The second season of HBO’s opulent period drama ‘The Gilded Age’ came to a close this week with an eventful finale that delivered a long-awaited romantic moment and set the stage for clashes to come.
Marian and Larry Share a Kiss After Years of Slow-Burn Romance
After nearly two full seasons of back-and-forth tension, Marian Brook (played by Louisa Jacobson) and her former lawyer Larry Russell (Harry Richardson) finally shared a passionate kiss in the season two finale (Source 1). Their simmering slow-burn romance reached a boiling point during an emotional argument at the opera.
This culminates years of mutual pining and missed connections between the characters. Larry proclaimed his love for Marian last season, but she rejected him due to their differences in social status. This season saw them grow closer but Marian still hesitated to fully commit. Their heated confrontation at the opera house finally gave way to the release of their pent-up feelings (Source 2).
Showrunner David Crockett has hinted that this could lead to an engagement next season, though their path to marriage faces obstacles from disapproving family members (Source 3).
Ada Inherits Mrs. Astor’s Mansion, Escalating Her Rivalry With Agnes
In a surprising twist, the seemingly doomed social climber Ada Brook (Cynthia Nixon) inherited the iconic Astor mansion from her mentor Mrs. Astor after her death (Source 4). This puts Ada on more equal footing in her ongoing rivalry with her snobbish sister Agnes van Rhijn (Christine Baranski).
Ada has struggled to gain a foothold in high society due to her middle class background. But now owning the premier social headquarters in New York gives her newfound status and leverage (Source 5). Meanwhile Agnes has descended from her former social heights but still clings to her elite sensibilities.
Their contrasting trajectories are set to bring ever-greater conflicts between the sisters as Ada tries to carve her own influence in the world Agnes once dominated (Source 6).
Bertha Consolidates Her Hard-Won Social Victories
The climactic opera scene saw railroad tycoon George Russell’s wife Bertha (Carrie Coon) cement her status as a formidable new player in elite circles (Source 7). She outmaneuvered her rivals by reserving the opera’s coveted center box, allowing the Russells to be seen and feted by all.
This capped off Bertha’s aggressive social campaign to charm and conquer old money gatekeepers – learning their customs, speaking their language, and finding ways into their exclusive spaces (Source 8). Her final power move at the opera demonstrated that she could now set the terms of engagement with New York high society instead of begging for entry.
|New money railroad tycoon’s wife
|Succeeded in making inroads into elite old money circles
|Middle class widow trying to climb the social ladder
|Unexpectedly inherited Mrs. Astor’s mansion, giving her new social capital
|Agnes van Rhijn
|Old money society matron used to dominating social scene
|Forced to accept social climbers she used to exclude, including her own sister
Hints of More Drama Ahead in Potential Third Season
The Gilded Age has already been renewed for a third season by HBO (Source 9), allowing for more tales of late 19th century New York high society clashes.
Besides the developing romance between Marian and Larry and looming battles between Ada and Agnes, there are suggestions of new storylines waiting in the wings. Peggy Scott (Denée Benton) contemplated pursuing a nursing career despite the racial barriers she would face (Source 10).
Marian’s aunt Aurora Fane (Kelli O’Hara) harbors affections for her unhappily married businessman Archie (John Douglas Thompson), which could lead to scandal if they connect. Fan favorite Church (Assam Asamov) offered a cryptic warning that Thomas Eckhardt (Ben Lamb), financial advisor to railroad tycoon George Russell (Morgan Spector), may cause trouble for the Russells down the line (Source 11).
With the players converged and the board set, the intricate maneuvers of Gilded Age New York society will continue into a third season.
Source 1: https://www.thedailybeast.com/obsessed/the-gilded-age-finale-recap-finally-a-romantic-triumph
Source 2: https://www.tvinsider.com/1115087/the-gilded-age-season-2-finale-ada-inheritance-marian-larry-louisa-jacobson/
Source 3: https://variety.com/2023/tv/news/gilded-age-season-2-finale-interview-1235836224/
Source 4: https://www.tvinsider.com/1115087/the-gilded-age-season-2-finale-ada-inheritance-marian-larry-louisa-jacobson/
Source 5: https://screenrant.com/the-gilded-age-season-2-ending-explained/
Source 6: https://decider.com/2023/12/18/the-gilded-age-ep-teases-how-the-season-2-finale-sets-up-fireworks-between-agnes-and-ada-in-season-3/amp/
Source 7: https://www.thedailybeast.com/obsessed/the-gilded-age-finale-recap-finally-a-romantic-triumph
Source 8: https://bnnbreaking.com/arts/victorious-bertha-russell-and-the-gilded-ages-finale-a-deep-dive/
Source 9: https://www.yahoo.com/entertainment/gilded-age-renewed-season-3-184723877.html
Source 10: https://www.hollywoodreporter.com/tv/tv-features/the-gilded-age-season-2-finale-denee-benton-peggy-1235765113/amp/
Source 11: https://ew.com/the-gilded-age-writer-talks-long-awaited-kiss-season-2-finale-8415178
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