One of the best ways to describe the sixth episode of The Gilded Age Season 2, is that it looks beautiful and seamless while presenting the lives of its characters. As you go through each person’s story, the question of whose life is harder suddenly comes up. While that question has an answer, it is also a look at how so many facets of society are connected to each other and end up influencing people through the different strata of society. This is presented in the recap of the episode.
Why does Marian agree to marry Dashiel?
Right from the beginning, Marian wanted nothing more than to have an identity of her own. That briefly took a backseat when she fell in love in season 1, and that ruled her head and her heart. But after the very unsavory breakup, she found a job and has been focusing on it ever since. However, no one but her has been serious about her work. Ada is supportive, but she is one voice among many. Marian is invited to a party by Dashiell on the day that she has to take a class teaching the poor to read and write. Agnes is strictly against Marian going for that class, as she believes that it would be of no benefit to anyone. Maybe the people that Marian teaches will find their lives changed, but that doesn’t matter to Agnes, and it wouldn’t affect Marian’s own life in the long run. Marian is still adamant about attending the class over the party, and when she tells Dashiell that she won’t be able to show up because of this, he tries to persuade her using all the wrong words. He says that she isn’t a ‘real teacher,’ which means that he also doesn’t understand why she is working, which extends to the fact that he doesn’t understand Marian herself. He just sees that she is a sweet person whom his daughter likes and that Marian would be a responsible and well-meaning addition to the family. But these are not qualities that make Marian special.
But Dashiell probably would not bother to find out more. Frances seems to understand that Marian loves her job, but she is just a child, and it is difficult to say how far her support would go. However, it is when Marian is told at her job that she should prioritize the party more that we realize something. On the face of it, it looks like a well-meaning gesture by a colleague. The whole town knows that Marian is receiving special attention from Dashiell, and they see her presence at the party as an important part of their courtship. Telling Marian to attend the party may be an act of goodwill, but it also means telling her that she should prioritize the man in her life over her job. Marian attends the party, and she is immediately put in a difficult situation when Dashiell proposes to her in front of everyone. Marian is clearly torn by the decision she has to make, but she sees Frances’ face and agrees to the marriage. Maybe she didn’t want to embarrass Frances’ father in front of everyone, or she thought that she couldn’t do any better, considering that she was penniless, and the job was probably not enough to make a livable wage. Considering everything, marriage to Dashiell may be a decent option for her. There are things for her to consider if she wishes to walk away from it, and Marian has to consider whether she has the courage to make those choices.
What is happening in New York?
After Mr. Winterton was kicked out of the Academy by Mrs. Astor, he joined the Metropolitan and brought along notable names along with him. However, Mrs. Winterton demands that she wants the central box if this is to happen. The box belongs to Bertha, and this is a powerplay she was unprepared for. Mr. Gilbert is on Mrs. Winterton’s side, and for a moment, Bertha is cornered. Once again, George comes to the rescue, and he tells Mr. Gilbert that he should give back the central box to Bertha, without both women knowing why he is doing it. If he did not do that, he would have to pay back his debt to George immediately. Meanwhile, Bertha hears from the Duke that he will be visiting New York on the day of the Metropolitan’s opening, and there could not be a better power move for Bertha, who is finally leading New York society as she wishes. But Mrs. Astor and Mrs. Van Rhijn are joining forces to try and prevent that.
As for the others, John has developed a device to be used in alarm clocks, and he applied for it to be patented, but it was rejected because he was not a certified horologist (someone who makes clocks). But Mr. Bannister has an idea, and he will probably convey that in the next episode. On a different note, after a clumsy fumble, he has decided to let go of his grudge against Mr. Church. While these matters are going on, the saddest part of The Gilded Age season 2 has to be the cancer diagnosis of Ada’s husband. That was a couple who had found happiness after a long time, and for it to be in danger of being taken away is heartbreaking.
Why does George not open fire on the workers?
Before talking about George, let us discuss Peggy. In regards to her personal life, she is keeping a distance between herself and Mr. Fortune, and he is respecting that, though he hasn’t become as conscious of appearances as she has. Regarding her work, she comes to know that the colored schools in New York are being shut down, citing that the teachers aren’t good enough. However, that is just a thin veil to hide the racism underneath. Peggy plans on covering that for her next article.
Coming to George, he has started thinking about the workers’ demands for just eight hours of work, so that they are allowed eight hours of sleep and eight hours of daily life. But as a ruthless businessman, he doesn’t want to make many compromises. He says that he will not compromise on the payments, but he will make concessions for the other demands. If George accepts all the terms and conditions, he would have to make institutional changes, and he is not prepared for that. The thing to remember is that making these changes would not affect George’s overall wealth. They may impact temporary profits, but in the long run, they wouldn’t make any difference to George’s business. Henderson knows this, and the basic philosophy of their fight is that someone earning obscene amounts of wealth shouldn’t be at the cost of the workers’ quality of life. Perhaps George sees that point, and it is important to remember that he was never a bad man. Henderson’s son, a young man, cannot go to school but has to work because they cannot afford his education, which is a result of the pay structure. Giving them more free time would not fix that.
At the end of The Gilded Age Season 2, Episode 6, the officers are ready to open fire on the workers to get them to stop the strike. George sees how the men are ready to die, but he realizes that he is not ready to kill. He is simply not that greedy a man. He orders the officers to not shoot them. It is not clear whether that means he will satisfy all the demands of the workers, but it is the next logical step.
When we saw another party happening in this episode, we realized that The Gilded Age was a classier, new-age version of the Gossip Girl reboot. Frankly, this felt like one of the better episodes of the season, and the show continues its strong run with a seamless look into the troubles of a society hanging on the brink of change.