'Bridgerton' Season 3 Review: Nicola Coughlan Shines in a Steamier Yet Flawed Return

'Bridgerton' Season 3 Review: Nicola Coughlan Shines in a Steamier Yet Flawed Return

'Bridgerton' Season 3 Returns with Nicola Coughlan Leading the Charge

The much-anticipated third season of Netflix's 'Bridgerton' has arrived, bringing back the glittering ballrooms and intricate social entanglements fans have come to love. Touted as the season of Penelope Featherington, Nicola Coughlan steps into the spotlight, transforming what was once a supporting role into a commanding performance that carries the entire series.

Penelope Featherington Takes Center Stage

The storyline centers around Penelope Featherington's journey, who is no longer content with her wallflower status. Known to viewers as the secretive voice behind the city's most scandalous gossip rag, Lady Whistledown, Penelope is now in the spotlight for more personal reasons. She navigates the turbulent waters of the marriage market, while also juggling her clandestine career.

Coughlan's portrayal of Penelope brings a fresh vitality to the character, portraying her vulnerabilities and strengths with equal finesse. Her interactions with Colin Bridgerton, played by Luke Newton, form the crux of the season's romantic arc. Penelope's growth is traced through charming lessons from Colin aimed at enhancing her suitors' appeal, adding depth to her character beyond the clever writer she is known to be.

The Chemistry Between Penelope and Colin

Despite Coughlan's exceptional performance, the chemistry between Penelope and Colin falters. Newton's portrayal of Colin Bridgerton leaves much to be desired, failing to match Coughlan's emotional depth. Their interactions, intended to be heartwarming and transformative, often come across as lackluster and strained.

This imbalance takes away from the potential intensity of their romantic evolution. It’s a stark contrast to the sizzling romance between Daphne Bridgerton and the Duke of Hastings in the inaugural season, which set a high bar for chemistry that subsequent seasons have struggled to meet.

Season 3 Ups the Ante on Humor and Intimacy

To its credit, Season 3 does introduce a lighter tone and more prolific humor compared to the previous season. The writers have woven in witty dialogue and humorous situations that breathe new life into the series. The comedic elements enhance the viewing experience, offering moments of genuine laughter amidst the drama.

The show also attempts to reclaim the steamy allure that was noticeably absent in Season 2. The increased frequency of sex scenes and nudity aligns closer with the expectations set by the first season. However, these moments often feel manufactured rather than organically blending with the story's romantic tension. The intimate scenes lack the playful and passionate energy that made Daphne and Simon's love story memorable.

Subplots: Hit or Miss

As Penelope’s story unfolds, other characters also attempt to navigate their own predicaments. Francesca Bridgerton steps onto the social scene, presenting her debut in society with mixed reactions. However, her subplot doesn't command much attention and feels somewhat like an afterthought.

Lady Violet Bridgerton, the Bridgerton matriarch, is given a narrative exploring a second chance at love. While her storyline offers a more mature romantic perspective, it doesn't engage as profoundly as Penelope's central arc. These secondary plots, though delightful in their own right, lack the captivating magnetism to pull the audience away from the main storyline.

The Central Focus: Penelope and Colin

Ultimately, the season rests on the dynamic between Penelope and Colin. For viewers not invested in their journey, the season may seem meandering and unfocused. Coughlan’s stellar performance can only carry the narrative so far without solid support from her co-lead.

Although 'Bridgerton' Season 3 tries to rectify past missteps by injecting humor and sensuality, it doesn't entirely recapture the essence of what made the series a sensation. The moments of brilliance primarily come from Coughlan's portrayal of Penelope. Still, the uneven chemistry and forced intimacy scenes make it a mixed bag. It's an enjoyable return to the world of 'Bridgerton,' yet it leaves one yearning for the magic of the show's early days.