With the conclusion of Julian Fellowes’ The Gilded Age’s first season, the groundwork has been prepared for the journey ahead. After nine episodes, the HBO series has ended its first storyline as “the American Downton Abbey,” as the trailers claimed.
While there are obvious parallels, the distinctions between Fellowes’ last series and this spiritual precursor, previously slated to join NBC’s drama roster, are significant.
Now a cable television sensation, The Gilded Age has established a reputation for itself and constructed a plot that has had viewers guessing until the very end.
This is especially true given the engrossing narrative involving Mr. Raikes and Marian Brook. Consider this the final call for spoilers, as we’re going to get into the larger specifics of The Gilded Age’s Season 1 conclusion and what the future may hold in light of the big events that occurred.
What Exactly Happened to Mr. Raikes?
When lawyer Tom Raikes (Thomas Cocquerel) meets Marian Brook (Louisa Jacobson), the young woman headed to New York City appears to have a crush on him. Initially employed to settle her recently dead father’s inheritance, he eventually moves to New York with her.
The large move, made partly for economic reasons and his passion for her, leads the young pair into a romance that almost ends in marriage.
“Almost” is the operative word here, as Tom chooses money over love at the last possible moment in The Gilded Age season finale.
Mr. Raikes stands up to Marian, with whom he prepared to elope, and discloses that he is to marry Cissie Bingham (Katherine Romans), a wealthy heiress whom he was spotted with the night before.
Tom Raikes breaks Marian Brook’s heart when he declares his true love for her; yet, as Marian emphasizes in her parting words, love alone is insufficient.
Marian Brook’s Possibility of a New Suitor
Marian Brook finds herself in a situation of profound heartache in The Gilded Age’s first season finale. Due to her succumbing to Tom Raikes’ charms, which she resisted for as long as she could, their breakup was more painful, albeit not as devious as some may believe.
It is uncertain whether the two will cross paths again in the future. Still, just as Marian bumped into her freshly ex-fiancee at Mrs. Bertha Russell’s (Carrie Coon) social event, a new suitor appeared: her son, Larry (Harry Richardson).
Larry Russell played a critical role in Marian’s meticulously planned initial marriage to Tom by sending the note of explanation to Aunt Agnes (Christine Baranski) and Aunt Ada (Cynthia Nixon).
Marian owes Mr. Russell one waltz at the event due to a last-minute interception of Larry. That arrangement would be honored during Marian Brook’s hour of greatest need, resulting in a night that these young people and New York Society would never forget.
Mrs. Russell vs. Mrs. Astor: The War Of New And Old Money
One of the central tensions throughout Season 1 of The Gilded Age was the period-appropriate battleground for power and influence between old and new money.
Mrs. Caroline Schermerhorn Astor (Donna Murphy) commanded the Old Money social scene in the realm of tradition and “standards.” Mrs. Astor’s efforts to snub Mrs. Bertha Russell, the de facto champion of New Money, are finally used against her at a key juncture.
Bertha uninvites Caroline’s daughter Carrie (Amy Forsyth) days before the debutante ball, which will formally launch her daughter Gladys (Taissa Farmiga) into New York society’s dating pool.
Mrs. Astor appears to send her away while accepting other companies, which she interprets as a snub. Through her and her husband George’s (Morgan Spector) push, all of The Gilded Age’s movers and shakers, including Aunt Agnes and Aunt Ada, turn up for a good time.
By promising Caroline Astor a flourishing friendship if she chooses it, Bertha Russell may have demonstrated to her that she does indeed belong with the in-crowd.
The Complicated Relationship of Oscar Van Rhijn
With Gladys Russell now out and available for marriage, Oscar Van Rhijn’s (Blake Ritson) preparations can move forward. Oscar, Marian Brook’s cousin and the son of Aunt Agnes, has been plotting his way into Gladys’s good graces.
While Mr. Van Rhijn is motivated by the desire to marry into a life of financial comfort, he pursues Gladys with genuine affection. However, his romantic life is somewhat more difficult.
Oscar Van Rhijn is covertly seeing John Adams (Claybourne Elder), the young guy he adores.
However, that type of affair is prohibited at this stage in American culture, with Van Rhijn intending to marry for appearance’s sake while continuing to meet Adams on the side.
Initially, John sought to confound Oscar, but The Gilded Age’s grand conclusion finds the lovers apparent standstill. How long that ceasefire will hold is unknown, but Oscar Van Rhijn appears to be the winner for the time being.
The Untold Story of Peggy Scott’s Child
Apart from the cultural tragedies of The Gilded Age, Marian Brook’s relationship with Peggy Scott (Denée Benton) has been a vital thread running through both women’s journeys from Doylestown to New York.
We learned a great deal more about Peggy’s former life and how it would affect her future in the last episodes of the first season. It all comes to a head when Ms. Scott and her mother, Dorothy (Audra McDonald), discover that the kid she believed had died during childbirth is still alive and thriving.
Her father, Arthur (John Douglas Thompson), placed the kid for adoption without her knowledge.
It was all in avoiding controversy, a goal Mr. Scott continues to pursue by refusing to assist his wife and daughter with reuniting their family. Dorothy and Peggy prepare to head off on their own, following the indications that indicate to the Philadelphia region for this youngster to meet his mother.
So much has been set up for Season 2 of The Gilded Age, which was recently greenlit, and beyond if these strands lead to even more exciting results.
Whether you’re reading this without seeing Season 1 or want to relive Julian Fellowes’ new social story from the first episode, all nine episodes are now available on HBO Max as part of the platform’s finest HBO Max series.
If you’re feeling adventurous, check out the 2022 TV launch dates to see what new series are scheduled to air during the winter/spring seasons.
Before you return to the realm of modernity, keep in mind that the Downton Abbey crossover that Julian Fellowes mentioned lately is not imminent. As a result, your patience in that regard will be requested until further notice.