The Gilded Age season two, episode four — “His Grace The Duke” — underscores much of the social and character change highlighted throughout the season thus far. Larry’s (Harry Richardson) relationship with Susan Blane (Laura Benanti) reaches a potential point of no return as Bertha (Carrie Coon) makes a move to end it. Facing troubles of her own, Bertha continues to hold resentment against George (Morgan Spector), leading George to make huge strides toward reconciling their relationship. The Duke of Buckingham’s (Ben Lamb) arrival in New York further pits the Russells against Turner / Mrs. Winterton (Kelley Curran).
Taking a vacation from her work at the van Rhijn household, Peggy (Denée Benton) travels to the deep south with T. Thomas Fortune (Sullivan Jones) to explore Alabama’s groundbreaking Tuskegee school. Finally, Ada’s (Cynthia Nixon) relationship with Matthew Forte (Robert Sean Leonard) reaches new heights.
Director Deborah Kampmeier brings all of these threads together into a well-crafted and swiftly moving episode. She leverages her extensive background in film to bring a cinematic eye to the episode, employing swooping crane shots and a deftly blended dinner sequence that thrills with its attention to detail as it moves the intricate plot along. In fact, the dinner sequence allows Kampmeier the opportunity to direct her own daughter, Sofia Adler, as a character with factual historic roots.
Here, in an episode breakdown with Awards Daily, Kampmeier talks about her directorial choices on display within the packed episode. She talks about directing an intimate scene the likes of which we seldom see in The Gilded Age. She also talks about several key moments taking place behind closed doors, allowing characters to emotionally explode in ways not socially acceptable in the era. She also talks about the beauty in directing celebrated theater actors, in particular Cynthia Nixon and Robert Sean Leonard as they work through one of Ada Brook’s greatest moments yet. Finally, she talks about the sensitivity and research that went into accurately portraying the Reconstruction Era South.
Take a look at this fascinating chat with The Gilded Age director Deborah Kampmeier. Of course, spoiler alert if you haven’t seen the episode yet.
The Gilded Age airs new episodes Sunday nights at 9pm ET. Episodes stream immediately on MAX.