Tucked Up In Newport
Episode 8 of The Gilded Age starts with George Russell preparing for his hearing against the judge. He’s angsty, unsure whether he’s going to win or not. All the lawyers by his side have found nothing untoward regarding Dixon’s past and George Russell is growing impatient. It’s not looking good.
Meanwhile, Bertha informs her staff that the family are going to be in Newport for 10 days. Not George though, given the court trial he’s currently dealing with. John and Oscar see this news as a good opportunity to improve the latter’s standing with the family, with Oscar dead-set on making good on his promise to wed Glady. John though just wants to carry on as they are.
Aurora takes Marian aside over at the Brook household and brings up Mr Raikes. She’s worried about him, given he seems to be everywhere, but Marian reassures her that everything is okay. Speak of the devil; Mr Raikes appears with a letter just as they speak.
Marian happens to be upstairs and she talks to Peggy, admitting she’s made a decision. She’s going to marry Mr Raikes after all. She’s surrounded by doubters and is convinced that this is the right thing to do. Marian visits Raikes at his office and as the pair kiss, solidifying their upcoming marriage.
With Bertha and Gladys over to see Miss Fish in Newport, issues involving Peggy and Miss Armstrong begin to stir back in New York. It turns out Peggy was married and pregnant to a man named Elias Finn, who used to work at her father’s pharmacy. Unfortunately when her father found out about Peggy, he forced Elias to sign papers admitting he was previously married.
The reason Peggy is so torn up about this is that she believes Miss Armstrong may have actually intercepted the letter Mr Raikes sent over earlier in the season, confirming he was unable to find the midwife. Armstrong is not stupid and Peggy realizes she probably told the Aunts what’s happening. So the only thing for it is for Peggy to admit the truth to Ada and Agnes.
Peggy does just that but Agnes is surprising sympathetic about her plight. She too has lost a child and knows how painful this can be. Peggy decides to leave, while Agnes is not happy with Miss Armstrong given she’s spun the story in an ugly way to claim she bore an illegitimate child. Armstrong is saved from being fired thanks to her stature within the family but Agnes does her best to try and convince Peggy to stay. She admits this is unfair but lets her go.
George Russell’s hearing goes ahead but the lawyers are abuzz as they’ve found a crucial bit of evidence to help swing things in George’s favour. That comes in the form of Miss Ainsley, Mr Russell’s stenographer. Earlier in the episode Marian uncovered Ainsley’s ties to Dixon by change, partly thanks to her disguising her real name which happens to be Dixon. The same Dixon that happens to be in charge of building the railroad.
Ainsley is questioned about her ties with Dixon, where we learn that George’s original note was actually in response to Bertha’s suggestion of a company renovating his office but George found them too expensive. So essentially Ainsley forged the note, word for word, to make it seem like he approved the cheaper parts. She and Dixon had misappropriated funds before and now they’re caught red-handed.
George is exonerated while Dixon and Ainsley are referred to the prosecutor’s office and could well be jailed. Before he goes, George promises to make it impossible for Ainsley to get a better job above scrubbing floors, keeping tabs on her indefinitely.
With the George issue sorted, over in Newport tensions flare between Oscar and John. John and Gladys begin growing closer together at dinner, laughing and generally having a good time. All of this is a game but one that Oscar has a terrible poker face for.
When Mrs Astor returns to the house though, Ward and Aurora hurriedly smuggle Bertha out through the kitchen. As she heads out the back entrance, with all the staff watching her, Bertha walks away with her head held high, despite the humiliation.
The Episode Review
The Gilded Age returns with a resolution to the whole George Russell issue, and an explanation about what’s really happening here. It turns out Ainsley was the culprit behind copying his handwriting and although they were his words, it’s strategically placed to try and take George down. Well, that hasn’t worked and as we see from this episode, George has come out on top in the face of adversity.
Meanwhile, drama is abound with Bertha and Gladys, who head off to Newport with McAllister and get involved in a fair amount of drama themselves. The interesting ties between Oscar and John make for a nice power dynamic, while the same can be said back in New York too.
Seeing a softer side of Agnes is actually quite a surprisingly welcome change of pace. The way she sympathizes with Peggy and what’s happened to her does wonders for her character., who has – up until this point – been very cold and hostile. Here though, we actually see her understanding what’s happened to Peggy and it does wonders for her character.
Everything is geared up nicely for next week’s follow-up, which promises to be every bit as dramatic as this episode!