After months of anticipation, the final episodes of Bridgerton season 3 have arrived on Netflix, continuing to chronicle the dramatic and lusty lives of the Featherington family and their lovers – some of whom come from the Bridgerton clan. One of the two weddings in the latest installments finds these two coming together in celebration of Penelope and Colin, and while the other is also a hetero couple, creators have heard the cries for more LGBTQ+ inclusivity throughout the show loud and clear, namely with the introduction of a new character who doesn’t appear in Julia Quinn’s books.

With four of the Bridgerton siblings yet to secure their perfect match as their mother, Violet, has been waiting for, there’s plenty of talk brewing about what’s to come in future seasons. We know that Anthony and a pregnant Kate are headed off to India to learn more about her family’s roots, meanwhile, his mom is getting cozy with Lord Anderson, who’s settled his differences with his sister, Lady Danbury, thanks to Violet’s encouragement. Elsewhere, Lady Tilley and Benedict break things off after a season full of heavy petting as a throuple along with her friend Paul. While she’s seeking something more serious, he’s valuing freedom more than ever. Read on to discover what the Bridgerton season 3 ending tells us about the other stars, and when you can expect season 4 to land on Netflix.

Is Francesca Queer?

Long story short, Bridgerton showrunner Jess Brownell already confirmed to Deadline that Francesca is a member of the LGBTQ+ community. Because this isn’t how the character’s story plays out in Quinn’s books, some viewers expressed disappointment in the twist ending of season three. In one of this installment’s two weddings, Fran and John Kilmartin, who have taken a slow and steady approach to love, tied the knot at the Bridgerton family home before heading off to Scotland. The newlyweds will be joined by his cousin, Michaela, who clearly has an impact on John’s wife, suggesting a future romance between the two.

While chatting with Glamour, Brownell suggested that we won’t see infidelity as a part of the Kilmartin’s storyline, though anyone whose read the book series knows that the family patriarch meets an untimely death on paper. After suffering a fatal anureyusm in the novel When He Was Wicked, John’s wife grieves in the arms of his cousin, Michael Stirling, who she eventually falls in love with. In Bridgerton season 3, we meet Michaela instead, played by South African actress Masali Baduza, proving that producers are striving to make the show more inclusive after past complaints.

Who Is Michaela Stirling?

'Bridgerton' Season 3 Ending Explained pictured: Masali Baduza
(Photo by Jeff Spicer/Getty Images)

To anyone who doesn’t approve of the on-screen gender-bending, Bromell says, “Michael Stirling still exists in book world. Whereas, queer audiences haven’t gotten the chance to see themselves represented in a major way on the show, which is a show that is in so many other ways so inclusive. So I would just ask people to channel some empathy for those viewers, and to understand the importance of us allowing those viewers to see themselves represented.” Though we still have a lot to learn about Michaela Stirling, the way she introduces herself to Fransceca in her brief cameo proves she’s got a bold and flirtatious personality.

“I caution you, every sordid detail John has spoken about me is a lie. The truth is far worse,” she teases. We first meet Baduza’s character at the Featherington sisters’ ball, after John and Francesca’s intimate wedding ceremony, and Brownell raved about the budding actress to Glamour. “She’s absolutely fantastic… We flew her out the moment we saw her tape to do a chemistry read with Hannah. I remember the moment Hannah met Masali. After Masali left, she said, ‘Well, that’s her.’ Hannah could feel it.”

Why Did Eloise Leave With Francesca?

Eloise is eager to explore the world beyond the Ton, and Francesca’s departure with her new husband is the perfect opportunity for her to get away. In the Bridgerton season 3 finale, the curious young woman advises Ben not to worry, as she’ll be back next year. “Do you think mama would ever let me miss her Masquerade Ball?” she asks her brother, hinting at what’s to come in the show’s fourth installment.

In the past, those around Eloise have pointed out her tendency to talk more than she takes action. Tired of the criticism, she decides that the only way to make change in the world is to leave her home and see what lies beyond the castle walls. Interestingly, on-again-off-again best friends Penelope Featherington and El both take major leaps of faith in the latest episodes of the hit Netflix Original. Now that the former is married to her brother, Colin, there’s little keeping Eloise tied down in Bridgerton.

What Happened to Lady Whistledown?

Though Lady Whistledown wasn’t necessarily ready to unveil her true identity to everyone else in the Ton, keeping the secret any longer put her romantic and platonic relationships at stake. In the middle of a ball is when Penelope shockingly reveals her double life, almost costing her a happy future with Colin Bridgerton. Eloise threatened to tell her brother after finding out about his engagement to Penelope, but the redhead beauty begged her former best friend to keep the secret a little longer so she can tell her fiancé. At the end of episode six, the TV heartthrob learns the truth and is overcome with everything from anger to jealousy.

Besides pressure from Eloise, Lady Whistledown also had Cressida to deal with when deciding how to come out publicly. The latter was threatening to expose Penelope if she didn’t fork over a hefty sum of money as a bribe, but she ultimately chose to own up to her truth instead of paying Cressida, who’s sent away from Bridgerton after it’s uncovered that she lied about being the notorious gossip. She departs in a carriage to live with her evil aunt, hair styled in a chain-inspired coif to symbolize her villainous storyline, though it’s likely we haven’t seen the last of her just yet.

In Quinn’s story, Lady Whistledown no longer prints after Pen unmasks herself in Romancing Mister Bridgerton. However, the final episode of Bridgerton season 3 sees Lady Danbury vouching for the former Featherington, suggesting she’s “a vulnerable player trying to stay in the game,” rather than a dangerous threat trying to beat the Queen at her own game. “Penelope never thought anyone would take her writing seriously because no one has ever taken her seriously,” as Deadline puts it. Rather than using a pen name to publish her thoughts, Colin’s wife vows to use her quill more responsibly going forward. She ends the episode by introducing herself as a “previous wallflower, current columnist and observer” in her first dispatch.

Do Colin and Penelope End up Happy?

'Bridgerton' Season 3 Ending Explained pictured: Luke Newton and Nicola Coughlan
(Photo by Elena Di Vincenzo/Mondadori Portfolio via Getty Images)

Besides Francesca and John, the other big Bridgerton season 3 wedding is between Colin and Penelope in the penultimate episode. The always emotional “Yellow” by Coldplay was their song of choice, and emotions were running high as the bride to be hesitated during her walk down the aisle. Colin is encouraged to “not let one mistake define their marriage” before they exchange vows, referencing his negative reaction to finding out about Lady Whistledown’s true identity. At first, Pen’s husband assumed she would give up writing her column to protect their family, but when she emotionally refuses, he tells her he “cannot accept” the idea of her continuing to report in the same fashion, but using her own name now.

Colin sleeps on the couch after their wedding, suggesting the newlyweds weren’t feeling the expected bliss, but after they take separate carriages home from wedding breakfast, he finds letters that she wrote to him during his travels. While reflecting on her heartfelt words, Pen’s other half realizes that Lady Whistledown is a part of her, and expecting her to stop expressing herself is unfair.

Ahead of speaking her truth, the newest Bridgerton sent letters to Queen Charlotte and Violet to tell them her intentions. After previously letting ego get the best of him, Colin supports his wife through the tough moment, telling Penelope how proud he is. At the same time, he confesses he was envious of her success but now knows how blessed he is to call her his bride, bringing them closer together than ever to produce the Featherington heir, as revealed in the post-credits scene.

‘Bridgerton’ Season 4 Release Date

As Bridgerton season 3 wraps, we see the three Featherington sisters watching over their babies following Francesca and Eloise’s departure to Scotland with John and Michaela. Prudence and Phillipa both welcomed daughters, while Penelope bore a son, who will be the new Lord Featherington (with a Bridgerton background). Colin publishes his travel journal manuscript as a book with help from his wife, and Phillipa considers an unconventional future for her daughter, working as a writer with no husband.

For those eager to see what’s next for the Royal Families of Shondaland, you’ll have to wait an estimated two years until season 4 hits Netflix. Brownell promised that teams are working to get seasons out faster for fans, and has said that what’s to come is “some of [her] best work.” She reminded viewers, “They take eight months to film and then they have to be edited, and then they have to be dubbed into every language. And the writing takes a very long time as well, so we’re kind of on a two-year pace, we’re trying to speed up, but somewhere in that range.”