Meanwhile across the street at the Van Rhjins, it’s Marian’s elopement day. Ada understands Marian’s plan because Peggy has Marians’ travel bag in her hand along with the rest of her stuff. She is sad that Peggy decides to quit but wishes the best. Marian does not tell Agnes her plan, instead opting for Larry to deliver her letters of explanation after she has already left Grand Central Station. After Marian leaves for Mrs. Chamberlain’s house, Aurora brings the bad news that many fans predicted earlier this season. She saw Raikes at the opera in love with Sissy the night before. Ada tells him to run to try to stop Marian from making a mistake. Fortunately, Raikes never came. Marian confronts him at this office and breaks up with him. She then returns to the aunts to intercept Larry’s delivery of the news of the runaway.
While Marian throws her pity party, George launches his own plan to make sure Gladys’ guest list and dance card are full. A business contact wanted a loan from George and he stipulates that attending Gladys’ prom is a condition of the deal. He claims his wife may object due to her loyalty to Mrs. Astor, but George tells him it’s either show up or be broke. Read our interview with Morgan Spector to hear his thoughts on how George would handle party planning!
Meanwhile, Bertha uses Carrie’s protests as leverage against Mrs. Astor. Mr. McAllister also warns Mrs. Astor that if she does not allow some of the new rich to join the Four Hundred, the crowd of old financiers will be barred from many other social events in the future. Mrs. Astor gives in and sends missives to her friends to show up at Glady’s ball, otherwise they won’t be friends anymore. One of these notes is sent to Agnes who until now has sworn to herself until now that she would never accept anything from Bertha. The tide is turning in the societal wars!
Peggy finally has an ally in her fight against her father’s misdeeds. Dorothy finds a letter in Arthur’s pocket about how well Peggy’s son is doing. Until now, everyone believed the baby was stillborn. Dorothy is angry because she has no relationship with her grandson and she agrees to travel to Philadelphia with Peggy to find the boy. Peggy and Dorothy confront Arthur together and he still can’t admit he did anything wrong. It’s clear that Peggy’s parents are clearly going to separate or divorce because of this. Although Peggy’s storyline ends on a dark note, it’s clear that fans will see more of Peggy’s professional journey and her journey to reunite with her past in Season 2.
Gladys’ debutante ball is fabulously exaggerated aesthetically and dramatically. Her quadrille routine is an interpretation of Marie Antoinette and 18th century French fashion. Oscar makes sure to register his name for the first dance with Glady’s partner. The aunts reluctantly show up in their best light, but Agnes reserves the right to fight Bertha on a later occasion. The new boss has a severe panic attack and a footman rushes in to convince Bordain/Borden to come back to save the day. Bordain/Borden agrees to come back so the guests can eat a four-course meal. Mrs. Astor and Bertha finally appear together and Bertha extends her hand of friendship as they are more alike than they would like to admit. Marian of course meets Raikes and has to suck the pain away. Fortunately, Larry offers her a dance to distract her. A riff to the theme song plays as the guests dance to signal Bertha’s victory. The episode ends the next morning with Bannister and Church bowing to each other and Marian trying to sleep from her pain.
Overall, Julian Fellowes has taken quite a few creative risks over the course of Golden age and this final episode sticks the landing. The series was not only “Downton Abbey with American accents. Over the course of nine episodes, the ensemble cast successfully established the world of the Astors and their social rivals the Russells. The season explored known and equally little known facts about America in the 1880s. Viewers discovered how the main cast connect or clash with each other. Supporting actors and guest stars round out the action and make the show world appealing to the audience. There are also wonderful historic corny Easter eggs throughout the season. Each episode also didn’t shy away from showing audiences the aspects of the lives of servants and staff that are impacted by their wealthy employers.