The Gilded Age Episode 5 Recap and Ending, Explained

Image Credit: Alison Cohen Rosa/HBO

In ‘The Gilded Age’ episode 5, titled ‘Charity Has Two Functions,’ history and fiction continue to mingle in the most fascinating way. Bertha (Carrie Coon) allows Gladys to have a lady’s maid and invites Archie Baldwin, the young man her daughter is interested in, over to their home. Peggy (Denée Benton) sets boundaries in her friendship with Marian (Louisa Jacobson).

Ward McAllister (Nathan Lane) makes his first appearance in the show and meets Bertha, Marian, and Raikes (Thomas Cocquerel). Clara Barton (Linda Emond) shows how pragmatic and intuitive she is. Here is everything you need to know about the ending of ‘The Gilded Age’ episode 5. SPOILERS AHEAD.

The Gilded Age Episode 5 Recap

According to Agnes van Rhijn (Christine Baranski), charity has two functions in polite society. The first is to raise funds for the less fortunate, while the second is to serve as a social ladder for the ambitious people. The thing is that everyone involved in these kinds of endeavors is well-aware of this, as the characters are in ‘The Gilded Age.’ Clara Barton has no delusion about why someone like Bertha Russell shows interest in the Red Cross and comes to meet her in Dansville, New York, where she has set up the first branch of the organization in 1881. She also knows what Aurora gains from introducing Bertha to her. She accepts the transactional aspects of these dealings because they are ultimately good for the people she is trying to help.

At the Russell household, Gladys continues to rebel against the constraints her mother has put on her. George (Morgan Spector) warns his wife that such a strict attitude toward their daughter might prove to be detrimental to ensure her safety but largely stays out of it. Mrs. Bruce convinces Bertha to allow Gladys a lady maid of her own, and Adelheid, a girl of Gladys’ age, is promoted to the position.

Image Credit: Alison Cohen Rosa/HBO

Meanwhile, Oscar (Blake Ritson) and Ms. Turner (Kelley Curran) become acquainted and decide to work together so they both can get what they want. Bertha finally meets Ward McAllister at Aurora Fane’s house. Marian and Raikes are also there to keep the conversation going. It soon becomes apparent to everyone present that Bertha and McAllister are cut from the same cloth. They are both ambitious, ruthless in their own ways, and very pragmatic about wealth.

Marian and Peggy resume their friendship but not before the latter sets certain boundaries. Peggy’s mother visits the Brook household and asks Marian to convince Peggy to return to her own family in Brooklyn. Agnes sends Peggy with Marian as she goes to Dansville to meet Barton. They accompany Bertha and Aurora, and Raikes also joins the group. In Dansville, Barton happily gives an interview to Peggy. Later in the evening, Marian and Raikes share a kiss but are interrupted by Peggy before it can become something more.

The Gilded Age Episode 5 Ending: What Happened in Millbourne, Pennsylvania? Why Are George and Bertha So Worried?

While the Russell family is hosting Archie Baldwin, George’s secretary, Richard Clay, receives an emergency message from Millbourne, Pennsylvania, and rushes to his employer’s home. He arrives just as Baldwin is leaving. It is revealed that a train has derailed from the tracks that George’s company has set. According to the initial reports, three people are dead, and several others are seriously injured. Richard tells George that unconfirmed news suggests that all three deceased are men, but they can’t be sure.

Image Credit: Alison Cohen Rosa/HBO

George asks his wife to wire Barton with the details of what seems like an accident and requests her to travel to Millbourne. He knows that this can potentially be a massive disaster in terms of the loss of human lives and needs to be handled as such. Richard and the Russells also decide to keep the news out of the papers for now. Even in the 19th Century, optics were important for the survival of any company. George and the others knew that an accident was bound to happen sooner or later as it is an unfortunate part of being involved in the railroad business. And now, George needs to control the narrative and deal with what happened before those things ruin him.

Why Does George Threaten Archie Baldwin? Does Archie Accept George’s Offer?

At first glance, Archie seems like a good match for Gladys. He belongs to an old-money family and seems to have a bright future ahead of him as an investment banker. More importantly, he and Gladys seem to genuinely like each other. However, Bertha desires something more for her daughter and convinces her husband to ensure that the relationship between Gladys and Archie doesn’t progress further.

Image Credit: Alison Cohen Rosa/HBO

After dinner, when they are alone, George makes an offer to Archie. If he agrees to sever all contacts with Gladys, he will become a broker for the Seligman brothers. If Archie refuses, George will make sure that the young man never works in the financial sector in the US again. Although his decision is not shown on screen, we can glean that he chooses to accept George’s offer, given that he leaves abruptly.

Read More: The Gilded Age Episode 4 Recap and Ending, Explained