Bridgerton-Out of the Shadows-Review:Green with Envy

Spoilers

Dearest Gentle Reader, after a two-year absence, Bridgerton is back, and we are welcomed back into the candy-colored world of the ton. Based on Julia Quinn’s Regency-era book series, the show follows the romantic lives of the Bridgerton family, with season one marrying off oldest daughter Daphne to Simon Bassett and season two focusing on oldest brother Anthony’s enemies-to-lovers relationship with Kate Sharma. In each season, friend of the family (and best friend to Eloise) Penelope Featherington’s unrequited crush on Colin Bridgerton has been teased with it reaching an uncomfortable stage at the end of last season. Penelope overheard Colin sharing with friends his insistence that he would NEVER court her. The pain of this realization, combined with Eloise discovering Penelope’s secret of being Lady Whistledown (the original Gossip Girl), left Penelope alone and distraught. 

Bridgerton was such a revelation when it first aired. What happens if Jane Austen’s novels didn’t end with the successful courtship and followed the couple into the bedroom (or drawing room, or carriage, or library, or staircase…)? The romantic (but explicit) sex, the costumes, and the use of instrumental versions of popular songs all made for the perfect escapist show. 
Season three picks up after a summer in which; Colin returns from traveling the world; sister Francesca is preparing for her first season but is more interested in playing pianoforte; Eloise has befriended previous villain Cressida Cowper; Anthony and Kate are enjoying life as newlyweds, and Queen Charlotte is reticent to name this year’s diamond. 
Alone, without her constant companion Eloise, Penelope watched her sisters be married off leaving her to imagine a life caring for her scheming mother. After her third season of being “out” and self-declaring herself as a spinster, Penelope has decided to get out of her house and marry. Quickly. She takes matters into her own hands, visits the modiste with a determined vision (an all too short glow-up montage), and arrives at Lady Danbury’s ball as a changed woman. 
Entering the ball in a beautiful green dress that (finally!) complements her, and to an instrumental version of abcdefu by Gayle, she turns heads. The only problem is her comically bad flirting skills. Even after she abandons the citrus hues that her mother made her wear and changes her hair and make-up, she giggles and grunts through conversations with men who have suddenly discovered her. Penelope connects with Lord Debling, who seems to really see her, until Cressida steps on Penelope’s gown, causing a tear and showing that she still is a villain in this story, even if she has a soft spot for Eloise. 
“Out of the Shadows”-BRIDGERTON, Pictured: Luke Newton as Colin Bridgerton and Nicola Coughlan as Penelope Featherington. Liam Daniel/Netflix ©2024 Network. All Rights Reserved

Eloise witnesses this attempted sabotage and is horrified. Penelope escapes outside, finally confronting Colin that she overheard him talking to others about never courting her. If the season is setting up themes, a recurring one is cruel vs. kind. Both terms are used repeatedly by the characters. Penelope goes home, takes out a quill, and you just know she’s writing a devastating Lady Whistledown missive.
Later, Colin apologizes to Penelope calling her “clever and warm” but also a “good friend” (oof) and wants to return the favor of her friendship by schooling her in flirting. They shake on this arrangement, and Penelope returns to looking at Colin with starry eyes until she realizes that her latest Lady Whistledown issue pointedly wonders about the new/fake personality of Colin, the sexy world traveler. Eloise shares this issue with Colin, knowing the author’s true identity, and sees the level of disgust Colin has for Lady Whistledown, setting us one of the central tensions of the season. Even if Colin starts to fall for Penelope, how will he handle her secret identity? Is Cressida evil or misunderstood? Lady Whistledown also called out Queen Charlotte for not naming a diamond of the season and elicited a “game on” response. Has Penelope dug herself too deep a hole?
There are some other plot points of how Walter Dundas, Esq might undo Portia Featherington’s plan to have the family estate be left to her first male grandchild, newly found wealth and title bestowed upon boxer and club owner Will Mondrich and his family, and a question of if Francesca will make a match of her own. Will we see actual fireworks between Colin and Penelope because, right now, there’s not even a spark? So many questions and only four short episodes in part one of this season.

Meredith Howell
Meredith lives in Chicago where she and her husband made sure their two boys were fluent in all things pop culture. She loves talking about all things GG- Gilmore Girls, Gossip Girl, and Golden Girls and indulges in a yearly viewing of Pride and Prejudice (the Colin Firth version is the only one recognized).

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