Bridgerton Diamond Loses its Sparkle

SPOILERS AHEAD: Season three of Bridgerton gives Colin and Penelope minimal screen time, rushed dialogue and an even more rushed marriage. 2 stars.


The first two seasons of Bridgerton are spent carefully laying down the groundwork for the relationship between Colin Bridgerton (Luke Newton) and Penelope Featherington (Nicola Coughlan). After almost four years of intense buildup and back-and-forth ‘will-they-won’t-they’ moments, this progress is all undone in season three.  

Bridgerton is a Netflix original series set in Mayfair, London, during the Regency Era and based on an eight-book series written by Julia Quinn. Featuring a cast of “dearest ladies and gentlemen of the ton,” the show takes a special interest in the Bridgerton family, one of the larger and more financially endowed families of the region. 

There are eight children in the Brigderton family: Anthony, Benedict, Colin, Daphne, Eloise, Francesa, Gregory, and Hyacinth—conveniently, they are named alphabetically!

Each season follows a different sibling: in season one, viewers watch Daphne Bridgerton (Phoebe Dynevor) ‘fake-date’ and, at the end, fall in love with Simon Basset (Regé-Jean). In season two, viewers are swept up in the whirlwind, ‘enemies-to-lovers’ romance between Anthony Brigderton (Johnathan Bailey) and Kate Sharma (Simone Ashley). The most recent season follows the ‘friends-to-lovers’ romance that has been blossoming between Colin Brigerton (Luke Newton) and Penelope Feathering (Nicola Coughlan) since the beginning. 

Unlike the first two seasons, this season was released in two parts. The first four episodes were released on June 13th, and the other four were released on June 16th. 

At the start of season three, Penelope Feathering is, in her own words, “a wall-flower”. This season will be her third year on the “marriage market” (yes that is the actual term). Time and time again we see her standing suitor-less against the wall at extravagant balls, with her dance card as empty as her marriage prospects. Yet, it is only because she is unnoticed that she is able to secretly write a gossip column, dredging up the private scandals and hushed secrets that the elite families have tried to hide. Penelope Featherington is a multi-faceted character; she is witty, insecure and mysterious. 

And as for Colin Brigderton…well, he’s there too. 

There’s not really a lot to say about him, positive or otherwise. After returning home to London after his gap year (sorry, gap yar), he is portrayed as a man of great mystery, whose worldview and sense of personal identity have been profoundly altered. But we never see this transformation fully play out. 

By the start of the second part, it feels as if the writers have stopped caring about his storyline so that, by the end of the series, his character is essentially vapid. This wouldn’t have been such a problem if Colin and Penelope’s relationship wasn’t meant to be the focal point of season three. But, Colin and Penelope – or ‘Polin’, as they are often referred to by fans – were meant to finally get their happily-ever-after in this season. Audiences were sold the idea that Colin would be the one to bring Penelope away from the wall and into the centre of the dancefloor.

Sadly, the story of these two long-time friends falling in love was sidelined by other plot points, such as Cressida Cowper’s ultimately futile attempt to find a husband and Benedict Bridgerton’s romantic endeavours. These albeit important side-stories meant that less time was devoted to capturing the slow-burn relationship between Colin and Penelope that viewers had been waiting for.

The jump from friends to romantic partners felt very sudden, even by 19th-century dating standards, to the point that it was unrealistic. In the past, Colin didn’t seem to reciprocate any of Penelope’s romantic feelings. There was no big romantic spark between them until episode two where, in a moment of desperation, Penelope asked Colin to kiss her so she would know what it was like, saying “I do not wish to die tomorrow without ever having been kissed”. 

They had one kiss together, and that was it! Colin quickly became infatuated with her, confessing his fully-formed unrequited love for her just two episodes later. Colin’s formal proposal (and the infamous carriage scene) followed swiftly after, all within the first part of the series. 

This left the second part feeling quite redundant and the season as a whole feeling quite rushed. This is primarily due to the fact that this season involved so many side stories and diverging subplots which took time away from exploring Colin and Penelope’s relationship. 

As a result, viewers are left feeling very distant from the couple, Colin especially. His lack of involvement in this season’s goings-on meant that viewers weren’t as invested in his character as they were in earlier seasons. 

When Colin did eventually find out about Penelope’s gossip column in the second part, his response was simply not to talk to her. The viewers have known about Penelope’s secret since the end of season one and would have expected Colin to react explosively to this news. It almost seemed that the writers gave him a bland, somewhat anti-climatic reaction to avoid taking time away from the other subplots. By the time their wedding rolled around in the final episode, we didn’t really know Colin any better than we did in episode one. 

Justice for Colin Brigderton – the man who was sensitive and kind in season two, deserved to be more than just Penelope’s love interest in season three.  

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