passion, but has also always claimed that friendship is the best basis for partnership. What gives? Violet explains that a real friends to lovers situation is rare, as it’s not likely that both people will feel the same. She knew that was a possibility for herself only because Papa Bridgerton was brave enough to ask. HINT HINT, COLIN. She also notices that her son is staring rather pointedly at his “only a friend” the entire time, because Violet Bridgerton always knows when her kids are in love (usually before they do). Bolstered by this chat, Colin heads across the room to Penelope and asks her an important question… or tries to, because Debling scoops Penelope off for a dance. Colin is low key devastated, as are Penelope’s sisters. Phillipa actually runs off to vomit about it (or, more probably, is vomiting because Portia’s scheme finally paid off). Anyway, a huge win for Penelope, and hopefully COLIN gets his crap together and talks to her about his feelings next episode!

Spicy rating: 1/5, very tame. Not even sure if I should count the dream sequence, and that’s all we got.

What to watch next: 
Sanditon: What, like I'm not gonna recommend our most recent regency romance to you? Be serious! Especially recommend if you enjoyed the runaway hot air balloon sequence, because I’ll be honest with you reader: I kinda think ours was better.
Northanger Abbey: Romance-obsessed young lady falls in love with a friend? Yeah, that works. Plus, who doesn’t love a bit of a gothic vibe?

Episode 4: “Old Friends”

Debling comes to call on Penelope, which goes well despite the interference of all the other Featheringtons, who are suddenly much happier to have Penelope in the family due to her boyfriend. Meanwhile, across the street, these ridiculous Bridgerton kids continue to not confide in their mother. She can help you, doofus! Yes, today I’m obviously talking about Colin, who’s still busy pretending he’s not interested in anything more than friendship with Penelope, but also honorable mention to Benedict, who’s off seducing balloon-obsessed widows.

Meanwhile, Lady Danbury is mad at her brother, the queen is thrilled to finally get some good press from Lady Whisteldown, and at the Bridgerton house, the nearly silent stranger we met last evening has arrived, and we finally get a name: Lord Kilmartin and he’s an EARL. Francesca is delighted to sit in silence with this handsome man, but the rest of the family, who were expecting the marquess the queen picked out to call this morning, are befuddled. Alas, this nice moment is interrupted by the arrive of the aforementioned dashing marquess, who is universally enjoyed by the Bridgerton family excepting, unfortunately, Francesca herself.

Later, Penelope lives every little girl’s dream: visiting a giant library. That’s not just me, right? Anyway, Portia keeps trying to stop her daughter from reading because men like to explain things to women (yikes). Refreshingly, Debling doesn’t seem to be in that camp, and also understands that Portia is… a lot, and is cool about it. Things are going well, but Penelope keeps watching Colin across the room. She’s pretty successful at making it seem like she’s just distracted by the books, and Debling is pleased that she has a hobby, since he mostly wants to spend his time away from home doing research. On paper, this situation is a real win: she’d be able to “read” (be Lady Whistledown) while he was away, and they clearly like each other fine. Debling is pretty on board with this, and not so subtly asks how he would go about getting permission to propose. Penelope doesn’t enthusiastically agree, but she doesn’t say no either.

Meanwhile, Colin, who also spent the day weirdly staring at his “friend” across the room, revisits his sex worker friends, but finds himself uninterested in their affections. He’s got it bad for Penelope, is what I’m saying.

Elsewhere, Francesca, out and about, spots her silent friend and approaches. He’s kinda awkward, and says he only goes to social engagements if he absolutely has to, making it seem like he’s only talking to her right now out of politeness. Hurt, Francesca funnels her disappointment into rage-critiquing the technique of a street musician, and Lord Kilmartin, after thanking her for her helpful opinion, rushes off, leaving her more upset than before.

Meanwhile, at the Cowper house, Cressida waits for visitors. Eloise stops in to check on her friend, which is certainly not a move that impresses Cressida’s mom. It also doesn’t do much to cheer up Cressida, especially when her dad finds out and tells her to stop associating with Eloise.

Also having a bad day? Will Mondrich, who’s struggling with staffing after a bunch of his patrons closed their accounts (probably in an attempt to send him a message about his unseemly job). Colin, sitting with his pack of bros, isn’t having a much better time, and gets annoyed at all of his friends for their fixation on dissecting of their sexcapades, which he now thinks is uncouth and gross.


A man asks "why are you booing me? I'm right."

The next day, at the Featherington house, Debling asks Portia if he can propose to Penelope. She obviously says yes, and congratulates her daughter on snagging such a rich and influential man. What more could Penelope want? Love?! Ew!

Portia: Love isn’t real. You know what’s romantic? Security. If you won’t be smart, I will.

Later, as everyone prepares to head out for the next ball, Colin tells Violet that he wants to stay home. He doesn’t tell her why, but he looks like garbage, and snaps at her.

Violet: Look, you are my most sensitive baby. You take care of everyone, and that’s very sweet, but sometimes you need to take care of yourself.
Colin: I’m just hungover. That’s all.
Violet: Well it’d be a bummer to miss the success you’ve worked for: I hear Penelope might be getting a proposal tonight. Feel better, byeeeeee!

She really knows what she’s doing. Anyway, at the ball: some stunning ballet, arranged by the queen to inspire love between Francesca and the marquess, has reminded Penelope that she really does want love in her marriage. Nonetheless, she agrees to a dance with Debling.

From the sidelines, Marcus and Violet have a nice chat about Lady Danbury, and how skillfully she molds society to her will. They also talk about their marriages… and how they’re both windowed. Not subtle! But always good to check, especially if this goes the way I hope it will. Speaking of Danbury’s molding: she’s helpfully telling Mrs. Mondrich that she needs to get her husband to quit that club… or face the wrath of queen Charlotte. And in the corner, Cressida seeks out Eloise, apologizing for what her dad said AND insisting that she will ignore him. She likes Eloise!

A woman scratches her friend's back while he says "pure unadulterated friendship."

Back at home, Colin decides to get his act together. Also trying to get his act together? Marcus, who asks his sister to help him get better acquainted with a certain interesting lady. Lady Danbury is NOT into it: she doesn’t approve of her brother’s rakishness, and won’t help him. Meanwhile, Lord Kilmartin approaches Francesca at the ball, and apologizes. He only left so quickly the last time they talked because he wanted to get her a gift: he knows he’s not a great talker, but a gesture can be a big deal too. Francesca opens the present and then promptly finds an excuse to head home, leaving the queen very much annoyed, and me very intrigued. The gift? He went and had someone arrange the piece they heard earlier to incorporate her angry feedback.

Francesca and Violet, after realizing what this is:

Clueless Movie Aww GIF by filmeditor - Find & Share on GIPHY

Colin rocks up to the ball just as Penelope is asking Debling a tough question. Sure, he wants a practical match, but does he think love might grow? His answer is not encouraging: work is the most important thing to him, and he’s happy she’s got a full life too. He’s just complimented Penelope’s outfit when Colin walks up to them in the middle of the dance and cuts in (a HUGE faux pas). Cressida, who’s no fool, takes the opportunity to scoop up Debling while Colin and Penelope take the floor. Their conversation? A hot mess. Colin tells her she can’t marry Debling, but doesn’t give any reasons she doesn’t already know about. Penelope tells him thanks, but she’s going to marry Debling anyway. He’s not the boss of her! Meanwhile, Cressida has, rather impressively, planted the idea with Debling that Penelope has feelings for Colin, so when Pen tries to talk to him after the dance, he gently tells her that he’s realized there are feelings between her and Colin.

Penelope, scoffing: Feelings? Between us? Colin would never have feelings for me. We’re just friends, that’s it.
Debling: But do you want to be more than friends?
Penelope: It’s impossible, so.
Debling: That’s not what I asked... and I just got the answer. With the amount of time I’m away, I can’t make a match with a person who’s in love with someone else. So I’m gonna jet. Good night, and good luck.

Portia runs up to Penelope in the aftermath and asks what she did to mess everything up, and Penelope has finally had it: is she only worth caring about if she’s married? Just then, Prudence rushes over and announces that she’s pregnant too, and when Portia turns to talk to her other daughter, Penelope skedaddles. Colin follows, but isn’t quite fast enough, so he has to run down her carriage. Pen reluctantly lets him in, where he asks her if Debling proposed. She doesn’t want to tell him, especially when he keeps going on about why Debling isn’t a suitable match for her.

Penelope: FINE. He didn’t, partly because that scene you made convinced him that you have feelings for me. Which is obviously ridiculous. So please go away.
Colin: I can’t. Uh. What if I… did have feelings for you? I’ve been trying to be a normal guy but I can’t stop thinking about you, and dreaming about you. This is torture, but I can’t stop… and I don’t want to.
Penelope: Don’t say stuff you don’t mean.
Colin: I do mean it! I’ve been wanting to say this for weeks!
Penelope: We’re friends!
Colin: Oh. Oh, I’m so sorry.
Penelope: Don’t be, I want to be more than friends too.

And then they start necking in the carriage, which is incredibly untoward (and pretty hot). I’ll say this for the Bridgerton boys: they care about their lady’s happiness, if you catch my drift. Before things can go altogether too far, they arrive at the Bridgerton house and Colin drags Penelope inside so he can tell the whole family they’re gonna get married. Quite the cap on the first half of the season! One small problem: he still doesn’t know that she’s Lady Whistledown, whom he dislikes immensely, and for good reason. Oh well, we needed some drama to resolve in the second half anyway!

Spicy rating: 3/5. Benedict and the balloon lady and Colin trying to get over Penelope with his two sex worker friends were both surprisingly tame scenes, but I’ll tell ya, for a fully clothed moment, that carriage situation got pretty steamy.

What to watch next: 
L’Opera: This French show follows drama and tension inside a ballet company, so naturally I thought of it during that lovely dance at the ball.
Far from the Maddening Crowd: A friends to lovers super slow burn story seems like a fitting final recommendation, don’t you think?