Somebody left a review on Amazon saying that Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice was just “a group of people visiting each other’s houses.” We would like that person to watch the second episode of this season of The Gilded Age. We understand that this was all supposed to be about parties and the politics of privilege within already privileged societies, but this was perhaps the dullest episode of the show so far. We want to be kinder simply because we have liked the narrative so far, which is why we will hold back on the criticism.
Does Gladys accept Oscar’s proposal?
It is absolutely sad that Gladys’ only motivation for accepting to marry Oscar Van Rhijn was that she would get away from her mother. Bertha may have good intentions, but her blindness to the effect of her controlling methods on her daughter will cost her some days. Thankfully, George proves to be smarter than that, and he asks his daughter whether she loves Oscar. Gladys is honest with him and says that she isn’t marrying for love but for the promised freedom. George promises her that he will accept whoever she loves in the future, but for now, he does not want her to settle for a marriage when her heart isn’t in it. Gladys is happy with the news, and she agrees to go with her mother to Newport. She meets Marian there, who lets her know that Oscar will be alright with the rejection, and she shouldn’t fret too much over it.
Oscar had met with George Russell, and he was clear about his disinterest in continuing the relationship. Additionally, George made it a point to tell Oscar that the rejection had Gladys’ approval. That is why, in Newport, Oscar doesn’t hesitate before setting his sights on his next target. She is a rich woman in society, and though there are rumors about her mother’s infidelity, she is a good catch in Oscar’s eyes, and he decides to pursue her.
Does Peggy come back to the Van Rhijn residence?
Peggy had decided in the previous episode that she wanted space from her family, and the quickest way to get that was to resume her job at the Van Rhijn residence. Agnes Van Rhijn is a lot of things, but she is not a racist, and she is only too happy to have Peggy back in the house. Agnes also warns Mrs. Armstrong that if she tried to trouble Peggy again, she would fire her without a second thought. But here is the matter with troublesome co-workers: They are not being mean because it would get them ahead in their career. They are being so simple because they can, and it is a show of power. Mrs. Armstrong is cold towards Peggy, despite the latter’s offer of friendship. But eventually, Peggy makes it clear that, while she doesn’t care for Mrs. Armstrong’s ways and opinions, she wouldn’t bother tolerating them either. Elsewhere, Watson has been tracked down by his son-in-law, and he wants to meet him to keep the matter of his relationship with his wife a secret. Watson is forced to tell his secret to Oscar, and hopefully, this supposed secret scandal will be handled in a more dignified manner.
What is George’s method of dealing with the business issue?
This is the one place where George wears the hat of the oppressor. He and the other businessmen want the union to call off their protest so that they can continue making money. The leader is proving to be more difficult to negotiate with than anyone had anticipated, and that is because he is a man of stubborn principles. He was not brought by money, nor by a promotion; therefore, George decided to tempt him further. He calls him to New York and books him a room in an expensive hotel, from where he would come to meet him. George is probably hoping that all these factors will lead to the leader getting tempted by what the businessmen have to offer and calling back the protests.
Who is Mrs. Winterton?
Most developments in this episode have been of the personal kind. Larry Russell is working on Mrs. Blaine’s house in Newport, and that has led to the development of their relationship, one that his mother disapproves of. But Larry is not going to listen, but perhaps he will reach a middle ground with Bertha where he agrees to keep it all a secret. Then there is Ada, and we think that she might be falling in love. Agnes probably hasn’t noticed that, and she simply thinks her sister was being chatty, but we could tell by the way Ada was caught off-guard by that comment that she was having a different kind of time than just a talkative one.
Coming to Marian, Agnes has grudgingly started accepting her new job as a painting teacher, but her matchmaking efforts are still going on in full force. Marian is sent to Newport in the hopes that she will get to know Mr. Morgan, whom Agnes deems a good match for her. But Marian absolutely hates Mr. Morgan, and even he does not help his case with his sloppy humor and drunken ways. Luckily, Marian is protected by her group of friends, who constantly look out for her. Marian is courted by Mr. Montgomery, and even she finds him charming. They get to know each other, and we believe that Mr. Morgan takes the hint. But what neither of them knows is that Mrs. Blaine is probably suspecting Marian and Larry. She hasn’t said it yet, but we are sure of her suspicions.
Coming to Bertha, she is still fighting for the cause of the new opera. She is heading the department to raise funds for it, and there is a bit of a silent war going on between her and Mrs. Astor. She has a plan to convince Mr. and Mrs. Winterton to buy a booth in the new opera, which would greatly help their cause. But at the end of episode 2, Bertha finds that Mrs. Winterton is none other than the former Miss Turner. She used to work for Mrs. Russell before being fired. Miss Turner had also made some advances on George, and we know that she absolutely hates Mrs. Russell. She might just side with Mrs. Astor to spite her.
We always knew that Miss Turner would prove to be a bigger menace than anyone could have anticipated, but the way she has made her comeback almost makes us feel bad for Mrs. Russell. Both the women are equally matched in terms of resilience; therefore, it must be seen who wins the war between them this season.