I didn’t believe I’d ever be able to say, “I enjoy this show,” when this season began, but the last few episodes have completely changed my mind. We’ve gotten rid of most of the tedious plotlines, and we’re transitioning from last week’s courtroom drama to this week’s social extravaganza. Marian is eloping with Tom, Bertha is threatening Mrs. Astor, George is just hanging around at the home, and Peggy is having a hard time.
Peggy’s announcement last week that she was married, had a child, and that it died sounded ripe with “that kid is still alive” potential. And so it has transpired! Dorothy, often known as Dorothy, is a fictional character. Mrs. Scott, a.k.a. Peggy’s mother, discovers a note (classic) in her husband Arthur’s pants informing her that Peggy’s son is still alive and well in Pennsylvania. Arthur appears to have planned everything, which is high on the list of the Worst Things You Can Do to Your Child. This clarifies a lot! Peggy seemed to dislike her father’s lack of support for her writing career before (which is understandable!), but this is pantomime villain behavior.
When Dorothy confronts Arthur, he tells her that they will never find the baby and that Arthur is not sorry. Arthur!! This isn’t the high ground for you! You believe you’re there, but you’ll soon discover you’re at the bottom of a very deep well. Peggy and Dorothy leave the season to search for Peggy’s son, whom we hope to see next season, as well as a genuine shift in Arthur’s attitude. Arthur, I’m talking about massive repentance.
Marian’s attempted elopement and Gladys’ coming-out ball take up the rest of the finale. Also, they devote a significant amount of time to the fact that Monsieur Baudin is from Kansas? It seems like you have a lot of time on your hands. clip snip snip snip snip snip snip snip snip snip snip snip snip snip snip snip snip Is there a mystery secret that every servant has? Bridget the maid, the cook, JohnJack (this is how I refer to him because they have several names for him), Miss Armstrong, and Mr. Watson (this is the man who watches that lady from behind a tree). I’m curious as to why Mr. Watson is following this married woman around and why she recognizes his name and then shows up with her husband at the Russells’ opulent celebration! Instead of “you believed I was from France, but I am not,” why couldn’t we spend the ending on that? One star down!
Let’s get started. Let’s chat about Marian for a moment. MARIAN. Again! Take a look at your life. Take a look at your options! This storyline is completely insane. After the disappointment of a failed engagement, it seems like it was merely to give Marian something to do and set her up to be with Larry next season. But it’s also illogical. Tom and Marian meet in the park, and he declares that he has never loved her more than he does now (in comparison to the other five minutes you’ve spent together??). The next day, they’re going to elope. This is critical. The following day. I’m not sure because the timing in this series is seldom clear, but it’s at the very least the same week. Marian adds, “I shit you not,” when Peggy asks where she and Tom are going to live, saying she thinks they’re going to live in Tom’s flat. She is completely unaware. Marian!! What if he doesn’t have a place to live? He’s been in New York for a couple of weeks now. He’s most likely staying in a hotel. Thank you, Lord.
Ada eavesdrops on Marian’s intentions, and when Marian states they both wished to wait, Ada points out that Tom has yet to do so. Ada, you make a wonderful argument. Marian is learning from this, but it’s like… an experience I’d anticipate of a sixteen-year-old during this time period? If Gladys Russell had gone through all of this, I would say, “Of course.” Marian, on the other hand, has established herself as a sophisticated twentysomething, and her choices are completely bizarre. Is Marian’s reading Henry James a Washington Square reference, as Agnes points out? Hopefully. It was published in 1879, thus it was only a year before. Marian, take notes from your books! Or from any source other than your faulty intuition. If it appears that I’m being too tough on Marian, know that I’ll keep doing so until she starts thinking about anything. In the Carpetbag, Ol’ Shoes Marian.
Tom fails to appear at the elopement. Of course, he doesn’t, but it’s also really strange that he doesn’t. He has selected Miss Bingham, the heiress, which is fine, but this has been set up horribly. Why was he so adamant about Marian eloping with him? Are we really supposed to believe that he was attempting to marry Marian before his avaricious side took over and he jilted her? That’s ridiculous, and I’m not going to let it happen.
Aurora, on the other hand, notices him with Miss Bingham at the Academy of Music as a woman sings Bellini’s “Vaga luna che inargenti” and rushes off to inform Marian. That is the correct course of action, and Aurora has my support. This entire series’ Mercury is her. Marian, whether she merits it or not, receives the support of many wonderful ladies in this episode, including Aurora, Mrs. Chamberlain, Peggy, and Ada.
Marian gifting Mrs. Chamberlain a painting she painted of a bird when Mrs. Chamberlain has masterpieces all over her house is a brave move, and Marian’s bird-painting gift made me laugh out loud.
Let’s get down to business with Bertha Russell and Lina Astor, the WWE smackdown of the Gilded Age. It all comes down to this: Mrs. Astor and Mrs. Russell are squaring off for social dominance in the same room. Everything is based on true occurrences! Or at the very least, a story that may or may not be true. Bertha’s role was fulfilled by Alva Vanderbilt, who, to no one’s surprise, did not invite Carrie Astor to the ball until Mrs. Astor summoned the Vanderbilts. Instead of Gladys’ coming-out ball, the real version had a costume ball, which I am very disappointed they didn’t do in the performance. Someone dressed up like a phoenix rising from the ashes, someone dressed up like a wasp, and someone dressed up like a peacock with peacock feathers on her frock. But there’s the show.
But first, there’s Lina Astor’s and Bertha’s rendezvous. TWO TITANS, TO BE EXACT. Mrs. Astor declines to take a seat, stating that Carrie is free to attend the ball now that she has paid a call on Bertha. Bertha retorts that she called when no one was likely to be available. The beauty of Carrie Coon in this sequence has me distracted. The drama alone is fantastic, but it’s also really attractive. Bertha wields all of the power in this room and is very aware of it, which is rather impressive. Mrs. Astor must attend the ball, and she must compel the van Rhijns to attend as well (“WOW. WOW,” my notes state). Bertha! Captain of the social sector! She tells her butler, “Mrs. Astor is going.” This is precisely what I was hoping for from this show.
Mrs. Astor agrees to Bertha’s demands, and Carrie receives an invitation to the ball. I despise Bertha’s gown during the ball, yet it’s fine! At this point, Carrie Coon was about 8 million weeks pregnant, which the costume designer(s?) did an excellent job of concealing. Also, I’m not sure if this clothing is High Fashion for 1881; I’m not sure. The van Rhijns are on their way! Mrs. Astor and Carrie enter, and everyone comes to a halt since it is A Moment. Bertha’s Moment was a huge success!
We must sit through the much-discussed quadrille, in which the dancers wear 18th-century clothes and carry small parasols. The men all have horse heads on and prance around. It’s not as good as a wasp or a peacock suit, but it’ll do. During the dance, Mrs. Astor informs Bertha that she is capable of destroying her, and I am smitten by Donna Murphy at this and all subsequent times.
Oscar tries to get Gladys to dance with him, but she refuses, saying she’s had enough of being told what to do – a preview of what will happen next season! Everyone is dancing, which is lovely and precisely what I was hoping for from this concert. OPULENCE. Tom appears with Miss Bingham, and he tells Marian that he didn’t expect her to be there. Yes, sir. He claims that when he said he loved her, he meant it, and she responds that love isn’t always enough and walks away crying. At this time, there is no emotional payoff. What a messed-up plot. When Larry asks about Tom, she claims he’s just someone she used to know.
People depart as the sun is shining brightly outside as if it were the first night of The Bachelor. Marian thinks she shouldn’t have told Larry when he walks her across the street to the van Rhijn house. Is it true that they omitted a significant portion of the story? So Marian Brook is telling Larry Russell she shouldn’t have informed him about Tom because we all blacked out at the party? When did that take place? We probably drank too much punch after talking to Miss Rockefeller about her ingenious peacock outfit. Marian promises Ada that she’ll explain the canceled elopement to her someday at home.
Across the street, the butlers exchange nods. The servants stack the party chairs and roll up the red carpet. The first season is over! Season two promises more drama and a fancy dress ball!