Explaining the Steamy Ending of “Bridgerton” Season Three, Part One

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Warning: Major spoilers for Bridgerton season three lie ahead.

Are Colin Bridgerton and Penelope Featherington finally ready to step out of the friend zone? The last episode of part one of Bridgerton season three has finally answered that question—but what comes next for the lifelong confidants and new lovers?

Episode four ends on one hell of a cliffhanger, and we unfortunately have to wait until June 13 for the other half of the season to drop on Netflix. Nevertheless, gentle reader, this episode also contains plenty of steaminess and romance for viewers to brood over in the coming month. Much of this is owed to the highly anticipated carriage scene between Penelope and Colin (played by Nicola Coughlan and Luke Newton, respectively).

By now, it’s no secret that Penelope has been pining after Colin for the entirety of their friendship, which began when the two were children. Despite this, as the third season starts, she has accepted Colin’s seeming lack of romantic interest in her and is determined to marry herself off—even enlisting Colin to teach her how to attract suitors. Little does she know that their private flirting lessons together (and an unexpected kiss at the end of episode two) have ignited Colin’s own attraction to her—just as Penelope begins making headway toward an engagement with another man, Lord Debling (Sam Phillips).

The fourth episode finally brings the friends-to-lovers trope to a climax when Colin, at last understanding the depth of his feelings for Penelope, is determined to put a stop to Debling’s anticipated proposal at the ball thrown by Lord and Lady Hawkins. He interrupts the couple-to-be on the dance floor—prompting Debling to retract his proposal. As he often travels for long periods of time, the last thing Debling wants is a wife who might be swayed to engage in an affair while he’s away, he tells Penelope.

Devastated at losing her only apparent prospect for marriage, Penelope flees the ball—but she doesn’t get far before Colin stops her carriage and joins her in it.


At first, Penelope is hostile, furious with him for ruining her chances with Debling. But Colin proceeds undeterred, letting loose with a passionate confession in which admits, among other swoon-inducing lines, he has “feelings like dreaming of you when I’m asleep—in fact, preferring sleep, because that is where I might find you.” When Penelope finally manages to speak, she quietly replies, “Colin, we are friends.” Taking her response as a rejection, Colin begins to backpedal—before Penelope interjects, “But I’d very much like to be more than friends.” Way to torture the man, Pen!

At this, the two kiss … before progressing into more NSFW and NSFC (not-safe-for-carriage) activities. When they finally arrive at the Bridgerton home, bringing them back to reality, they share a deep, longing look into each other’s eyes. Colin steps out of the carriage and reaches out for Penelope to join him. “Your family will see me,” Penelope says, her voice laced with concern. Colin says, “For God’s sake, Penelope Featherington, are you going to marry me or not?”

Although Penelope doesn’t answer before the screen cuts to black, it’s probably safe to assume, based on the amazed look in her eyes, that she’s going to say yes.

Despite this happy ending to episode four, we still have four more episodes to get through before the season ends—and a knot of tangled complications the couple will have to overcome before walking down the aisle together. For one thing, there is the matter of Penelope’s fractured friendship with Colin’s younger sister, Eloise (Claudia Jessie). For another, there is the matter of Lady Whistledown, Penelope’s secret writerly alter ego, and Colin’s extreme disdain for the newsletter she produces. Time will tell how the lovers navigate these issues.

In a new interview with Bazaar, Newton talked about the carriage scene and wanting to show Colin’s “complete and utter vulnerability” for the first time. “He’s never been this honest, but also never been so passionate about anything before,” the actor said. “There’s so many twists and turns in those five minutes, which, as an actor, is the biggest gift. It was one of those crazy days of: I know I’m going to be doing intimacy, but this is also one of the most important scenes in the show, so I have to hit every beat. We worked with [director] Andrew [Ahn], who was so brilliant in bringing that out of us. We tried that scene in so many different ways. He would come over [to us individually] and say, ‘I want you to try it like this,’ and then the other actor would respond to that naturally. It felt almost like a theater rehearsal; it felt like we were just playing. I’m so proud of what the team has come up with as the final edit.”

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