Bridgerton Recap: Midseason Wraps Up With A Deliciously Slow Build of Tension

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This season of Bridgerton shows the characters wrestling with old misconceptions, inconvenient new emotions, and even a hot air balloon.

Bridgerton Season 3 Episode 3 seems to pick up right where Episode 2 left off, with Colin Bridgerton standing once again in Penelope Featherington's nighttime garden.

This time, though, it is he who speaks first, confessing that he has been consumed by their first kiss and cannot rest without another.

Unfortunately, it's just a dream; Colin wakes from a sweat-drenched sleep in an empty bed.

Penelope & Lord Debling Bridgerton Horizontal

There is still excitement to be had in the waking world, though. Preparations are underway for a hot air balloon exhibition that most of the ton will attend.

Before all of that commences, Penelope is surprised by a morning visit from Eloise, who wishes to apologize for her part in the rumor about Colin and Pen getting out.

Pen says there's nothing to forgive and invites Eloise to stay for a bit, but she says she's meeting a friend, who we all know is Cressida Cowper.

Eloise & Cressida Vertical - Bridgerton

Pen is also on her way to meet a friend, Colin, under the romantic fronds of a willow tree that shields them from the eyes of casual strollers.

After some truly charming bumbling chitchat between the two, Penelope gets right to business.

Penelope: We cannot continue our lessons.
Colin: Oh. Uh, I agree. Yes...
Penelope: Good.
Colin. Hm. Uh, just so I am clear, what is your reasoning, exactly?

Pen assures him it is not because of their kiss the other night.

She is still being snubbed by the ton and doesn't want Colin and the Bridgertons to be negatively affected by association.

Colin reluctantly agrees and wishes her well in her search for a husband.

Penelope's unfounded optimism is rewarded at the next gathering, where she chats with Lord Debling at length.

Their banter is witty and self-deprecating, a perfect match. It almost makes one think he might be a better choice for Pen than Colin.

The esteemed Ladies Bridgerton and Danbury continue their machinations in service of Francesca's marriage prospects.

Cressida decides on a marriage prospect of her own: Lord Debling.

Eloise gently asks if he is not who Penelope is pursuing, and Cressida says, so what? (or something to that effect).

She is determined to learn about exotic birds and bag herself a naturalist.

Lord Debling Library Vertical - Bridgerton

The Featherington sisters continue their quest to create an heir, aided by Varley's noxious home concoction said to ensure male babies.

They will never know if it works, though, because they can't keep the potion down.

Balloon Day arrives! It's a bit windy, but there's a good turnout down by the water where the balloon is tethered.

The balloon engineer gives a scientific talk in a tent, where Benedict ducks in to avoid some mamas with their eligible daughters.

His sexist scoffing both antagonizes and intrigues the formidable Lady Tilley Arnold, a no-nonsense and beautiful free thinker.

Colin and Penelope are able to speak for a bit in the confectioner's tent. She confesses her interest in Lord Debling and thinks he may return it.

She buys a cupcake and licks frosting from her fingers.

Colin is mesmerized.

Colin Pink Sugar Headshot Vertical - Bridgerton

The Queen uses the event to introduce Francesca to a titled suitor of her choice. I

ndeed, much of the crowd seems intent on pursuing their own matches.

Lord Debling speaks with Cressida and Penelope, who each try to keep his full attention. Eloise supports Cressida but glances apologetically at Pen.

The wind picks up, rattling ropes and tent flaps.

The balloon is taken aloft by the wind and its heavy basket threatens to directly hit Penelope, who trips while running out of its way.

Colin grasps a rope and enlists some other men to help pull the balloon back to the platform right as Lord Debling shields Pen with his own body.

The glow from Pen's rescue does not last long, as Cressida fakes an ankle injury to draw Lord Debling away from her.

Penelope Pink Sugar Vertical - Bridgerton

Later, at the next ball, Lady Bridgerton smiles at a handsome man who retrieves her dropped glove; could this lead to something?

Francesca looks lovely and rejects suitors, as she seems to do at every ball. Well, at this one, she also goes outside and meets a kindred spirit who dislikes crowds.

Penelope intercepts Lord Debling at the lemonade table, where he is getting a glass for Miss Cowper. Pen decides to be honest with him.

The person I was earlier today...
I was pretending to be someone I am not.
And I do not wish to do that anymore.


This seems to work, for Lord Debling gives Miss Cowper's glass of lemonade to Penelope. He even asks Pen to dance just as Colin is about to declare his feelings for her.

Penelope & Lord Debling Dancing Vertical - Bridgerton

And thus begins Lord Debling's courtship of Penelope!

He even braves calling on her at home, with her mother and sisters in attendance and survives.

Francesca is being courted by Lord Samadani (the Queen's choice) and Lord Kilmartin (the man she met outside the ball), but there is no tension in this love triangle because none of them seem remotely interested in the other as either a lover or a rival.

The next social event is the opening of Lord Fuller's library collection. Lady Featherington tells Pen to stop reading and prepare to focus entirely on Lord Debling when he arrives.

Mama, we are in a library.
For once you must allow me to look at a book.


In the beautiful, sun-drenched room lined with books, Penelope and Lord Debling share thinly veiled banter that suggests a proposal.

Pen seems... happy?

Across the room, Colin Bridgerton is NOT happy at the sight of Pen laughing with another man. He decides to go out with the boys that night for some revelry.

They drink at Mondrich's club, and as his friends swap tales of debauchery, Colin dares to question what they are all doing with these tawdry exploits that are more expected than pleasurable.

They laugh at him and continue drinking.

Colin Profile Loose Collar Vertical - Bridgerton

The next day, Lord Debling asks Lady Featherington for permission to ask Penelope to marry.

When Pen seems less than thrilled at the news, her mother urges her to accept this very good match and not hold out for love.

A supremely hungover Colin awakes as his mother is preparing to leave for the night's ball.

He asks to beg off, saying he just wants to stay home and rest. Lady Bridgerton affects an innocent shrug on her way out.

It is only a shame... that you might miss the fruits of your labors.
I hear Penelope may be getting a proposal tonight.

Lady Bridgerton

The ball is a dimly lit cauldron of emotions and activity. A sensual ballet duet opens the festivities, its vision of romantic happiness almost bringing Penelope to tears.

Lady Bridgerton chats and flirts with her glove rescuer of the previous ball, a charming man who turns out to be Lady Danbury's estranged brother.

The married sisters Featherington are pregnant!

Penelope dances with Lord Debling and asks if he envisions their ever coming to love each other instead of just being a practical match.

He says his heart is already full with work that he loves, but... maybe? It's good that she has her own full life, though, just in case.

Then Colin interrupts them and starts dancing with Penelope.

He tries to dissuade her from marrying Debling, but Penelope says she's made up her mind.

Colin Dreamy Glass Vertical - Bridgerton

Meanwhile, Lord Debling is finishing the dance with Cressida, who lets slip that the Bridgerton house is directly across from Pen's favorite window seat in the Featherington house.

Debling puts two and two together and gracefully bows out of his courtship of Penelope.

Distraught at Lord Debling's rejection, Pen rushes out to a carriage.

Colin runs after the moving vehicle, pounding on its door to stop. He asks if Lord Debling proposed, and Penelope says he did not because he suspected that Colin had feelings for her.

Colin says, what if he did have feelings for her? Pen doesn't believe him, but he persists.

I have spent so long trying to feel less, trying to be the kind of man society expects me to be.
And for a moment, I thought I had succeeded.


Penelope agrees that she wants to be more than friends, and they kiss. Then they kiss some more, and... the carriage COMBUSTS. Not really, but it might as well have; this scene is so hot.

Colin and Pen are startled when their carriage pulls up in front of the Bridgerton house. Are they back already?

Time seems to have shifted in every direction but forward.

Colin gets out and extends a hand for Pen.

She doesn't understand, fearing his family will see her at this hour. Colin then asks her to marry him.

Colin Bridgerton Gallant Horizontal

I wonder what she said!

The episode ends with Pen smiling and getting out of the carriage with him.

And that's all we get for a whole other month!

How do you plan to handle the wait?

Paullette Gaudet is a staff writer for TV Fanatic. You can follow her on X.

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Bridgerton Quotes

My stories from abroad are not suitable for such tender young ladies.
Were I to tell you even the tiniest adventure, well,
I'd be forced to marry you.


To live at the whim of either the most cruel or the most simple person I know...
I must take a husband before that happens.
It is time.