New Bridgerton character could prepare Benedict for Season 4

Bridgerton. (L to R) Hannah New as Lady Tilley Arnold, Luke Thompson as Benedict Bridgerton in episode 303 of Bridgerton. Cr. Liam Daniel/Netflix © 2024
Bridgerton. (L to R) Hannah New as Lady Tilley Arnold, Luke Thompson as Benedict Bridgerton in episode 303 of Bridgerton. Cr. Liam Daniel/Netflix © 2024 /

There’s a new face entering the ton in the upcoming third season of the Netflix and Shondaland regency romance show Bridgerton – and her name is Lady Tilley Arnold. Portrayed by Hannah New, this new character, who was not in the Bridgerton book series by Julia Quinn, was announced in October of 2022.

Even though the third season of Bridgerton will release its first batch of episodes in mere weeks from now, Lady Tilley remains an enigma of sorts. At the time of writing this article, all we know about New’s character is what accompanied the announcement of her casting: “[Lady Tilley Arnold is] a firebrand widow. Widowed at an early age, she enjoys the privileges and power that come with being at the helm of her former husband’s estate, living life on her own terms with financial independence and sexual freedom.”

Almost immediately following the casting announcement, speculation arose that Lady Tilley would somehow connect with the yet-to-be-revealed Season 3 storyline of Benedict Bridgerton (the second-eldest Bridgerton sibling, played by Luke Thompson). This assumption was more than likely due to the mention of the character’s “sexual freedom,” an attribute already very much on display for Benedict in the first two seasons of the show.

Bridgerton. (L to R) Hannah New as Lady Tilley Arnold, Luke Thompson as Benedict Bridgerton in episode 303 of Bridgerton. Cr. Liam Daniel/Netflix © 2024 /

However, it was only on April 15th, when the two characters appeared together in official stills that surfaced online from the first four episodes, that these longstanding suspicions were all but confirmed.

As fans of both the Netflix series and Quinn’s novels are aware, this upcoming third season of Bridgerton is straying from book order, focusing on the romance of Penelope Featherington (Nicola Coughlan) and Colin Bridgerton (Luke Newton) from Quinn’s fourth novel, “Romancing Mister Bridgerton,” rather than Benedict’s love story with Sophie Beckett (a character not yet present in the Bridgerton show universe) from the third novel, “An Offer from a Gentleman.”

While not yet confirmed, there is reason to believe that the fourth season will finally showcase Benedict and Sophie’s love story, and in my opinion, the existence of Lady Tilley as a player in Benedict’s Season 3 plotline further supports this.

Let me explain.

When the second season of Bridgerton premiered in March of 2022, it contained a particular scene in its fourth episode that, when looking back, rather directly telegraphed that Season 3 would be Colin’s love story. The scene in question is between Colin and Lady Marina Crane (formerly Miss Marina Thompson, played by Ruby Barker), wherein the latter all but lambastes Colin for living in the past and being hung up on their failed engagement from Season 1 and the scandal that ensued. Ever since I first watched this scene, I felt it contained startling similarities to a moment between two entirely different characters from the preceding season.


In the eighth and final episode of Bridgerton Season 1, Anthony Bridgerton (played by Jonathan Bailey) has a key conversation with a past romantic entanglement, his mistress Siena Rosso, an opera singer (portrayed by Sabrina Bartlett). In this scene, Siena rejects Anthony for the final time, explaining her refusal to conform to the life in society that Anthony desires for them, and requests that he finally let her go.

Anthony, of course, endures this moment of heartbreak, and then goes on to lead Season 2 alongside his endgame love interest, Kate Sharma (Simone Ashley) – just as Colin will find his happily ever after with Penelope in Season 3, having had the door permanently shut on him and Marina in Season 2.


The reason I mention these two specific conversations is because I anticipate the show will present something quite similar for Benedict in this upcoming third season, preparing him for his leading man moment the following season, and I believe Lady Tilley will be the one to deliver this sentiment to him. I’m not alone in thinking this, either — as one fan, user @vengerb3rg on X/Twitter puts it, in a post that has since garnered over three thousand likes: “they’re giving him the person before the season.”

In Siena‘s and Marina’s speeches to the Bridgerton brothers, we can find many key commonalities. Right off the bat, Siena tells Anthony, “I thought about coming with you tonight. I envisioned myself on your arm…dancing the entire night away. But my imagination was the furthest I could allow myself to go.” Marina, conversely, informs Colin, “You are a boy caught up in his own fantasies. In truth, I once thought that would be enough to save me from my reality, but what I learned is, I do not need saving in that way.”

These women both emphasize how the decisions they make allow them to be responsible for themselves, rather than rely on rescue from a privileged Bridgerton brother. Siena explains to Anthony, “I am doing the very thing I have always done. I am looking out for myself. I am ensuring my own future. Because I know…in my heart…I know that there is no one else who ever will.” In a similar vein, Marina notes to Colin, “What I need is to face up to my life and make my own practical decisions.”

Siena and Marina each then go on to refuse the lives that Anthony and Colin have tried to incorporate these women into, instead presenting their perfectly acceptable alternate paths. Siena says, “I am comfortable. I am content. That gentleman upstairs…he sees me for who I am. Unlike you, he does not wish for me to don some ridiculous gown and go with him to some absurd ball. He does not wish for me to change. And neither do I. You need to let me go.” Similarly, Marina points out, “We are not all guaranteed a fairy-tale ending. I am perfectly content with my children. And Sir Phillip cares for me. He is a good father. We have built a life together.”


While the following sentiments come at different points in their respective speeches, both Siena and Marina possess a strong desire to avoid being ensnared by a Bridgerton brother’s own delusions. Siena declares to Anthony, “What I know is that you are lost. And I cannot allow you to set me adrift as well. You need to let me go.”, while Marina insists to Colin, “I am not the same woman you once knew. And I refuse to be thrust back into such a world of fantasy. That dream has long since passed. You need to wake up, Colin.”

In truth, the only major difference between Siena’s and Marina’s rejections is that Marina ends her interaction with Colin by trying to nudge him in the right direction, even going so far as to namedrop Penelope herself: “If you would simply open your eyes to what is in front of you, then you might see there are those in your life you already make happy. You have your family. You have…Penelope. You have many people who care for you. Seek them out, because your future will certainly not be found in the past with me.”

In my opinion, the primary purpose of each of the Anthony/Siena and Colin/Marina relationships was to present these men with a romantic bond that approximated what they sought after, but could ultimately never fully embody it, due to something fundamentally insurmountable in the relationship. The subsequent demise of these relationships, then, exposes each of Anthony and Colin to the harsh reality that, despite convincing themselves otherwise, they have actually not yet found their respective paths to true happiness, while also highlighting how it is the prerogative of these women to choose the route that best suits their own needs.

As we see in Season 1, Anthony thinks he can make things work with Siena. He thinks he can integrate her into his high society existence despite her lower-class status, and be able to remain a viscount and the head of his family with his former mistress by his side. However, as Siena makes appallingly clear to him in her speech, this may be what he envisions for them, but it is not her dream. She doesn’t want the life he wants, and she is not willing to make the concessions he’s asking her to.

Bridgerton. (L to R) Jonathan Bailey as Anthony Bridgerton, Simone Ashley as Kate Sharma in episode 301 of Bridgerton. Cr. Liam Daniel/Netflix © 2024 /

Anthony is devastated, but the beauty of then tracking his love story throughout Season 2 is that he ultimately does find what he’s looking for, and it’s clear that trying to mold Siena into something she’s not would have only ever ended in disaster. In Season 2, rather than expect Kate to change, Anthony meets her in the middle, which is perfectly encapsulated by his proposal to her in Episode 8: “I want a life that suits us both. I know I am imperfect, but I will humble myself before you, because I cannot imagine my life without you, and that is why I wish to marry you.”

Similarly, Colin reasons that he and Marina can have a happy marriage even while raising her babies from another man (the man with whom she actually did fall in love). Young and naive, Colin thinks he and Marina can be in love, too, but in truth, he hasn’t the foggiest idea what being in love is actually like, or how to identify it. She, however, knows better. Marina is also acutely aware of her responsibility to her children and how, given the circumstances, this supersedes any desire to reach for optimal romantic fulfillment, which is a fundamental incompatibility between her and Colin.

As we can expect to see play out in the upcoming season, Colin will finally properly appreciate the relationship he already has with his childhood best friend Penelope, and will come to realize that the depth of his affection for her far eclipses any romantic feelings he ever thought he’d harbored for a version of Marina that doesn’t even really exist.

Bridgerton. (L to R) Luke Newton as Colin Bridgerton, Nicola Coughlan as Penelope Featherington in episode 301 of Bridgerton. Cr. Liam Daniel/Netflix © 2024 /

As with Siena, Marina is content with just being content, but to the Bridgerton sons, privileged upper-class men of society and famously born out of a love match, this perspective is near-incomprehensible. Having a woman they care for tell them directly that what they want in life and in a relationship is not the universally-accepted ideal is exactly the rude awakening these men need before they can ever hope to attain an equitable, sustainable, and loving partnership.

In Season 3, therefore, I can’t help but wonder if Lady Tilley will present Benedict with an alternate perspective that challenges how he approaches love and relationships, just in time for him to then be ready to meet Sophie. If my prediction is correct, then I can only assume these characters will form some sort of sexual and/or romantic attachment in addition to merely sharing scenes together, and whether there will be any real feelings here from Benedict remains to be seen, but regardless, the second son and the firebrand widow will have a connection.

Bridgerton. Luke Thompson as Benedict Bridgerton in episode 301 of Bridgerton. Cr. Liam Daniel/Netflix © 2024 /

Therefore, if we choose to treat the Anthony/Siena and Colin/Marina scenes from seasons’ past as a blueprint for an eventual Benedict/Lady Tilley confrontation, then we might just be able to predict some of the key points that she may express to the second-born Bridgerton. If history even remotely repeats itself in Season 3, then it would make sense for her final scene with Benedict to involve her ultimately rejecting him, while also making it clear that what he desires does not align with her own best interests.

Of course, this theory could be rendered moot by any additional details we learn about Lady Tilley’s character while watching the upcoming season, but until then, I still imagine two possible ways that this could all play out. To me, the specifics of Lady Tilley’s role in Benedict’s story hinge on the true nature of her relationship to her late husband.

The first option is that Lady Tilley is a widow to an unpleasant or even abusive late husband – not dissimilar to Lady Danbury’s marriage as seen in the Bridgerton spin-off, Queen Charlotte: A Bridgerton Story – and in Season 3, we see her quite pleased to be rid of him and happily capitalizing on the prosperous state he left her in.

Alternatively, she could have had a very loving, fulfilling marriage, and then tragically lost her husband prematurely (a la Violet Bridgerton, the matriarch of the Bridgerton family). She could be making the most of a devastating situation and working to maintain an optimistic perspective despite it all when we (and Benedict) find her this season.

In that first scenario, Lady Tilley’s final conversation with Benedict might come after he, just like Anthony, proposes some sort of plan to incorporate her into his life as it currently stands. Perhaps his rationale will be that, like it or not, he has to find a wife eventually, so why not just marry this unique woman whom he admires and who seems to be both outside of society while also still capable of fitting perfectly into it when necessary?

Lady Tilley would of course refuse this proposition, then explain how she’s done the whole marriage thing once, and has no interest in nor need to do it again. She is wealthy, secure, and free to live as she pleases as a widow, and regardless of how Benedict feels and what he thinks he wants, it will not be found with her. Just like Siena, she has no desire to compromise her own ideals for the sake of another man’s interests.

Bridgerton. Luke Thompson as Benedict Bridgerton in episode 302 of Bridgerton. Cr. Liam Daniel/Netflix © 2024 /

Conversely, in the second scenario, where she’s already loved and lost, this moment could take on a more melancholic tone. Perhaps in this version, Benedict, already the most familiar of his siblings with the world that exists beyond the ton, by the end of Season 3 has essentially eschewed the idea of ever having a society marriage. Instead, maybe he declares that he’s just going to live life according to his own rules, the same way Lady Tilley appears to. I could see a moment where he says as much to her, citing her life as an example of how to “beat the system,” so to speak, but then she stops him with a confession that she’s not as happy as she appears.

She might say something along the lines of, “Do you think I wanted this life? If there were a choice between where I am currently and having my husband back, I would choose him, every time. I am making the best of a bad situation, but you shouldn’t look to me as inspiration.” She could urge him not to deny himself the opportunity to fall in love for real, and this could be the state Benedict’s left in right before he’ll then go on to meet his endgame love interest (since, as I stated before, I expect him to be the next season’s lead).

If I had to choose, I think I’d prefer the second scenario, if anything because Benedict and Sophie’s fairytale-inspired love story (as how it’s portrayed in their book) has the potential to produce many sweet, tender moments between them, and it would be lovely to see Benedict inadvertently be reminded by Lady Tilley that this type of connection (the very one he’ll find in due time) is worth holding out for.

Before I end this article, I feel it’s important to acknowledge that yes, there is something inherently problematic about three female characters seemingly only existing to further three male characters’ journeys. However, my interpretations are based on evidence Bridgerton has already presented us with, and I am making predictions using patterns the show has already established.

As well, like it or not, the fact of the matter is, as an adaptation of a romance book series with pre-established endgame relationships, any new or heavily adapted characters that appear in the show and interact closely with either half of an endgame couple will ultimately just be there to bring the future lead closer to their main love story, which is a happily ever after with someone else.

And who knows? Maybe I’ve got it all wrong, and Lady Tilley’s role this season will be to inspire Benedict’s first foray into property ownership, culminating in him acquiring “My Cottage” from her, which is a prominent location in his and Sophie’s book. I have no idea if this, or anything I wrote in this article, to be honest, will actually transpire in Season 3, but you know what? It’s fun to dream.

Bridgerton Seasons 1 and 2 are currently streaming on Netflix. Bridgerton Season 3 Part 1 will be released on Netflix on May 16th, and Part 2 will be released on June 13th.

Next. What We Know So Far About Season 2 of Netflix's Wednesday. What We Know So Far About Season 2 of Netflix's Wednesday. dark