Don’t you know that a “Gilded Age” silk stocking once had swans at her supper table? That’s the show’s bar. I seek table swans.
This week the Russells are prominent as Bertha enters the Four Hundred. We get to know the characters better since they are focused on fewer tales. Bravo, show. Gladys Russell tries to slip out with a maid’s help. Gladys’ selfish objectives imperil the jobs of servants. Her governess last week, now this! Gladys flees, but Bertha captures her, so the maid is not charged as an accomplice.
The thing is. Bertha’s desire to keep Gladys hidden until The Fancy People accept her is understandable. That’s it. My concern is that Bertha resembles Alva Belmont, alias Alva Vanderbilt, who similarly snuck into society. Alva Belmont compelled her daughter Consuelo to marry the Duke of Marlborough (Consuelo sobbed at the ceremony), a union that neither wanted. If marrying an Englishman with a title seems familiar, that’s because Cora Crawley did it in Downton Abbey, although that marriage was more successful.
Bertha’s enigmatic references to her intentions for Gladys appear to indicate this! Gladys. A pleasant, bland young man will do. But not after George’s discussion with him.
Marian van Rhijns wishes to watch Clara Barton speak in Dansville, New York, the home of the American Red Cross. It’s not only because Aurora Fane has been making questionable judgments recently that Agnes is wary. Agnes believes charity has two purposes: raising monies for the least poor and serving as a social ladder. Imagine being in a wealthy club where you were afraid of individuals contributing to charities because they may want to befriend you. The arrogance. Again, the Astors killed beavers in Michigan. Sorry, Bertha, you’ll have to impress the beaver killer’s heirs before you can attend their gatherings.
Agnes allows Marian to go provided Peggy goes too. This is a great move considering Marian is always making poor decisions! Look at last week’s shoe incident! She’s still healing from Peggy. I doubt she’ll ever recover! She had a carpetbag of old shoes for Peggy’s wealthy folks! I’d disappear beneath the soil. Marian sort of apologizes to Peggy, but not really? Because Peggy hasn’t told her anything, she attempts to justify herself. Marian: Worst? In what circumstance would I walk up uninvited at their parents’ house, attempt to offer them old shoes (I would never let that go), and ask about their lives? Life, Marian. Choose wisely.
Miss Armstrong? She is a van Rhijn. Her employment is unclear. Debra Monk, who plays Peggy, is always cranky. On her day off, we get a peek of her life outside the van Rhijn household. Miss Armstrong takes care of her old mother, who is an invalid, in a run-down tenement building. Unpleasant invalid Some of Miss Armstrong’s annoyances immediately make sense. Caregiving is difficult and unpleasant labor, especially when you are poor and the person you are caring for treats you like garbage. Miss Armstrong can yet change her opinion towards Peggy, but I like a character with a background.
Aurora hosts Ward McAllister, the Four Hundred’s creator and Mrs. Astor’s right-hand man. Nathan Lane plays him, with a nasal Southern accent (I can’t place it, but McAllister is from Savannah, so let’s suppose Savannah). I’ve never heard Nathan Lane speak with this accent, even when he was a talking meerkat. The proper individuals will be brought into Bertha’s house, bringing her one step closer to social victory.
Also, I’m interested to watch Clara Barton since the women will have to remain overnight, which seems perfect for some queer encounters amongst the ladies. We have had NONE. Nothing! Oscar is with John Adams’ descendent, but he seldom turns up, and I want more queer women’s representation. Aurora Fane, Marian, Peggy, and Bertha are going. That leaves Aurora Fane and Bertha, as Marian is The Worst and I dislike the power dynamic between Peggy and either of them. Don’t scoff. I’d be in.
It’s Marian and Tom Raikes, not Aurora and Bertha, after Clara Barton’s discussion in the hallway hotel. Tom Raikes is there because he’s weird and unpleasant and follows Marian around. He leads Marian back to her room alone, therefore he doesn’t care about Marian’s reputation, so well done, Tom. His face is eaten after they kiss. I’m so glad Peggy stops him. GET OUT, TOM. Peggy enters Marian’s chamber and tells her about her love for an Elias, a stock boy at her parents’ drugstore. I trust Peggy’s judgement 5000 times more than Marian’s, and I’m sure Elias the Stock Boy was kind.
I’m very disappointed we just get the disgusting hallway kiss as hotel hijinks. People need help undoing their corsets, and their maids may be missing!
Back at home, Bertha invites Gladys’ lover Archie Baldwin to lunch. Gladys’ new lady’s maid Adelheid is thrilled. I yell at Adelheid. But it makes me think of Aethelred the Unready, which is entertaining for me.
Bertha plays a lengthy game, says Church, the Russells’ butler. That’s true! Church is spot on. Archie seems pleasant and interested in Gladys, something I didn’t expect. It’s lovely that he calls her “the finest girl there is.” Bertha demands everyone leave Archie and George alone, and George offers Archie a position as a broker with a famous business in exchange for leaving Gladys alone. It hurts! But anticipated. Archie is astonished.
If Archie refuses, George swears he’ll never work in finance again. Gladys. The lovable George even likes Archie, but this is not Bertha’s Big Plan. Archie leaves Gladys, and Larry asks Bertha what she did. Why are we wasting time on Tom when the far more reliable and beautiful Larry is right there?
Sorry for her mother, Gladys tells her that she loves Archie, but Bertha is certain that only she knows what’s best for Gladys. I swear. Vanderbilt. An altar will be sobbing.
George’s primary henchman arrives with news of a railway disaster in Pennsylvania, resulting in three deaths. George fears about the firm and the Russells. “Then survive,” Bertha advises. And we’re left hanging!