The Gilded Age Season 2 Episode 4 “His Grace the Duke” ends with Mrs. Winterton (Kelley Curran), aka the woman formerly known as Turner, discovering that her former employer, Bertha Russell (Carrie Coon) has stolen “her” duke (Ben Lamb). Even though the Wintertons met the dashing Duke of Buckingham on their European honeymoon, Bertha’s machinations have wooed the nobleman to her house in Newport. Mrs. Winterton will no longer be able to show off her aristocratic acquaintance. Instead, she will have to show up at the Russells’ Newport home to see her old pal. It’s not the only setback Mrs. Winterton has in this latest installment of HBO‘s The Gilded Age, but it is the one that sets off a Veruca Salt-level temper tantrum from the lady. The Gilded Age Season 2 Episode 4 ends with Mrs. Winterton shrieking her way up a marble staircase.
“I don’t want other dukes! I want this duke!” she screams. “We found him and he’s mine! But that witch has stolen him from me!”
So what is it about this specific duke that Enid Winterton, née Turner, can’t stop obsessing over?
“I think, you know, she has met this duke. She already had a great time talking to this duke,” Gilded Age star Kelley Curran told Decider during a recent conversation. “I think obviously hosting the Duke at Newport would solidify her as a Gilded Age society hostess. To have a successful dinner of hosting the Duke at Newport would sort of get her right in there, right away, as Mr. Winterton’s new wife at the front of society.”
“I think she knows the stakes of that would sort of vanquish all questions about who she is, where did she come from, why did he marry her? So it’s security.”
“And I think on top of that, this particular duke is young and handsome and that doesn’t hurt, you know? It’s just like another thing to have on her little shelf,” Curran said.
In addition to losing the Duke of Buckingham, the Wintertons also lose their coveted box at the Academy of Music. Caroline “Lina” Astor (Donna Murphy) tactfully tells Mr. Winterton (Dakin Matthews) that his wife’s background might put her at odds with the other ladies. When he asks his wife about this, she weaves a tall tale about having been a lady’s companion before meeting him. One thing she can’t admit to her husband? That she was in fact a lady’s maid, specifically Bertha Russell’s.
We don’t know who tipped Lina Astor off about Mrs. Winterton’s past as Turner, but the former maid assumes Bertha is the source. However, we don’t know that for sure. It’s just an assumption Mrs. Winterton makes. Kelley Curran said that although Turner is a character with a “scarcity mindset,” her beef with Bertha is rooted in “their similarities.”
“Because they were women who probably came of age right around the same time, who probably had a similar education level, and because [Bertha] met George Russell,” Curran explained. “My family might have been affected by the sort of deep ramifications of the Civil War maybe. My life didn’t turn out [well] and things got worse instead of better. Then I was forced into service to survive instead of being able to marry into society.”
“The closeness of their backgrounds, I think, is what makes her resentment so particularly tied to Bertha.”
Curran was quick to add that she doesn’t think Turner resents everyone in the world. “I do think she’s available to other relationships, maybe just not one with Bertha.”
One relationship that does get to flourish beyond what was started in Season 1 this week? Mrs. Winterton/Turner’s friendship with Oscar van Rhijn (Blake Ritson). The two helped each other out last season and wind up reunited when they are seated next to each other at dinner with the Duke.
“Well, I love, I love Blake Ritson and I love working with him. He’s so funny. He’s the person who maybe I break the most around because he’s so funny,” Curran said. “But also I think that was something that I felt in Season 1, too, is that — without asking each other and without prying into each other’s lives — they both, I think, clocked in Season 1 that they were outsiders in some way.”
“I think that intimacy is part of what creates the really lovely chemistry between them. There’s this kind of unspoken solidarity and they don’t need to know why and they have enough respect for each other not to pry. And I think that’s what creates the kind of lovely, bubbly relationship.”
Things might be lovely and bubbly between Oscar and Enid, but Gilded Age fans should expect the feud between Mrs. Russell and Mrs. Winterton to heat up next week. At least, judging by Mrs. Winterton’s final promise to “upset” Bertha…
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