Bridgerton Season 3: Unleashing the Most Radical Departures Netflix Forged from the Books

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Introduction

Bridgerton

Dear gentle reader, season three of Bridgerton is finally upon us—well, the first half, anyway. The first four episodes premiered on Netflix on May 16, with part two set to drop on June 13. After over two years of anticipation, fans are reunited with Lady Whistledown (voiced by Julie Andrews) and the beloved Bridgerton family. This season, we witness the blossoming love story between Colin Bridgerton (Luke Newton) and Penelope Featherington (Nicola Coughlan), affectionately known as Polin, after years of enduring friendship.

The new season picks up just months after the events of season two, where eldest Bridgerton brother Anthony (Jonathan Bailey) resolved his romantic entanglements with Kate Sharma (Simone Ashley). Departing from Julia Quinn’s original timeline in Romancing Mister Bridgerton, the show sets a new pace. Penelope, at 19, decides to transform her appearance and social skills with Colin’s help, aiming to shed her wallflower image. As their dynamic evolves, secrets unfold and feelings intensify, promising an engaging and heartfelt continuation of their story.

From Book to Screen: Major Timeline Adjustments

When we last left the Bridgertons in season two, eldest brother Anthony (Jonathan Bailey) was entangled in a love triangle, choosing between sisters Kate Sharma (Simone Ashley) and Edwina Sharma (Charithra Chandran). As in Julia Quinn’s second book, The Viscount Who Loved Me, Kate ultimately won his heart, and viewers celebrated Kanthony’s happy ending. However, season three deviates from the sequence of the books, skipping book three, An Offer From a Gentleman, and instead adapting the fourth book, Romancing Mister Bridgerton.

A significant change in the adaptation is the timeline. While the book is set in 1824, ten years after Anthony and Kate’s marriage, the show picks up just a few months after the events of season two. Another major alteration is the revelation of Lady Whistledown’s identity. In the book, no one, including the reader, knows that Penelope is Lady Whistledown until much later. In contrast, Netflix viewers were privy to this secret from the very first season, adding a layer of dramatic irony as the story unfolds. These changes set the stage for a fresh yet familiar narrative in the latest season.

Penelope Featherington’s Transformation

In Netflix’s version, Penelope Featherington emerges as the heroine, deciding at 19 to reinvent herself to escape her wallflower image and attract a husband. She ditches the yellows and oranges of the first two seasons for more flattering colors, often seen in Bridgerton blue. With Colin Bridgerton’s help, whom she’s secretly loved for years, she hones her flirting skills.

In contrast, book Penelope in Romancing Mister Bridgerton is 28 and considered an old maid. Her fashion transformation is less about attracting a husband and more about gaining freedom after her mother stops pressuring her to marry. Although book Penelope is anxious about her future with her overbearing mother, this anxiety doesn’t drive her to seek a husband. The show’s portrayal of Penelope’s transformation and motivations offers a youthful and proactive twist on her character.

Lady Whistledown’s Secret

Another major difference is the reveal of Lady Whistledown’s identity. In the book, no one—not even the reader—knows that Penelope is the infamous town gossip at the beginning of Romancing Mister Bridgerton. This secret is only unveiled about halfway through the fourth book. In contrast, Netflix viewers discovered Penelope’s double life as Lady Whistledown at the end of the first season. This early reveal on the show adds an intriguing layer to her character and creates a dynamic tension, as viewers watch how she navigates her secret while managing her personal and romantic aspirations. This narrative choice significantly alters the storyline, providing a different perspective on Penelope’s actions and relationships from the outset.

Colin Bridgerton’s Journey

Bridgerton

Colin Bridgerton is our dashing young suitor in season three, but his character’s journey differs significantly between the book and the show. In the book, Colin is 33 years old and has spent many years traveling extensively, which keeps him away from home for long periods. This prolonged absence contrasts with the show, where his travels span just a few months. In the book, Colin also grapples with finding his purpose in life, a struggle that is downplayed in the series.

Despite these differences, both versions share a key plotline: Colin’s growing attraction to Penelope Featherington. Throughout the book, Colin begins to appreciate Penelope’s kindness, humor, and beauty—qualities he and the rest of the ton had previously overlooked. This gradual realization mirrors his journey in the Netflix series, where he starts seeing Penelope in a new light, marveling at her hidden strengths and charm. The show and the book both capture the evolving dynamics of their relationship, highlighting Colin’s increasing admiration for Penelope and setting the stage for their romantic development.

The Moment Colin Falls for Penelope

In both the book and the show, emotions between Colin and Penelope intensify when she “accidentally on purpose” reads his travel diaries. In the book, Penelope is visiting the Bridgertons because she remains best friends with Eloise Bridgerton. On the show, however, Penelope is at the Bridgerton house in episode two for private flirting lessons with Colin.

A pivotal moment in both versions occurs when Colin cuts his hand. In the book, this happens with a letter opener, while in the show, it’s due to a broken candle holder. As Penelope tends to his injury, wrapping his hand, Colin starts to see her in a new light. This intimate moment becomes a turning point for Colin, as he begins to notice Penelope’s inner qualities and beauty. The scene, rich with tension and newfound awareness, sets the stage for the deepening of their relationship, highlighting the subtle yet significant shift in Colin’s perception of Penelope.

Their First Kiss

For Polin, the first kiss in both the book and the show occurs when Penelope takes a bold step and directly asks Colin to kiss her, stating she’ll live her life having never been kissed if he doesn’t. On the show, this pivotal moment happens at the end of episode two, following the dramatic revelation to the ton that Penelope sought Colin’s assistance in finding a suitor. This public disclosure adds an extra layer of urgency and emotion to their kiss, marking a significant shift in their relationship.

In contrast, the book stages their first kiss in the Featherington drawing room. Here, Colin visits Penelope to share his distress over mistakenly believing his sister Eloise is Lady Whistledown. This private and tense conversation culminates in Penelope’s heartfelt request for a kiss, leading to a moment of vulnerability and connection between them.

Both versions capture the intensity and significance of their first kiss, though the circumstances differ. The show’s public setting contrasts with the book’s private intimacy, each reflecting the unique narrative approaches of the screen adaptation and the original novel.

Francesca Bridgerton’s Storyline

Francesca Bridgerton (Hannah Dodd) is often considered the forgotten Bridgerton child, not due to a lack of family love, but because, much like on the show, she is the sixth sibling who prefers quiet and calm. In the book series, it’s casually mentioned that Francesca found her husband seven years prior to the events involving Penelope and Colin. However, executive producer Shonda Rhimes and her team have taken a different approach for the show.

In season three, they have decided to intertwine Francesca’s storyline with those of Colin and Benedict Bridgerton (Luke Thompson), all searching for love simultaneously. This creative decision brings Francesca more into the spotlight, allowing viewers to see her journey and personality more clearly. By combining these plotlines, the show enriches the narrative, providing a broader exploration of the Bridgerton siblings’ romantic endeavors. This approach ensures that Francesca, along with Colin and Benedict, receives ample attention, enhancing the complexity and depth of their characters as they navigate their quests for love.

Benedict’s Journey

Viewers of the show might be surprised to learn that in the books, by the time Colin and Penelope get together, Benedict Bridgerton has already been married for seven years and has established himself as a successful artist. In the third book, An Offer From a Gentleman, which the series has yet to adapt, Benedict’s love story is fully explored.

However, on the show, Benedict’s journey is quite different. He is still trying to find his way in life as the second Bridgerton son. Instead of settling down, he is avoiding marriage and engaging in a romance with a sassy widow, Lady Tilley Arnold (Hannah New). This divergence from the books creates a more extended character arc for Benedict, adding layers to his personal and professional development.

As Benedict grapples with his identity and aspirations, viewers will have to wait and see how his storyline unfolds in the second part of season three or in a potential fourth season. This ongoing evolution keeps fans intrigued about Benedict’s future and whether he will eventually follow his book counterpart’s path to love and artistic success.

Eloise’s New Friendship

Eloise’s storyline takes a significant turn in the show, diverging from the books where she remains friends with Penelope. Instead, Eloise severs ties with Penelope after discovering her secret identity as Lady Whistledown. This revelation reshapes their relationship dynamics, leading Eloise to form a close bond with Cressida Cowper, the ton’s prominent bully, following a shared experience in the countryside. Unlike her on-screen counterpart, book Eloise is also 28 years old, having turned down six marriage proposals. Throughout Romancing Mister Bridgerton, subtle hints at Eloise’s future are scattered, with her character arc fully explored in book five, To Sir Phillip, With Love.

This departure from the source material adds depth to Eloise’s character, highlighting her independence and determination to forge her own path. By aligning with Cressida, Eloise finds companionship amidst societal expectations, showcasing her resilience and growth. The show’s exploration of Eloise’s journey offers a fresh perspective, presenting nuanced relationships and aspirations beyond the confines of traditional romance.

Penelope’s Almost Fiancé and the Balloon Event

Bridgerton

Lord Debling, the nature-obsessed suitor, is a unique addition to the show, serving as the latest eligible bachelor captivating the ton’s attention. Created exclusively for the series, his character primarily functions as a catalyst, propelling Penelope out of her shell and playing a crucial role in bringing Colin and Penelope together. While his presence adds intrigue and momentum to the storyline, particularly in orchestrating pivotal moments, such as Colin’s heroic act to save Penelope’s life with Lord Debling’s assistance, the balloon event and the ensuing awkward conversation about birds were fabricated solely for the show’s narrative.

Despite being a fictional creation, Lord Debling’s influence on the characters’ development and the progression of their relationships is evident. His role in the unfolding drama underscores the show’s inventive approach to storytelling, infusing elements of romance and intrigue to captivate audiences. While Lord Debling may not have a counterpart in the books, his impact on the dynamics between Colin, Penelope, and the broader Bridgerton family adds depth and complexity to the adaptation.

Penelope’s Almost Fiancé and the Balloon Event

Lord Debling, the nature enthusiast, emerges as the newest eligible bachelor in the ton this season, capturing the attention of Cressida Cowper. His character, exclusive to the show, serves primarily as a plot device, facilitating Penelope’s transformation and catalyzing the eventual union of Colin and Penelope. While he lacks a counterpart in the books, Lord Debling’s role in nudging Penelope out of her shell and orchestrating key events underscores the show’s narrative innovation.

Despite his fabricated origin, Lord Debling contributes significantly to the storyline’s momentum, particularly in moments like Colin’s daring rescue of Penelope, with Lord Debling’s assistance. However, the balloon event and the ensuing awkward bird-themed conversation are inventions of the show, adding a whimsical touch to the narrative.

Although Lord Debling may not be grounded in literary source material, his impact on character development and relationship dynamics is palpable. His inclusion exemplifies the show’s ability to infuse fresh elements into the story, enhancing intrigue and entertainment while remaining faithful to the essence of the Bridgerton universe.

Violet Bridgerton’s Potential Romance

One of the most significant departures for the Featherington family in the show involves the absence of Felicity, their fourth daughter, who shares a close bond with Penelope and is Hyacinth Bridgerton’s best friend. In the books, Mrs. Featherington views Felicity as her last hope for securing a prestigious match, even entertaining the idea of a union with Colin Bridgerton. However, the show opts to exclude Felicity altogether, altering the family dynamic.

Moreover, the show introduces Prudence and Phillippa Featherington’s storylines, which diverge from their literary counterparts. In the show, they engage in a competition to bear a male heir and continue the Featherington lineage, a subplot absent in the books. Additionally, their marriages differ: Prudence weds Harry Dankworth, while in the books, she is married to Robert Huxley. Phillippa’s marriage to Albion Finch in the show contrasts with her union with Nigel Berbrooke in the books.

These alterations reflect the show’s willingness to deviate from the source material to create new narratives and character arcs. While maintaining the essence of the Featheringtons, these changes inject fresh dynamics into their familial relationships and individual journeys, enriching the overall storyline of Bridgerton’s adaptation.

Younger Bridgerton Siblings

In the fourth Bridgerton novel, Hyacinth and Gregory, the youngest siblings, are notably older, with Hyacinth experiencing her debut season and Gregory completing his studies at Cambridge University. However, in the show, they remain in the background as their older siblings take center stage. Despite their limited presence, future seasons may delve into their storylines, as Hyacinth’s romantic journey unfolds in book seven, “It’s in His Kiss,” and Gregory’s in book eight, “On the Way to the Wedding.” While the show initially focuses on the elder Bridgertons’ dramas, there is potential for Hyacinth and Gregory to play more significant roles in subsequent seasons, offering viewers a deeper exploration of their characters and relationships.

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