Peggy Scott and Marian Brook sit on a bed talking in 'The Gilded Age' season 2.

The Ending of ‘The Gilded Age’ Season 2 Changed the Game for Everyone

Max’s The Gilded Age season 2 is officially over. They packed a lot of twists and turns into that finale, so let’s go over what it means for our favorite characters.

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We love the glitz and glamour of The Gilded Age. There’s something about women warring over who has the best opera house while wearing over-the-top dresses that is a salve for my soul. Of course, there are other low-stakes dramas to enjoy. Who will everyone sit with during the tennis match in Newport? Will Bertha Russell finally find a maid who knows how to handle a tiara? And what, exactly, did the new Mrs. Winterton do before she married into old money? Although I am not sure how well The Gilded Age handled topics like Peggy going to the South or the union strikes, the show gave us plenty of rich people’s problems to obsess over. It’s time to unpack everything that happened in the last episode and how that will change the wealthy society of New York.

***SPOILERS AHEAD for The Gilded Age season 2 finale***

The Russells and the Opera War

Season 2 of The Gilded Age focused on the ostentatious Opera Wars between the old money Academy of Music and the new Metropolitan Opera. New money queen Bertha Russell (Carrie Coon) waged a societal war against old money led by Mrs. Astor (Donna Murphy). It came down to both opera houses opening on the same night. Many undecided wealthy went where they thought they would see the Duke of Buckingham (Ben Lamb). Those with any brains picked the Met because Bertha always wins. The Duke showed up, the Met was full, and the Academy was almost empty. Bertha won and shifted the center of upper-crust society. We knew she could do it.

But how did Bertha convince the Duke to pick her over the money and society offered by Mrs. Astor? Although it wasn’t explicitly said, many, including Bertha’s husband George (Morgan Spector), suspect Bertha offered her daughter Gladys’ (Taissa Farmiga) hand in marriage to the Duke. It will be an interesting point to play out since Gladys seems to have no romantic interest in the Duke. Earlier in the season, George offered to support Gladys’s choice of a husband since he wanted her to marry for love. Will this pit the two Russell parents against each other? George will also have his hands full with trying to outsmart the unions and appease other robber barons. If anyone can walk that tightrope, it is George.

The future of the Van Rhijn household

Of all the families in The Gilded Age, the Van Rhijn and Brook household may have had the wildest ride this season. Matriarch Agnes van Rhijn (Christine Baranski) usually has a tight rein on everything happening in her household. This season, she had to go through her niece Marian working as a teacher and getting engaged. Agnes’s spinster sister Ada (Cynthia Nixon) found love and got married, only for her husband to die.

The biggest drama occurred when Agnes’s son Oscar (Blake Ritson) lost most of the family money after being conned by Maud Beaton. A lawyer informs Agnes she must sell her house and get rid of most of the staff to survive on their limited means. Just as things looked grim for the house, an unexpected twist happened. Ada’s late husband had a vast fortune that he left to her. Now Agnes doesn’t need to sell the house and “nothing has to change.” Except, as Marion pointed out, Ada would now be in charge of the servants since she would be paying their salaries. On the surface, things will look the same in the Van Rhijn household. But Agnes will now technically be number two to her sister, something she’s never had to deal with before.

Some hope for the van Rhijn extended family

Marion had been unsure about her quick engagement to Cousin Dashiell (David Furr). She confirmed her doubts when she realized he was still in love with his deceased wife. So she ended things as cleanly as possible. This will hopefully be a good move for her, so she can figure out what path she wants to take in life. She also ended up kissing her friend Larry Russell (Harry Richardson). Good for you, Marion.

At least John “Jack” Trotter, a footman for the house, may have a bright future ahead of him. Throughout the season, he’s worked on improving how his alarm clock worked. The other staff members, and Agnes, supported Jack in his endeavor. Eventually, he received a patent on his escape wheel design and has plans to go into business with Larry Russell. He might turn into one of those rags-to-riches stories that America loves so much.

We want the best for Peggy Scott

Peggy Scott (Denée Benton) went through an emotional journey this season. Her son, who she thought was dead, ended up being alive. Except he sadly died of an illness before she could meet him. Peggy journeyed to the South with her newspaper boss and returned ready to be an activist. Getting her parents involved with her activism surrounding the Black schools proved to be good for all of them. Their relationships seem to be moving in a positive direction. Although her writing career is going great and she’s making a difference, she quit due to her romantic feelings for her boss. Her job at the van Rhijn house seems secure, but Peggy deserves to be a renowned writer. Maybe her dreams will come true when she finishes her book.

We don’t have confirmation on a season 3 for The Gilded Age, but the season ended in a way that another season would be warranted and welcomed. We need more silly hats!

(featured image: Max)

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D.R. Medlen
D.R. Medlen (she/her) is a pop culture staff writer at The Mary Sue. After finishing her BA in History, she finally pursued her lifelong dream of being a full-time writer in 2019. She expertly fangirls over Marvel, Star Wars, and historical fantasy novels (the spicier the better). When she's not writing or reading, she lives that hobbit-core life in California with her spouse, offspring, and animal familiars.