Alias Grace: Part 4   Show Only 
November 4, 2017 8:49 PM - Season 1, Episode 4 - Subscribe

Dr. Jordan digs deeper into Grace's memories to learn more about James McDermott, a hot-tempered handyman whose confession helped convict her.

Blessed are all simple emotions,
be they dark or bright!
It is the lurid intermixture of the two
that produces the illuminating
blaze of the infernal regions.
-Nathaniel Hawthorne

*At the prison, a woman is being whipped in punishment, as the guards take Grace away to her day at the governor's mansion, where a dozing Doctor Jordan dreams of embracing Grace, to the sound of her last words from the previous session - "That evening was so beautiful, it made a pain in my heart. It's when you cannot tell whether you're happy or sad. But I thought that if I could have a wish, it would be that nothing would ever change and we would stay that way forever."
*Jordan reads her part of McDermott's confession, in which he said that Grace greatly resented Nancy.
*Grace continues her story. Nancy tells her that two of Kinnear's friends will be at dinner, and that she should have McDermott kill one of the chickens. When Grace cannot find McDermott, Nancy tells her to kill it herself, and shoves her when she balks. Grace can't bring herself to kill the animal, but Jamie arrives and does it for her.
*The dinner guests are fellow soldiers, and full of innuendo about/to Grace.
*Kinnear, Nancy, and Grace go to church.

Jordan: And what did you think of this sermon, Grace?
Grace: I thought to myself, if you could not get divine grace by praying for it, or any other way, or ever know if you had it or not, you might as well forget about the matter and go about your own business. Because whether you were damned or saved was no concern of yours. And there's no use crying over spilt milk if you don't know whether the milk is spilt or not. And if God alone knows, then God alone can tidy it up.

*As some of the flock look and comment disapprovingly at the trio, Kinnear is amused, but Nancy asks to leave, and they go.
Grace: I thought, these are cold and proud people and not good neighbors. They are hypocrites. They think the church is a cage to keep God in so he will stay locked up there, and not go wandering about during the week poking his nose into their business and looking into the depths and doubleness of their hearts and lack of true charity. They believe they need only be bothered about him on Sundays when they have their best clothes on and their faces straight and their hands washed and their gloves on and their stories all prepared. But God is everywhere and cannot be caged up as men can.

*Back home, Nancy gives McDermott one month's notice. Later, McDermott tells Grace that he's sick of working for a woman like Nancy anyway, and that everyone knows Kinnear and Nancy are sleeping together, that she got pregnant out of wedlock at her previous position, lost the baby 'thanks to the mid-wife', and that Kinnear hired her because of it, when no decent man would have.
McDermott: Once the horse is out of the stable, it's no good shutting the barn door. A turtle... A woman once on her back is like a turtle in the same plight. She can scarcely turn herself right side up again and then she's fair game for all.

*McDermott says Nancy & Kinnear deserve to be thrown down the cellar, but Grace tells Jordan she didn't believe McDermott actually meant it. Jordan counters that McDermott's confession said that Grace had asked him to help her poison Nancy & Kinnear.

Grace: If I wanted to put poison into a bowl of porridge, sir, why would I have needed any help from the likes of him? I could have done it all by myself, put some into his own porridge too, into the bargain. It would not take anymore strength than to add another spoonful of sugar.
Jordan: You're very cool about it, Grace. Why would he say that about you, if it was false?
Grace: Perhaps he wanted to shift the blame. And I suppose he wanted me to keep him company. The road to death is a lonely highway, and longer than it appears, even when it leads straight down from the scaffold by way of a rope. And it's a dark road, with never any moon shining on it to light your way.
Jordan: You seem to know a good deal about it, for one that's never been there.
Grace: I too was condemned to be hanged and thought I would be. When you yourself are to go the same road you must take your bearings of it.
Jordan: True enough.
Grace: Nor would I blame poor James McDermott. Not for such a wish. I would never blame a human creature for feeling lonely.
Jordan: Have you often felt lonely, Grace?
Grace: Yes. In the asylum. And in the penitentiary, when there are punishments for things especially.
Jordan: What sort of punishments?
[Grace is shown being locked into the solitary confinement box.]

*Grace tells Jordan that the doctors and attendants at the asylum took liberties. He asks if it is true that she left the asylum "in a delicate condition" and she says that's what she was told.
*Grace tells him about her birthday. Nancy brought her roses and gave her the afternoon off, but McDermott tells her she's only doing it because Kinnear will be home and Nancy wants her out of the way. Grace picks wildflowers in the field, then cries a bit and dozes off. She awakes to Jamie giving her a bouquet of wildflowers. He asks if he can be her sweetheart, that he wants to marry her one day when he's older and has saved up enough money for them. She says she'll consider it, and lets him give her a daisy crown and a kiss on the cheek.
*Grace returns to the house to find that Kinnear has been watching her via a spyglass. McDermott jokes that she's a cradle-robber, and Nancy is disdainful of the flower left in her hair.
*Jeremiah arrives. Over lunch, he tells her he's changing professions to be a hypnotist instead of a peddler.

Jeremiah: When a man gets a habit, it is hard for him to break it. Like a dog gone bad. Once a sheep is killed and the dog gets a taste for it, it must kill another.
Grace: I don't like all this talk of killing.
Jeremiah: Come away with me, Grace. I do not like the feeling here.
Grace: Come away? What do you mean?
Jeremiah: You would be safer with me than you are here.
Grace: Where would we go?
Jeremiah: We could go to the United States.
Grace: What's it like there?
Jeremiah: Well, in many ways it's the same as here. There are rogues and scoundrels everywhere. They merely use a different sort of language to excuse themselves. There they pay great lip service to democracy, just as here they rant on about the right order of society and loyalty to the queen. And yet the poor are poor on every shore. But when you cross that border, it's like passing through air. The trees are the same on either side and we can go through those trees tonight and not pay any customs duties.
Grace: Wouldn't we be breaking the law?
Jeremiah: Aren't laws made to be broken? These laws were not made by me or mine, they were made by the powers that be so that they could profit. We would be harming no one.

*Grace turns Jeremiah down, remembering Mary's warning to marry first.
*Grace sees a doctor has visited, and, after Nancy pukes on the floor and tells Grace she has to help her make a new dress because none of hers fit, she realizes that Nancy is pregnant. Later, she listens to Kinnear and Nancy talking about her over dinner - Nancy says she may have to give Grace her notice soon, and Kinnear talks about how pretty Grace is.
*That night, Grace has a strange dream - she walks out of the house into the night, and is embraced by McDermott, then by Mr. George, then Kinnear, and finally by her father. She sees headless angels in bloody robes in the tree overlooking the house in judgement, then wakes to find that her feet are muddy and her clean laundry wasn't taken in and has blown into the tree.

Grace: [aloud in session] If I was given the chance right then, I would have run off with Jeremiah, and better for me if I had. But I did not know where he had gone. I did know that I was walking around outside in the night without knowing it. And my heart sank at this. [internal] I remember looking up at you after I told this story, Dr. Jordan. And I remember that it did my heart good to feel I could bring some pleasure into a fellow being's life. And I thought to myself, I wonder what you will make of all that?
posted by oh yeah! (1 comment total)
I really loved the birthday scene aftermath - the idea that everyone is just waiting for her to slip up, to “fall”, so that she can be fair game and they can treat her badly. McDermott’s constant virgin/whore search - he treats Nancy badly because he knows she is sleeping with her employer, regardless of the pressures that a woman like Nancy, unemployable, would have had, but treats Grace kind of well because she has “never had a sweetheart”, but then the instant she might sort of have one, he immediately attacks her over it.

It’s set in a different time but there’s a lot of reality in it that applies elsewhere.
posted by corb at 1:26 AM on November 5, 2017 [2 favorites]

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