As Grace continues to expose her past to Dr. Jordan, so again comes the question of what liberties is she taking in being the only one alive to tell this tale?
Previous Recap: Alias Grace: Season 1/ Episode 3 “Part 3”
And Then It Began Going Downhill: Nancy, McDermott, Grace
Though Nancy was a bit of an oddball before, she and Grace did get along. Granted, it wasn’t clear to Grace why Nancy was borderline cruel to James McDermott, but she was new and figured there had to be history. Of which isn’t what I thought, which is her maybe having a previous thing with McDermott. If anything, it is because McDermott might have clued the locals as to what is going on in the house.
Something he certainly does with Grace and with that, she no longer sees and treats Nancy the same.
A Girl Is A Woman Before A Boy Is A Man: Nancy, McDermott, Grace, Jamie (Stephen Joffe), Mr. Kinnear, Jeremiah
Which leads to quite a few problems, on top of the ones already simmering. For with Grace knowing Nancy and Mr. Kinnear are having premarital sex, while her quality of work doesn’t deteriorate, her attitude does. Add on Mr. Kinnear sounding like he may want a new model and may trade in Nancy, so leads to another issue. One which has Nancy getting snippy, physically pushing Grace and trying to pretend her position is the lady of the house and not a servant, and then we learn Nancy is pregnant.
Leading to two moments which perhaps could have changed Grace’s life for the better. The big one is Jeremiah asking of Grace to run off with him, be part of his scam to be a hypnotist. However, taking note of Mary’s situation, maybe even Nancy’s, and the idea of traveling with a man she isn’t married to, she ends up softly rejecting this offer. For while it is clear to both something is afoot with Mr. Kinnear’s household, a looming sense of doom, we must remember Grace is but 16 or so. Which means something different then than now but doesn’t rid her of the kinds of fears a 16-year-old will have.
After all, Jeremiah is asking her to leave the country, go to the United States and pull this longterm con. Meaning, she could potentially be abandoned out in a foreign state, an illegal resident of sorts, without nothing but her cleaning skills. Which will serve her well wherever she goes but let us not forget the girl has an accent and what happened before Mr. Kinnear picked her up. Though things become deadly in Mr. Kinnear’s home, at the time they seemed much safer than venturing with a man who she may have been attracted to but had only spoken with, perhaps, twice.
Leaving the second moment: Jamie. Though just a boy, perhaps a year younger than Grace, as with her being alone and speaking with Jeremiah comes once more the recognition of girls being women before boys are men and what that all means. After all, as with Eve and the apple, the blame and presumption of any situation goes onto the woman. With Nancy, surely it is assumed she seduced Mr. Kinnear to take her in. After all, with her barely missing motherhood before, there is the possibility he wanted someone as desperate for employment as her. It would mean he’d have her without buying her (marriage).
But, as for this Jamie situation, he confesses his feelings to Grace and she, like with Jeremiah, kindly turns him down. Now, the reason this is brought up as something of importance is because it was never made clear what happened to Jamie. We know Nancy is murdered and McDermott hangs, but Jamie’s story we have yet to know if it ends. Well, his and Mr. Kinnear’s for that matter.
However, there had to be someone who helped Grace get away from that house so it would have to be one of the two right?
Back In The Present: Dr. Jordan, Grace
Something that must be noted is that as Grace tells this story, Dr. Jordan returns to that place we found ourselves in episode 1, wondering what is the truth? For there are times when you must ask if Grace is spinning this story to make herself look innocent? To be the victim. Especially as Dr. Jordan compares McDermott’s confession/ testimony to Grace’s retelling of things.
For, once again, with us not knowing the state of Mr. Kinnear or Jamie, and the times being what they are, it puts Grace in the position where she is the living historian. Only she can present a perception and imply it as fact. After all, who is to refute her?
Other Noteworthy Moments
- Nancy is apparently part of the Montgomery family. The one which holds the rebellious leader who tried to start a revolution, failed, and ran off to the United States.
- Grace’s birthday is in July and it seems everyone, from Mr. Kinnear to McDermott, was watching her and Jamie. I guess with the young man swooping in on what they thought was theirs, jealousy was breeding.
Question(s) Left Unanswered
- What is Jamie’s (Stephen Joffe) take on all this? I know I asked in the recap section but, between him and Mr. Kinnear (who I suspect would desire no parts of all the attention), you have to wonder their side to the story.
A Noted Difference Between Boys and Girls, Women and Men
It is very interesting how blame is handled, as well as responsibility. Never mind the showing of how gender morphs a person’s life. Looking at Jamie, while by no means rich, we see him live a fairly carefree life. He does have a job but seems more able to still have a boyhood in comparison to Grace who not only lives on her own but has barely a moment of free time from sunrise to sunset.
But it also goes beyond that. McDermott notes the stigma Nancy had after an unwed pregnancy and paints her as a turtle stuck on their back. The analogy isn’t lost on me as it does lead to the question of how and why the turtle is on their back and why no one helps them over? And like with what I assume many find Margaret Atwood’s adaptions to point out, despite most of them being decades old at this point, is both how things are the same for women no matter what the time period.
I mean, think about it, in the case of Nancy, it isn’t clear at all how she got pregnant, all we know is that she did and everyone makes it seem like her fault. All Grace does is talk to Jeremiah and Jamie and everyone is on her tail thinking she is perhaps fast and maybe loose. And see how word of mouth makes it so, while Mr. Kinnear has an apparent harem he may be talked about in church but it is the women who are alienated? Granted, Nancy has the friendship of Grace’s former employer but that seems about it. Even then, her friend seems to not approve of her lifestyle.
Hell, throwing Jeremiah under the bus, he knows damn well that unless Grace pretended to be his sister how people would react to her traveling with him. An unwed girl and a grown man? No marriage involved? Imagine how life would be when they stopped places – even with a separate room. She’d bear the weight of gossip as he gets to walk around being considered a lucky man. Much less, being the times what they are, the men would probably do more than gossip but figure between paying or taking away her autonomy, they’d get a go at her as well.
Leaving one last thing to speak on, while I must admit I don’t enjoy Nancy’s attitude toward Grace, at the same time you can understand it. Often times in media, like in Disney movies, there is always this older woman who fears and hates this new and fawned over girl. With Nancy and Grace, you can really get to see why. For more often than not, youth and beauty provide access to young women. It doesn’t matter how talented, knowledge, loving, or even fun you are sometimes. Your youth is a commodity. The beauty you are perceived to have is a commodity and Nancy is coming to realize her value is weakening.
So put yourself in her position. Wouldn’t you want to make it seem your worth is more like wine than left out food? Taking note of the times, wouldn’t you, to maintain your sense of comfort and livelihood threaten and try to dominate someone who could take your position. If not worse, be given it?
So What Is the Truth?
One thing I can appreciate about the limited time we have with Dr. Jordan is that it reminds you this mini-series isn’t about retelling you the facts. What we are getting is Grace’s side of the truth and even with her Maya Angelou like memory, some things maybe embellished, omitted, or changed to suit her person. Which especially should be noted considering this whole ordeal could lead her to freedom. So with that in mind, it makes it so you can’t really trust her fully.
Also, with, as noted, McDermott’s testimony conflicting with Grace’s and the possibility of Jamie or Mr. Kinnear coming out of nowhere, so continues the intrigue from episode 1. Said intrigue being, is it just Dr. Jordan she is fooling but us as well?
The road to death is a lonely highway, and longer than it appears.
There is something depressing to the spirits about a birthday, especially when alone. I had no idea in my mind of where I should go and it struck me at once how very solitary I was. I had no friends, and if you looked at things in the cold light of day, I was indeed alone in the world, with no prospect before me except the drudgery I’d been doing. And although I could find a different situation, still it would be the same sort of work from dawn to dusk, with always [someone] to be ordering me about.
[…] I don’t know why, but a girl of 15 or 16 is accounted a woman. A boy of the same age is still a boy.
If people wish to believe a thing, if they long for it and depend on it to be true, is it cheating to help them to their own belief? Or is it not rather a charity, a human kindness?
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