Bridgerton season 3 episode 5 recap: Lady Whistledown is unmasked — but there's a twist

Colin Bridgerton and Penelope Featherington in Bridgerton season 3 episode 5
Colin Bridgerton and Penelope Featherington 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 season 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. But while they finally got together at the end of part one, there is still the looming secret of Lady Whistledown threatening to shatter their happiness... 

Ruth Gemmell as Lady Violet Bridgerton, Nicola Coughlan as Penelope Featherington in episode 305 of Bridgerton

Ruth Gemmell as Lady Violet Bridgerton and Nicola Coughlan as Penelope Featherington. (Image credit: Netflix)

Episode five picks up exactly where the fourth episode ended, with Colin and Penelope arriving at the Bridgerton house after that steamy carriage ride home from a ball. Penelope, who is still trying to regain her composure from what has just happened on the journey home, looks completely overwhelmed by everything. However, she has clearly accepted Colin's proposal because the pair head in to tell his family their happy news. 

Everyone is thrilled, with Violet Bridgerton giving the couple her blessing in a heartbeat. But as the whole family celebrates, there is one person not happy about the news and that is, of course, Eloise, who makes her excuses and leaves. 

Penelope follows her former friend and the pair argue in the hallway about the fact Colin and Penelope's engagement is based on a lie, with Eloise telling her 'Until he knows the real you, he cannot possibly love you' (she does, as usual, have a very valid point!) and Penelope promises to tell Colin that she is Whistledown, but is waiting for the right time to break the news. 

Of course, it is only fitting that everyone should find out the news of Penelope's engagement through a Lady Whistledown paper, which Penelope has apparently gone home that evening to write. The news spreads around the ton the next morning, with everyone from Lady Danbury to Queen Charlotte finding out the news. 

Claudia Jessie as Eloise Bridgerton, Emma Naomi as Alice Mondrich, Martins Imhangbe as Will Mondrich in episode 305 of Bridgerton

Eloise is far from happy about her brother's engagement.  (Image credit: Netflix)

Kate and Anthony, who are oblivious to the drama at Bridgerton House, are on their way to see their family with some news of their own... they're having a baby! But, of course, the news of Colin and Penelope's engagement overshadows everything and they decide to keep it to themselves for a little longer. 

Meanwhile, Eloise is ranting to Cressida about Penelope marrying her brother, but Cressida has more pressing things on her mind as her parents have decided to arrange a marriage for her after she failed to find a husband on her own, and now she is to marry a man three times her age.

Another person not too happy about the news is Portia Featherington, Penelope's mother, who has discovered that her daughter is engaged through Lady Whistledown's paper. Portia tells Penelope that Lord Debling was a good match and that she has ruined everything by 'trapping' the most eligible bachelor on the marriage mart. But as she lays into Penelope, Colin arrives unannounced and tells Portia that he loves Penelope, there was no trapping involved, and that if anyone is the most eligible person on the marriage mart, it is Penelope. Sigh... 

Colin takes Penelope to a very fancy disused house that has 'been in the family for years' and tells her it is where they are going to live when they are married. She looks underwhelmed by the whole thing and he worries that she doesn't like it. However, she is still stunned by the way he stood up for her with her mother and tells Coin that no one has ever done that for her before. 

He tells Penelope how much he loves her, going through all the reasons he finds her irresistible and soon they have sex for the first time, with Colin, who, let's face it has been around the block a few times, showing Penelope the way. Afterwards, Penelope tries to tell Colin about her Lady Whistledown secret, but they are interrupted by someone arriving at the house and they race to get dressed.

Anthony and Kate Bridgerton in Bridgerton season 3

Anthony and Kate are having a baby!  (Image credit: Netflix)

As Eloise offloads to Kate about how she isn't happy Colin and Penelope are getting married, Kate encourages her to talk to them both, claiming honesty is the best policy. But while she is dishing out advice, Kate is also busily organizing an engagement party for the happy couple, placing orders with the cook and putting together an evening they will never forget. 

Portia Featherington is still stewing over the dressing-down Colin gave her when she discovers Walter Dundas has been back to the house again to quiz her about the document that claims the next male heir of the Featherington family will inherit the estate. Realizing that she might need the Bridgerton family more than she'd like to admit, she decides to be nicer to Penelope and encourage her engagement, hoping it might give her family some financial security. 

Meanwhile, Queen Charlotte and Lady Danbury are discussing the Queen's cat-and-mouse game with Lady Whistledown and are now so determined to find out the author's true identity, that the Queen is offering a £5000 reward for anyone to unmasks her. Colin is thrilled when he finds out the news, but Penelope is understandably panicked, knowing her secret isn't going to be safe for much longer. 

Cressida is forced to meet with her elderly future husband and is horrified when he says he wants 5 babies. She clutches the letter from the Queen promising £5000 and becomes determined to be the one to unmask Lady Whistledown so she can get the reward money and get out of this horrible match her parents have organized for her. 

Lady Featherington in Bridgerton season 3

Portia is up to her usual games!  (Image credit: Netflix)

With the engagement ball underway for Penelope and Colin, everyone is thrilled for the pair. The ball is a huge success, although Lady Danbury isn't pleased to see her brother, Lord Anderson, has arrived and is charming his way into Violet Bridgerton's affections. 

Colin apologizes to Penelope that Cressida is there, claiming it must have been Eloise who invited her, but Penelope is more worried about the fact Eloise is putting pressure on her to tell Colin her Whistledown secret. She gives Penelope until midnight that evening, otherwise, she will tell him herself. 

The entire evening, Penelope has her eye on the clock but can't seem to find the right time to tell her future husband that she has been keeping a huge secret. Colin makes a heartfelt speech about his love for Penelope and everyone melts over their love match. However, Eloise soon chips in with some awkward anecdotes about time ticking in marriage and then Portia pipes up with an equally awkward speech that leaves everyone baffled. 

Meanwhile, Francesca is head over heels for John Stirling, Earl of Kilmartin, and when she encourages him to tell her family and Lady Danbury a funny story that he'd told her the previous day, he struggles with having an audience and goes shy. However, a call for charades in the drawing room saves him and they all head off for the game. 

Charades gets competitive between Penelope and Eloise but soon talk turns to Lady Whistledown who everyone mocks and Penelope rushes out. Colin is worried and goes to find her, but while they are gone everyone says how maybe Whilstledown will never marry now because of her scandalous secret and that she will be richer than them all once her identity is revealed. You can practically see the cogs turning in Cressida's mind as she realizes this is the perfect way to get out of her horrid doomed marriage. 

As Eloise sees the clock has struck midnight and goes to tell Colin the truth, it all gets too much for Penelope and she faints, just as Cressida stands up and declares to the whole room that she is Lady Whistledown, leaving everyone stunned. 

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.