Heads Have Rolled For Less
Episode 6 of The Gilded Age begins with the aftermath of the train crash. George is concerned, especially when he learns five people have lost their lives. There’s no women or children involved though, which is at least something, as George hands over a donation to the Red Cross (and, by extension, Mrs Barton.) for her help.
The wounded are in Pennsylvania Hospital and George contemplates whether to go there or not. However, before he even thinks about showing up, newspaper reporters show to snap photos of the pair and get their story. George decides to front this and not hide.
In private, George learns that the accident was caused by metal fatigue and a broken axle. It would seem that someone has sabotaged the process, meaning that someone without the organization has blood on heir hands.
Thankfully the news is going easy on George for now, thanks in part to Bertha claiming he’s “grief stricken.” With the press off their bac, George doubles down on finding the saboteur.
Agnes is obviously nonchalant to this entire incident back home, pointing out that 5 deaths aren’t that many. However, Marian is far more sympathetic about the cause and as she walks with Peggy, they discuss what’s happened. Naturally, the conversation turns to Mr Raikes where Peggy exhibits her concerns, pointing out that he doesn’t seem to have much of a plan.
After the donation to the Red Cross, the society all vote on allowing Mrs Russell inside their inner circle. However, Mrs Morris is disgusted, pointing out that she’s essentially paid her way in and refusing to be part of this circus. So naturally she walks away.
Bertha soon receives an invite for Ward McAllister to come and visit her palace. Naturally she relays on her concerns to the staff, wanting to make sure they’re fully briefed and with English food to boot. Given her French chef isn’t accustomed to this, it turns to recruiting someone who does know about this. Someone like…Mr Bannister across the road.
When he shows up, Bertha offers him $100 to come and serve at the luncheon. He accepts the invitation with a spring in his step. He also makes sure to hide this from Agnes, whom he knows will react badly when she finds out.
Eventually though the two chefs join forces, AS Mr Bannister delegates his responsibilities to Jack who will prepare lunch for Agnes and Ada instead.
Between the sabotage problems, George shows up to see Gladys, forbidding her from seeing Mr Baldwin anymore. Bertha doesn’t see him as special enough, deciding Gladys is not to marry a banker from Manhattan.
That afternoon, a super-creepy doll party goes ahead with the other members of society. Gladys and Larry both show up but it’s clear they’re completely out of their comfort zone here. It doesn’t take long for Gladys to start talking to Carrie where they find solace in pointing out how overbearing and dominant their mothers are.
Marian is left conflicted over what to do regarding Raikes. She vents to Mrs Chamberlain about this, who takes up the same guarded stance as her aunts.
Chamberlain does offer a more sympathetic ear though, deciding that Marian can meet Raikes at her place and see whether he really is a good match for her. So why is Chamberlain doing all this? Well apparently she’s grateful for Marian showing respect to her, given she’s the first person to do that since Augustus died.
The big luncheon goes ahead with Ward McCallister showing up and immediately being greeted by Bannister. He’s happy with their English butler and lavishes praise on their abode.
While their meal goes ahead without a hitch, Jack finds himself clumsily pouring wine, missing the glass and struggling to please the sisters. However, Agnes receives a letter and immediately marches over to Bertha’s place, demanding to know where Bannister is.
After finding him inside the dining room, she decides against making a big scene but does grit her teeth and tell Bannister that “heads have rolled for less.”
Bannister returns later that afternoon and remains determined to find out just who wrote the letter telling Agnes about his deception. He decides to speak to Armstrong, who’s actually with Agnes in her room, pointing out the “betrayals” she’s seen.
Specifically, she mentions how Oscar was spotted outside with the Russell maid. As she wonders what they may be conspiring together, George receives a telegram informing him of the saboteur.
His name is Dixon and he’s actually head of the team that built the engine. Unfortunately Dixon also claims to have written proof confirming George gave the order and allowed this to go ahead. But how could that be?
The Episode Review
The Gilded Age bows out with another decent episode, tightening up all the drama with the various characters and leaning into the deception growing around Bertha and George.
They’ve obviously made a lot of enemies by muscling in on this society and that’s unfortunately spiraled into a dramatic and tense game of cat and mouse as the pair try to work out who could be behind this deception.
Who did order the axle replacements? It seems unlikely to be George but we’ll have to wait and see.
Meanwhile, Chamberlain’s motivations are now made clear while Gladys finds comfort in Carrie, as the pair start to get along well.
The lavish set design and various class wars continue to dominate this series and everything is left on a precarious knife edge as this series starts to dip into the business end of the story.