Plus, Eloise isn’t the only addition to the Kilmartin’s new living quarters. John then introduces his cousin, Michaela Stirling, to his bride and sister-in-law. “I caution you, every sordid detail John has spoken about me is a lie,” Michaela says jokingly before adding that the “truth is far worse.” Francesca reacts to Michaela’s presence as if she’s just seen a ghost, complete with blanking on her name when she introduces herself.

“[The action in these last four episodes] really ramps up from part one,” showrunner and EP Jess Brownell tells Glamour in the understatement of the year. “Fans have already had such a cool reaction to part one, so I’m really excited to see the part two reaction.”

With all the developments in season three of Bridgerton‘s second half, the introduction of Michaela Stirling is bound to be the most talked about. Brownell, who is currently in the writers room for season four (the new season will start filming this year), tells us why Michaela’s arrival is a big step forward in the Bridgerton universe and what we can expect to see going forward.

Glamour: We meet John Stirling’s cousin, Michaela Stirling, at the end of the episode. But in the book, his cousin is Michael Stirling. Can you tell us more about this change? And what does that mean for Francesca and John’s relationship? Francesca seems quite unsettled meeting Michaela for the first time.

Jess Brownell: So the first time I read When He Was Wicked, which is Francesca’s book, I really related to it as a queer woman. Her book talks a lot about how different she feels, and I think Julia Quinn’s intention in the book is just that Fran feels different because she’s introverted. But for many of us in the queer community, that sense of feeling different is a part of our stories. I felt like there was fertile ground thematically in her book to nod toward telling a queer story. There are also some elements of her story that allow us to make sure we can tell a pretty happy ending for Francesca and Michaela. I was important for me in telling a main queer story for us to be able to give them a happily ever after, as we have with every other couple.

In terms of John, I know people are really resonating with that relationship, as do I. We love that relationship in the writer’s room. I just want to say that I don’t think that the reveal of Francesca’s future queerness negates what she has with John. I personally don’t believe in a hierarchy of relationships. Every relationship is different, and lots of different kinds of love are valid. The kind of love she has for John is very real. It’s much more based on companionship and friendship and respect and shared interests than it is perhaps on passion. But passion is just one element of a relationship. Going forward, I’m hopeful to tell a very nuanced story about Francesca having two great loves in her life.

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