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Bridgerton's Nicola Coughlan Made Sure That Pivotal 'Polin' Scene from the Books Made It Into Season 2

And reveals her 'savage' hopes for next season

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Megan Vick

[Warning: The following contains spoilers from the Season 2 finale of Bridgerton. Read at your own risk!]

Dear readers, the Bridgerton Season 2 finale was a rough episode for our beloved Lady Whistledown, known by her friends and family as Penelope Featherington (Nicola Coughlan). Her problems began to escalate at the Featherington ball in the final Season 2 episode when she overheard the unrequited love of her life, Colin Bridgerton (Luke Newton), declare loudly to his friends that he would never marry Penelope Featherington. While it was a heartbreaking moment for Penelope, it probably delighted Bridgerton novel readers who recognized the iconic sequence, changed just slightly for the Netflix series. 

In the Julia Quinn books that Bridgerton is based on, the scene first occurs in the Benedict-centric novel, An Offer from a Gentleman. Colin makes the declaration to his brothers while walking down the street and Penelope overhears him as she's coming out of the Bridgerton house. Colin recalls the scene in the fourth novel, Romancing Mr. Bridgerton, which chronicles Colin and Penelope's love story. He is dismayed at how rude he came across and regrets the embarrassment and pain he caused Penelope in that moment. Book fans may have been surprised to see the Netflix take on the iconic scene so early on, but according to Coughlan, it almost didn't happen at all. 

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"Luke and I had a Zoom call with [showrunner] Chris VanDusen midway through the season," the actress told TV Guide. "I sort of said to him, 'The relationship is progressing and there's that scene from Romancing Mr. Bridgerton, are you going to put it in there?' And Chris said, 'You know, we put it in and took it out a bunch of times.' I told him I felt like it's such an important theme to include because it's the point of which she's got to ultimately stop seeing him as this Adonis God, perfect, infallible human because he's not that. He's wonderful, but she's got to see him as a real person, first off, before she could ever have a relationship with him." 

Nicola Coughlan, Bridgerton

Nicola Coughlan, Bridgerton

Netflix

Of course, the heartbreak didn't stop with Colin. Immediately after hearing that he absolutely does not return her feelings for him, Penelope escaped to her room only to find Eloise (Claudia Jesse) there with all of the evidence she needed to confirm Penelope is Lady Whistledown and they immediately had a friendship-ending blowout. While the Polin scene was very familiar to book readers, the fight with Eloise was completely made up for the show because Eloise is indifferent, to say the least, about the Whistledown reveal in the novels. 

"In the books, Eloise sort of goes, 'Oh yeah, it's OK. Don't worry about it.' I don't know if in real life a friend would be that chill that she's been writing about her family for all these years. [Claudia and I] felt like it was probably going to be quite bad," Coughlan revealed. When it was confirmed that Eloise would discover the secret in Season 2, the actresses had to prepare emotionally for the big scene. 

"It felt like it had been building to it the whole season. It was really brilliantly written and I really wanted to do it justice. It was terrifying and heart-wrenching and exhausting...We spent a lot of time figuring out how we were going to do it on the day and looking out for each other because we hate when they fight. It really upsets both of us. We're like, 'They should just be friends and love one another!' Ultimately, I think it was something that was going to have to happen at some point. Except now [Penelope] is quite savage with it, the things she says back to Eloise — they're not very nice." 

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The loss of Colin and Eloise has Coughlan a bit fearful for the confirmed Season 3, which she claims she knows nothing about plot-wise. She speculates that based on how Season 2 ended, with Penelope picking up the Whistledown quill once more, that she probably won't be doing well when we reunite with her in the next season. 

"I think Penelope is going to be in a dark place because she's lost Eloise and she's lost Colin, so all she has is Whistledown," Coughlan said. "I feel like she's going to be a bit of a savage. I think, ultimately, this time around she found herself and lost herself at the same time if that makes sense. She got a little bit more arrogance as time went on because you walk around a ballroom and everyone's going, 'Lady Whistledown is the biggest genius. Oh, she's wonderful. The queen is scared of her.'" She's got all this money [and] that's going to have some effect on her, but I think she needed to come back down a few pegs." 

Nicola Coughlan and Claudia Jessie, Bridgerton

Nicola Coughlan and Claudia Jessie, Bridgerton

Netflix

While things seem bleak at the moment, there is reason to be optimistic. The end of Season 2 did not foreshadow who would take over as the romantic leads in the next season as Season 1 did with Kate (Simone Ashley) and Anthony's (Jonathan Bailey) story. Asked how she felt about her looming tenure as a Bridgerton romantic heroine in light of Colin and Penelope's accelerated track in Season 2, Coughlan admitted that it's something that she has considered a lot. 

"It's funny because in the books it's 10 years from Book 1 to Book 4. It's going to be strange. Luke and I talk about it a lot," she said. "Jonathan Bailey did such an amazing job this season of being sort of captain of the ship and knowing that our time is coming at some point, you just want to be good leaders at the front and make it a nice atmosphere. It is, of course, completely terrifying. It is completely terrifying to think about, but we'll cross that bridge when we get to it." 

Before she gets carried away with the romance though, Coughlan has a much simpler desire for Penelope's future. "I just need to know that [she] and Eloise will be okay," she said. "That's my biggest wish, that they make up and be best friends." That shouldn't be too difficult, right?

Bridgerton Season 2 is streaming on Netflix.