Bridgerton season 3 ending explained: do Penelope and Colin stay together?

Penelope and Colin in Bridgerton season 3 ending
Penelope and Colin in Bridgerton season 3. (Image credit: Netflix)

All eight episodes of Bridgerton season 3 are finally here, and although we had a bit of a wait between part one and part two thanks to Netflix releasing the season in two halves, the whole series is now available to stream worldwide. 

This season follows the romance between Penelope Featherington and Colin Bridgerton as their friendship turns to romance... and of course, it has been far from plain sailing for the couple. 

Here is everything that happened in episode 8... 

The final episode of season 3 opens with Colin and Penelope waking up separately after Colin spent their wedding night on the sofa following their argument about Lady Whistledown. But, Penelope barely has time to think about the fact her marriage is failing before it has begun because Cressida arrives unannounced and tells Penelope that she knows she is Lady Whistledown.

Penelope and Cressida in Bridgerton season 3

Cressida blackmails Penelope.  (Image credit: Netflix)

Penelope tries to bluff her way out of the accusation, but Cressida has all the facts and blackmails Penelope, telling her that she will pay her double the Queen's reward so that she can move aboard and set up a new life for herself, otherwise, she will tell everyone that Penelope is Lady Whistledown. Portia arrives and Cressida tells her the truth about Penelope and the penny drops for Lady Featherington, leaving her stunned. 

Portia is fuming about all the cruel things Penelope has written about her sisters and about herself, telling her daughter that she has tried to claw them out of ruin, while all along someone in her own family was shaming them all. She asks if Colin knows and when Penelope says he does, Portia tells her daughter that she can't tell Colin about the blackmail, but Penelope says she won't lie to him anymore. 

Meanwhile, Queen Charlotte and Lady Danbury play a game of chess and soon the talk turns to Lady Whistledown again. Lady Danbury suggests that if the author is unmasked the fun of the game is over all too quickly, and tells the Queen that Lady Whistledown is more vulnerable than she thinks, suggesting that she has worked out who the writer is. 

While walking, Prudence and Phillipa tell their husbands they want to hold a ball before their pregnancies start showing. Their husbands are horrified, worrying about how much a ball is going to cost. 

Trying to show that there isn't any scandal in their family, Violet takes Francesca and Lord Kilmartin out for tea where they tell her that they would like a small wedding and that they plan to move to John's estate in the Scottish Highlands once they are married because it will be quiet. Violet is horrified that her daughter will be a fortnight's ride away, but tries to be happy for the couple. 

Colin Bridgerton and Penelope Featherington in Bridgerton season 3

Colin tries to talk to Cressida but makes things worse for Penelope.  (Image credit: Netflix)

At Bridgerton House Penelope and Portia arrive to tell Colin and Eloise that Cressida has been blackmailing her and is demanding £10,000 for her silence. Colin tells everyone that he will pay Cressida her blackmail money, but Penelope says there is no need because she has the money... leaving everyone shocked that she has made so much money from writing as Whistledown. 

Penelope tries to tell Colin how she wishes to deal with the situation, but he won't listen, telling her he will visit Cressida and talk to her. 

The chat seems to be going well as Colin tries to appeal to Cressida's better nature, but soon talk of a supportive family, something Cressida doesn't have, leaves Cressida cross and adamant that she wants the money. However, instead of £10,000 she now wants £20,000 and a Lady Whistledown paper clearing her name. 

Colin gets back to the Bridgerton House and tells Eloise and Penelope the bad news that he has made things worse, and agrees that they should have paid her in the first place. Colin tells them that he will lie to Benedict about why he needs the money and get him to sign off the £20,000 and he will pay Cressida. 

Meanwhile, Lady Danbury and Violet chat about Lord Anderson, where Agatha tells her friend that she doesn't need her permission if she wishes to be with her brother, Lord Anderson. She tells her that she knows she didn't ask permission when it came to her father (referencing the affair that she had with Violet's father many years ago - something that is revealed in Queen Charlotte: A Bridgerton Story) and the pair agree their friendship is too strong to let a man come between them. 

After another night on the sofa, Colin finds the letters he has kept from Penelope over the years and seems to soften towards her when he reads her words. Meanwhile, Portia is waiting for Penelope to arrive for tea when solicitor Walter Dundas arrives and he tells her that he knows the money that she lied about getting from her Aunt Petunia really came from her cousin Jack Featherington, and that he is going to have to report her. But as he goes to leave, Penelope is standing behind him and has heard everything, now knowing that her mother stole money from everyone on the ton to save their family. 

The pair argue about what has happened, but they both say that their actions have been a way of saving their family and they realize that they're more similar than either of them have admitted.

Victor Alli as John Stirling, James Duke as Minister Hughes, Hannah Dodd as Francesca Bridgerton in episode 308 of Bridgerton

John and Francesca get married.  (Image credit: Netflix)

The day of Francesca's wedding has arrived and Violet tells her that she is proud of her but is worried that she will lose her when she goes to Scotland. However they agree that she will come home and visit often, and Francesca reassures her mother that this is the right future for her. 

The wedding takes place in the Bridgerton drawing room and everyone is thrilled as Francesca and Lord Kilmartin are pronounced husband and wife, the pair are very happy and there are tears all around when John makes a very moving speech about the family he has just married into. 

Penelope steals Colin away to talk and tells him that she doesn't want him to pay Cressida off and lie to Benedict about the money when his family is so lovely. She can't bear the thought of lying to them all anymore and says there will always be something between them if they don't tell the truth. So she goes home and writes letters... one for Queen Charlotte and one to Lady Bridgerton, revealing the truth. Penelope then gets a wad of her earnings from her papers and gives them to the Featherington's housemaid, Varley. 

Meanwhile, Benedict has been enjoying his time with Lady Tilley Arnold and Paul Suarez, but it seems being a three has made Tilley jealous and when Benedict visits her that night, she tells him she wants something more serious. However, Benedict has enjoyed not being tied down to one person and tells her he isn't ready for a relationship, leaving her upset. 

Queen Charlotte in Bridgerton season 3

Queen Charlotte unmasks Lady Whistledown at last.  (Image credit: Netflix)

The Dinkworth and Finch ball is underway and Prudence and Phillipa are thrilled with the opulence of it all, convinced that their mother must have paid for the whole thing. Little do they know, it was actually Penelope with her Whistledown money... and she has a plan. 

The ball is a success, but soon there is drama when Queen Charlotte arrives and tells the band to stop playing. She takes centre stage and tells the crowd that she has received a letter from Lady Whistledown asking if she can address everyone herself and plead her case publically before asking the monarch for mercy... and soon Penelope bravely takes to the stage, leaving everyone shocked that she is Whistledown. 

Penelope nervously makes a moving speech about how she didn't think anyone would take her writing seriously at first, but the reason she wrote about them all is because she was so captivated by them. She admits to being careless about the power that Whistledown gave her and tells everyone that she is sorry about her actions. She says she is grateful to the Queen for forcing her out of her shadows and that if she is allowed to continue her writing then she promises to use her quill more responsibly. 

The Queen tells Penelope that it is good she is humble, and hints she is allowed to continue writing by exiting the ball by telling everyone 'what is life without a little gossip?'

There is stunned silence all around as everyone processes what has just happened, but as they digest all this information Varley releases the bugs that the Featherington sisters wanted at their ball, which turn out to be beautiful butterflies and everyone is delighted. 

Soon the dancing starts and everyone has a great evening while Landy Danbury tells Penelope that she suspected that she was Lady Whistledown all along and that she is looking forward to her next edition.

The Bridgerton family in Bridgerton season 3

The Bridgerton family wave Eloise and Francesca off.  (Image credit: Netflix)

Portia tells Penelope she is a wonder, and they reveal they have been working together on their plan. Penelope tells her mother that now she has been accepted as a writer she can tell the solicitor that the family money came from her earnings and not from their cousin Jack, saving the family name. 

Colin finds Penelope and thanks her for writing to his mother, who was shocked but impressed by the news. Penelope tells Colin that she wouldn't reject an annulment because she doesn't want to disgrace his family, but Colin tells her that she and Lady Whistledown are one person and that there is no separating her. He tells her that her speech was brilliant and that he is envious of her success, and that he is looking forward to spending his life loving a woman as amazing as her. 

The couple takes to the dance floor, along with Lord Anderson and Violet, who is nervous about dancing, but very happy. 

Meanwhile, Eloise asks Francesca if she would mind if she came with her to Scotland, wanting adventure in her life - after all, how can she change the world if she hasn't seen any of it?! 

As we see Cressida taken off to Wales in shame, Eloise packs up and says her goodbyes as she joins Lord Kilmartin and Francesca on their journey to the Highlands, waving goodbye to the family as they leave. 

(L to R) Harriet Cains as Philipa Featherington, Bessie Carter as Prudence Featherington in episode 308 of Bridgerton

Phillipa and Prudence both have a baby girl.  (Image credit: Netflix)

The very end of the epsiode reveals Prudence, Phillipa and Penelope have all had a baby... with Prudence and Phillipa both having girls, while it was Penelope and Colin who had a son - the next Lord featherington and heir to the family fortune. 

Meanwhile, Hyacinth arrives with the latest paper from Lady Whistledown, and as  Julie Andrews’ familiar voice plays out, it soon blends into Penelope's voice as she signs off her latest paper with her own name, now no longer writing under a secret name. Penelope then delivers the final line of the season: “Hopefully dear reader, you will stay on to enjoy them with me, as we begin this next part of our journey. Yours truly, Penelope Bridgerton.”

All episodes of Bridgerton season 3 are available on Netflix now. 

Claire Crick
Assistant Managing Editor at What To Watch

Claire is Assistant Managing Editor at What To Watch and has been a journalist for over 15 years, writing about everything from soaps and TV to beauty, entertainment, and even the Royal Family. After starting her career at a soap magazine, she ended up staying for 13 years, and over that time she’s pulled pints in the Rovers Return, sung karaoke in the Emmerdale village hall, taken a stroll around Albert Square, and visited Summer Bay Surf Club in sunny Australia. 

After learning some tricks of the trade at websites Digital Spy, Entertainment Daily, and Woman & Home, Claire landed a role at What’s On TV and writing about all things TV and film, with a particular love for Aussie soaps, Strictly Come Dancing and Bake Off

She’s interviewed everyone from June Brown — AKA Dot Cotton — to Michelle Keegan, swapped cooking tips with baking legend Mary Berry backstage at the NTAs, and danced the night away with soap stars at countless awards bashes. There’s not a lot she doesn’t know about soaps and TV and can be very handy when a soapy question comes up in a pub quiz! 

As well as all things soap-related, Claire also loves running, spa breaks, days out with her kids, and getting lost in a good book.