Of all the dramas in season one of The Gilded Age, young lawyer Tom Raikes (Thomas Cocquerel) would be the biggest mystery to be solved. Described in the original synopsis of the series as “in love” with Marian Brook (Louisa Jacobson), he came after the girl in New York, even though he had never had hope. In fact, they barely knew each other. But from insistent to a stalker, less than an episode has passed, with even less time for the entire cast to try to warn the young woman against him, in vain.
What do we really know about Tom Raikes? Agnes Von Rhijn (Christine Baranski) insists he is an adventurer and will trade Marian for a “better” prize. The answer was given in the first dialogue of the first episode. SHE IS RIGHT. Shall we review?
Marian Brook’s First Scene In The Series Reveals The Secret
Our first contact with Tom Raikes is when he tells Marian that her father has left her literally penniless after his death. Clearly inexperienced, the girl believes in shock. However, she has shares in the stock her father invested in the railroads, but, according to Raikes, they are “worthless”. Marian believes him. This is our clue to his later motives.
Then, proving to know very well about her life, the lawyer convinces her to move in with her rich aunts, in New York, even though Marian has never seen them and her father has broken up with them. No option, go.
Upon being dropped off by Tom at the station, Marian is mugged, leaving her without a ticket or money. That’s when he meets Peggy and is saved by her new friend.
Upon arriving in New York, Marian adjusts to life with her aunts, who obviously want to find her a good husband. Behold, in record time, Tom Raikes knocks on the girl’s door saying he is “considering moving to the city” and obviously wanting to court her. The vulnerable young woman falls for the tale, especially since, believing she doesn’t have a penny, she believes he “really” likes her.
Let’s go back to their first exchange on railroad stocks, following the Russells’ plots to get even richer. Guess who is a rich heiress? And who has this privileged information?
Yes, Tom Raikes is possibly after Marian because he knows her financial situation is very different from what everyone knows. And now is the best time for getting the girl. Aunt Agnes is right, that’s my bet.
What Tom “tells us”
Marian even asks questions to Tom but is content with the lawyer’s evasive answers. Let’s review the information he gave us.
On his first visit to New York, he says he “always dreamed of living in the city”, but “only recently became possible”. Marian believes that she – as an object of love – is the reason.
When they say goodbye, Tom says he “doesn’t know anyone in New York but Marian”, however, he already knew his way around like a local even to arrange secret meetings with Marian. As he explains, “he learns fast” and “likes the style of New York”.
At this second or third meeting, he already proposes to Marian, claiming that he “has no fortune”, but that “things are improving in that direction”.
Then the most evident episode is about the nature of Raikes is the 4th. Marian finds him in a rich family’s box at the opera, something impossible to know. He explains that he studied with Jerry Schermerhorn, was his classmate in Pennsylvania, lost touch, and literally bumped into each other in New York, “skating in Central Park”. Jerry’s wife immediately starts calling Raikes “my Mr. Raikes” and mentions that she promised him to “Miranda Pikes”, with who we saw him flirting at the end of the night. Marian observes it all without malice, even with Mrs. Russell pointing out the fact that he seems to be enjoying the luxury and that he will miss it if he goes without it.
The problem is that Raikes now knows he has reached Marian’s heart and she insists that he earn the respect of his aunts, which he claims to strive for but does not care about. We see that he becomes increasingly aggressive in seducing the young woman, who is already contemplating the plan to go live with him without marriage.
So that’s it, the theory that Agnes is right is as well-founded as when she claims to Marian that Raikes will leave her when he finds an even better prospect (Miranda Fike?).
When will Marian discover she’s a millionaire? Does she find out sooner?
As I said before, I think there is a mix of The Washington Square and Portrait of a Lady and none of the works are favorable for a young lady… I fear for Marian!