Alias Grace: Part 6   Show Only 
November 5, 2017 5:03 PM - Season 1, Episode 6 - Subscribe

After talking with Grace's lawyer in Toronto, a doubtful Dr. Jordan returns to Kingston to observe Dr. Dupont's unorthodox "experiment." (Finale)

I felt a Cleaving in my Mind -
As if my brain had split -
I tried to match it - Seam by Seam -
But could not make it fit.
-Emily Dickinson

*Jordan meets with Grace's trial lawyer, MacKenzie, in Toronto.

MacKenzie: So you've met Our Lady of the Silences?
Jordan: Is that what you call her? Yes. I've been spending a good deal of time with her, trying to determine...
MacKenzie: Whether she's innocent?
Jordan: Whether she is insane. Or was, at the time of the murders. Which I suppose is innocence of a kind.
MacKenzie: Well, I see our fascinating Grace has been leading you on a merry chase.
Jordan: Not so merry. I must admit I've been baffled. What she says has the ring of truth. Her manner is sincere, yet I can't shake the suspicion that in some way... I cannot put my finger on, she is lying to me.
MacKenzie: Lying. A severe term, surely. Has she been lying to you, you ask? Let me put it this way: did Scheherazade lie? Not in her own eyes. Indeed, the stories that she told ought never to be subjected to the harsh categories of Truth or Falsehood. See, perhaps Grace Marks needed to be telling you just what she told you in order to achieve the desired end.
Jordan: Which is?
MacKenzie: To keep the Sultan amused. To forestall your departure, make sure you'd stay in the room with her for as long as possible.
Jordan: What on earth would be the point in that? Amusing me won't get her out of prison.
MacKenzie: Isn't it obvious? The poor creature has fallen in love with you. A single man, more or less young, not ill-favored, appears to someone so long sequestered, deprived of masculine company. You are doubtless the object of her waking daydreams.

*MacKenzie represented both McDermott and Grace, not realizing at the time that it was a mistake, since their needs were in conflict. He says he only succeeded in getting her sentence commuted because there was no trial for Nancy's murder once they'd both been sentenced to death for Kinnear's murder. He believes she was "guilty as sin."
*Jordan returns to Kingston to find that Grace's hair has been shorn in the penitentiary, as a punishment. He tells her they should proceed with the hypnotism.
*Jeremiah/DuPont hypnotizes Grace in front of the society, and she begins speaking in a different manner, confessing to her part in the murders, but claiming to be the spirit of Mary Whitney living inside Grace since her soul was trapped inside the room after death.
*Jordan tells the society that he cannot make a truthful report on Grace. He leaves and hate-fucks the landlady, slams his head against the wall, and goes back home, eventually going off to fight for the Union in the Civil War.
*11 years later Grace is pardoned, and marries Jamie Walsh, who feels guilty for his part in her conviction. She writes a letter to Dr. Jordan, but his war wounds have left him insensible.
posted by oh yeah! (10 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
There were too many wonderful lines of dialogue in this episode for me to choose from to transcribe, I finally gave up on trying, so I could go ahead and hit 'post' instead. Wow, that was a terrific production.
posted by oh yeah! at 5:08 PM on November 5, 2017 [3 favorites]

I love how even Jordan, who we have seen as a kind person, thoughtful, fully reveals in this episode that it’s only while he believes Grace belongs to him - when he can’t think of her as that pure victim only he can save, he has no more interest in saving her, in even saying goodbye, and he hatefucks another woman thinking of Grace. There are no male heroes in Atwood’s work, which I fucking love.
posted by corb at 5:16 PM on November 5, 2017 [15 favorites]

The most incredible thing to me about this entire production was that, in the end, the viewers are lumped in with the doctor and everyone else who sought to define Grace Marks in a way that suited their purpose. Just brilliant, an amazing accomplishment.
posted by xyzzy at 5:16 PM on November 5, 2017 [11 favorites]

A lot of times when films/shows have an unreliable narrator, it doesn't hold up to re-watching. Like showing a magic trick, where it only works because of when the camera cuts away, and wouldn't actually be possible on a stage in front of an audience. I was impressed at how well the Alias Grace script, acting, and directing avoided that pitfall, the way they shifted between the different versions of the story - Grace's inner and external dialogue, Jordan's visualization of the written confessions and his fantasies of Grace.

Like, I agree with you, xyzzy, about the viewers being lumped in with the doctor & everyone, but they managed to do it in a way that didn't make me feel tricked/judged the the way some other shows that pull the "shame on you for being a voyeur" or "gotcha, ha!" do. There was a rightness to not ever being given a final reveal of the true version of events.
posted by oh yeah! at 7:45 AM on November 6, 2017 [4 favorites]

For the hate fucking of the landlady is key because this is the type of thing Grace talks about quite explicitly. He does not see the landlady as a person but just something to be used in the same way Mary was used. I mean jesus you fuck her and insult her immediately after and she just been left by her husband. Physician, heal thy self.
posted by miss-lapin at 6:32 PM on November 6, 2017 [2 favorites]

Did this get advertised anywhere near as much in America as The Handmaids Tale did? I've only found this show discussed on metafilter.
posted by A4 at 4:03 AM on November 11, 2017

Did this get advertised anywhere near as much in America as The Handmaids Tale did? I've only found this show discussed on metafilter.

Netflix didn't promote it on the level that Hulu did for Handmaid's Tale (I mean, there are Handmaid's Tale ads in part of the NYC subway that I walk through on my way to work every morning) but Alias Grace is a more obscure mini-series, I wouldn't expect it to be getting bus ads or billboards.

The AV Club did recaps for each episode (though I only read the first one, I think), and Vulture had a couple of pieces - Vulture - Let’s Talk About the Ending of Alias Grace
posted by oh yeah! at 9:35 PM on November 13, 2017 [2 favorites]

Can someone help me understand, what's the point of Jordan going to war and coming back insensible? I can't see the thesis significance of it.
posted by meese at 6:14 PM on November 18, 2017 [1 favorite]

So that’s one of the things that suffers from the short nature of the miniseries. In the books, it goes a lot deeper into the miserable situation of his landlady- her sexual and other advances seem less because of Dr Jordan’s innate charms, and more because of trying to attach the man who was keeping her from literal starvation. When she finds out her violent husband is returning- after her relationship with Dr Jordan has become the open scandal of the town. She tries to talk Dr Jordan into murdering her abusive husband, and Dr Jordan, rather than making a scene, lets her believe that he will, and instead runs out on her, necessitating that he give up on Grace as well.

I think there are multiple possible parallels there - to Grace possibly humoring murderous talk, to Grace possibly, when faced with being turned off without a reference into a world she had seen only brutality from, coaxing a man into murder.

I always had the sense it was partially those parallels on top of the war that drove him to madness, and the very fact of him being driven to a sanctioned madness is itself a parallel to Grace. He went to war, where he presumably killed more people than Grace did, and went more insane as well, but rather than being jailed or shut up in an insane asylum, he is coddled and married off to an accomplished young woman- where Grace’s “happy ending” after nearly thirty years is putting up with someone she doesn’t love and who loves to have her repeat the traumas of her life.

I feel like the older I get, the more I appreciate Margaret Atwood.
posted by corb at 10:12 PM on November 18, 2017 [4 favorites]

There was a rightness to not ever being given a final reveal of the true version of events.

The only question I have by the end of the show is what did Grace want from Dr. Jordan? Did she want him to write a report that would free her? Did she even care? She's expertly weaving a story for him, leaving all the clues -- the handkerchief, the whispers, Mary's abortion -- but does she lose her audience at the end when he flees? And while that's the main question I'm left with, I don't care about it being answered. I loved this entire production so much, I keep thinking about it.

the viewers are lumped in with the doctor and everyone else who sought to define Grace Marks in a way that suited their purpose

That's so perfectly put. We know more than Jordan and the committee, but we don't know anything.
posted by gladly at 11:40 AM on November 27, 2017

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