CBC’s Alias Grace
Directed by Mary Harron
Written by Sarah Polley
* For a recap & review of the penultimate episode, Part 5, click here.
On his trip to Toronto, Dr. Simon Jordan (Edward Holcroft) goes to see the lawyer who handled the cases of Grace Marks (Sarah Gadon) and James McDermott (Kerr Logan), despite their diverting interests. People call Grace the “Lady of the Silences.” Of course we continually see the doc grapple with her sincerity, if she’s telling lies, or if he’s getting the truth. The lawyer tries to show the doc Grace is manipulative, depending on to whom she’s talking, that she’s “guilty as sin.” But Simon keeps falling further into the web, even if he’s trying to unravel it all.
“You don‘t understand yet, that guilt comes to you not from the things you have done, but from the things others have done to you.”
When the doctor gets back he discovers Grace had her hair cut off, for talking out of turn too much. Now he believes Dr. Jerome DuPont aka Jeremiah (Zachary Levi) could help with his neuro-hypnosis technique of recovering memory. Except she isn’t entirely sure she wants to remember the truth, the whole truth, and NOTHING but the ugly truth.
And thus, the spectacle commences! Everyone from the local committee, including the Reverend (David Cronenberg) and the rest of the churchgoing folk. DuPont tells them all to “banish any and all thoughts of mesmerism” and other similar concepts. He puts Grace into a deep sleep. He puts on a good show for his audience. Although many remain sceptical. They’re intent on going back to Grace’s memories, for Dr. Jordan’s interests. So, DuPont takes her back to the house of Thomas Kinnear (Paul Gross), the veranda, then inside, further, further. It’s the cellar where they’d like her to take them. When she’s asked about her relationship to McDermott, a voice different from her own emerges, to tell them about when Grace and James were physical. The voice says Grace had James at her will. Afterwards, the voice speaks of the cellar, Nancy Montgomery (Anna Paquin) down there half dead. And that Grace helped finish her off, as she and James strangled the rest of the life out of Nancy.
But the voice claims she isn’t Grace. That the servant girl knew “nothing about it.” So, who is the voice? Is it a dissociation of identity within her? Is it the spirit of another, come to send Grace to the gallows once and for all? Dr. Jordan comes to believe it may be the ghost of Mary Whitney (Rebecca Liddiard), or at least that’s what the voice would have him believe, anyway. Could just be a way for Grace to manipulate once more, get herself declared insane rather than be hanged. Could be that Dr. DuPont is helping her accomplish every little piece of this plan. Hmm.
Everybody’s left feeling odd after the session. Least of which is not the doc, who leaves there to go bang Mrs. Humphrey (Sarah Manninen), out of convenience. He’s really just another misogynist, using women, discarding them. He’s left now with the choice of whether to discard Grace. He may have the right ideas about our Grace, her “repressed rage” as a result of the hideous acts of men, acts he himself commits against other women, but it doesn’t change his chauvinism. Particularly considering the fact he’s frequently dreamed lustily of Grace while he was meant to be helping her.
Skip to eleven years later. Grace has received a pardon from Sir John Macdonald, the Prime Minister of Canada. She’d relinquish the status of “celebrated murderess” and go back to a, hopefully, normal life. She then had to get used to being free, after so long. She’d been in Kingston Penitentiary near three decades. Then she’s taken elsewhere by boat, a surprise waiting for her on the other side.
When they reach the country, Grace finds Jamie Walsh (Stephen Joffe), older, filled with guilt over his part on her being convicted, saying he was led towards testifying. He asks forgiveness, which she grants him. He once more offers his hand in marriage, and she accepts. She starts over, a new life on the farm with Jamie, taking care of the animals and looking after the place. Although she never lets stray her secrets, as well as those of Dr. DuPont. We’re given a peek behind the curtain of Ms. Marks, the way in which she lived her life, what she had to do, what she was willing to do in order to survive in a man’s world.
“A little white lie is a small price to pay for peace and quiet”
Fantastic miniseries! This is my favourite Margaret Atwood novel, so it’s wonderful to see it come alive onscreen. What a performance out of Sarah Gadon, too. Just, wow. I already knew she was talented. This was a revelation, though.