‘The Gilded Age’: 5 Questions We Need Answered After the Premiere

The Gilded Age - Season 1 - Louisa Jacobson and Denee Benton
Spoiler Alert
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[Warning: The below contains MAJOR spoilers for Season 1, Episode 1 of The Gilded Age, “Never the New.”]

The Gilded Age has arrived as the next series from Downton Abbey‘s creator Julian Fellowes makes a splash on HBO.

Trading in the upstairs-downstairs dynamic for a showdown between old and new money in New York City, The Gilded Age introduced viewers to a large ensemble of characters in its premiere episode, along with plenty of mysteries. While we hope most of these questions raised will be answered over the course of the season, we’re breaking down some of the most intriguing teases made in the debut.

Who Is Ms. Chamberlain?

The Gilded Age Season 1 Jeanne Tripplehorn

(Credit: Alison Rosa/HBO)

While visiting with their fellow socialites, newbie Marian (Louisa Jacobson) inquires about a mysterious woman who is standing alone in the corner of the room. She is informed that the woman’s name is Sylvia Chamberlain (Jeanne Tripplehorn) and she’s even more ostracized than the society’s potential new members and new money wealthy Russells, Bertha (Carrie Coon) and Gladys (Taissa Farmiga). Later on, when Marian mentions Ms. Chamberlain to her aunt Agnes (Christine Baranski), she’s told to steer clear of the woman. Needless to say, we’re dying to know why she’s off-limits for fear of becoming a social outcast by proximity.

Why Isn’t Peggy Speaking to Her Father?

The Gilded Age Season 1 Denee Benton

(Credit: Alison Rosa/HBO)

When Marian’s friend and new employee to Agnes, Peggy (Denée Benton) meets with her mother Dorothy (Audra McDonald), they discuss her plans to sell a story. It’s clear from Dorothy’s reaction that the subject has a much bigger tie to the relationship Peggy has with her father. The vague allusion that they’re on bad terms due to her desire to write and share stories should hopefully be explored more as it hardly seems to be reason enough for no communication between the family members.

What Really Happened with Marian’s Father?

The Gilded Age Season 1 Denee Benton and Louisa Jacobson

(Credit: Alison Rosa/HBO)

Marian coolly asks her aunt Ada (Cynthia Nixon) why Agnes hated her father. The diplomatic spinster attempts to give her niece the nice version of the answer, explaining that he left the women of his family destitute after selling their farm and spending the money on nothing tangible for their future. Ada later tells Agnes about the exchange and admits she didn’t give the full story. Hopefully, we’ll learn enough to at least validate Agnes’s coolness towards the topic of her brother.

Why Is Mrs. Russell so Desperate to Be Accepted?

The gilded age Season 1 Carrie Coon

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From the minute viewers are first introduced to her, they are clued into Bertha’s ambitious side, and while that might explain her plight to become accepted into New York’s high society. Bertha’s husband George (Morgan Spector) also briefly discusses her mother who she claims didn’t have anything. Could her desire to have the biggest and best, while also being accepted, stem from a past filled with little to no money? In other words, we need to know more about Bertha’s past as soon as possible in hopes of understanding her desperate desire to be welcomed by New York City’s old money crowd.

Is Bertha Stifling Gladys’ Introduction to Society?

the gilded age season 1 taissa farmiga and carrie coon

(Credit: Alison Rosa/HBO)

When Bertha is invited to parties or putting soirees of her own on, she’s adamant about keeping daughter Gladys out of circulation but is often overruled by the men in her life. Technically, Gladys isn’t out in society yet, making her presence unuseful as she remains off-limits from potential suitors. Bertha attempts to explain that she’s been holding off allowing Gladys to participate in events until she can throw a ball for her daughter, but it feels like her clear exclusion of Gladys might stem from something deeper. Maybe we’re reading too much into it? Only time will tell for certain.

Let us know what questions you’d like to see answered as the season continues and catch more episodes of The Gilded Age each week on HBO.

The Gilded Age, Season 1, Mondays, 9/8c, HBO