Francesca Bridgerton’s story may shock even Bridgerton fans

Francesca Bridgerton’s story may shock even Bridgerton fans

When a love connection is made in Bridgerton, it’s typically facilitated by an impassioned declaration of lust — as was the case between Luke Newton’s Colin and Nicola Coughlan’s Penelope. But when Francesca Bridgerton (played by Hannah Dodd) meets-cute with John, Earl of Kilmartin (Victor Alli) in the first half of the show’s third season, sparks fly in complete silence. “How will they know each other if they do not speak?” asks matriarch Violet Bridgerton (Ruth Gemmell), wary of their courtship — in part because it goes against the match Queen Charlotte (Golda Rosheuvel) has selected for Francesca.

The unconventional love story between introverts Francesca and John is still unfurling in the third season of Bridgerton, which returns with part two on June 13. But viewers have already begun to speculate about the future of the sixth Bridgerton sibling — who has been referred to as “autistic coded” by some neurodivergent fans who say they share traits with the introspective Francesca. And like all the Bridgerton siblings, Francesca is the subject of her own romance novel in Julia Quinn’s original book series — which may reveal at least part of what’s in store for her.

Ahead, a preview of what’s to come with Francesca, including her character’s tragic turn in the novels.

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Who is Francesca Bridgerton?

Described in the novels as her older sister Eloise’s (Claudia Jessie) “accidental twin” because of their close proximity in age, Francesca is the most subdued of the Bridgerton siblings. Until now, she has largely been sidelined on Bridgerton. She was gone for large swaths of seasons one and two, with the show blaming her absence on visits to her Aunt Winnie in the countryside town of Bath. When Francesca is reintroduced in Bridgerton season three, we learn that she’d rather be tickling the ivories than fending off potential suitors. “I don’t think she ever wants to be the centre of attention, so she feels quite uncomfortable with it being all eyes on her,” Dodd recently told Town & Country.

Why is Francesca played by a new actor?

Ruby Locke, who played Francesca in seasons one and two, departed Bridgerton for a leading role on Netflix’s Lockwood & Co. “I have to hand it to Hannah Dodd, who stepped into the role of Francesca this year,” showrunner Jess Brownell previously told Vanity Fair. “There was the risk with the Francesca character that she could be unknowable or inaccessible, but Hannah brings this real nuance and subtlety that allows us inside her head in a really powerful way.”

As costar Claudia Jessie added, “Can you imagine stepping into this two seasons in? I’m terrified turning up, and I’ve been there since day one. Hannah, the minute she turned up, it felt like she’d been with us for years. She is glorious through and through… Hannah has done a beautiful job. I came away from [this season] very, very, very proud of her.”

What is Francesca’s storyline in Bridgerton season three?

Despite her reticence about the marriage mart, the queen names Francesca this season’s “sparkler,” precisely because she performs for herself and not the society set. The queen then masterminds what she believes to be an ideal suitor for Francesca in Lord Samadani (David Mumeni). “I love my family dearly, but it can be rather lonely to be around them all at once,” Francesca tells him in the season’s third episode. Samadani, also one of eight siblings, disagrees with her viewpoint and makes his intentions for a similarly large family known. Dismayed by his response, Francesca retreats to the outskirts of that evening’s ball, where she meets John, Earl of Kilmartin, with whom she bonds over their shared need for solitude.

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