Fantastic TV: Alias Grace takes a twist on a murder mystery


The Magnet Tribune: Netflix

TV poster for Alias Grace

Anna Davenport, FANtastic TV

In Alias Grace, we witness the life of an incarcerated maid, Grace Marks. The show switches between the past and the present of Grace’s life in showing events leading to her incarceration as well as the events afterwards.

In Canada’s Kingston Penitentiary Prison, in the year 1859, resides an inmate of 15 long years. Convicted of murder as a young girl, Grace Marks is a celebrated murderess. Every day Grace is brought to the governor’s’ house to do light housework, though she is mostly an object for the governor’s wife and guests’ curiosity: staring at Grace from under their bonnets, watching the murderess.

Through conflicting opinions and thoughts of Grace, many things have been said of her and she has roused the support of many to have her pardoned after having spent much time incarcerated. Hoping to find answers where others could not, American Dr. Simon Jordan is brought in by Grace’s supporters to write a report on her.

On the following day after their first meeting, Grace begins the tale of her life leading to her incarceration to Dr. Jordan while working on a log cabin quilt. She begins from when she and her family first escaped Ireland on a boat to Canada. Upon their arrival in Toronto, her abusive father’s temper had worsened and he soon sent her to work to send money back to the family. Grace received employment in a fine house in Toronto. Soon after meeting her, she and Mary Whitney, a fellow maid, soon became good friends.

Flashbacks are used in the show to convey underlying feelings Grace harbors. Grace challenges the thoughts of Dr. Jordan and others, correlating events to the Bible with past and present. We follow Grace’s story through her narrative. Often blunt and a little sarcastic, Grace has an honest aura to her, although cruel at times.

Alias Grace moves ominously through the timeline with its masked, dark topics as they are soon uncovered. Social positions are made clear, alcoholism, violence is obvious, servitudes dark side is shown, sexual desires are frightening and scandals are inevitable to escape. As events escalate you find yourself on the end of your seat waiting for what happens next.