‘The Gilded Age’: 7 Questions We Need Answered in Season 2

The Gilded Age Season 1 Episode 9
Alison Cohen Rosa/HBO

[Warning: This article contains spoilers for The Gilded Age Season 1 finale, “Let The Tournament Begin.”]

The Gilded Age Season 1 came to an end on March 21. From Marian Brook’s (Louisa Jacobson) heartbreak and Peggy Scott’s (Denée Benton) shocking twist to the Russell’s triumphant ball, the high-society drama’s finale was filled with campy goodness.

After weeks of secret planning, Marian and Tom Raikes (Thomas Cocquerel) finalized their plan to elope. Marian spent the episode coordinating her secret wedding with the help of Mrs. Chamberlain (Jeanne Tripplehorn) and Peggy, but it was all in vain. Aurora Fane (Kelli O’Hara) informed Marian of Tom’s date at the opera. And after waiting for him for hours at Mrs. Chamberlain’s mansion, Tom never showed.

Marian found him at his office, where he revealed he couldn’t go through with the elopement (which was his idea in the first place!), saying he didn’t want to ostracize himself from New York society. Basically, he left Marian hanging so he could marry richer.

 

The heartbroken (but better off) Marian pulled herself together to attend Gladys Russell’s (Taissa Farmiga) coming out ball that night, which Bertha Russell (Carrie Coon) was able to force Mrs. Lina Astor (Donna Murphy) into attending. Agnes van Rhijn (Christine Baranski) and Ada Brook (Cynthia Nixon) finally went to the Russell’s neighboring mention, per Mrs. Astor’s strict instructions. In fact, most of the ball’s attendees attended because Mrs. Astor told them too. For Mrs. Russell, the ends justified the means.

The episode’s biggest twist came when Peggy learned that not only was her son alive, but it was her own father who had the child adopted and came up with the narrative Peggy was sold. Peggy and her mother, Dorothy (Audra McDonald), confronted Arthur (John Douglas Thompson) about the child before setting off to Philadelphia to find him.

The HBO series, created by Downton Abbey creator Julian Fellowes, has been renewed for Season 2. Here, we break down the questions we need answered in the new season.

The Gilded Age, Season 1, Streaming Now, HBO Max

The Gilded Age Season 1 Episode 9
Alison Cohen Rosa/HBO

1. Mrs. Astor and Mr. McAllister's Backstory

Mrs. Astor’s word is law in The Gilded Age‘s social scene, and Mr. Ward McAllister (Nathan Lane) enforces it. Next season, we want to learn how Mrs. Astor rose to the top, because we have a feeling it wasn’t too different from Mrs. Russell’s current rise. How Mr. McAllister became her gatekeeper for the New York City social elite is on our minds as well.

The Gilded Age Season 1 Episode 9
Alison Cohen Rosa/HBO

2. Agnes van Rhijn's Backstory

Viewers have learned enough details of Mrs. Van Rhijn’s backstory to understand where her attitude towards status comes from, but there’s room for her backstory to be more deeply explored. We have the bullet points explaining her jaded and stubborn demeanor, but now, we want richer details that bring about more vulnerable, open moments (while continuing to give Baranski even shadier lines to throw at everyone. We live for them).

The Gilded Age Season 1 Episode 8
Alison Cohen Rosa/HBO

3. Will Oscar van Rhijn Marry Gladys Russell?

It seems like the answer is no, but will Mr. and Mrs. Russell consider letting Oscar marry Gladys? Is he a big enough name for Mrs. Russell’s ambitions for her daughter? It also seems like John Adams’ (Claybourne Elder) jealousy could ruin his and Oscar’s secret relationship. Will he (intentionally or not) expose their love, risking their reputations because they can’t marry?

4. Will Peggy Find Her Son?

Possibly our biggest question of them all! And if her child has been alive all this time, could her husband, Elias Finn, somehow reemerge as well? Our theory: Arthur had arranged for Elias to marry someone else, and that’s who Peggy’s son has been with all this time.

The Gilded Age Season 1 Episode 9
Alison Cohen Rosa/HBO

5. The Russell Staff Drama

We have a lot of questions for this group. Why did we never learn why Watson (Michael Cerveris) follows that woman? Is Turner (Kelley Curran) really gone for good? Will Monsieur Baudin’s (Douglas Sills) grift be exposed to all of society? Much to learn here. Much to learn.

The Gilded Age Season 1 Episode 9
Alison Cohen Rosa/HBO

6. Will Tom Be Raike-d Across the Coals?

Listen, Mrs. Astor. If anyone’s reputation should be ruined in Season 2, it’s Tom Raikes’. Hopefully, next season will humble Tom in a way that rectifies the harm done to Marian.

The Gilded Age Season 1 Episode 9
Alison Cohen Rosa/HBO

7. Is Romance Blooming Between Marian Brook and Larry Russell?

The season finale hinted at a budding romance between Marian and Larry Russell (Harry Richardson). Between those two and Oscar’s determination to marry Gladys, it seems Mrs. Van Rhijn may have to come to terms with having the Russells as in-laws.