Is Reverend Luke Forte Dead? Did Robert Sean Leonard Leave The Gilded Age?

Image Credit: Barbara Nitke/HBO

The second season of HBO’s ‘The Gilded Age’ brought a lot of changes in the lives of the protagonists, but one of the characters who truly sees their life changed forever is Ada Brook. Having lived her entire life as a spinster, things take an unexpected turn for her when she meets Reverend Luke Forte. They immediately connect with each other, and soon, their friendship turns into a romance, and they get married despite Agnes’ disapproval. However, Ada’s happy life with her husband doesn’t last for long, and in the penultimate episode of the season, a heartbreaking tragedy strikes. SPOILERS AHEAD

Reverend Forte Meets an Expected But Tragic End

Soon after they returned from their honeymoon in Canada, Reverend Forte felt something amiss with his back. He and Ada thought that it might be hurting because he took too much strain while carrying her across the threshold after they were married. They didn’t take it very seriously until the doctor told him that it wasn’t the case of just a bad back. The situation is much more severe than they’d imagined. It turns out that the pain is due to cancer.

Image Credits: Barbara Nitke/HBO

According to the doctor, Reverend Forte is in the final stage of cancer, which means his days are numbered. There is nothing that can be done about his health, which will only deteriorate with time until he is eventually consumed by the disease. Despite finding out about his impending death, the Reverend doesn’t lose heart. He feels bad for pulling Ada into his life and marrying her, only to leave her so soon, with the pain and sorrow of heartbreak. He is worried that his wife might not take the news well and breaks it to her in the presence of her niece, Marian, who’d just got engaged to Dashiell Montgomery and thought that she was being called to the Forte house about her decision.

While the news of her husband’s imminent demise deeply saddens Ada, it doesn’t make her regret having married him. She is happy that she found love, even if for a brief time. Agnes, too, believes so, even though she’d initially been against their marriage. She thanks the Reverend when he is on his deathbed for giving her sister a chance at happiness, which she will cherish for the rest of her life.

When Agnes finds out about his condition, she asks Ada and Luke to come live at her house where they can be in the company of family. The couple refuses, but when Luke collapses after a luncheon at the Van Rhijn house, Agnes puts her foot down and refuses to let them leave. Later, the doctor also advises them to stay put, revealing that Luke is counting his final breaths now.

It doesn’t even take days for things to get worse, and Reverend Luke Forte dies soon after, succumbing to the illness. By this time, both he and Ada have made peace with the inevitable and said their goodbyes, but that doesn’t make his death any less heartbreaking as he passes away in his sleep with his wife by his side.

Reverend Luke Forte’s Death Opens a New Chapter for Aunt Ada

Image Credits: Barbara Nitke/HBO

One of the great things about ‘The Gilded Age’ is that no plot line or event in the show is without consequence. The arrival of a new character and their departure serve a purpose, and we expect the same to happen with the death of Reverend Forte. Earlier in the season, when he and Aunt Ada were still figuring out their feelings for each other, it looked like he was to tie up the plot point of Aunt Ada never finding love before. With his arrival, she gets her own romance plot, which brings her more screen time. It also makes the audience happy because if someone in the show deserves pure, unfettered happiness, it’s Ada Brook. And this is why, it is surprising that the show would put her through such a heartbreak.

With the death of his character, it’s clear that actor Robert Sean Leonard will not be returning to ‘The Gilded Age.’ The dead characters tend to remain gone in the show, but the impact of their presence and absence is what truly matters. With this in mind, we can say that while the Reverend might have left the scene, the mark he left on Ada will come into view sooner or later. Who knows what secrets about him will come out after his death!

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