“The Gilded Age” Recap: Electric City

Being easily impressed pays off handsomely in my life. As a result, I thoroughly enjoyed this episode, beginning with the opening sequence in which George lights up a miniature train station. Everyone is taken aback! That includes me!

Because we’re talking about electricity this week, a 30-year-old Thomas Edison shows up, which is surprising because I usually picture him as Gene from Bob’s Burgers with an aged white wig, especially since we’re just a few years after he invented the dependable lightbulb (and a couple of years pre-him-screwing-over-Tesla). What a dillweed, as my notes say.

The lighting-up of the New York Times skyscraper is the Big Event. Everyone is planning trips to see it, and if you don’t go, you will be a major loser. We’ve arrived at Marian! Marian isn’t permitted to attend. Bertha has a restricted number of seats in her two carriages (imagine someone stating they’re bringing two carriages but have no place for you), so Marian is forced to ask Tom. Why? Who knows what will happen!

I realize it’s probably not up to par with the times, but if I were Marian, I’d be sending those cards to all my friends with carriages, asking, “Hey, will you come with me?” Because of the fear of missing out. Agnes is apprehensive about going since she believes ruffians and robbers will be present, which may be true. Oscar might accompany them, but Agnes is still furious with him for his rumored affair with Miss Turner.

Miss Turner has been dismissed! Miss Turner, who is currently unemployed. Marian is told to go across the street and beg Bertha to dismiss Miss Turner by Agnes, who is not communicating directly to most of the people in her life owing to different squabbles. When Bertha asks Marian why, Marian explains it’s because Miss Turner is having an inappropriate connection with someone she won’t identify. Bertha assumes it’s Oscar, but later witnesses Larry talking to Miss Turner and dismisses her almost immediately. If Miss Turner wasn’t the Worst, I’d feel sorry for her.

Is anyone else having trouble remembering which servants correspond with which home when it comes to the show’s downstairs portion? They don’t get much screen time, and they’ve started intermingling lately, despite the fact that they live just across the street from each other. I’m familiar with Bannister and Church, but every time I think of Miss Armstrong, I say to myself, “Ah yes, she… works for… someone.”

Anyway, let’s all wait for Miss Turner’s Revenge, which will undoubtedly happen sooner or later. They sow the seed of the possibility that George may succumb to her less-than-subtle seduction tactics, and if he does, I will toss this program into the water. Give me this power-hungry duo set on establishing social and economic dominance! And they just love each other and perhaps their children, with no one having an affair, because we’re in a trying time and would appreciate some stability, thank you.

The married Russells’ situation appears to be tense, as George continues to lose tolerance with Bertha’s all-consuming desire to break into the upper social circle. Who knows what motivates people? Why did I spend so much time in elementary school memorizing the words for the spelling bee? Well. I wanted to beat my elder brother, and I succeeded, and it felt great.

What is Bertha’s interpretation of winning a spelling bee over her elder brother? Only a wild assumption may be made. “Everyone labeled me ordinary, and today I shall climb above them all!” I’m hoping it’s not something mundane like that. Bertha’s grand plan should be to reach the peak of civilization and then deconstruct it. “YOUR OVERLORDS ARE NO MORE,” she will declare to the crowd as she symbolically rips up the printed list of the Four Hundred, which is splattered with blue ink (another stroke of symbolic genius).

However, for the time being, the Russells are fighting because she is concerned that George’s possible imprisonment would jeopardize Gladys’ social debut. BERTHA. This episode also has George informing Larry that he can’t be an architect because he needs to run the family company. Later, Larry makes a strong case to his father, telling him that if he follows him in business, he would constantly be judged against George and found wanting. If he does anything else, on the other hand, that won’t be a problem. This obviously makes you question Meryl Streep’s decision to have all of her children pursue performing careers. Because George seems sympathetic to this, Larry may be able to carve out his own path after all. And by “carve out his own future,” I mean “ensconce himself in the job he wants using his family’s riches and numerous connections.”

Peggy, how about you? T. Thomas Fortune (I really like spelling down his name) begs Peggy to join him to the electrical show and interview individuals in the audience, and Peggy accepts. Fortune writes that Black inventor Lewis Latimer enhanced the carbon filaments in light bulbs when discussing Edison. Peggy responds that she is confident Mr. Edison will recognize Latimer at the event. They are giggling. Later, during the event, Fortune places his hand on Peggy’s back, and I’m not sure how I feel about it because, like in history, what if he’s married?

The worst are Tom and Marian. I can deal with Marian with other people, but her connection with Tom is so lacking in chemistry that the program insists we just DWELL in it. They spend so much time together in front of the television. We might be concentrating on any other character if we weren’t on the screen. What was the point of the one servant man eavesdropping on that woman entering a residence a few episodes ago?! That’s what I’d want to concentrate on! Instead, I have to listen to Tom persuade Marian, in his phony American accent, that their love will be enough, and that they should marry while they’re still young, before they go down the wrong road. What?? What! What exactly does THAT imply? He’s the worst, OMG. This plot irritates me. It irritates me to no end.

THE ENDING IS BEAUTIFUL. Large people wait in absolute darkness while the New York Times building is progressively lighted up by electricity, and eating supper in an open carriage appears to be a lot of fun. Everything is awe-inspiring. Ward McAllister called it a watershed moment in history, questioning if they’re on the right track. Bertha responds that we must follow history, which is fine, but I was expecting Bertha to add something along the lines of, “A true woman writes her own history.” Bertha is a woman who gets things done! She doesn’t follow anything! With the exception of the social registrar and anything Aurora Fane instructs her to do. The episode has come to an end.


“The Gilded Age” TV Series Season 1, Episode 2 Recap