The Gilded Age S2 Pretends Like S1's Craziest Twist Didn't Even Happen

The Gilded Age S2 Pretends Like S1's Craziest Twist Didn't Even Happen
Image credit: HBO

It truly is Downton Abbey all over again.


  • The Gilded Age is an HBO period TV series by the creator of the hit period drama Downton Abbey Julian Fellowes.
  • In the season 1 finale, it was revealed that one of the leading characters’ son was not a stillborn, as her father implied, but a living child.
  • In season 2, however, the story had little to no consequences.

Back in early 2022, all period drama lovers were buzzing with excitement as the new project from renowned Downton Abbey creator Julian Fellowes hit the screens. The show was predicted to be a huge success, but left many viewers disappointed, at least with some of the storylines and the way they were handled.

Despite its relatively high ratings on services such as Rotten Tomatoes (86%) and IMDb (8/10), The Gilded Age is still not the perfect period drama that people crave. And as much as viewers appreciated the inclusion of the black family of Peggy Scott and her parents, Arthur and Dorothy, the way they handled their storylines still raised some eyebrows.

In season 1, viewers were shocked with a huge reveal in the finale: Peggy's son, thought to be stillborn, turned out to be alive and well. Thanks to her father, Arthur, who wanted to save his daughter from the ruin of being a single mother, the child was sent to live with an adoptive family in Philadelphia.

This finale was a very promising start for Peggy's new storyline, as it touched on all the important relationships in her life. Although it was a bit awkward from the beginning, as very few viewers could really imagine that an aspiring journalist like Peggy would have to take care of her child while staying on the job, it was a setup for some good intriguing drama.

However, the fans were completely disappointed when it turned out that this crazy twist would be completely wrapped up in one episode.

What Happened To Peggy’s Child in The Gilded Age?

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Peggy's investigation led her to discover that her son was dead. Sadly, the child died of scarlet fever, as did his adoptive mother, who cared for him throughout his illness. The father, who was the only one left in good health, was too overcome with grief to contact anyone and let them know.

As unfortunate as it is, both the viewers and the writers agreed that there was no better solution to this story.

“She’s already a Black woman trying to be accepted as an author, a woman trying to get published in journalism. To have an illegitimate child on top of that would have stacked too many cards against Benton’s character,” Fellowes explained to TV Insider.

However, this does not answer the questions that remain for the audience. Why was the story introduced at all? And why was it rushed? In the same interview, the writers explain the motives behind the twist as keeping Peggy motivated by her grief.

For grief to be present, they did not have to kill the child, but rather leave his whereabouts a mystery. This would not play as much into the hurtful narrative of the "Black trauma" trope for which The Gilded Age has already been criticized, but would still be enough to move the character forward.

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Some fans have suggested that the storyline was simply overlooked because there's no confidence that HBO will renew the show for season 3, and the writers are trying to rush through all the loose ends, while others are more inclined to believe that it's a matter of Julian Fellowes' storytelling style.

To see how season 2 of The Gilded Age will wrap up the story of Peggy Scott, be sure to tune in to HBO on Sundays.

Source: TV Insider