Bridgerton season 3 episode 1 recap: Colin's new look has everyone shook

Plus, Penelope's Reputation era begins as Lady Whistledown throws down the gauntlet.
Bridgerton. (L to R) Luke Newton as Colin Bridgerton, Jonathan Bailey as Anthony Bridgerton, Simone Ashley as Kate Sharma, Will Tilston as Gregory Bridgerton, Luke Thompson as Benedict Bridgerton, Claudia Jessie as Eloise Bridgerton in episode 301 of Bridgerton. Cr. Liam Daniel/Netflix © 2024
Bridgerton. (L to R) Luke Newton as Colin Bridgerton, Jonathan Bailey as Anthony Bridgerton, Simone Ashley as Kate Sharma, Will Tilston as Gregory Bridgerton, Luke Thompson as Benedict Bridgerton, Claudia Jessie as Eloise Bridgerton in episode 301 of Bridgerton. Cr. Liam Daniel/Netflix © 2024 /

Warning: Spoilers ahead from Bridgerton season 3 episode 1.

Bridgerton is back! The first part of season 3 premiered on May 16, and it's officially time for Polin to shine! The fan-favorite couple take the lead from Anthony and Kate for the hit Netflix show's long-time-coming third season, and they were more than worth the wait. The new season starts with a bang and a very tongue-in-cheek nod to the audience.

"Dearest Gentle Reader," Julie Andrew narrates as Lady Whistledown in the season's opening scene. "We have been apart for far too long." You don't say! It's been over two years since the last season of Bridgerton dropped on Netflix, but in the series, a few months have past. As it turns out, those months away worked wonders on our guy Colin Bridgerton.

While Whistledown's social season preview has everyone taking in the gossip on the new debuts, the Bridgerton family prepares Francesca (now played by Hannah Dodd) for her debut in society. However, she's rebelling in a way that's different from Eloise. She's constantly sat behind the piano, this time playing the funeral march. Stand your ground, girl.

Colin's return sure makes him the prize

Beyond his sister's resistance to entering society, Colin marches home from his travels a new man. He looks matured, holds himself differently, appears to have changed for the better, and it's got all of the ton's eligible bachelorettes looking his way and his family absolutely beside themselves. Penelope watches their reunion from across the street, and... does Colin spot her peeking from behind the tree? Well, he gives no real indication.

During a carriage ride (no, not THAT carriage ride yet... be patient!) with his brothers, Colin changes his shirt, and his new "sturdy" physique raises their eyebrows. They press for details on his "adventures," but he's tight-lipped. All he says is that his time away was what he needed and that it's given him a "sense of proportion." Whatever that means.

Francesca makes her debut in front of Queen Charlotte, though the queen doesn't seem too enthused with the latest Bridgerton. Rather, on the sidelines, it's Colin who's catching the eyes of all the girls (can you blame them?), and it's attention he's very much eating up. That wink! Oh, yeah, he's going to enjoy himself this season. He later tells a group of adoring women that he's not in search of a wife, but he will "expect the unexpected."

Bridgerton. Nicola Coughlan as Penelope Featherington in episode 301 of Bridgerton. Cr. Liam Daniel/Netflix © 2024 /

Penelope enters her Reputation era

In the Featherington manor, Penelope sits by the window reading a book while her sisters and their husbands talk about whose wedding was better. When she defends their Aunt Petunia from a stray shot, her sisters insinuate that Penelope's a "tiresome spinster" with her nose in a book like Petunia. Rude. I don't know about you guys, but I'm on team Leave Penelope Alone.

During a party, Penelope and Eloise come face to face. They don't say anything to each other, but Eloise stops Cressida Cowper short of delivering the punchline of her targeted remark toward Penelope. Even with all the weirdness between them, Eloise clearly doesn't want to see her former best friend hurt. But hanging out with Cressida?!

Doing her due Lady Whistledown diligence, Penelope has her eyes on everyone during the garden gathering. But being a wallflower and staying in the background allows for Colin stop with his flirting and have a talk with her alone. He tries to chat with her like old times, but she walks away from him and he doesn't understand why she's being so short with him.

After a spat with her family about heirs and the future, she's fed up with being looked upon as no one. She plans a rebranding with the modiste, Genevieve Delacroix, which entails new clothes that aren't bright and floral and a new hairdo in order to find a husband. She remarks that she's taking inspiration from Paris, which Colin mentioned during their talk. New year, new Penelope! Look what you made her do.

Eloise and Penelope finally speak

Unexpectedly, Eloise and Penelope come face to face again at the modiste, but they can't run away from each other in such close quarters. Eloise isn't particularly open to what Penelope has to say. She believes Penelope has been avoiding her so she doesn't spill her Lady Whistledown secret. Penelope attempts an apology, but Eloise's rebuttal asks whether it's genuine or because she got caught.

Well, the apology doesn't go well. Eloise doesn't accept and rather decides she's just done. Kind of like Lauren and Heidi's feud in The Hills. "You know what you did!" "I wanna forgive you, and I wanna forget you." It's very that. But the encounter pushes Penelope further into her Reputation era.

For Lady Danbury's ball, Penelope debuts her new look. Everyone stops and stares at Penelope, including Cressida and Eloise, whose jaws were pretty much on the floor. Penelope isn't here to play games! She drew the cat eye sharp enough to kill a man! She caught Colin's attention, too, so mission accomplished. But deep down, she did this for herself.

Bridgerton. Nicola Coughlan as Penelope Featherington in episode 301 of Bridgerton. Cr. Laurence Cendrowicz/Netflix © 2024 /

As Penelope learns, gaining confidence isn't as easy as changing your clothes and hair. Her new look draws attention from potential suitors, but they walk away from her after talking for a few seconds, leaving her feeling anxious. Ironically, Francesca walks away from unwanted attention that overwhelms her. She and Penelope talk and relate to being different from their siblings. Penelope notes that Francesca is rare for not wanting to attract notice.

Lord Debling speaks with Penelope and does whatever the Regency version of hitting on her is, and she's bewildered. Not one minute after Francesca gives her hope, she receives deserved attention. However, Cressida Cowper ruins that by intentionally stepping on and ripping her new dress. Penelope looks at Eloise with hurt and disgust. How could her former best friend be friends with bullies? How could she not defend Pen? Rep era intensifies!

Colin notices Penelope running out of the ball and stops her outside as she waits for her carriage. He calls her dress charming and asks if she's okay, but she tells him not to mock her. That's not his intention, but she's in no mood. When he says he misses her, she finally lets him have it, revealing she overheard what he said last season. She returns home and lets the quill do the talking in her latest newsletter. Buckle up, Colin.

Bridgerton. (L to R) Luke Newton as Colin Bridgerton, Nicola Coughlan as Penelope Featherington in episode 301 of Bridgerton. Cr. Liam Daniel/Netflix © 2024 /

Colin offers to She's All That with Penelope

The next day, Colin visits Penelope and he apologizes for what he said last season and for hurting her. He assures her that he has changed (yeah, that's what they all say, Colin!) and that he isn't ashamed of her. Of course, he gives her all kinds of compliments and friend zones her, but he also doesn't get that's kind of what she's sick of: being taken for granted.

She expresses her frustration at watching him waltz back in with his new muscles and swagger and finding everything so easy, but for her, it's not as simple as a makeover. To make it up to her, Colin offers to help her find a husband by teaching her his ways of charm. He wants to show her he cares about her and prove their friendship. Okay, Colin, the actions are speaking louder than words.

They shake on being friends, and it's in that moment that she feels relief but also a sense of dread knowing what she wrote about him as Lady Whistledown. While also calling out Queen Charlotte for not choosing a diamond of the season, Penelope also wrote that Colin's change in personality is nothing more than "a plot for attention." Penelope regrets what she wrote, but Colin vows to never forgive Whistledown and ruin her life. Funny story, Colin...

Bridgerton. (L to R) Simone Ashley as Kate Sharma, Jonathan Bailey as Anthony Bridgerton in episode 301 of Bridgerton. Cr. Liam Daniel/Netflix © 2023 /

Notes from the ton:

  • Since parting ways with Penelope, Eloise has taken up a friendship with Cressida Cowper, and it's kind of cursed, I'm not going to lie. While still very much resistant to the whole society thing, Eloise is playing nice and wearing ruffles. Thankfully, Eloise later confronts Cressida about what she did to Penelope.
  • Portia relishes in her family having the outward facing semblance of having it all together, with two of her daughters being married and their finances being stable. But it all hinges on the veneer of Aunt Petunia leaving them money. (She did not.) Portia defends her family, saying their estate was left to her daughters as soon as they produce an heir. Dundas visits Portia delivering a checkmate. She needs a male heir soon or they will lose their home.
  • Violet promises Kate that she will move into a dower house since she's no longer the viscountess, but Kate assures her there's no rush.
  • Will and Alice Mondrich learn that their son Nicholas has become the Baron of Kent after the passing of her great-aunt Lady Kent. He's the closest male heir, and she's left him everything. Suddenly, the former boxer and bar owner's family is of title.
  • Anthony and Kate have the steamy love scene of the episode! It's her first week as viscountess in her new home and she's feeling the pressure for Lady Danbury's ball. They decide to extend their honeymoon to produce an heir.

Keep up with us here at Netflix Life for all of our Bridgerton season 3 recaps. You can watch all four episodes of part 1 right now on Netflix!

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