Marian's Real Love Story Isn't Going To Be With The Lawyer

- The Gilded Age -
Marian's Real Love Story Isn't Going To Be With The Lawyer

When you're the new (but old money) comely eligible bachelorette in town, you're going to have a lot of marriage prospects. But after Episode 4, the frontrunner for Marian Brook's heart on The Gilded Age is the Doylestown lawyer Tom Raikes. Mr. Raikes says he's all in on Marian right now, but his time at the Academy of Music casts some doubt on his sincerity. And with Mr. Raikes climbing that societal ladder, let's not forget that Marian's other Gilded Age love interest, Larry Russell, is waiting in the wings.

Mr. Raikes was smitten with Marian in the first five minutes of The Gilded Age and is claiming to have relocated his life to be with her. But this small-town lawyer is something of a hustler (or, an "adventurer," to use Aunt Agnes's language), hobnobbing with the Schermerhorns at the symphony in "A Long Ladder." (Did you know the Mrs. Astor was a Schermerhorn?) If he's already moving up in New York society this quickly, he might be willing to leave Marian in the dust for another wealthy, young socialite who doesn't have an overbearing aunt.

I don't know how shady Raikes is... some fans on Reddit are quite suspicious of him (there's even a theory he secretly has money). And the Fanes certainly had some thoughts about his lack of money (or maybe they were raising eyebrows at Mrs. Russell's impropriety for asking about his money). But he's obviously far savvier than he initially let on (did he really just happen to run into his old pal Gerry Schermerhorn at the rollerskating rink?). So while he does seem genuine about his affection for Marian, now that he's out of Doylestown and in the Big City, he has many more marital options.

There will always be Miranda Fifes in the world, open to finding a match with an attractive lawyer with good prospects. So if Aunt Agnes is going to continue to be a roadblock for him when it comes to Marian, it's likely he'll be seduced by the glitz of this gilded world and pursue another wealthy young woman without all the old/new money hangups.

The title of Episode 4 was named for Mr. Raikes's pursuit of Marian — "My lady was in a high window, so I realized I needed a long ladder." But rather than that being romantic, that might be a red flag about his ambition. And with The Gilded Age being renewed for a Season 2, the Marian-Mr. Raikes love story is doomed to fail one way or another. Because what's the fun in having one of your most eligible women on the show settled down so early?

"A Long Ladder" also highlighted how Marian horrifyingly naive and ignorant she is (has anyone recovered from her bringing old shoes to Peggy's parents' home as charity?). So she could easily get conned by Mr. Raikes. Seeing him at the next box over at the symphony made her jealous, so she might start pursuing him more (she does look at him rather longingly in the trailer for Episode 5)... only to find that he's moved on to greener (in the form of money) pastures. That leaves the door open to perhaps her real love interest of the show, the young Mr. Russell.

While Aunt Agnes doesn't approve of the lawyer from Pennsylvania, she absolutely doesn't approve of the Russells. So just imagine the anger she'll feel if Larry Russell starts to pursue Marian. Now, of course, there's already the fact that Agnes's son Oscar is plotting to use Gladys Russell. But when that plan inevitably fails (at least, when I hope that plan inevitably fails), Larry and Marian will be there, waiting to mess with Agnes's sense of propriety and causing more tension between the neighboring Van Rhijns and Russells.

While their relationship is on the back burner for now, Marian and Larry were drawn to each other instantly. And with the feuding families, it seems reasonable to theorize that theirs will be the real romance of The Gilded Age. So when Marian inevitably gets burned by Mr. Raikes (and let's be real, she kind of deserves that dose of the real world), she won't be without a suitor for long.

Images: Alison Cohen Rosa/HBO

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