Bridgerton Season 3 Part 2 review: Nicola Coughlan shines bright in the most complex and engaging season so far | Web Series - Hindustan Times

Bridgerton Season 3 Part 2 review: Nicola Coughlan shines bright in the most complex and engaging season so far

Jun 14, 2024 06:02 AM IST

Bridgerton Season 3 Part 2 returns with unexpected complexity and growth, delivering a triumph for Netflix and its heroine- Nicola Coughlan.

I am beginning to think that segmenting the third season of Bridgerton into two parts was actually a good decision. Now that we have Part 2, almost a month after Part 1 premiered on Netflix, the distance works well in processing the many swings this part takes, sometimes all at once. If Part 1 was about Penelope and Colin breaking their friend zone into a big carriage make-out session, then Part 2 clocks a whole lot more into the mix. The supporting characters emerge, there's danger incoming in the form of a social scandal, and even a threesome in the mix. The stakes are raised more than ever before, and even though not all of them pay off, there's no doubt this is the most complex and mercurial season of the ton. (Also read: Bridgerton Season 3 review: Dearest gentle reader, the wallflower finally gets to shine)

Nicola Coughlan in a still from Bridgerton Season 3.
Nicola Coughlan in a still from Bridgerton Season 3.

Part 2 begins with Colin (Luke Newton) and Penelope (Nicola Coughlan) breaking the news of their engagement to the family, even though he is yet to know about her big secret. Eloise (Claudie Jessie) threatens to tell Colin about Lady Whistledown's true identity herself if Penelope won't. So Penelope must decide her priorities straight away, does she want her own voice or does she want to save the name of the Bridgertons? This conflict is the anchor that pulls out the many supporting players in the mix.

There's Queen Charlotte (Golda Rosheuvel), who wants to win over Lady Whistledown by any means, and announces a monetary reward for anyone who would reveal the identity. There's Cressida Cowper (a scene-stealing Jessica Madsen) whose prospects are not looking good so far. Meanwhile Francesca Featherington (Hannah Dodd) is sure of her love for Lord John Stirling, the Earl of Kilmartin (Victor Alli). These arcs provide ample drive to the narrative, except for the unnecessary sizzle thrown into the mix in the form of Benedict's (Luke Thompson) growing passions. It just ends up nowhere after a point and tends to dilute the tension of the other arcs. The hottest moment of the season, however, belongs to Coughlan and Newton, who have sizzling chemistry together.

With so much story to tell, and so many twists and turns waiting to unfold, Part 2 might feel overwhelming and a tad too long. The show still manages to hold through, with superb technical aspects and a scintillating urge to entertain. Production designer Alison Gartshore's work remains a marvel, which is ably supported by John Glaser's elaborately fantastical costume design- specifically for Penelope and Queen Charlotte. The palette of this Regency-era drama thrives on richness and excess, which has finally also evolved into the narrative syntax this time around, directing its gaze on issues related to female autonomy, motherhood, beauty and privilege. The show does not conform to a number of rules, and often wrestles with fantasy; yet this season there's a pointed confrontation with existing social structures. This clash of two exclusive tendencies in Bridgerton infuse a strength and complexity that was missing in the earlier seasons.

At the heart of this lies the central relationship between Penelope and Colin. Newton gets better in the second part with his quest for truth and some common sense, but it is Nicola Coughlan who continues to dominate as the showstopper of this season. She turns so much of Penelope's anxiety, stress and pain inwards, in a performance full of nuance and intelligence. She is no more just writing about gossip, or reporting scandal. She is the scandal now. Yet how must she overcome? The scorn, the fear of isolation still remains. Will Colin understand her? Bridgerton gives its stunning heroine the required time and space, and lets her decide the next steps ahead.

Bridgerton Season 3 Part 2 is now available to stream on Netflix.

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