Home » THE GILDED AGE S2E2: “Some Sort of Trick” | Review

THE GILDED AGE S2E2: “Some Sort of Trick” | Review

by Travlis Hallingquest
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The greatest television/streaming series are still not without flaws. In BREAKING BAD and BETTER CALL SAUL, everyone in the town conveniently knows everyone; Tony’s gambling addiction in THE SOPRANOS seemed a rather weak story arc and, despite having engaging main characters, some of the secondary characters in MAD MEN were not properly fleshed out.  Regarding that latter critique, I have pointed out in my reviews of season one of THE GILDED AGE that the housekeepers are underdeveloped despite the strong performances of the cast.  In “Some Sort of Trick”, we are introduced to new plotlines that could elevate the depths of two of those characters.

TheGildedAge_S2Ep2-Pic2-300x235The first instance is Ms. Armstrong (Debra Monk).  Thus far she has only been a hardworking but snooty housekeeper for one Agnes Van Rhijns.  As expected, Armstrong goes on a tangent when Peggy returns to work for Agnes. Agnes previously displayed trepidation about losing an experienced housekeeper.  However, Agnes is incredibly sympathetic to Peggy’s plight, for the young woman managed to be an excellent personal assistant while dealing with sensitive personal issues. Agnes bluntly tells Armstrong that if she antagonizes Peggy then she will be replaced. In the 19th century, the relationship between staff and employers was one of honor and tradition. Replacements did not come easy. Agnes does not give a damn. For the first time in the series, Armstrong displays a vulnerability other than paranoia.  She cries and pleads to stay, which she will as long as she leaves Peggy alone. A brief but tense interaction between Peggy and Armstrong is an indicator that this issue will remain an issue for the foreseeable future, and, thus, enriching our story. 

TheGildedAge_S2Ep2-Pic3-253x300The Russells are as busy as ever. Despite being more open-minded than his overly ambitious wife, George takes the time out of his day to shoot down the courting of his daughter. Oscar Van Rhijns, having healed from his physical altercation, presents an argument that he would be a great husband for the Russells’ cute but naïve daughter. George is not having it, but does acknowledge that Oscar is genuine in thinking he would be a suitable life partner for his daughter. Bertha is full speed ahead on acquiring investors to build her opera house, a gambit to supplant the old Academy of Music as the premiere theater in Manhattan. When meeting with a potential investor, Bertha nearly hyperventilates when seeing that Ms. Turner is the new wife of said investor. Turner was fired from the Russell house for not focusing on her maid duties, opting to focus on becoming a socialite. And because of that, the role of Ms. Turner, now Mrs. Winterton (Kelley Curran) is the second character to keep an eye on.  

Bertha now faces opposition on two fronts. The first battlefront is the Van Rhijns, who are backed by the Astor household.  The second battlefront is Ms. Turner. Although Turner is young, her wealth is from old money, just like the two aforementioned households.  Bertha can’t catch a break.  Who knows what damage Turner could do?  Outside of potentially destroying the Opera House before it is even built, Turner may have inside information that cripples George’s railroad company.  This high-stakes drama is why HBO exists. THE GILDED AGE returns November 12, 2023, at 9 PM ET on HBO.

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