Well, reader, we’re back for the remainder of Bridgerton season three here at GBH Drama, and let us just say: it’s about to get MESSY. Read on for a brief recap of each episode, including other shows you may like to watch to fill the void until next season (apparently production may take about two years), and a spice score so you can plan your viewing accordingly. There will, naturally, be spoilers.

Need to catch up first? Check out our discussion of part 1 here, and recaps of the first half of this season here.

Episode 5: “Tick Tock”

Imagine finding yourself in the position to break the news of your personal triumph (engagement to someone you’ve been in love with forever) while simultaneously scoring a major scoop for your scandal sheet? Penelope Featherington really knows how to do it, huh? Anyway, I’m getting ahead of myself. Penelope and Colin have just had a rather eventful carriage ride, after which Colin has dragged Penelope into his family home to tell his assembled siblings and mother that they are engaged. Penelope’s nervous, but she shouldn’t be: everyone is overjoyed. Well, almost: Eloise is mad as hell, and with good reason. She pulls her former friend aside and tells her that Pen better confess her secret identity to Colin. She’s also mad that Penelope kept yet another secret from her, which is understandable, but also kinda funny. Penelope’s feelings were not subtle!

But back to the following day. The Featherington crew finds out about Penelope’s engagement via Lady Whistledown, and while her brothers-in-law are fairly delighted, Portia is furious to find out this way.

And speaking of new info: guess who’s back in town? Kate and Anthony have returned from their second honeymoon, having succeeded in their heir creation goal. Anthony is overjoyed, and to be honest, I guess I would be too if I’d raised seven kids and finally got to have one of my own on purpose. He’s also, somehow, already as extra as Violet; I fear for his future offsprings’ experience on the marriage mart. Unfortunately for Anthony, he isn’t able to shout their news from the rooftops, because Colin’s engagement has everyone in a tizzy.

Meanwhile, things keep getting worse for Cressida. Her parents have decided to get her engaged to an older man, which she’s trying to process with Eloise. Unfortunately, Eloise just wants to talk about Penelope and Colin, which is infuriating. Cressida’s upset, but trying to see the silver lining: she eventually will get to live like Lady Danbury, who is for sure having the most fun of everyone. However, having seen what her earlier years were like on Queen Charlotte, it’s hard to root for anyone to walk that exact path. Even Cressida.

Benedict and Anthony, like all good siblings, take Colin out so they can make fun of him for getting engaged faster than any previous Bridgerton: it’s not a race! They also razz him for taking so long to figure out his feeligns, and Anthony, in a stunning display of personal growth fueled wisdom, insists that Colin go tell Penelope that he loves her right away (yeah, I missed it too, but Colin was a bit too busy begging Pen to marry him to actually SAY “I love you”).

At the Featherington house, Penelope gets a lecture from her mother rather than congratulations. Portia is kind of a jerk, but she’s obviously trying to protect her daughter… just in the most misguided way possible. Making the assumption that Colin doesn’t really love Penelope, and that Pen has “entrapped him” Portia argues that Penelope shouldn’t lock herself into a marriage if she isn’t sure Colin means it. But guess who overheard this whole thing: Colin, and he’s mad as hell. He storms in and tells Portia that he loves Penelope, and he’s choosing to marry her, and that Portia has been unfair to Pen the whole time. It’s, quite frankly, the most I’ve liked Colin this whole time, and the hottest he’s ever been.

Next stop? A random house the Bridgerton family just owns, which Colin intends to use for the two of them to live in. He apologizes for the state of the place, which is nicer than almost any house I’ve ever been in, and then we get The Mirror Scene (to be clear, I haven’t read these books, but people have been talking about this so much online that I feel it has earned the title case treatment). Colin stands behind Penelope as they gaze into a mirror, and he talks about how hot she is.

Me, aware that they are ~unchaperoned~:

Man sarcastically says "Stop. Don't. Come back."

Look, I’m very into this! This scene is smokin’ hot AND extremely intimate, and I loved seeing Nicola’s extremely hot and not Hollywood typical self on screen like this. However: I’m not into secrets, and feel very strongly that we need to talk about the whole Lady Whistledown thing before this goes any further. Obviously, that does not happen (we have a mood to maintain) but just imagine that any time these two are alone over the next several episodes, I’m adding annoying commentary about how she should fess up. Anyway, they have sex, it’s great, and I have a sneaking suspicion that a lot of the girlies are gonna go buy themselves a chaise lounge after this.

Anthony and Kate are lounging around at Bridgerton house being flawless as ever. He’s wearing some kind of exceptional robe thing. Newton’s hanging out on the bougiest dog bed I’ve ever seen (and while I love him, his presence prevents a certain kind of scene between his parents, which I don’t love). Kate’s also wearing a saree-adjacent outfit for the first time of this show, and I can barely see it because Anthony’s giant head is in the way. Rude! They’re still planning to hold off on their baby news because of all the family romance drama, and while I get the instinct, this feels like a mistake. At the rate we’re going, they won’t be able announce the baby before the baby announces itself!

Case in point: John isn’t wasting any time, and makes it clear to Francesca that he’d like to marry her. I respect it, but boy does that stand out next to these goofy Bridgertons or what? And speaking of goofy Bridgertons: Kate corners Eloise for a chat, where she basically tells her to be honest about what’s bothering her. Good advice, on paper, but a little hard when the truth is so messy.

Over at the palace, Queen Charlotte is in a downright jubilant mood. Why? Because she’s got a scheme up her sleeve to unmask Lady Whistledown: for real this time. She’s so excited, in fact, that I was expecting something a little more intense than reality, which is simply a note that goes out to everyone in town offering £5,000 in exchange for info, as if Lady Whistledown were a lost pet. This notice does, however, send shockwaves through our pals. Colin sounds weirdly into the idea of unmasking Lady Whistledown (so much so that I briefly wondered if maybe he’d figured it out and decided he was into that).

But others are more interested in the cash reward. Cressida, for instance. The guy her parents want her to marry is horrible: a boring old stick in the mud who doesn’t approve of society, balls, or music, and wants Cressida to just stay at home and have babies. No wonder she’s hoping to figure out who Whistledown is so she can grab that money and get the heck out of town!

Portia, having gotten some good advice from Varley to be more open with her daughters, genuinely tries to support Penelope. She starts planning a big wedding, tells Phillipa and Prudence that they need to be nicer, and generally tries. It is hilarious, if very different from everything she’s ever done or said thus far.

At Penelope and Colin’s engagement party, shenanigans are afoot. Gregory and Hyacinth drag the wee Lord Kent off to play, leaving his parents to party it up. Violet and Marcus flirt a little bit, watched from across the room by a very peeved Lady Danbury. John’s trying to tell a childhood anecdote and fumbles it badly. However, this makes it clear to me that Francesca really loves him, because her entire reaction is to beam at him like he’s perfect. And Eloise corners Penelope to issue an ultimatum: tell Colin your secret identity, or I will. Not gonna lie. I low key get this.

Colin makes a really cute speech about how excited he is to marry Penelope. And then Eloise, the weirdo, interjects with her own speech about how great love is when you truly know the other person inside and out. Is it awkward? Yes. But also Penelope has said weirder and meaner things in her column, so I guess that’s ok? Anyway, Anthony saves the day by calling everyone into the sitting room to play a game where one person reads out a riddle, and whoever guesses it gets to read the next one. He is… hilariously bad at the game, but Eloise and Penelope are basically a dream team. They’re the real soulmates here, let’s be real!

While Eloise’s ultimatum timeline looms ever closer, the topic of conversation turns to the queen’s reward for Whistledown info scheme. Everyone speculates about who she is (well, everyone but Kate and Anthony, who are making out in a corner, having decided to announce their pregnancy) and why she might even come forward and claim the reward for herself. After all, it’s a lot of money (somewhere north of $500,000), and it would protect a girl from an unwanted marriage. Makes you think!

Kate and Anthony share their news. Across the room, Cressida, who’s invited herself to this party to talk to Eloise, stands up and tells everyone she’s Lady Whistledown. Penelope, who’s been slowly working herself up into a full fledged panic attack this whole time, fully passes out in the middle of the room. Bless ‘em, they’re a complete mess. And that’s where we end episode 5.

Spicy rating: 4/5. We get a weirdly chaste sex scene for Tilly and Benedict, but it’s The Mirror Scene that drove this rating. It’s not exceptionally graphic and is yet somehow the most intimate love scene they’ve done on this show, IMO.

Episode 6: “Romancing Mister Bridgerton”

Everyone’s freaking out because we have no Whistledown pamphlet. Is it because the queen knows who she is? Is it because Penelope still hasn’t recovered from her panic swoon? No, it’s because Penelope is agonizing over what the heck to publish, given what happened. She drafts an extremely mean intro comparing Cressida unfavorably to the literal devil, but then scraps it. Sometimes writing is just like that, and I’ve never even had my column hijacked by a personal bully!

Anyway, writing will have to wait: Colin has appeared to visit Penelope. As they attempt to have a private chat with Portia hovering nearby, Colin senses Penelope’s conflict. Will she finally spill the Whistlebeans? No, even when Colin expresses some doubts that Cressida could be Lady Whistledown because he assumed the writer would be clever. Despite the compliment, Penelope doesn’t say anything, so Colin hands over the real reason for his visit: her new shiny engagement ring. He slips it on her extremely ink stain fingers, and somehow buys that they’re just from writing letters. Colin, I know you’re smarter than this! Penelope is clever, covered in ink, and seems VERY sure that Cressida isn’t Whistledown. Eloise solved this a full season ago!

Speaking of Cressida: she’s just found out that that creepy old man won’t marry her now.


A woman sips an umbrella drink and says "oh no." sarcastically

But she’s not out of the woods yet. Her father’s solution is to send her off to Wales to live with her aunt. I’ll be real, this doesn’t seem like the worst thing. What’s actually bad is Mom Cowper telling her daughter she’s sure she couldn’t be Lady Whistledown because she’s not smart. What is wrong with the mothers in this town?

Want to hear something good? Our favorite new additions to the Ton are throwing a ball, and since the Mondriches have style and are cool as hell, it should be a good party.

Over at the Bridgerton house, Marcus pulls the old “I forgot something here at the party” move: a classic for a reason, let’s be real. He chats with Violet for a bit, during which she basically tells him that if he can’t figure out a way to mend fences with his sister, she won’t date him. Girl code! Meanwhile, John has correctly deduced that the Bridgerton siblings are so loud that he can say ridiculous nonsense and they’ll never hear. I’d mess with them too! They’re great, but they are MESSY. Anyway, it’s Francesca who finally cuts through the noise to announce her engagement. Fast, but cute. Here for it!

Later that day, Colin continues to be furious at Lady Whistledown/Cressida. Eloise, who really does not want to be in the middle of this, ultimately decides not to tell Colin who Whistledown is, but does tell him she will go talk to “Cressida” and ask her to stop publishing. One problem: Penelope isn’t interested in stopping. Whistledown is power, and she, very relatably, doesn’t want Cressida to get credit for Penelope’s hard work.

Eloise: Yeah, but Colin will be crushed that we both lied to him if he finds out. Also, you can’t keep Whistledowning once you’re married?

Meanwhile, at the palace, Queen Charlotte doesn’t believe Cressida for a second. She’s kinda mean about too, but honestly, I get it: Charlotte doesn’t have a ton to do. She also drops a wild ultimatum: print a pamphlet by tomorrow, or you’re out of society. One problem: Cressida is many things, but a ghost writer is not one of them.

At the same time, Portia throws herself into planning the most hideous wedding of all time, much to everyone’s chagrin. She also notes that Penelope is acting a little weird, and tells her to shove her feelings down so she can cater to Colin better. Her exact words? “Ladies do not have dreams, they have husbands.”

A woman yells "I hate it!!!"

This explains everything about Portia and now I want to cry. Sure, Penelope is fortunate to have a love match, but she still deserves her dreams!

While we contemplate the rough situation with the Featheringtons, the Bridgerton family drama continues. Francesca and John ask Violet to go ask for the queen’s blessing on their behalf. This is smart, except that Violet isn’t 100% sure about this match. Benedict eats breakfast on the floor at Tilly’s house while she tells him she wants to introduce him to one of her friends (intrigue!). And later, we get a weirdly wholesome boys night out as some of our friends close down Will’s bar in style. They razz Colin about his manuscript (he wants to turn those journals into a book, it turns out). Benedict waxes poetic about being young and single. John keeps finding more bottles of liquor to feed to others. It’s cute! I still don’t get why Will can’t just own this club and let someone else run it, but at least he seems content with his decision now.

Anyway, the next day we head to church, where the banns for Penelope and Colin’s wedding are read to the great excitement of both families. After church, Lady Danbury sets one of her “friends” on Marcus so he can’t talk to Violet (leaving Violet free to talk to Lady Danbury instead, I might add). I know she thinks he’s a rake, but damn! Penelope continues to not tell Colin her secret, and Cressida reaches out to Eloise to ask for help writing the ultimatum-Whistledown. Eloise refuses, and ends her friendship with Cressida. Yikes. I get it, but this means that Cressida is left to her own devices, and it’s… bad. Really bad.

Later, Penelope visits Genevieve, who congratulates her on her engagement, and gives some good advice: when you’re proud of creating something, you shouldn’t just give it up. I could also give that advice to Benedict, who’s having dinner with Tilly and her friend Paul, and has no hobbies to talk about since he dropped out of art school. Luckily for Benedict, he’s a charming guy, so he and Paul get along great. So great, in fact, that Benedict asks Paul if he was ever with Tilly romantically. As I kind of expected, Paul answers this question by flirting with Benedict, who’s a bit confused by what’s happening. He takes a few minutes to himself before returning inside, getting in there just after Paul has told Tilly that he thinks she was right (about what??) and started kissing her. Benedict, walking in on this, is puzzled, and only gets more puzzled when they invite him to join them. For a hot second I am SURE he’s going to say yes, but he nopes out to go to an “appointment.” Boo!

Meanwhile, the Mondrich ball is lovely. The decorations are great, including a mystery item in the middle of the dance floor which looks vaguely like a dalek. It’s not: it’s a weird clockwork popup art installation, which Alice reveals just as the queen enters and is about to proclaim the ball lackluster. Nice one, Alice.

In the corner, Francesca pressures her mom to go speak to the queen about her engagement. Rather than watch them fight, John deploys an incredible line I will be using from now on to escape awkward situations: “I am going to go look at the very fine wainscoting.”

Violet/probably much of the viewers at home: You seem happy but I don’t get it! We’re on a drama show!
Francesca: Not everyone is a drama queen like my siblings! I love him and we’re happy!

Violet, hurt, storms out, followed by Lady Danbury and Marcus in an echo of Penelope’s exit (pursued by Eloise and Colin) earlier this season. The siblings finally fight it out: Agatha’s not mad at Marcus for being the favored son. She’s mad that he tattled. The night before her wedding, she planned to run away, but got caught, and thinks that Marcus ratted her out. Yeah, after seeing what her marriage looked like on Queen Charlotte, I’d be pissed too.

Back inside Cressida makes a grand entrance in a gorgeous red dress with a giant bow at the back, which slaps. Cressida and her mom hang out on the sidelines while everyone talks about them. After a few awkward minutes, the queen summons Cressida to her perch. Once there, Cressida reveals her plan: she drops a short Whistledown note in the middle of the ball, and everyone loses their dang minds running after the footmen carrying the sheets. With some help from her mama, Cressida’s actually managed to do a pretty solid job of aping Whistledown’s style. It’s enough to pique the queen’s interest, but not enough to secure the bag: Charlotte demands a full issue before she’ll give up the reward.

Meanwhile, Penelope and Eloise are both freaking out: Pen because her identity has been stolen, and Eloise because she thinks this is somehow her fault (both for befriending Cressida in the first place and for convincing Penelope to stop writing). The solution? Pen will publish another issue to discredit Cressida. She explains that the column is power, and that she started it to give herself a voice, and should have continued to platform others who needed it instead of damaging people who she cared about. Eloise backs this play, and Penelope writes the column in her carriage on the way to the printer. The problem? Colin followed her, watched Penelope deliver the latest issue, and now he knows who Lady Whistledown is.

Spicy rating: 0/5. Lots of heated glances and one makeout, but on this show, a makeout isn’t worth anything!

Episode 7: Joining of Hands

Well THIS is the worst way for Colin to find out his fiancee’s secret: he followed her cab because he thought the driver was taking her to a bad part of town on purpose, and then overheard her talking to the PRINTER? YIKES! TBH he has every right to be pissed and feel betrayed and never want to forgive her. But let’s be real, we know he will. This is Bridgerton after all!

Here’s what’s funny though: Cressida also published a Whistledown column today, and it’s scathing. She goes after the Bridgertons for marrying too quickly and having so many kids, and even suggests that Violet stepped out on papa Bridgerton. Before Violet can spiral too much about THAT, the real pamphlet arrives, and proceeds to call out both Cressida, and numerous other badly behaved people from around the ton. Delicious, but disastrous for Cressida, who ends up confined to her room until her aunt in Wales can come fetch her.

But what about the more… personal fallout from the latest pamphlet? Well for starters, Pen feels like garbage, and isn’t interested in wedding planning as much as she was, which is annoying Portia. Spotting Eloise and Benedict in the park, Pen beelines for her friend, kicking Benedict out just as he was about to tell Eloise he needed a distraction (although how he would have explained WHY to his younger sister, I will never know).

Eloise: Bro you crushed it, congrats!
Penelope: Bad news: Colin found out and he’s SUPER pissed. I think he’ll still marry me but he won’t talk to me 🙁
Eloise: Look, I can’t get involved in that — it’s too weird that I’m already in the middle of you two.
Penelope: You are my best friend, and it was awful not getting to be close this season. I can’t bear to lose you completely. Or Colin. But I get that you don’t want to get involved, this is my mess to clean up, not yours.

Back at Bridgerton house, Lady Danbury pops in for tea and to talk trash about Cressida’s mean article. She also tells Violet it’s not a good time to talk to the queen, who’s super bummed about not finding Whistledown.

Violet: Dang, I should have just talked to her at the ball like Francesca asked.
Lady Danbury: You did your best! We have to do so much, the weight of the world can’t always be on us!
Violet: But you LOVE to do so much! What’s up?
Danbury: Ignore me. I’ll see if I can set that meeting with the queen up.
Violet: Don’t worry about it. You know, you and your brother both really try to help others. But I want you to know I care about you for reasons other than the fact you can help me. I’m always here for you, even once all these damn kids get married off.

Downstairs, Colin confronts Eloise about the whole situation.

Eloise: I tried to get her to tell you.
Colin: YOU should have told me!
Eloise: Yeah, and you should have told me you were in love with my BEST FRIEND before you got ENGAGED. I found out last year, and I was too sad to talk about it. I’ve been trying to get her to tell you, and then I thought, why break your heart too. She’s been nice this season!
Colin: Bro, she wrote that REALLY mean thing about me!
Eloise: Oh yeah. Fair enough. I want to forgive her… will you?
Colin: You’re lucky you’ve never been in love.

What the hell is THAT supposed to mean? Also, Colin, be so serious: Eloise loves Pen just as much as you do, pal.

Later, wedding planning continues apace, but now it’s a nightmare for more reasons than the acidic yellow walls in the breakfast room. Colin confirms that he’ll go through with the wedding: they had sex, after all, and he’s a man of honor. But he also tells Pen that he thinks that’s part of her scheme to entrap him.

Penelope: That’s not what this is — I love you. What is this marriage going to be like?
Colin: Depends. Are you going to keep Whistledowning?
Penelope: I don’t know.
Colin: Let’s get this wedding over with, and then we’ll figure it out.

This super awkward vibe is not unnoticed by the mamas, but since they don’t know any of the particulars, they’re baffled. And worried.

Speaking of baffled: Benedict gets an invite to Tilly’s so she can explain what happened last episode. The TL;DR: she and Paul have a similar casual hookup thing to what she has with Benedict, but Paul also sometimes hooks up with men. He thought there might have been a moment with Benedict… did Benedict also feel that? Tilly points out that there’s a lot more to the world than their little Ton bubble, explains that if Benedict isn’t into it, it’s no big deal. But her staff are… discreet. Just in case he is into it.

While Benedict ponders that, Marcus has come to call on Violet, and she is FLUSTERED. It’s extremely cute, and the whole staff is just as delighted as I am. She tells him about the kerfuffle with Franchesca’s engagement, and then does the patented Bridgerton thing of getting extremely turned on by watching him eat a cookie. This family!

Marcus: Once stuff with the kids is settled… would you want to maybe date?
Violet: I want to try, but I’m not sure I’m ready for that. Partly because I’m not the only one with stuff to sort out.

The unspoken part? Fix your relationship with your sister/my best friend!

Meanwhile, at the Cowper house, Cressida basically begs her mom to not send her away, and also asks why they had to go after the Bridgertons so hard. Mom Cowper correctly points out that they’re the main characters in Lady Whistledown’s pamphlet as well as on the show, so it’d be weird not to talk about them. Also, she wanted to mess with them. Mom Cowper, it turns out, doesn’t believe that women can be friends with each other. That’s what she’s been telling Cressida this whole time, and she feels even more vindicated now that Eloise has dumped Cressida.

While I’m busy being sad for Cressida (not an experience I expected, going into this season) Benedict, John, and Will take Colin for a stag do. John tells everyone that he thinks their mom doesn’t like him, which Benedict insists isn’t so. Violet likes him, but she likes grand love stories more. John should do something dumb! John, of course, needs some time to figure out the best dumb thing to do, and Will takes that opportunity to walk John out and head home to his wife. The Bridgerton boys both politely decline the opportunity to be honest with each other about their personal drama, which is cute, but too bad.

Penelope’s version of a hen do? Meeting Genevieve, who gives her a drink and some more good advice: Penelope can’t go back in time and change what she did, but she can be true to herself now.

Genevieve: Gonna keep writing?
Penelope: I don’t know. I took time off for him this week, but I felt like I’m missing part of myself.
Genevieve: Well there can’t be true love without knowing your true self first.

A man toasts "cheers i'll drink to that bro."

One problem: Pen leaves this cute girls’ night just as Colin rounds the corner. They both accuse each other of doing secret naughty things, and Pen takes the opportunity to apologize and explain. The Eloise thing? A misguided attempt to protect Eloise. The Marina thing? A misguided attempt to protect Colin. The mean stuff about Colin earlier this season? Her processing how different he was acting and missing her friend.

Penelope: Now that I have the confidence you taught me, I can say that stuff out loud instead.
Colin: So you don’t need Whistledown anymore?
Penelope: Not for me, but there’s still value in it.
Colin: The actual humiliating thing is that you told me I was a good writer, when you’re a published author and famous!
Penelope: I meant what I said!
Me: Colin, WTF. That just makes it a better compliment?
Colin: You’ve been putting yourself in danger for this double life.
Penelope: I can take care of myself!
Colin: Then what good am I to you?
Penelope: I love you!

It seems like he’s about to storm off, but instead, they start smooching… until a horse goes by and someone almost catches them. Colin stuffs her in a carriage and promises to see her tomorrow. Look, I’m glad they’re starting to get this figured out, but we still have much to talk about! But first, Colin goes home and finds Anthony and Kate have arrived early for the wedding. It turns out that Violet asked them to come and give Colin some advice. Smart woman! They see through his nonsense immediately, and Kate reminds him that whatever weird thing happened can’t outweigh the feelings he has. Sure, she doesn’t know what’s going on, but then again, I think she’d be into Whistledown.

The next morning, Marcus explains himself to Agatha. Here’s the deal: he was 10 when she tried to run, and he didn’t know how bad her marriage would be. He just knew it was dangerous for women to be alone in the world. He also thought if she stayed, he’d be able to prove himself to her. Yes, to her: not their dad. She was his courageous big sister!

Lady Danbury: Why didn’t you ever say something before?
Marcus: Because I’m scared of you?
Lady Danbury: Oops. Maybe I did take notes from dad.
Marcus: You’re not like dad. Except for the cane. Yours is cooler though.
Lady Danbury: I’ve been hard on you. My life is joyful now, and I didn’t want to lose it to you.
Marcus: Any joy I have, I want to share with you!

ADORABLE. While our pals get ready for a wedding, a bunch of people turn up to try and convince the queen they’ve figured out something about Lady Whistledown. During one rather onerous mansplainer, Charlotte takes another look at the pamphlets and makes some kind of discovery. What? We don’t know, because we’re busy at the nuptials.

Look, it’s a wedding, I don’t know what to tell you. They both look great, and seem on the way to mending fences. Pen even shares a cute smile with Eloise and her sisters on the way down the aisle. Eloise CRIES. It’s great. At the wedding breakfast, Prudence congratulates her sister, and MEANS it. Lady Danbury tells Violet that she feels way better after reconciling with Marcus, and suggests Violet go fix things with Francesca. Benedict checks on Eloise and tells her that he knows she has enough love for both Penelope and Colin, and that they both have enough love for her and each other, which is real cute.

Across the room, Anthony and Kate decide to go to India for the birth of their child, because Kate misses home and Anthony wants to see where she grew up. Adorable, as long as this isn’t just an excuse to keep them off our screens! Portia tells Penelope that she can tell her daughter is having a hard time, but that there’s plenty of time for Penelope to fix whatever it is, and that Portia won’t meddle. And Penelope finally corners Colin to ask him to dance. Is it a little bit of a faux pas? Yeah. But Colin is game, and TSwift is playing, so here we are. Other couples start dancing too… including John and Francesca. A bold gesture? We love to see it!

Marcus approaches Violet and confirms that he patched things up with his sister. Violet confirms that SHE’s about to finish her work for the season (the bold gesture worked!). Anthony, who’s just realized someone wants to date his mom, is FUMING. All in all there’s a lot of fun to be had! And then… Queen Charlotte arrives and kicks out anyone who’s not a Bridgerton. Why? Someone here has a secret, and she’s not gonna leave until they confess.

A woman excitedly eats popcorn.

Pen is about to step up, but Francesca beats her to it. The secret? She’s engaged to John.

Queen Charlotte: Oh who cares? Not me! I figured that out ages ago, and you don’t need my blessing. That’s not why I’m here. Lady Whistledown is in this room. She only came back because Cressida wrote such mean stuff about this family, so obviously, she’s one of you.

A man says "I've connected two dots." His friend responds "You didn't connect shit." The first man insists "I've connected them.

Anthony: if such a thing were happening in my home I would have known, and I would have stopped it.
Queen Charlotte: Ok, fine. Don’t say anything. I’ll figure it out!

She leaves, and Colin and Penelope run out into the hallway, where Colin argues that this is a good sign to quit publishing. This lie is hanging over the whole family now! But Penelope tells him that Whistledown is part of her, and she won’t change that.

Colin: Yeah, I don’t like that! I’ll sleep on the sofa.

Eloise sees the aftermath and hugs it out with Pen. Reader, it might be a bit weird to celebrate this when Colin just stormed off, but I don’t care: we’re back, baybeee!

Hey, remember how Benedict was conspicuously absent from the the reverse “I am Spartacus” moment? He was too busy hanging out at Tilly’s, waiting for her and Paul to come back from the Opera or whatever so they could have a threesome. Reader, I cannot be the only person who literally cheered at the Pride month bisexual Benedict Bridgerton reveal. Absolutely delightful.

Anyway, across town, Cressida is knocking on printers’ doors trying to get paid for her fake column. At that, she does not succeed, but instead she finds something much more valuable. See, one of the printers used to work with Whistledown’s actual printer, and he’s always been a fan. But he knows Cressida isn’t Lady Whistledown… because she’s not a redhead.

Spicy rating: 3/5. Mostly clothed, but we still got Violet ogling Marcus, Penelope and Colin nearly going to third base in the middle of the street, and Benedict’s threesome. So. Some spice!

Episode 8: “Into The Light”

Welcome to a super awkward morning at Penelope and Colin’s house! He slept on the couch and is grumpy about that AND the ongoing Lady Whistledown saga, and is thus taking himself off home for breakfast and leaving Penelope alone to greet her mother. Oh, and it gets worse: Cressida beat Portia to the house, and wastes no time accusing Pen of being Lady Whistledown. Penelope tries to lie and say she isn’t, but it’s not particularly convincing. Anyway, Cressida blackmails Pen, asking for twice the reward money so she can take herself to the continent. Penelope isn’t about to just cave that easily: she argues that no one will believe Cressida. But then Portia walks in, and Cressida lays out all of her evidence, demands payment, and sashays away. Incredible.

Portia is stunned, and also pissed: Pen has been pretty mean to the entire Featherington squad. Anyway, she suggests that Pen not let Colin find out about the blackmail scheme, because he’s a goody two shoes and could get an annulment for that. Pen, however, wants to be honest. Finally!

Over at the palace, the queen and Lady Danbury play chess and talk about Lady Whistledown. What happens, for instance, once Queen Charlotte finds her nemesis?

Lady Danbury: Look, I used to think she was powerful. But there’s a vulnerability there.
Queen Charlotte: Do you know who she is? You trying to protect her?
Lady Danbury: Just saying she might not be a challenger, but a player trying to stay in the game. Something I think you could relate to?
Queen Charlotte: Not so much anymore. You could have had me in check mate, what gives?
Lady Danbury: The game would be over so quickly. And what’s the fun in that?

What indeed? Speaking of fun, Phillipa and Prudence have decided to throw a ball so they can get some spotlight for themselves. Love it. At the ice cream parlor, Violet takes out John and Franchesca, who’s worried about whether they should be out in public. But the queen knows they’re engaged, and Violet is convinced no one in the family is Lady Whistledown, so, here we are, faking it till we make it. Just normal people, planning a wedding.

Francesca: About that. We want to get a special license so we can have a small wedding at home. And then we want to go to John’s family home…. In Scotland. Weeks away by carriage.
Violet, having a panic attack:

A man unhappily says "sure sure sure cool cool cool."

At Bridgerton house, Eloise attempts to comfort Colin about the whole Lady Whistledown thing. They’ll be ok! The queen will be chill! But then Penelope and Portia sweep in and reveal the latest nonsense.

Penelope: Anyway, bad news. But I’m not asking for your help, I just wanted to tell you.

Colin: It’s not up to you what we do; if Cressida talks it’ll make us look bad AND I’m not having anyone blackmail my WIFE.
Portia, only listening to that last part: Oooh hot.
Penelope: That’s nice, but I can pay her.
Eloise: You have that much money?
Penelope: Actually I have a little bit more than that, if I’m being honest.
Portia: SERIOUSLY? Do you not remember me trying to sell candlesticks last season?
Colin: It doesn’t matter, but no one is paying her. I’m going to go confront her and make it clear that this would be bad for everyone. It’s the only way!

Somehow I don’t think this will work, and neither, I’m guessing, does Pen. But let’s not worry about that for a bit: Benedict is back at Tilly’s house. Bask in it, reader, because WE have to head over to watch Colin visit Cressida. Mom Cowper reluctantly agrees to let them speak in private, and Colin uses his time to try and relate to Cressida. She’s not feeling very charitable: the loneliness Colin tries to describe happened when he was gallivanting around Europe solo, after all.

Colin: Here’s the thing: when I was traveling, nobody wrote to me. So I turned myself into the kind of person who didn’t need friends or family, and that was bad. I don’t recommend it.
Cressida: Whatever. I don’t feel bad for you.
Colin: I’m not here for that. I’m asking for your mercy. Pen didn’t mean to be cruel, and people love to read that damn thing.
Cressida: Sounds like you’re jealous.
Colin: Nuh-uh! I’m just saying, Pen is a different person from Whistledown. She’s been so ignored and invisible in a way we can’t understand. And it’s not an excuse, but surely you can see that she’s had a tough time and was still not as mean to you as she could have been. She feels bad. Let this blow over, and I’m sure your dad will let you come back. Family love, man!
Cressida: Here’s the thing. You know you’ll always have your family’s support. We’re not the same and we never will be.
Colin: Nobody will believe you if we say you are lying, you have no proof.
Cressida: Yeah I do, actually. You have until the upcoming ball to pay me, or I’ll tell everyone. Also, price just went up. BYE.

Should’ve let Penelope participate in this plan, Colin! At the Featherington house, Prudence and Phillipa badger Portia for some cash to throw their ball. It’s only right, since she spent so much more on Penelope’s wedding! She successfully gets them to leave by siccing Varley on them.

Penelope and Eloise chat while Colin’s out. Cressida can be reasonable, Eloise explains. Maybe she will today! Eloise also says that while she may have initially befriended Cressida to be petty, she did actually like her. That’s… probably about to end. Colin arrives to reveal that not only does Cressida now want £20,000, she also wants Penelope to use the Lady Whistledown column to restore Cressida’s reputation. Colin will have to get Benedict to sign off on so much money, which they’ll cover with a lie. Colin tries to apologize for making everything worse, but Penelope won’t hear it. This is her mess. She thanks them all for their advice, which is kind, but honestly not really necessary in my opinion, since no one has had great advice thus far.

Later, Lady Danbury and Violet meet up to hang and drink scotch, which only reminds Violet of how bummed she is that Francesca is moving so far away.

Lady Danbury: Look, you’ll have my support when Franchesca leaves… and maybe also my brother’s. If you want?
Violet: Oh…we don’t have to talk about that?
Lady Danbury: But we should. You are adults and you don’t need my blessing. After all… I didn’t exactly ask for yours.
Violet: This scotch is delicious, did I say that already?
Lady Danbury: Wait, you know?
Violet: I know my dad was a good man, and that you are a very good friend. That’s all I need to know.
Lady Danbury: My brother is a good man, and you’re a very good friend. That’s all I need to know as well. But if he does anything wrong, I’ll pick you. I wouldn’t lose you for something silly like that!

God I love them. Meanwhile, at the love nest, Benedict is having a GREAT time. The only problem? His partners are not really society people, and he kinda is. He also seems to be loving this arrangement, and I think he might have missed the thing Tilly said earlier about how this is casual for her. I hope I’m wrong, but I have a feeling my man’s in for some heartbreak.

At Colin and Penelope’s house, Colin’s getting ready for bed. On the couch, again. Even though he’s obviously VERY interested in getting into bed with his wife (and her boobs) instead. The next morning, Penelope goes to have tea with her mom before Francesca’s wedding so that Colin won’t be stuck in a carriage with her. After she leaves, he ends up finding some of her old letters and re-reading them… with a big goofy smile on his face.

And at the Featherington house, the lawyer who’s caused so much trouble this season is back, and he’s gotten proof that the money Portia “inherited” is actually the cash she and Cousin Jack stole from everyone last season. He drops his mic, tells her he’s going to recommend that their title go to someone less full of lies, and departs… just as Penelope arrives, and hears everything.

Portia: What I did wasn’t that different from you! I did it to protect our family! It’s hard to be a parent, especially to daughters in our society. You did so much for yourself, and I respect that, even if I haven’t enjoyed everything you wrote. Also, I couldn’t think of a better idea. I wonder what Lady Whistledown will say when this comes out.
Penelope: Whatever I want.
Portia: That’s a pretty impressive bit of power you made for yourself.
Penelope: Thank you. Maybe we’re more alike than I wanted to admit.
Portia: If we survive this, we need to do better.

Awwwwww! Over at Bridgerton house, Violet talks to Francesca before the wedding. Violet’s worried she’ll lose her daughter with the distance, but Francesca disagrees. She thinks that the solitude in Scotland will help her know herself better so that she can be her true self with the family. She’ll come back, she promises. Violet tells her daughter that she’s learned an important lesson: there are different ways for love to grow, and she thinks Francesca will do great in Scotland.

Wedding time: these two cuties have a very sweet ceremony, followed by a chill reception where the Bridgerton siblings all speculate on what their mom is up to, romance-wise. The one thing they can agree on? It’s a good thing Anthony left town already. Marcus asks Violet to dance at the next ball, and she, awkward as hell, agrees. John gives an incredibly touching speech thanking Violet for raising Francesca and all the other kids, and then Violet and Francesca play a piano duet. It’s so cute you guys! Penelope takes the opportunity to ask Colin to come speak with her in private.

Colin: If you wanted to talk about the bribe, I’m planning to speak with Benedict after the wedding.
Penelope: I don’t want you to talk to him. I can’t ask you to lie to him for me. Your family is too good to lie to, and I can’t let my lies spread. Help me by loving me; I don’t love you because of what you do for me, it’s because you are a kind empathetic person. You are enough on your own. Don’t save me, stand by me. And like… kiss me.
Colin: I want to do that. But as long as you live with this secret there will always be something between us.
Penelope: I think that’s the answer.

OHO. Pen scampers home, where she starts plotting. The exact nature of the plan is unclear but it involves a letter to Violet (who promptly corners Colin, and is NOT thrilled), a letter to the queen, and a purse full of cash to Varley.

Benedict rocks up to Tilly’s house and guys, I was wrong. He didn’t catch feelings. Tilly did. She tells him that she wanted it to be just the two of them that evening… and that she wants to know what would happen if something grew between the two of them. Benedict tells her he’s not sure if serious is what he wants. Not because of Paul, but because she’s exposed him to how great openness is, and he’s not ready to close it up yet. Tilly understands, thanks him for reminding her that commitment can feel good too, and then leaves… which tees up my favorite type of Bridgerton interaction: Eloise and Benedict late night swing real talk!

Eloise: I feel stuck. I want this Whistledown stuff to get sorted.
Benedict: And then? Where do you want to go?
Eloise: Anywhere. I’ve spent my whole life in this house. I need to see the world if I want to change it.
Benedict: Oh thank God, you’re back to normal. I feel like the next thing I learn will change my life forever.
Eloise: You are confusing, but I like it.
Benedict: Fair. One thing is for sure: we shouldn’t let so long pass before we’re on a swing together again.
Me: Yeah except we just heard that it’s gonna be two years until season 4 comes out. So.

Over at the ball, the Featherington sisters prepare to be disappointed by the setup… but they aren’t, because it’s fabulous. That money Penelope gave Varley earlier was for the party! She tells her sisters it was all Portia’s doing, which makes everyone feel MUCH better, and the ball goes into full swing.

Portia: If this is our last night in society, at least your sisters are having fun.

Fair, in more ways than one: guess who just got here? Queen Charlotte arrives on the scene, not because she was invited (though of course she was) but because she wishes to make an announcement. She’s received a letter from Lady Whistledown. A letter in which said author has asked to be given the chance to plead her case before everyone before the queen passes judgment. That’s too dramatic to turn down, so Queen Charlotte has agreed, and promptly turns the floor over to Lady Whistledown herself. Obviously, people are flabbergasted (except Lady Danbury, who clearly figured this out a while ago), but they listen as Penelope does a very nice speech where she subtly makes direct appeals to the room at large, the people she cares about the most, and Queen Charlotte. Eat your heart out, every speechwriter on The West Wing! Anyway, obviously Queen Charlotte loves gossip, so she’s gonna let this play out going forward, but hard to say if the rest of the ton will be as forgiving. Phillipa, of all people, takes pity on her sister and uses this opportunity to release a bunch of live butterflies, which is universally enjoyed, and gives Penelope cover to run off.

Lady Danbury approaches Pen and reveals that she figured this out a while back. There’s only one person who loves the Bridgertons more than Lady D, after all. She swans off to go meddle in someone else’s business, and Portia approaches next.

Penelope: I couldn’t have done that without you. And, now that this is out in the open, we can tell that lawyer that the money came from my writing. He won’t be able to refute it. But we have to do better, the both of us.

Portia agrees, and skedaddles: it’s Colin’s turn. He explains that Violet was shocked, but proud too, when she got her letter. Penelope is touched, but still tells Colin that she wants him to know that she won’t object to an annulment if he asks for one. She doesn’t want anything bad to happen to him because of this whole business.

Colin: The queen said this was ok though?
Penelope: For now! It could be bad out there
Colin: Babe, ever since I realized you were Lady Whistledown I’ve been trying to separate you from her. But you’re her; there’s no separating you. And I don’t want to. That was really cool what you just did out there! I think I was jealous of you; your success, your bravery. And you love ME? I’m lucky. If my only purpose in life is to love a woman as great as you, I’ll be very fulfilled indeed.

Awwwww. So cute! They say I love you and then go dance, which is very sweet, but I’m personally more invested in another pairing: Violet and Marcus. If those two don’t get a spicy scene next season I’m gonna be disappointed. You hear that, Bridgerton writers? Anyway, OFF the dance floor, Eloise has had a brilliant idea: she asks Francesca if she can accompany her to Scotland. Adventure! Yay! Francesca is up for this, and thankfully, so is John, which is probably only fair since he’s also bringing a family member home with them: his cousin, Michaela.

Francesca’s reaction on seeing Michaela:

A woman freezes in panic at how attracted she is to someone off screen

This will be interesting! Cressida leaves town. Benedict tells Eloise he’ll miss her, but will see her at the family masquerade ball next year (👀). Penelope and Eloise part as friends. And, after a brief time skip, we meet THREE Featherington babies (yeah, you knew that was coming). Penelope, naturally, is the only one to have a boy, but thankfully her sisters are proud of their daughters — Phillipa even says she hopes her daughter will grow up to be a writer. We also find out that Colin’s published a book, and Pen will keep writing under her REAL name. And everyone lives happily ever after… until next season at least.

Spicy rating: 2/5. Benedict carried this show on his back this season. Bless him.

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