This article may contain spoilers. Updated 3-19-23
Sanditon is back for its third and final season! Wedding bells ring, but for whom? Find out on MASTERPIECE, Sundays, March 19 to April 23, 2023, at 8 pm CT / 9 pm ET on PBS.
Sanditon is a 21st Century take on an unfinished novel written by Jane Austen. If you’re a fan of this miniseries, you’re not alone. The international fanbase is broad and a force to be reckoned with. The show was canceled before the first season even aired in the U.S. The Sanditon Sisterhood set out on an elaborate campaign that prompted the renewal for Season 2 and Season 3. Whether you’re a staunch Austen fan with an open mind, or you’ve never read a novel in your life, this regency period seaside town and its characters have everything you need.
Season 3 starts with a familiar carriage ride along the magnificent cliffs that give way to a breathtaking view of the sea. We see a smiling Charlotte Heywood with her fiancé Ralph Starling. Both seem eager, yet apprehensive about their visit.
Some of Charlotte’s seaside friends embrace Ralph as her betrothed, while others question her commitment to her family and lifelong foregone conclusion. It is obvious that he is devoted, and has known and loved her his whole life. However, from the moment she took her first carriage ride into Sanditon, she’s had one blue shoe in the social scene of fashionable aristocrats and gentry. This includes having the attention of some highly eligible bachelors. One of them being her former employer, Mr. Alexander Colbourne.
Throughout the entire season, Charlotte and Mr. Colbourne are thrown into situations that force them to continually confront their past, while also re-examining their current and future relations. Fans of this couple will enjoy the romantic tension between them. One instance of when this plays out is when they’re sitting next to each other during a public event, caught up in emotion. The scene is fraught with nervous sideways glances, unsteady breathing, and an extension of one’s fingers which is reciprocated by the other to show a level of intimacy in a way that only a period drama can.
Regardless, Mr. Colbourne struggles with suppressing his emotions while navigating acceptance of the current circumstances. He must entertain other options for an amiable match such as Lydia Montrose. Lady Lydia is friendly, easily amused, and manages to slip in the snark to her mother, Lady Montrose.
Lady Montrose and her adult children are paupers with titles due to a situation that has ruined their reputation. She is determined to have her son Henry Montrose marry well without complications. This quirky peacock appears interested in beneficial alliances of love and convenience.
Georgiana Lambe has finally come of age. She is getting used to her independence and having control over her inheritance. She continues to be challenged around every turn and has several run-ins with people from her past. All of which she never thought she’d see again, or in one case, meet for the first time. She’s unsure if she can trust any of them. She is on this journey with her steadfast friends, even when one of the friendships is being tested by a decision she makes to protect herself and her fortune.
Aiding Georgiana in the legal fight for her inheritance is Alexander Colbourne’s brother Samuel. There is an unresolved tension between the two brothers, but Samuel is determined to stay in Sanditon when he realizes what he’s been missing. He’s also pondering love for himself. Leonora continues to engage in sword fighting and has a new playmate and role model in her life. She is also longing for a mother figure and is excited to run into Miss Heywood. Alexander’s approach to being a parent and guardian is much improved since Season 2. Although, Augusta refutes every potential suitor that has been brought forth as acceptable by her Uncle. She’s much more interested in forbidden fruit.
Sir Edward Denham has been devious since he was first introduced in the first season when he kissed Charlotte’s hand upon greeting her. In this season, he endures various treatments to improve his overall character and well-being. Some people in his sphere believe that he has changed, while others believe that it is impossible for Edward to experience redemption. The depth of his atonement is revealed during a tumultuous sequence of events that results in more than one person suffering the consequences.
Lady Denham’s quips are equally matched by flirtatious and sparring comebacks by a suitor from her past. These two prove to be quite a combustible mix. He arrives in Sanditon with his money, and his plans to partner with Tom Parker to build a hotel. However, Mary is dubious about their plan and puts herself at risk by acting as the town’s public servant.
Arthur is a tour de force, and manages to be not only the hero of the hour but of the hero of the day! He has new clarity and feels like his future is alive with possibilities.
Nothing in Sanditon happens without Lady Susan taking notice. She is reserved, dignified, and yet in need of diversion. She has a keen interest in Charlotte’s happiness. With the help of a new acquaintance, she devises a plan to nudge Charlotte and Colbourne towards each other in the hopes that they will have their happily ever after, just as some fans are hoping for. In the process, she explores the possibility of true happiness for herself.
Secondary characters are also important in this season, and love blossoms crossing a language divide. Mrs. Wheatley is an ever-comforting presence and a sense of reason at Heyrick Park.
In true Sanditon fashion, some old characters remain as new ones breeze in with the seaside air. The music, set design, and costumes will bring familiarity while creating a desire to go behind the scenes. Complex characters with equal amounts of screen time lead to exigency and a quick pace. This means that fans will be able to watch it repeatedly and still love every minute of it!
Storylines that were seeded in the first two seasons come to fruition. Through a thrilling and light-hearted comedy of errors, choices are made and cheerful countenance returns. Fans can rejoice in the happily ever afters, while simultaneously grieving the fact that the miniseries is coming to an end. Like with other Jane Austen adaptations and inspirations, I suspect Sanditon will remain in our hearts for many years to come.
Watch Sanditon Season 3 on MASTERPIECE through your local PBS station.
Sanditon, Season 3 is a co-production of Red Planet Pictures, MASTERPIECE and ITV in association with PBS Distribution. Justin Young (Death in Paradise) is lead writer and executive producer. Joe Ainsworth, Andrea Gibb, Robin French, Colin Bytheway, Jo Spain also wrote on the series. Andrew Davies, who originally created the drama, wrote and executive produced. The series producer is Rebecca Hedderly (Casualty), the producers are Ian Hogan (Black Mirror) and Amy Rodriguez (Harlots) and lead director is Jennie Paddon (Death in Paradise). Executive producers are Belinda Campbell and Tim Key for Red Planet Pictures and Susanne Simpson for MASTERPIECE. BBC Studios are the international distributors of all three seasons. PBS Distribution is the distributor of all three seasons in the US and Canada.
Winner of 83 Primetime Emmys® and 18 Peabody Awards, MASTERPIECE has been essential Sunday night viewing for millions of fans since 1971. Susanne Simpson is the executive producer and Rebecca Eaton is the executive producer-at-large for the series. Series funding for MASTERPIECE is provided by Viking Cruises, Raymond James, The MASTERPIECE Trust, and public television viewers. Produced for PBS by GBH Boston, MASTERPIECE is known for hits such as All Creatures Great and Small, Sherlock, Downton Abbey and Victoria, and beloved classics such as Upstairs Downstairs, Prime Suspect, The Forsyte Saga and Poldark.
Jen Shepherd is an avid fan of shows on Hallmark and Masterpiece PBS. Sometimes she writes about them as an excuse to be able to watch them on repeat.