‘Bridgerton’ Season 3 Part 1 Finale Breakdown: That Carriage Sex Scene, Changes From the Book and the ‘Heavier Conflicts’ Set to Come in Part 2

SPOILER ALERT: This interview contains spoilers from “Old Friends,” the fourth episode of Season 3 of Netflix’s “Bridgerton.”

“For God’s sake, Penelope Featherington. Are you going to marry me or not?”

The first half of Season 3 of “Bridgerton” ends with these breathtaking words, as Colin (Luke Newton) proposes to Penelope (Nicola Coughlan). What a cliffhanger! Will Penelope say yes? Will she reveal that she’s Lady Whistledown? Could Colin be any more romantic?

Yet this moment is just one development in a half-season full of drama, deceit and Debling. Luckily, showrunner Jess Brownell gave Variety insight into the season’s biggest moments.

The carriage scene is a major turning point for Colin and Penelope. Can you discuss the writing and filming process?

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The carriage scene in the book functions a little differently. It’s the moment where Colin realizes that Penelope is Lady Whistledown, but to pay homage to that scene, we still have it functioning as a moment where Colin starts seeing Penelope differently — or at least finally announces that he is starting to see her differently. It’s also a big moment for Colin, as someone who has tried to be this cool guy who’s aloof and a man of few words. He’s been feeling the pressure of holding all that in all this season, and suddenly it all comes tumbling out in that carriage scene.

We had initially imagined it as Pen and Colin sitting side-by-side, so they were having this intimate conversation. But [director] Andrew [Ahn] had the idea of staging them across from each other, partly because it’s easier to film in a carriage on a stage, but also so that when Colin wants to get closer to express himself to Penelope, he’s required to get down on his knees. That creates a nice visual for a man who ignored this girl romantically for two seasons, to then have to be begging for her.

In the books, Colin finds out about Penelope being Lady Whistledown before they get engaged — why did you decide to change the order of things?

We’ve been watching the Lady Whistledown hunt for two seasons now. The Queen has been hot on the trail, and we just felt like it was time to take a little break from that storyline. It will become a bigger thread in the back half, but we also wanted to just focus on Penelope’s search for a husband for a moment, and allow the relationship between Colin and Penelope to develop a bit before that secret lands.

When you’re adapting the books, how are you able to toe the line between telling a fresh story for television while satisfying the series’ loyal readers?

I always try to honor the spirit and emotional journey of the book, and in the first week of the writers’ room, we always sit down and pick out the key moments of the book: The key set pieces, the key settings, the key scenes that we want to see. I would say almost all of those moments are in this season, they just might not necessarily be in the same order.

As far as how much we’re changing, it has to do with externalizing the plot. So much of a plot in a novel can be internal monologue or quieter dialogue between two characters, and we need to find ways in our grand world in which we’re very concerned with scale and being out and about in the world. We need to find ways for those plots to be externalized. For example, that’s why we came up with the charm school plot between Penelope and Colin. It’s a way to externalize some of the conversations in the book they have about confidence and popularity.

Is there one special scene or moment this season that you’re excited for fans to see?

There is a set piece in Episode 5 that I’m excited about, where we have all of our regular characters together in one plac — just them and only them. There’s a sense of organized chaos towards the end of that episode where the tension just continues ramping up, and it almost plays as a theatrical production because it’s all taking place in one room. I’m excited for fans to see that set.

What else could you tease about the upcoming second half of the season?

The back half of the season in many ways is the upside-down world of the first half. If the first half is all playful and light and very much grounded in a rom-com sensibility, as soon as we jump into the back half, you have these much heavier conflicts that come into play. This includes the fact that Penelope is hiding that she’s Lady Whistledown from Colin, and her relationship with Eloise still not being in a great place, just as she’s getting together with her brother. So the tension starts ramping up.

This interview has been edited and condsensed. The second half of “Bridgerton” Season 3 will debut on June 13 on Netflix.

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