That was undoubtedly a luncheon to remember!
If The Gilded Age Season 1 Episode 6 (and indeed the entire series) is trying to make a point, it is probably that rich people have far more money than sense.
Trouble is brewing in paradise, with deeply-felt betrayals and warnings that may or may not be headed.
After so much affection between the two, Mr. Russell finally lost his temper with Mrs. Russell.
She is indeed very single-minded — her ambition is getting in the way of her basic human emotions, like sympathy. Mr. Russell must be the one to tell her so, as she does respect his opinion, but her warning to him about being “soft” was chilling.
How much is she truly capable of, this woman who wants so much for herself and her family it threatens to push those she loves further away?
We’re not arranging a debutante ball, Mrs. Morris. We’re raising money to bring help to people in dire need all over this country.
Miss Clara Barton
Clara Barton also put Mrs. Morris in her place. It is satisfying to see these women get called out for their pettiness when so many horrible things are going on in the world that makes their problems look ridiculous. They have a distinct lack of perspective about these matters.
I do feel a bit sorry for Mrs. Morris, though she’s not a nice person at all. No one deserves what happened to her, and she’s still grieving her husband. Mrs. Fane is trying to help her see reason, but Mrs. Morris can’t get past the Russells’ part in her husband’s death — but how could anyone?
This isn’t a society squabble since Mrs. Russell is not in society.
Mrs. Anne Morris
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Agnes suffered several betrayals here, leading her to lose her cool and storm in on the Russells’ luncheon with Mr. McAllister. She had sworn never to set foot in their home, but she broke her own rule at the thought of her butler being poached, even temporarily.
These people. You shut the door, they come in the window. You shut the window, they come down the chimney.
Agnes Van Rhijn
It seemed out of character for Bannister to betray Agnes like that, but then, $100 was a lot of money for a butler at that time. For his own sake, Banister is lucky that an even worse betrayal against his mistress took place, for Oscar spending time with Miss Turner.
To act on impulse is to make one’s self a hostage to ridicule.
Agnes Van Rhijn
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Does Miss Armstrong suspect an intimate relationship between Oscar and Turner, and did she convey that to Agnes?
Armstrong was also lucky that this revelation came at a time when she had already gotten a warning from Agnes about her attitude towards Peggy. It was a way for Armstrong to restore her place as a confidante of Agnes after her previous stumble.
Church had to be the one who wrote the letter to Agnes. He snuck away to do “something” after chatting with Baudin about the indignity of it all. He wanted to embarrass Bannister or Mrs. Russell for the slights against him. If they find out, there could be severe ramifications.
Sometimes it’s hard to be quite sure what is happening now.
Miss Marian Brook
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Louisa Jacobson portrays Marian’s naïveté in a believable, organic fashion. She seems continually affronted by how this world works and is getting increasingly frustrated trying to navigate within it, but still believes she knows what’s best for herself. You can see it’s getting to her.
Marian just wants to get to know a man she fancies without it looking like a scandal. It’s good for her to hear warnings from people other than Aunt Agnes. Even people like Mrs. Chamberlain, who don’t like Agnes, still know she has more life experience than Marian.
Peggy puts it into perspective, reminding Marian that the world isn’t fair, and compared to many, Marian has got it very good. It does show that Marian is “pure” of heart, as Mrs. Chamberlain put it.
You’ve just discovered injustice. I’ve lived with it my whole life.
Miss Peggy Scott
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Marian wants to make the world a better place and wants everyone to be happy (not the least of all herself); she’s just not always sure how to do it. She’s happy to stand up against injustice, even though she hasn’t truly experienced it herself.
You had to laugh when Mrs. Chamberlain said she broke the rules, and Marian noted that she wants to “break the rules” as well. The two situations are hardly comparable. It was typical of Marian’s kind nature that her response to Mrs. Chamberlain’s confession was one of solidarity and not contempt.
Though Marian is still interested in Mr. Raikes, we still can’t discount Larry Russell. Their chemistry is undeniable, even in this chance meeting outside the architect’s office. Now, she is keeping a secret for him.
I applaud your enthusiasm and I envy your freedom.
Miss Marian Brook
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As for that smile between her and Peggy after agreeing that Larry is “nice” — well, nothing much else needs to be said after that!
The Gilded Age is a masterclass in subtle face acting. That luncheon standoff was riveting with a few exchanged glances and heaving breaths.
At that moment, there was no winning, but everyone managed to precariously save face in front of Mr. McAllister (who is, granted, anything but subtle, but Nathan Lane appears to be having the time of his life, which is just as much fun to watch).
Kelli O’Hara’s Aurora Fane continues to delight. Being a fan of O’Hara’s stage work (and her angelic soprano), I love seeing her make the transition so seamlessly onto the small screen (having never watched 13 Reasons Why).
O’Hara infuses every glance and exhale with meaning without pulling focus.
Audra McDonald, another Tony-winning Broadway star, had an absolutely beautiful scene as Mrs. Scott with her daughter, Denée Benton’s Peggy (Benton is also a stunning stage performer).
These two women had such intimacy and melancholy in their interaction that it brought a tear to my eye. For whatever reason, these two have a gulf between them, and something — be it Mr. Scott or whatever Peggy is trying to atone for — is keeping them apart.
Their relationship feels the most profound of any on The Gilded Age
What on God’s green earth was that “doll’s tea party” of Mrs. Fish’s? How infantilizing and odd. Rich people can be so strange sometimes. Some definitely have more money than sense.
Gladys and Carrie bonding over their overprotective, controlling mothers was too perfect. Mrs. Russell was very lucky in that regard — she underestimated Gladys, it seems. Give your daughter an inch, and she’ll take you a mile!
As it turns out, the “in” to Mrs. Astor Mrs. Russell was hoping for unexpectedly came by way of Gladys.
Will we see Gladys’s debut before the end of The Gilded Age Season 1? It seems like it could be a pivotal event with lots of potential for drama, putting many of our main characters in one big, beautiful ballroom together.
Are there too many plot lines?
Some are more interconnected than others, but there are certainly a lot of characters, and it isn’t easy to give them all the amount of focus they deserve.
It does make the world feel marvelously fleshed out, even if it sometimes comes across as cluttered. Undoubtedly, whatever isn’t resolved in the next three episodes will carry over to Season 2.
Hopefully, the entire cast remains on so that each character can get their stories told in full.
Kasia Walicka-Maimone continues to outdo herself with gorgeous dresses and liveried uniforms.
Marian’s flower-pot hat with actual flowers was charming. Mrs. Fane’s luncheon outfit was lovelier than the luncheon! Agnes’s deep blue gown with the red flowers was stunningly magnificent.
I can’t say enough about these sumptuous costumes — they dazzle at every turn.
Which was your favorite gown of the evening?
Parting thoughts — does Mrs. Morris deserves any sympathy?
Would Marian be better suited with Mr. Raikes or Larry Russell?
Who isn’t getting enough screen time, and which plotlines are getting too much?
Share your thoughts in the comments!