‘The Gilded Age’ Season 2 Ending Explained & Finale Recap: Are The Van Rhijns Saved From Bankruptcy?


The Gilded Age always guarantees a good time, and the entirety of season 2 has kept up the pace rather gracefully. By giving us a look at the characters’ lives and struggles, the show has ensured that the audience is always on its toes. Now that the season has ended, let us go through a recap and ending of it.

Spoiler Alert

What are the central conflicts of season 2?

It will always be surprising how this show maintains its feel-good nature, despite the topics it deals with. No tragedy is too great that the silliness of wealth cannot help but cope with, and we love this take on capitalism. For starters, Ada falls in love with and gets married to the pastor, but he passes away due to cancer not soon after. Secondly, Oscar is still hunting for a rich woman to marry, and he zeroes in on Maud Beaton, though she turns out to be a fraud who swindles him of all his money, leaving the Van Rhijns penniless.

Elsewhere, the battle is raging between the Academy of Music and the Metropolitan. The first represents the old money of the city, while the second represents the changing times. Bertha has wanted nothing more than to be an accepted member of the elite, but now she knows that she can create her own society and doesn’t need to follow the rules set by others. There is a lot of interest in the Metropolitan because of the artists that are going to perform there, and because people are realizing that the rigidity of the old ways doesn’t suit them anymore, so they want to be a part of the new world. However, Mrs. Astor still has one trick up her sleeve, and that is to get the Duke on her side. He is an important figure in society, and whether or not there are more people in the academy, having the Duke attend that institution will establish the prestige of that place. This places a huge hurdle in Bertha’s path that she has to get through.

Some other conflicts of the season include Mr. Watson finally meeting his daughter but being told by his son-in-law that he needs to move to a different city and stay away from them. Thankfully, his daughter Flora meets him and tells him that she wants him to live with them as her father and not hide away somewhere. Elsewhere, John has an intention for a clock, and with the help and support of others, he has managed to get the patent for it. Amidst it all, the biggest trouble may have been taken on by Peggy, who is fighting to have the colored schools shut down by the Board of Education that insists on being racist.

Why does Peggy leave The Globe?

There is something called patience for heartbreak, and Peggy doesn’t have that anymore. She has worked hard to save the schools by highlighting their association with Irish teachers, which has brought in an influx of students seeking admission. But the board is still adamant about continuing with its racist agenda, which is why they secretly changed the time of their meeting. Luckily, Peggy’s father came to know about it in time, and he notified the school. They reach the meeting and submit the evidence of the teachers and the students seeking to work there, which the board is forced to consider. They reach a compromise where they decide to shut down just one school instead of all three, to save their own faces. This is a letdown, but like always, one has to pick their battles. After all this is done, Peggy tells Mr. Fortune that she wants to quit her job because she cannot deal with the strain of the awkwardness. Mr. Fortune understands what she is saying and decides to let her go. Peggy is going to focus on her novel now or find something else to do.

Does the Duke come to the Metropolitan?

It becomes clear to Marian that Dashiell wants to marry her to find a replacement for his dead wife, not because he has genuine feelings for her. Therefore, she asks him to break off the engagement. Dashiell is upset, but thankfully, Marian has the support of her aunts. Even Agnes tells her that she does not need to get married for the sake of her happiness.

As for the Duke’s attendance, Bertha figures out that he has switched sides for money. He has a lot of properties and a considerable amount of status to maintain, but he doesn’t have enough money to do that. Mrs. Astor gave him money, which prompted him to decide to attend the academy instead. George refuses to give Bertha more money for the Metropolitan. He wants her to trust her preparations, but Bertha will never leave a single loose end. Bertha convinces the Duke to join the Metropolitan by pointing out that it is where the entire society of New York will be. Additionally, old money or new, no one can deny that the most money in New York is with the Russells, and associating them with them will be of benefit to the Duke. Also, if he can win Gladys’ heart, then it is a marriage of great convenience for everyone. Therefore, during The Gilded Age season 2’s ending, the Duke attends the Metropolitan, which is an official declaration of the loss of the Academy of Music.

Once this battle is over, Larry escorts Marian back home, and the moment the audience has been waiting for two seasons finally arrives as these two kiss. They had been great friends for a long time, and it was always obvious that it was leading to something, which is now clear. Also, Larry wants to go into business with John, which we will hear more about later.

 Are the Van Rhijns saved from bankruptcy?

In the Van Rhijns house, Ada has some good news. Her marriage was not just a gateway to tragedy; it turned the tables for her entire life. The pastor’s grandfather was extremely rich, and he had left his money to the pastor, who in turn left it to Ada. With this money, the Van Rhijns’ life and lifestyle were saved, though it meant that Ada was finally Agnes’ equal in the house. Agnes always said that Ada never had any money, and she liked to rule over everyone in the house on the basis of the fact that they were being paid with her late husband’s money. But now, it was Ada’s late husband who would be paying the bills. The house is still in Agnes’ name, but it will be run by Ada, and the new power balance is going to be strange for everyone, at least for a while.

Final Thoughts

This is as good a turn as the season could take. We were really expecting to see Agnes learn a few lessons about poverty, but this might be a lot better for her. Most of all, seeing Ada get some sort of happy ending was the best part. Also, Marian may finally get the love story she has been wanting for so long. This is a great turn of events.

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Divya Malladi
Divya Malladi
Divya spends way more time on Netflix and regrets most of what she watches. Hence she has too many opinions that she tries to put to productive spin through her writings. Her New Year resolution is to know that her opinions are validated.

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