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regular-article-logo Friday, 19 July 2024

Bridgerton Season 3 Part II: Penelope Featherington blows the whistle on Lady Whistledown

Starring Nicola Coughlan as Penelope and Luke Newton as her love interest Colin, the final four episodes of Bridgerton Season 3 are streaming on Netflix

Sanghamitra Chatterjee Calcutta Published 14.06.24, 03:51 PM
Nicola Coughlan as Penelope Featherington

Nicola Coughlan as Penelope Featherington Instagram

After a lot of teasing, Season 3 Part II of Bridgerton cuts to the chase and zooms in on the sizzling romance between Penelope Featherington (Nicola Coughlan) and Colin Bridgerton (Luke Newton). He has proposed marriage to her; she hides a secret that could be a deal-breaker. And the final four episodes of Season 3 give us the closure we needed, with revelations and surprises.

The unmasking of Lady Whistledown

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The escalating battle between the ton’s infamous gossip columnist Lady Whistledown (voiced by Julie Andrews) and Queen Charlotte is one of the most thrilling story arcs of the season. With the author becoming the story, Lady Whistledown risks being exposed for who she really is, and subterfuge, impersonation, threats and the final revelation come together much like a mystery thriller.

Previously a wallflower, Penelope Featherington has become, over time, an acclaimed anonymous writer with the pen name of Lady Whistledown whose every column is waited for with bated breath by the members of the fashionable society. She’s been an invisible presence in the opulent balls that see women trying everything to nab the most eligible suitor and men trying to land the most lucrative marriage deal, and Penelope knows ‘Lady Whistledown represents power’.

Though she doesn’t stand a good chance in the marriage market by societal standards, Penelope is not willing to give up this power in the name of love. Her dream of being with the man she’s been in love with may finally be coming true, but Penelope is capable of providing for herself and her family and doesn’t need to limit herself to being a respectable gentleman’s wife.

Unlike what awaited most women in regency-era London, Penelope’s husband is not her ticket to social security, which makes her say to Colin, “You do not have to save me.” And she herself reveals her big little secret to a pack of stunned members of the ton when the time is right.

After a series of misunderstandings, secrets and some harmless lies in Part II, Penelope and Colin realise they are meant to stand by each other. Quite fittingly, Season 3 ends with Penelope’s name signed on the ton’s bestselling gossip sheet.

The other minor love stories and subplots

It is Colin and Penelope’s season, but the show devotes a fair amount of screen time to the other Bridgerton siblings, which makes the storyline quite endearing. Francesca Bridgerton’s (Hannah Dodd) romance with Lord Kilmartin’s (Victor Alli) proceeds with her saying ‘I love you’ without really saying ‘I love you’. Her preferred ‘slow approach’ — a term she coined to describe Lord Kilmartin’s courtship — steers clear of emphatic proclamations of one’s feelings. It is understated but no less impactful.

Anthony Bridgerton (Jonathan Bailey) and Kate Sharma announce they are expecting their first child, but Part II skips their simmering post-marriage romance and they eventually set sail to India.

Benedict Bridgerton (Luke Thompson) spends most of Part II tangled in the bedsheets with Lady Tilley Arnold (Hannah New) and her dear friend Paul Suarez. This is perhaps the first time the show (leaving aside its prequel spin-off Queen Charlotte: A Bridgerton Story) explicitly diverges from contemporary society’s heteronormativity. But Bridgerton’s racially integrated society has always been one to stomp on outdated stereotypes, and what better time to do so than the Pride Month?

The mothers of Mayfair

The mothers of the ton remain a force to be reckoned with. Queen Charlotte (Golda Rosheuvel) is as formidable as ever but reveals her softer side momentarily towards the end of Part II.

Having settled the affairs of her children, Violet Bridgerton (Ruth Gemmell) is now eager to take care of her feelings for Lord Andersen (Daniel Francis), the brother of Lady Danbury (Adjoa Andoh) who also shows us what lies behind her icy exterior.

Unlike Violet, Lady Portia Featherington (Polly Walker) is a great believer in practicality which has sometimes made it difficult for viewers to sympathise with her, but she too shows moments of tenderness as a mother determined to protect her three daughters. This time Lady Cowper (Joanna Bobin) also emerges as a strong mother figure for Cressida (Jessica Madsen), who goes to great lengths to expose Penelope.

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