John Stirling and Francesca Bridgerton in the second half of the third season of Bridgerton

This Massive ‘Bridgerton’ Twist Opens Up So Many Possibilities Ahead

It’s a good thing I live alone because you best believe I was SCREAMING.

Dearest gentle readers, the second half of the third season of Bridgerton is finally here for us all to stream—which is great news for all those who were clawing at our televisions desperate to see how Penelope and Colin’s story would develop. Not that I’m speaking for experience or anything.

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Spoilers ahead for the entirety of Bridgerton season 3, as well as for the contents of both When He Was Wicked and To Sir Phillip, With Love.

While the story of our two leads wrapped up beautifully—both when it came to their personal struggles and to that tiny detail that was Penelope’s secret identity as Lady Whistledown—I think it’s safe to say that one of the most shocking moments of the season finale was when Lord Kilmartin, Francesca’s new husband, introduced his cousin. And that cousin was revealed not to be Michael Stirling, as those familiar with the Bridgerton books expected, but Michaela Stirling.

John Stirling and his cousin Michaela in the final episode of Bridgerton season three
Yes! Michaela! She’s gorgeous! (Netflix)

First a bit of background. At the Dankworth-Finch ball, Eloise asks Francesca if she can accompany her and John back to his estate in Scotland. Eloise has finally decided to see more of the world and step outside the usual, comfortable bubble of the London ton. Francesca is delighted to have her older sister joining, and so is John—who says that their party will actually consist of four people before introducing his cousin Michaela to his new wife and sister-in-law. To say that I was up on my couch screaming when he said her name would be a massive understatement.

So what does Michaela Stirling’s introduction mean for the plot?

Played by South African actress Masali Baduza, Michaela Stirling’s addiction to the show opens so many possible avenues—most of them queer, let’s be honest—that I’m kind of feeling dizzy thinking about them all.

Francesca’s novel—When He Was Wicked, one of the best of the entire series—focuses entirely on her grief over John’s untimely passing and her growing feelings for his cousin Michael, who has inherited the title of Earl Kilmartin and who ends up being her second husband.

So one of the possible directions in which the story could go is that John’s fate remains the same and that Francesca discovers her own queerness, much like Benedict did. She did seem particularly struck by Michaela, after all, what with all the slow motion and the eye close-ups happening during their introduction. 

If that were the case, I don’t think Michaela would inherit the title over Francesca since they’re both women—even though laws and customs do work in their own special Bridgerton way. Maybe Francesca could keep the title in her own right as John’s widow, or be a sort of regent to a hypothetical son.

Francesca Bridgerton as played by Hannah Dodd in season three of Bridgerton
After all, the idea of finding romance again after your spouse passes away is already been explored by Violet (Netflix)

Then again, all of this has one requirement—John’s passing, which I’m not particularly keen on, especially now that we’ve met him and had the chance to know him. So if John were to remain alive, would Michaela’s introduction maybe have something to do with Eloise?

Eloise is, after all, the other Bridgerton sibling alongside Benedict who has had some signs of queercoded-ness here and there—and her friendship with Cressida has been clocked by several fans as potentially romantic in its undertones. Besides, her own canon romance also hinges on the death of a character we’ve already come to know—Marina Thompson, who married Sir Phillip Crane at the end of season one. Marina’s book ending is pretty devastating and I would love for the show to go down any other path but that, to be honest.

Eloise reading a book
Please Shonda I know you already gave us queer Benedict but please. Queer Eloise please (Netflix)

This trip to Scotland seems like the perfect opportunity to have some feelings grow. John and Francesca will be in their introverted newlywed bubble, leaving Eloise and Michaela plenty of time to get to know each other and hopefully to feel some sparks. I think it’s safe to say this is my favorite option!

There’s also a third one, I suppose, even though it seems the least likely of the three—that Michaela somehow takes on the role of Sophie Beckett and becomes Benedict’s love interest next season, which is very likely to be dedicated to the second eldest Bridgerton brother. 

While we never know what Shondaland has in store until we actually see it play out, I think that merging two characters into Michaela might be a bit too much. I would still bet on one of the two previous options to happen in the future.

Plus, it’s Pride Month—and I’m always one for as many queer romances as possible.

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Benedetta Geddo
Benedetta (she/her) lives in Italy and has been writing about pop culture and entertainment since 2015. She has considered being in fandom a defining character trait since she was in middle school and wasn't old enough to read the fanfiction she was definitely reading and loves dragons, complex magic systems, unhinged female characters, tragic villains and good queer representation. You’ll find her covering everything genre fiction, especially if it’s fantasy-adjacent and even more especially if it’s about ASOIAF. In this Bangtan Sonyeondan sh*t for life.