DISCLAIMER: This recap of Bridgerton Season 3 Episode 4, “Old Friends,” contains spoilers. Proceed at your peril. 

Dearest Gentle Reader, 

Episode four, “Old Friends,” transforms our “old friends” into engaged lovers. Eeek! Polin is official, y’all. Luke Newton and Nicola Coughlan are electrifying together. Their chemistry is intoxicating. Newton plays the brooding, conflicted leading man well, especially in the final carriage scene before Colin and Penelope make out. Coughlan delivers a nuanced, beautifully vulnerable, painfully tender performance. The buildup to their union is so well done, too—steamy, sexy and spicy

That said, I think Colin will discover Pen is Lady Whistledown, and this will cause problems in Part 2. Regardless, I’m there for all the drama. Polin will be a go no matter what. 

RELATED: Read our recap of the previous Bridgerton episode, “Forces of Nature”

Eavesdropping

We open with Lady Portia Featherington (Polly Walker), Prudence Dankworth (Bessie Carter) and Philipa Finch (Harriet Cains) eavesdropping on Penelope Featherington (Coughlan) and Lord Alfred Debling (Sam Phillips). Lord Debling has called on her, bringing her a plant so she can have a taste of nature without leaving her home. Homebodies represent!

Meanwhile, Colin Bridgerton (Newton) broods in his study. He’s got Penelope on the brain. Lady Violet Bridgerton (Ruth Gemmell) reveals they’re preparing to receive Lord Samadani. She wants Colin there to support Francesca. Colin claims he plans to sit it out. Otherwise, he’ll eat all the food.

Violet mentions Colin’s questions about friendship turning into love at the previous night’s ball. Was Colin thinking of something specific? Does he have anything to share with his mama? Colin states he was merely thinking about Francesca. He wants her to have the best match. Stop lying to yourself, dude.

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Calling on Lady Arnold

Meanwhile, Benedict Bridgerton (Luke Thompson) calls on Lady Tilley Arnold (Hannah New), who’s not a fan of being called upon. That’s okay, though, because they can bypass societal niceties and get straight to the sex. Elsewhere, Lady Agatha Danbury (Adjoa Andoh) eats with her brother, Lord Marcus Anderson (Daniel Francis). He regales the staff with his anecdotes.

However, Lady Danbury is unamused. She wants to know why he’s back in London. Lord Anderson claims the lack of society and ladies has brought him back. At the palace, Queen Charlotte (Golda Rosheuvel) is pleased to read glowing remarks from Lady Whistledown (Julie Andrews), whose narration we hear throughout this segment. Reynolds (Hugh Sachs) notes that hosting another ball will be another opportunity to secure their match for Francesca. The queen agrees. Also, take a step back, Reynolds. You read Her Majesty too well. 

Lady Violet Bridgerton and her daughters Francesca and Hyacinth stand in the sitting room of their home while smiling on Bridgerton Season 3 Episode 4, "Old Friends."

BRIDGERTON Season 3 Episode 4, “Old Friends.” Cr. Liam Daniel/Netflix © 2024

Lord Kilmartin and Francesca

Later, at the Bridgerton house, Violet, Francesca (Hannah Dodd), Eloise (Claudia Jessie), Gregory (Will Tilston) and Hyacinth (Florence Hunt) wait for Lord Samadani’s arrival. However, Lord Kilmartin, aka John Stirling (Victor Alli), walks into the drawing room. He and Francesca sit in comfortable silence, occasionally glancing at each other warmly. The family doesn’t understand their connection, but I find it sweet. 

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Then, Lord Samadani (David Mumeni) arrives, the intended guest. Kilmartin departs, with Francesca gazing at him longingly. I get it, girl. Meanwhile, Will Mondrich (Martins Imhangbe) tells Alice (Emma Naomi) about how multiple people have told him to close his club. Or at least relinquish control of it. He looks conflicted. The Mondrichs are learning that the ton has its limitations. 

Will Mondrich stands in front of a mirror in his bedroom while getting dressed. His wife, Alice, sits in a chair while resting her elbow on a table on Bridgerton Season 3 Episode 4, "Old Friends."

BRIDGERTON Season 3 Episode 4, “Old Friends.” Cr. Liam Daniel/Netflix © 2024

Elsewhere, the families of high society visit Lord Fuller’s massive library. Portia catches Pen reading a book. She urges her daughter to refrain from doing so, even though it relates to Lord Debling’s area of research. Men relish explaining stuff to women! Did Portia Featherington invent mansplaining? 

Glances in the Library 

Eloise reunites with Cressida Cowper (Jessica Madsen), who reveals her parents plan to marry her off to an older man since she can’t find a husband. Colin, the King of Furtive Glances, continues brooding. But his pals invite him for a night on the town, so he accepts the offer, hoping it’ll take his mind off Pen. 

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Pen and Debling talk about her favorite literary genre. Debling introduces a hypothetical scenario of a man asking a woman’s mother for her hand in marriage. How would Pen write that book? Aw, ole Debby’s gonna ask Portia if he can marry our Pen. Debling is a kind hottie, and I love me one of those. Thankfully, the series didn’t make him an insufferable villain. That said, Polin’s love is too potent. They’re drawn to each other like magnets. 

Harry and Prudence Dankworth read a book while standing in a library on Bridgerton Season 3 Episode 4, "Old Friends."

BRIDGERTON Season 3 Episode 4, “Old Friends.” Cr. Liam Daniel/Netflix © 2024

Colin returns to his ladies of the evening for some more sexy time. However, he can’t shake Pen from his thoughts. He forgoes sex and decides to watch instead, even though he doesn’t look engrossed by watching two women have sex. 

3/4 Time 

Meanwhile, Violet and Francesca run into Lord Kilmartin while out and about. They overhear a street performer playing the violin. Francesca knows the tune but complains that it’s too fast. She believes it should be played in 3/4 time. Kilmartin notes her remarks and vanishes abruptly. Weird. 

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Later, Cressida and Lady Cowper (Joanna Bobin) sit in their drawing room during the calling hour. Eloise pops in to chat with Cressida. Lord Cowper (Dominic Coleman) asks Eloise to leave. Once she exits the room, Cowper orders Cressida never to speak to “that Bridgerton girl” again. Eloise overhears this. 

Cressida and Lady Cowper stand in the sitting room of their home on Bridgerton Season 3 Episode 4, "Old Friends."

BRIDGERTON Season 3 Episode 4, “Old Friends.” Cr. Liam Daniel/Netflix © 2024

At the club, Alice tries to persuade her husband to attend dinner with her. Will reveals that two-thirds of the lords have closed their accounts. He can’t afford to hire an outside bartender until he solves this issue. Meanwhile, Colin sits with his buddies in Mondrich’s. He half-listens to tales of their global travels and conquests. He blurts out that he doesn’t understand why they’re so cavalier about this stuff. They claim they are gentlemen but don’t act like it. Ouch. 

Getting the Blessing

The following day, Debling visits Portia. She gives him her blessing. After Debling departs, Penelope reveals he hasn’t asked her yet. She hasn’t said “yes.” Portia encourages her daughter to seize this opportunity. It’ll be beneficial for the whole family. Then, Portia realizes that Pen might be “holding out for love.” She asserts that “safety” is romantic. 

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Later, Violet and the Bridgertons prepare to leave for the queen’s ball. Colin tells his mom he’s not feeling well and would prefer to stay home. However, once Violet mentions that Debling plans to propose to Pen, the wheels begin turning in Colin’s head. 

A shot of the back of Queen Charlotte's elaborate wig as she sits and watches members of the ton dance during a ball on Bridgerton Season 3 Episode 4, "Old Friends."

BRIDGERTON Season 3 Episode 4, “Old Friends.” Cr. Liam Daniel/Netflix © 2024

Next, we see a gorgeous ballet play out at the ball, complete with sweeping orchestral melodies. Her Majesty debuts her highest, most elaborate wig yet. Golda Rosheuvel’s neck must kill her while wearing those stunning pieces. Also, does this mean she’s the closest to God? Everyone’s staring at each other. Lord Samadani catches Francesca’s eye. However, Francesca’s all about Lord Kilmartin. After the play, Lord Debling asks Pen for a spot on her dance card. 

The Second Act 

Meanwhile, Lord Anderson and Lady Bridgerton reunite. Despite Violet’s marriage being a love match, they find common ground as widows. Anderson hopes to find a love match during his second act. Oh, methinks he will. The chemistry is chemistry-ing. 

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Alice stands with Lady Danbury in Queen Charlotte’s box seat. Danbury asserts that Will should attend these events with Alice. He must give up his club. The queen won’t smile favorably upon anyone who holds a job in the ton. Danbury suggests Alice show him things in high society that speak to his interests. Elsewhere, Benedict and Lady Arnold cross paths. They chat with Lord and Lady Fuller about the ballet. 

Cressida Cowper and Eloise Bridgerton sit in a box seat while attending an opera on Bridgerton Season 3 Episode 4, "Old Friends."

BRIDGERTON Season 3 Episode 4, “Old Friends.” Cr. Liam Daniel/Netflix © 2024

Cressida and Eloise chat for a spell. Cressida apologizes for her father’s behavior, declaring she doesn’t plan on abandoning Eloise. Elsewhere, Colin sits in his study as the candle flame flickers out. He recalls when Pen wrapped his bleeding hand weeks before. Their connection is supported by decades of friendship. He makes a beeline for the ball. 

Sibling Conflict 

Outside the ball, Lord Anderson chases down Lady Danbury. His sister reveals she’s leaving — the ballet is over, and Her Majesty’s diamond is dancing with Lord Samadani. All is well. Danbury assumes her brother is about his rakish ways. He reveals his activities may appear rakish (i.e., chatting up Violet Bridgerton), but they are pure of heart. Danbury fires back, asking if his heart is in his breeches. Ouch. She doesn’t want him anywhere near her BFF Violet. 

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After dancing with Samadani, Lord Kilmartin gives Francesca sheet music. It’s from their conversation the other day regarding the violinist on the street. Said music is in the preferred 3/4 time. Kilmartin claims he’s not very good with words, but he believes in the power of a gesture. Francesca looks delighted. She begs Violet to leave early so she can play the pianoforte. 

Lord Marcus Anderson and Lady Agatha Danbury stand outside a ball. They wear fine clothes while locked in an intense conversation on Bridgerton Season 3 Episode 4, "Old Friends."

BRIDGERTON Season 3 Episode 4, “Old Friends.” Cr. Liam Daniel/Netflix © 2024

The queen and Reynolds spot Francesca leaving Lord Samadani and chatting with Kilmartin. They don’t look too pleased. This would be the second time Her Majesty’s proposed match has fallen through. 

Double Pregnancies 

Meanwhile, Prudence and Philipa realize they might both be pregnant. Why? Because their breasts are sore. It’s a tell-tale sign (the 19th-century pregnancy test). 

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Then, Colin barrels into the ball as his pals depart. Penelope and Lord Debling are on the dancefloor. Pen asks Debling if their union could blossom with love over time. Debling admits he doesn’t know what the future might hold. For starters, after they wed, he would leave for three years as part of his latest research project. It would take him at least a year to get where he’s going. Pen would spend all that time alone, managing their estate. Oof. 

Next, Colin asks Debling if he can step in during the dance. Cressida sees an opening with Debling, leaving Eloise abruptly. She offers to finish the dance with him, which he reluctantly accepts. Penelope tells Colin he’s going to ruin her courtship with Debling. Colin insists Debling isn’t right for Pen. Pen can’t believe he would instruct her on how to find a husband and then poo-poo on the first man to court her. You can’t have your cake and eat it, too!

Breaking It Off 

After the dance, Pen tracks down Debling. He asks Pen why she liked sitting in the window of her house. Is it because she had a good view of the Bridgerton home? Debling states that Pen has been looking for someone. Colin interrupting their dance proves he has feelings for her. Pen vehemently denies this, claiming Colin would never care for her like that. They’re “old friends.” 

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Debling asks if Pen loves Colin. When she doesn’t outright answer, Debling reveals he wants a wife who’s not tied up with someone else. He might claim this is a practical match, but I think he legitimately has feelings for Pen. Debling departs. Portia witnesses him leaving, asking what Pen did to make him break off their courtship. Pen accuses her mom of only caring about her if she has a ring on her finger. Prudence barges in, announcing her pregnancy to Portia. However, Portia’s distracted as she watches Pen flee. 

Colin spots Pen’s carriage leaving the ball. He runs after her on foot. It’s romantic as hell. Meanwhile, Violet sees a giddy Francesca playing the sheet music from Lord Kilmartin on the pianoforte. She sees it now—her daughter is in love, but not with the queen’s match. 

Colin Bridgerton wears fine clothing while standing outside a ball. He looks focused on Bridgerton Season 3 Episode 4, "Old Friends."

BRIDGERTON Season 3 Episode 4, “Old Friends.” Cr. Liam Daniel/Netflix © 2024

A Love Confession 

Colin finally catches up with Penelope’s carriage. He hops inside. Pen orders her driver to drop him off first. Pen can’t believe he would ruin her courtship with Lord Debling. Colin claims Debling is all wrong for her. He has particular interests and would be absent for the first three years of their marriage. 

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Colin dances around the subject until he declares it outright — he has feelings for Pen. He can’t stop thinking about her. Colin longs to sleep because he’ll spend more time with Pen in his dreams. Initially, Penelope doesn’t believe it. She doesn’t think she’s worthy of love (I resonate with this so profoundly). 

However, she, too, admits she wants more. This culminates in a passionate second kiss between the two. It’s Polin season, baby. We get loads of kissing and hands moving everywhere. Colin even fingers her. We love a man who cares about a woman’s pleasure. It’s hot. It’s all hot. 

Penelope Bridgerton 

Once they arrive at the Bridgerton house, Colin holds his hand out for Pen. He wants to take her inside his home. After all, they’re getting married. It’s high time Colin introduces Penelope Featherington to his family as his fiancée. 

Yes, yes, yes

Bridgerton Season 3 Part 1 is now streaming on Netflix

Geek Girl Authority Crush of the Week: KATE SHARMA

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