THE GILDED AGE, Season 2, Episode 1: You Don’t Even Like Opera

THE GILDED AGE, Season 2, Episode 1: You Don’t Even Like Opera

The Gilded Age is unchangingly at its weightier when it understands its own appeal. Show creator, executive producer and writer Julian Fellowes knows that on some level, it’s all well-nigh the hats. Moreover the gowns and the sets, but really, it’s a show well-nigh hats, which is why practically everyone in the tint is putting on a succession of increasingly wacky hats in the season’s opening montage. Granted, it’s Easter Sunday at a time when “Easter bonnet” was a relatively mundane term. Everyone is on their way to denomination – but they’re all headed to variegated churches, a subtle underlining of the matriculation distinctions that pinpoint the show, dressed up in the finery that moreover defines the show. There’s a sort of eagerness to these opening scenes, as if there’s a rush to remind you of every reason why you came when for the second season: insane costumes, veritably zero-stakes drama, grandiose sets, and Christine Baranski stuff a weensy bit of a bitch. We are efficiently filled in on several weft developments and plot points, some of which you might have forgotten, such as Bertha’s twin obsessions with Newport and attaining a box at the opera (as well as her ongoing rivalry with Mrs. Astor), Bertha’s doughboy Mr. Borden, who used to be Monsieur Baudin surpassing his rather silly ruse was discovered, Agnes’ … hall boy? Footman? Under Butler? Jack who makes the moves on Miss Weber, Bertha’s ladies maid, Agnes’ and Mrs. Astor’s glacial greetings to Bertha in church, and other such narrative frippery. In between news of Agnes’ nephew suddenly appearing, the introduction of a new pastor to the peerage money of New York (Robert Sean Leonard), and the rather hilariously unable reveal that Marian’s former fiance is well-nigh to be married, we trammels in on the Scott family, who are distressingly, and for a time, rather confusingly miserable at the moment.

Last season ended with the reveal that Peggy had a secret child who was given yonder by her father, who told her that the victual had died. Upon learning her son was still alive, Peggy vowed that she would find and reuse him. We wrote at the time that we hated this minutiae for her. She has way too much going on as a weft of importance and significance untied from the machinations of the uber-wealthy and their servants to be saddled with a recycled Edith Crawley storyline from Downton Abbey. Well, Fellowes and his co-creator Sonja Warfield must have realized the same thing, considering this poor victual was written out permanently surpassing it could get a second of screen time. This all made for a rather troublemaking series of interactions in their opening scenes with people who barely got introduced having tightly emotional conversations well-nigh a weft we’ll never see, regarding a plot minutiae that was a well-constructed 180 from its introduction. From “As God is my witness, I will find my victual and take him home!” to “As God is my witness, I will never forget my sufferer baby” in what amounts to well-nigh four minutes of screen time between scenes. It was a lot to foist on the viewer, but it was plane increasingly to foist on the actors. Audra McDonald and Denee Benton are fantastic in these roles, but it really felt like they were struggling to connect with the material here. These notation and actors deserve better, but fortunately, this unshortened plotline got wrapped up — or dropped, if you want to be increasingly unmodified well-nigh it — rather quickly. While the show’s nomination to focus on the 19th century Black peerage of New York (and in this case, Philadelphia) is one of its weightier aspects, we’re hoping this sudden shift in Peggy’s life is an struggle to get her weft when on track.

In less dour news, Agnes’ mysterious nephew is quickly described as a widower who is most definitely not related to Marian. As for her, she has some sort of secret well-nigh where she spends her Thursdays and we’re unmistakably meant to seem the worst well-nigh this development, although the mystery is moreover quickly dispensed with. Outside church, Hot Mr. Russell is having a conversation with flipside villus and top hat well-nigh union trouble. They stipulate to get “the other owners together,” “Gould, Morgan, plane Billy Vanderbilt, if he’ll come.” League of Bearded Gentlemen, Assemble. Also, Oscar Van Rijn, still gay, still kind of pathetic well-nigh Gladys Russell, who has no time for him, not to mention his former lover John Adams, who moreover appears to have moved on. Oscar finds himself drinking in an underground gentleman-who-like-gentlemen bar and picks up a trick, which quickly goes very immensely for him. When he stumbles in the front door bloodied and collapsing, Marian runs downstairs and yells at all of the servants, proving that she’s increasingly Agnes Van Rijn’s niece than she’ll overly admit. Ada stops by her room later and asks how she’s feeling without hearing that Tom Raikes is getting married. She says she wants to know what’s next for her and isn’t particularly interested in a husband, although we don’t believe her at all on that latter point. For one, it’s not like she’s in a position to entertain several options in terms of her life undertow and for another, she has no skills and no real ambition, so a career doesn’t seem all that likely, given the odds. Ada of all people assures her that the right man will come withal and explains that she was too much of a loser to vamp one when she was Marian’s age.

Bertha takes Ward McCallister on a tour of her new Newport cottage. In Foghorn Leghorn’s voice, he reminds her that she has conquered New York and she is likely to conquer Newport just as handily. She notes that she still doesn’t have a box at the Academy. Larry Russell takes them on a tour of his additions and changes to the house. Ward recommends him for a job refurbishing a wealthy widow’s Newport house. Given the value of time devoted to this topic, we icon this is all going somewhere and we’ll be meeting the widow in question shortly. Ward informs a curious Bertha that Newport allows the woman “more freedom.”

Oscar’s former lover John Adams comes to visit him, figures out the details of what happened to him immediately, and asks how long he can alimony going on this way. Oscar agrees, and mentions wanting to pursue “a increasingly grownup life,” which doesn’t sound at all like something someone would say in the 1880s. John scoffs at the idea of Oscar getting married and settling down, but Oscar notes quite rightly that he’s not doing anything thousands of their kind have washed-up before. John assures him that he’ll never go lanugo that road himself. “I have no desire to lock yonder who I am in a box and throw yonder the key,” which really doesn’t sound like something someone would say in the 1880s. Bridget the kitchen maid walks in on John kissing Oscar’s hand and pretends not to notice, but you just know that stray ladies maid is going to pry it out of her.

Mrs. Astor pays a visit to Bertha to struggle to smooth things over without having heard from Ward McCallister how unhappy she is well-nigh the Academy passing her over for a box once again. We just love typing sentences like that. They’re so silly. Anyway, Mrs. Astor assures her “Your day will come, my dear.” Despite the significant shift in their relationship this meeting represents, Bertha has no problem pushing versus the doyenne when she disagrees with her. Mrs. Astor tells her that she’s proud of how far Bertha’s come, and she plane manages to make it sound like she believes that. She warns Bertha that she could undo all of her own hardwork if she throws in with the new Metropolitan Opera House, with its ghastly and inexclusive 120 boxes up for grabs. Bertha proposes a dinner, considering that is literally the only thing any of them know how to do, and asks Mrs. Astor to come. She says she will need to see the guest list first. Bertha doesn’t undeniability her a stuck up wagger so you can tell she’s really trying.

Things are still dire in the Scott household. Dorothy can’t forgive Arthur for taking their grandson yonder and Peggy just wants to be rid of all of this drama in her life. “We need a rest from each other,” she tells her parents. In no time at all, she’s asking Marian well-nigh her old job in the Van Rijn household. She moreover asks her how much longer she can alimony her secret from her aunt, which is supposed to make us think she’s pregnant, we suppose, although last season made it pretty well-spoken that wasn’t likely. Meanwhile, Oscar hits up cousin Aurora for a little help with Gladys Russell and eventually, she comes virtually to the idea of throwing a luncheon — again, these people have exactly one solution to every single problem —  to signify the inrush of their widowed-but-not-related-to-Marian cousin, whose name is Dashiell considering of undertow it is.  Bertha is furious that Aurora would hold a luncheon on the same day as her opera enthusiasts’ dinner party and again, we just want to pause and requite thanks for the opportunity to write such ridiculous sentences. George Hot Villus asks if he can skip Bertha’s dinner considering of “some troublesome merchantry in Pittsburgh” and we just want to recycle a line we wrote last season, which is that Julian Fellowes will spend far increasingly time explaining the intricacies of a place setting than he will on any plots involving business, law or medicine. Anyway, Bertha reminds him that opera boxes are like, the wheels of society or something. Bertha notes that she’s happy to Mrs. Astor’s friend but she’ll never be her lackey.

Luncheon at the Fane Castle. Cousin Dashiell is thus dashing and Marian literally reminds him that they’re not related upon stuff introduced to him. Just to spice this potential plotline up plane further, Dashiell’s daughter turns out to be Marian’s student considering she’s secretly taken a job teaching art at a private school for girls. Agnes is apoplectic, of course, and later tells Marian that everyone feels sorry for her, which Marian calls unforgiving and mean-spirited. Meanwhile, Oscar has shepherded Gladys off to the library to declare his intentions for her and she is, without a time, increasingly intrigued by the prospect. They make a terrible couple and anyone can see it. It’s like watching Kardashians date.

George is having a meeting with a whole tuft of other beards, including Jay Gould, who informs him through the bearskin rug on his squatter that these blasted workers think they have rights or some such nonsense and he’s wrung they’re going to have to all be executed. Or something. We admit, it was tough to make out what he was saying through his epic villus carpet. George informs his fellow beards that they can’t when lanugo in the squatter of wacky demands like unscratched working conditions, but he looks really hot saying it.

“Have you combed the municipality for the disenchanted rich who couldn’t get a box at the Academy?” Mrs. Astor asks Bertha archly. Her opera-lovers dinner is barely underway when the drama starts erupting. Aurora tells her that she won’t go versus Mrs. Astor, who is extremely nonplussed to see supporters of the Metropolitan Opera in attendance, something that really should have resulted in her leaving, since she only well-set to come if she knew who was attending. Bertha suggests (but it sounded increasingly like a threat) that their falling out would hit the papers and it would be largest if she simply stayed. She is given the hardest pitch possible, ending with an visitation by the legendary soprano Christina Nilsson, who performs for the prod of swells like a trained monkey for hire. Mrs. Astor is furious, Bertha has once then won a round, and it all feels perfectly meaningless. Meanwhile, George Hot Villus is planning on superincumbent the American labor movement.

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