Alias Grace: Part 2   Show Only 
November 4, 2017 9:21 AM - Season 1, Episode 2 - Subscribe

Grace shares a palm reader's grim predictions for her future and recounts the fate of her friend, Mary Whitney.

...for it is the fate of a woman
Long to be patient and silent, to wait like a ghost that is speechless
Till some questioning voice dissolves the spell of its silence
-Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

*Doctor Jordan dreams of embracing Grace, but is awakened by the arrival of his landlady, Mrs. Humphrey, bringing his breakfast. She faints, and tells Jordan that her husband took all his money and left her two days ago, and that breakfast is the last of the food in the house. He advances her two months rent.
*In their session, Jordan asks Grace what she dreams of. We see a vision of a Nancy Montgomery (Anna Paquin) outside with a basket of roses, waving, as a cut appears on her forehead, but Grace doesn't share this dream with Jordan.
*Grace tells Jordan about the time the time she and Mary peeled apples to predict who they would marry - Grace's peel formed a letter J, but Mary's peels broke 3 times, too small to form a letter.
*In the morning, Jeremiah the peddler (Zachary Levi) arrives to sell his wares to the servant women.

Jeremiah: [reading Grace's palm] There are sharp rocks ahead.
Grace: I suppose there always are, sir. There have certainly been enough of them behind, so I'm not too daunted.
Jeremiah: A disaster. You will cross water three times. You will have much trouble. But all will be fine in the end. You are one of us.

*Grace goes to the privy at night, but Mary follows her and warns her that it's too dangerous for a woman to be out at night. In the morning, Grace wakes to her first period.

Mary: Some call this "Eve's curse," but I think that is stupid because the real curse of Eve was having to put up with the nonsense of Adam.

*Mr. George is home for Christmas. Grace notices some flirtation between him and Mary, as does his mother, Mrs. Parkinson (Martha Burns). When Mary starts puking morning and night, Grace tells her she recognizes the symptoms of pregnancy, and Mary confesses that she believed her gentleman loved her and was going to marry her, after he'd given her a ring. But when she tells him about the pregnancy, he rejects her and gives her $5. Grace accompanies Mary to a doctor/'doctor', and listens to her suffering through an abortion, then tries to comfort her through the night.

Mary: Because we didn't lose. We just haven't won yet. Say the speech that I taught you.
Grace & Mary: "The law says that we shall not be taxed without our consent by the men of our choice, but a wicked and tyrannical government has trampled upon that law, divided the plunder, and declared that, regardless of justice, they will continue to roll in their splendid carriages and riot in their palaces at our expense, that we are poor, spiritless, ignorant peasants, who were born to toil for our betters.
Grace: But the peasants are beginning to open their eyes and feel their strength. Too long have we been hoodwinked by Baal's priests, who take the wages of sin and do the work of iniquity, each one looking to gain in his quarter. Canadians! Do you love freedom? I know you do. Do you hate oppression? Who dare deny it?"

*In the morning, Grace wakes to find that Mary has bled to death in the night.

Grace: All the time Mary was there on the bed, listening. She was hearing our plans to tell these lies about her. And I thought she will not be easy in her mind about it. It was the doctor that killed her with his knife, him and the gentleman between them. For it is not always the one who strikes the blow that is the actual murderer. Mary was done to death by that unknown gentleman, as surely as if he'd taken the knife and plunged it into her body himself.

*As the other servants begin to clean Mary's body and bed, Grace hears Mary's voice saying "Let me in", and races to open the window before her soul is trapped. Later while trying to wash the bloody laundry, she falls into a dead faint. Upon waking, she asks repeatedly "Where's Grace?", faints again, and awakes the next day feeling herself again and with no memory of the previous waking.

Grace: It is knowledge of me you crave, Doctor. Forbidden knowledge. Knowledge with a lurid glare to it. Knowledge gained through a descent into the pit. You want to go where I can never go. See what I can never see inside me. You want to open up my body and peer inside. In your hand, you want to hold my beating female heart.
posted by oh yeah! (6 comments total)
I was a little taken out of the story by Grace not knowing what her period was. For one thing, I didn't realize the actress was meant to be playing a tween in the flashback, but, mainly she's supposed to be someone who has lived in close quarters in the ship and in poverty and has been working doing laundry and presumably emptying chamber pots and whatnot, the idea that she wouldn't have had plenty of experience with the sight of period blood seemed contrived. I could maybe buy that her mother was so continuously pregnant that the topic never came up before her death, but, it's a stretch.

Otherwise, another fine episode. (Sadly my plan to binge the whole thing today is being interrupted by needing to go help a friend with a bunch of driving-to-stores errands, but, I'll knock out at least a couple more later tonight.)
posted by oh yeah! at 9:42 AM on November 4, 2017 [4 favorites]

I didn't find the menstruation scene to be too jarring. Even my mother, born in 1947, got really bad information from her mother about what bleeding from "down there" meant. By the end of the panicked conversation my mother was locked in a bathroom with a belt and pad with hooks, no idea how to put it on, and the "knowledge" that she would bleed like this every day until she was 50. So I don't find it too crazy to think that Grace's mother just didn't bother with any of this information until she deemed it necessary.

I think from a narrative perspective the scene is meant to show Mary as a surrogate parent-friend with great influence over Grace's well-being and sense of future happiness, and that's where I could connect to it the most.
posted by xyzzy at 2:21 PM on November 4, 2017 [2 favorites]

I am enjoying this even as it breaks my heart. Maybe enjoy isn't right — I admire what they're doing here.
posted by rewil at 4:06 PM on November 4, 2017 [3 favorites]

We haven’t lost. We just haven’t won yet.

Margaret Atwood is not being subtle.
posted by corb at 4:28 PM on November 4, 2017 [6 favorites]

She wasn't necessarily a tween- she could have been older, women getting their periods at 12 is a new phenomenon. Used to be closer to 16.
posted by Homo neanderthalensis at 8:42 PM on November 4, 2017 [5 favorites]

Yeah I'm late to this, but the period stuff didn't confuse me at all. I think she's supposed to be about 14 in the flashback where she gets her period, and as others have stated, girls get their period much younger now than they did in the nineteenth century, mainly due to growth hormones in our food supply. I'd probably put the average age at something like 14/15 in the eighteenth century, with the understanding that many girls wouldn't get it until even later, 16 or 17. Now the average age is probably 12. Add to that that there was all this taboo on discussing sex, or reproduction, or anything associated with it, and I think it's very plausible that she would have been ignorant about it.
posted by katyggls at 5:02 PM on November 11, 2017

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