In HBO’s ‘The Gilded Age,’ fortunes can change in a moment, and no one knows it better than George Russell’s butler, Mr. Watson. He’d been a secondary character in the first season, and it didn’t seem like there was much to him. But then, a critical detail about his past is revealed, and it turns out that there is much more to him than previously imagined. He was not always a butler, and now, his past has caught up to him. In the second season, he receives an offer that makes him reconsider his position in the Russell household. What does it mean for his future? SPOILERS AHEAD
Mr. Watson Gets What He Wanted in Season 2
When the layers of his past are peeled away, it turns out that Mr. Watson’s real name is Mr. Collyer. He used to be married to a very wealthy woman, but because his father-in-law didn’t want him to inherit his daughter’s money, he made her get a divorce from Collyer. Due to this, he was separated from his daughter, Flora. Things turned worse for him when he lost everything he had when the market crashed and was declared bankrupt.
Having lost everything, Collyer was forced to live on the streets until he decided to get a job, doing the only thing he could remember. He’d had his own butler at one point, which is why he had a fair idea of what the job entailed. So, he changed his name, got a job, and eventually landed at the Russell household. Meanwhile, he also kept tabs on his daughter, and one day, she saw him, too. He discovered that Flora was married to a rich banker named Robert McNeil.
Flora is shocked to see her father working for the Russells, and when she tells her husband about it, he comes up with a plan. Due to his father-in-law’s disgraceful financial fall, he couldn’t accept him into his life. He also didn’t want his reputation to be stained by the fact that his father-in-law was a butler to George Russell. So, he offered Watson a good retirement, but in California. Basically, McNeil wanted Watson gone for good and believed that having a comfortable life was all that mattered to him. But that’s not what Watson really wanted.
Watson wanted to reconnect with his daughter, but he knew it would be difficult to do due to his current job. Having some money and his own place seemed like a good thing, but it meant he’d have to leave his daughter, so he didn’t agree to it. Instead, he found a way to talk to Flora, and she gave him the same deal, except that he’d be living in New York and be involved with her as well as her grandchildren. This is exactly what Watson wanted, which is why he accepts the offer and decides to leave his job in the Russell house.
Michael Cerveris’s Return Depends on His Character’s Fate
With Watson getting to be in his daughter’s life again and not having to work as a butler anymore, he seems too far removed from the Russells and the main drama for the plot to follow him. As long as he was in the Russell house, he was in constant view of the audience, but with him being a side character and receiving the desired end for his character, it seems unlikely that the show will follow his arc next season. In fact, it seems like the show has wrapped up his part to open the door for another possibility.
Watson’s resignation means that George Russell will have to find a new butler, which means the entry of a new character. This is in addition to other new characters that will join the cast in Season 3, where the drama is expected to focus on the romance between Larry and Marian and the lack of one between Gladys and the Duke, apart from other conflicts whose seeds are sown in the Season 2 finale. Considering all this, it seems like the show might not have the space to explore Watson’s story further unless, of course, it ties into the bigger narrative of the show.
As of now, no cast announcements for ‘The Gilded Age’ Season 3 have been made, and neither HBO nor Michael Cerveris have talked about him coming back in Season 3 or leaving the show altogether. It remains to be seen how everything turns out, but considering everything, there is a good possibility that we might’ve seen the last of Mr. Watson.
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