Harlots season 3: What we hope to see and questions we need answered


Thankfully, Hulu renewed period drama Harlots for a third season. Because there are definitely a few things we need to see in season 3 next year.

It’s official: Feisty, feminist and all-around-fabulous period drama Harlots has been renewed for a third season by Hulu.

The series, which follows the story of two rival bawd houses in 18th century London, is probably the best show you’re not watching. So the fact that it’s getting another chance to get more eyeballs in 2019 is an extremely welcome piece of news.

Harlots’ second season concluded in particularly explosive fashion, as Wells family matriarch Margaret was shipped off to America in chains after confessing to murder. Rival bawd Lydia Quigley was committed to Bedlam insane asylum after her son discovered proof she was kidnapping young girls for her more disgusting clients. Both Wells girls must reinvent themselves now that they’re both free of their mother’s shadow. And elsewhere, local harlot Emily Lacey is now without both friends and a home, and the very religious Amelia is engaged to be married to Justice Hunt despite the fact that she’s very much in love with the harlot Violet.

In short: There’s a lot of story left to tell in season 3.

But as over the moon as we all are (obviously) about the series’ renewal, we have a few suggestions for things season 3 needs to cover, and questions it needs to address.

Charlotte Wells, all grown up

The end of season 2 saw Charlotte Wells take over her mother’s brothel, resetting the proverbial table of the show to focus on the younger generation of harlots. This is a big deal, since so much of Harlots’ initial premise was centered on the rivalry between Margaret and Lydia. But this twist offers a perfect opportunity for Charlotte to develop as a character and for the show itself to grow beyond a particular antagonistic relationship.

Charlotte’s new role will not only allow establish her business acumen as head of the Wells house, it will give Harlots the chance to explore what kind of woman she’s becoming. Season 2 frequently stressed the tensions that lived within her, after growing up as a daughter of sorts to both Margaret and Lydia, as well as being forced into the harlot lifestyle at such a young age. How will that affect the way she handles her own girls? And what kind of woman will she choose to be now that her role models are both gone and she’ll have to decide for herself? The primary arc of season 3 should involve us all finding out.

A proper arc for Lucy Wells

Lucy’s storyline in season 2 was a bit strange –her sudden obsession with darkness was never fully explored beyond the idea that they were wrapped up in the murder of George Howard. Her sudden decision to turn on Lord Fallon was emotionally satisfying, simply because he was that terrible. But it also felt a bit as though Harlots was just trying to wrap up the story as quickly as possible since it never fully committed to the idea of Lucy truly breaking bad.

Here’s hoping season 3 does better by this character. Lucy has always been something of an odd duck in the world of the show – her mother’s pampered favorite, she never wanted to be a harlot and doesn’t seem to enjoy much about the lifestyle (other than, interestingly, the power and money that can come with it). Now, without Margaret around, her character feels a bit at sea. Will she able to tolerate working for her sister? Will she attempt to land another keeper? And who is Lucy without her mother behind her, cleaning up her messes?

A broader focus

In all honesty, Harlots might be better off without Lydia and Margaret constantly sniping at one another. Their rivalry basically took over season 2, leaving little room for other stories and almost no substantial development for the series’ secondary characters.

If season 3 really does feature less of Margaret and Lydia, it could finally tell stories beyond the Wells family properly. Spending some time at the new bawd house established by Nell and Harriet would let us see a completely different world than Greek Street or Golden Square. (Not to mention inject more characters of color into this universe.) It would also be nice to see Violet and Amelia’s relationship get some more screentime, particularly since Amelia’s just agreed to marry a man. And giving Nancy a storyline without Margaret has the potential to be fascinating.

We all still care, obviously, about what happens to Charlotte and Lucy Wells. We always will. But with the show moving on from its central Wells vs. Quigley premise, it’s time to see some other stories too.

How is Margaret doing in America?

When we last saw Margaret Wells in season 2, she was crammed in a horse cart, heading for a boat which would take her to America. Though her family did learn she was alive before the season’s end; they all expect they’ll never see her again. (And, to be fair, they’re probably right. Given her age, the dangers of a transatlantic journey and the length of sentence she likely has…well, let’s just say it’s not looking good.)

Viewers should probably start preparing themselves now for a season 3 that has little to no Margaret in it for more reasons than one.

According to Variety, Harlots star Samantha Morton has also been cast as a villain in the next season of zombie drama The Walking Dead. It is apparently “unknown in what capacity Morton will appear in the third season, but she is expected to return.” So if we only have Morton around for a short time – which seems like a distinct possibility – maybe Harlots at least can tell us what she’s up to. From an entire episode dedicated to her new life in America to a quick couple of scenes, the show has plenty of options depending on Morton’s availability. And fans would likely rest easier knowing that Margaret made it safely across the sea, and relish the chance to see her as the survivor she is.

Could we see Lady Fitz again?

Season 2 ended with Lady Isabella Fitzwilliam triumphant. She reclaimed her daughter, defied her brother, and even managed to get her hands on all the money he’d been keeping from her. It’s possible to say that her story might be over.

And who knows? It could be. But if Harlots wanted to bring her (and Liv Tyler) back in season 3, there’s certainly plenty of story to tell.

First, there’s Lady Fitz’s complicated relationship with Charlotte. The two didn’t end season 2 on the best of terms, but there was definitely a real friendship and quite obvious attraction between them. Charlotte will need someone to lean on as she takes over her mother’s business, and Lucy isn’t exactly a great candidate for a lot of reasons. And she might need a love interest, too. Just saying.

We’ve also never seen Lady Fitz on her own, as a woman free to make independent choices. She’s always lived under the thumb of her abusive and controlling brother – what will she do now that she’s free? How will she adjust to having a daughter? And will she be able to keep the secret of Sophie’s true parentage from her brother and the rest of London? Season 3 seems like a great time to explore these issues, while keeping Tyler’s star power around.

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Harlots will return for a third season at some point in 2019.