Alias Grace (2017) s01e01 Episode Script

Episode 1

GRACE: I think of all the things that have been written about me.
That I am an inhuman female demon.
That I am an innocent victim of a blackguard, forced against my will and in danger of my own life.
That I was too ignorant to know how to act, and that to hang me would be judicial murder.
That I am well and decently dressed, that I robbed a dead woman to appear so.
That I am of a sullen disposition with a quarrelsome temper.
That I have the appearance of a person rather above my humble station.
That I am a good girl with a pliable nature and no harm is told of me.
That I am cunning and devious.
That I am soft in the head and little better than an idiot.
And I wonder, how can I be all of these different things at once? (MUSIC PLAYING) (PEOPLE CHATTING INDISTINCTLY) GRACE: I have been an inmate at the Kingston Penitentiary for 15 long years.
I was convicted of murder when I was a young girl.
Though at the time I thought of myself as a grown woman.
Every day I am brought to the governor's house.
They say I'm there to do light housework.
Come, come, ladies.
GRACE: Though mostly I'm there to be an object of curiosity.
They stare without appearing to, Doctor, out from under their bonnets.
The reason they want to see me is that I am a celebrated murderess.
Or that is what has been written down.
When I first saw it I was surprised, because they say "celebrated singer," and "celebrated poetess" and "celebrated actress," but what is there to celebrate about a murder? (THUDDING) (GASPS) All the same.
"Murderess" is a strong word to have attached to you.
(GASPING) It has a smell to it, that word.
Musky and oppressive, like dead flowers in a vase.
Sometimes at night I whisper it over to myself.
(WHISPERS) Murderess.
It rustles like a taffeta skirt across the floor.
Murderer is merely brutal.
It's like a hammer or a lump of metal.
I'd rather be a murderess than a murderer, if those are the only choices.
(WHISTLE BLOWING) There was much excitement about you coming to Kingston, Dr.
Those who wanted to see me pardoned believed that a report from you could set me free.
You were much better regarded than the other doctors who came to examine me over the years.
DIANE: Hold still, Grace.
Smith needs to get a proper measurement.
There's nothing to be afraid of.
(WHIMPERS) (SCREAMS) (WHISTLE BLOWING) GRACE: They thought you could find answers where others could not.
GUARD 1: I'd be careful if I were you.
She's murdered two people in cold blood.
She's in here for good reason.
Good Morning, Grace.
I understand you're afraid of doctors.
I must tell you right away that I myself am a doctor.
My name is Dr.
Simon Jordan.
I suppose you are here to measure my head.
I would not dream of it.
Are you American? Are you the doctor they have brought to write a report? Yes.
Do you have a bag with knives in it? No.
I am not the usual kind of doctor.
I do no cutting open.
Are you afraid of me, Grace? It's too early to tell.
This is for you.
I'm not a dog.
No, Grace, I can see you're not a dog.
(SNIFFING) What is it, Grace? (SNIFFING) It has such an odor of the outdoors.
Can you tell me what it is? An apple.
And what does an apple remind you of? Who shall we marry? I beg your pardon, Sir.
I don't understand you.
I think you understand me well enough.
Apple pie.
Something you eat.
Well, I should hope you would, Sir.
That's what an apple is for.
Is there any kind of apple you should not eat? A rotten one, I suppose.
Are you a preacher? No.
I'm not a preacher.
I am a doctor that works not with bodies, but with the mind.
Diseases of the mind and the brain, and the nerves.
(SCREAMS) I won't go back there to the asylum.
(SCREAMS) Flesh and blood cannot stand it.
(SCREAMS) (SCREAMS) GRACE: They took liberties, Sir.
They don't listen to reason there, Sir.
And that is what I am here for.
To listen to reason.
But if I am to listen to you, you will have to talk to me.
You won't believe me, Sir.
Anyway, it's all been decided, and what I say will not change anything.
You should ask the lawyers and judges, and the newspaper men, they seem to know my story better than I do myself.
In any case, I've lost that part of my memory entirely.
They must have told you that.
I would like to help you, Grace.
If you will try to talk, I will try to listen.
My interest is purely scientific.
It is not only the murders that should concern us.
Perhaps, I will tell you lies.
Perhaps, you will.
Perhaps, you will tell them without meaning to, perhaps you will tell them deliberately.
Perhaps, you are a liar.
There are those who have said I am one.
That is a chance we'll have to take.
Will they take me back to the asylum? (SCREAMING) No! Or will they keep me in solitary confinement with nothing to eat but bread? (WHIMPERING) SIMON: You have my word that as long as you continue to talk with me, and do not become violent, you will remain as you were.
I have the governor's promise.
Till tomorrow, then.
(LOCK CLICKING) GRACE: The apple of the tree of knowledge is what you meant, Dr.
Good and evil.
Any child could guess it.
I thought, "He wishes to go home and say to himself, "'I stuck in my thumb and pulled out a plum.
"What a good boy am I.
'" But I will not be anybody's plum.
You're a doctor's whore now, aren't you, Grace Marks? A doctor's whore.
- (WOMEN GIGGLE SOFTLY) - GUARD: Quiet! (COUGHING) (CHOKING) VERRINGER: What did you discover today when you examined Grace? I believe in pursuing the patient's sublimated dreams and memories.
It is important to build trust with the patient and this does not happen in one sitting.
There are a great number of us, especially those of us on the committee to pardon Grace Marks, who are anxious to see Grace released as soon as possible.
She has languished too long in prison for one so young and vulnerable at the time of her conviction.
When can our committee expect to see your report? I have some questions about the trial itself.
I went to the pump, and on turning around, I saw McDermott dragging Nancy along the yard leading from the back kitchen to the front kitchen.
SIMON: Grace said at the time of her arrest that she didn't know where Nancy was.
But at the trial itself He said it was better to get it done with.
"Come and open the trap door "and I'll throw her down in the cellar.
" SIMON: She claimed to have seen McDermott dragging Nancy by the hair, and tossing her down the stairs.
(THUDDING) VERRINGER: Did she? I don't recall.
She She did say she was sorry that Nancy was dead.
Anyone might say that.
I suppose.
Also, we have McDermott's statement made just before he was hanged.
He claimed that Grace strangled Nancy with her own kerchief.
VERRINGER: The man had already told several different stories and was a notorious liar into the bargain.
Grace Marks made me do it! She is a whore.
Murderer! SIMON: To turn Devil's advocate Hang her! Just because a man is known to lie, it does not always follow that he does so.
Is this type of inquiry bothering you? Hmm.
Not at all, Dr.
But we are hoping you will write a report favorable to Grace Marks.
That is why we have brought you here.
Yes, I appreciate that.
So, when can we expect to see your report? It would be helpful if I could meet with Grace in a setting that implied more trust.
You mentioned she had been doing some housework for the governor of the penitentiary? How did this come about? VERRINGER: Her behavior in prison was exemplary and the governor's wife allowed her to spend her days there.
But recently she did have a fit there which terrified the family.
(SCREAMS) (WOMEN SCREAM) Would it be possible to persuade them to allow her back into the house? I could meet with her there.
I shall try.
She has a liking for Grace, and no doubt she enjoys the curiosity that Grace arouses in the ladies of the spiritualist circle.
I feel something coming.
QUENELL SHUSHES) We will wait for your dear son, William.
SIMON: So, I will meet Grace tomorrow at the governor's house? I'm sure I can arrange it.
And how are your accommodations? Very satisfactory.
Thank you for all your efforts, Reverend.
We feel certain it will be worth our while.
I'll see you tomorrow.
- SIMON: Mrs.
- Good evening.
I have made you some tea.
How very kind of you.
- Good night, Dr.
- Good night, Reverend.
Ah, Grace, I see you've got a new sweetheart, a doctor no less? He'd better keep a sharp eye out or you'll have him flat on his back.
(CHUCKLES) Yes, flat on his back in the cellar with his boots off and a bullet through his heart.
If you really thought that of me, you should hold your dirty tongues, or one dark night I'll have them out of your mouths, roots and all, and I won't need a knife.
I'll just take hold with my teeth and pull.
And I'll thank you to keep your filthy screw's hands to yourself.
GRACE: There are some that take pleasure in the distress of a fellow mortal, Doctor.
(KEEPERS WHISPERING) GRACE: And most especially if they think that fellow mortal has committed a sin, which adds an extra relish.
But which among us has not sinned as the Bible tells us? I should be ashamed of myself to take such delight in the suffering of others.
(CHUCKLES) (CLOCK TICKING) (SIGHS HEAVILY) It's difficult for me to begin talking.
I've not talked very much in the past 15 years.
I don't know what you want me to say.
It isn't what I want you to say but what you want to say to yourself that is of interest to me.
I have no wants of that kind.
It isn't my place to want to say anything.
Tell me about the quilt you're making.
It's for Lydia, the governor's daughter.
It's a log cabin quilt.
Every young woman should have one before marriage.
It means the home, and at the center there's always a red square which means the hearth fire.
This one's just for every day, not nearly as fancy as the marriage quilts.
What are the marriage quilts? Well, according to my friend, there are three quilts every woman should make with her own hand before marriage.
The tree of paradise, the flower basket and the Pandora's box.
Sometimes, in my days as a maid, I would hang them all up to dry off from the wash together, in a row.
They would look like flags, hung out by an army as it goes to war.
What else does that make you think of, Grace? Well, since that time, I have thought, "Why is it that women have chosen to sew such flags, "and lay them on the tops of beds?" For they make the bed the most noticeable thing in a room.
And then I thought, "It's for a warning.
" Because you may think a bed is a peaceful thing, Sir, and to you it may mean rest and comfort and a good night's sleep.
But it isn't so for everyone.
There are many dangerous things that may take place in a bed.
It is where we are born, and that is our first peril in life, and it is where women give birth which is often their last.
And it's where the act takes place between men and women, Sir, that I will not mention to you but I suppose you know what it is.
Some call it love, others despair, merely an indignity they must suffer through.
And, finally, beds are what we sleep in, and where we dream, and often where we die.
But I did not have these fancies about the quilts until after I was already in prison.
It is a place where you have a lot of time to think, and no one to tell your thoughts to.
So you tell them to yourself.
So, Grace, you consider a bed to be a dangerous place.
Are you laughing at me, Sir? No.
Well, of course, I don't think it's a dangerous place every time you get into it, Sir.
Only on those occasions which I have mentioned.
Have I offended you somehow? I I did not intend to.
Then I'll will believe you, take you at your word, and hope such will be returned in the future.
Of course.
Can you tell me what this is, Grace? It's a beet.
And does it remind you of anything? (THUDDING) (GASPING) A Sunday roast, I suppose.
Always best to peel beets after they come out of the oven and not before.
They can be very hard to clean.
Boiled beets don't have the same flavor at all.
They are a very hard vegetable to clean a stain from.
If you could make a quilt, all for yourself, which pattern would you make? GRACE: I don't know, Sir.
Perhaps it would be a Job's tears, or a tree of paradise, or maybe an Old Maid's Puzzle, because I am an old maid, wouldn't you say, Sir? And I have certainly been very puzzled.
(WRITING ON PAPER) You must have thought about what pattern you would make having spent so many years making them for others.
Saying what you really want brings bad luck, Sir, and then the good thing will never happen.
You should be careful for wanting anything at all as you may be punished for it.
This is what happened to Mary Whitney.
- Who's Mary Whitney? - A friend.
And how did you know her? It was a long time ago.
It isn't important, really.
Grace, you may be perfectly frank with me.
I have no reason not to be frank with you, Sir.
A lady may conceal things, as she has her reputation to lose, but I am beyond that.
I can say anything I like, or if I don't wish to, I needn't say anything at all.
(CHUCKLES) You don't care about my good opinion of you, Grace? I've already been judged, Sir.
Whatever you may think of me, it's all the same.
Judged rightly, Grace? Rightly or wrongly does not matter.
People want a guilty person.
If there has been a crime, they want to know who did it.
They don't like not knowing.
- Then you have given up hope? - Hope of what, Sir? Well, hope of being set free.
Now why would they want to do that, Sir? A murderess is not an everyday thing.
I save my hopes for smaller matters.
I live in hopes of having a better breakfast tomorrow than I had today.
They said at the time they were making an example of me.
That's why it was the death sentence, and then the life sentence.
But what does an example do, afterwards? The story is over.
How are you supposed to fill in the rest of your time? Do you not feel you have been treated unjustly? I don't know what you mean, Sir.
Well, there's more than one way to skin a cat.
I find that an odd choice of words, Sir, I'm not a cat.
Oh, no, I remember, nor are you a dog.
I beg your pardon, Sir.
Let us begin at the beginning.
- The beginning of what, Sir? - The beginning of your life.
I was born, Sir, like anyone else.
I have your confession here.
Let me read you what you said in it.
That is not really my confession.
It was just what the lawyers told me to say, and things made up by the men from the newspapers.
The first time I set eyes on a newspaper man, I thought, "Well, then, does your mother know you're out?" They wouldn't know the truth if they fell over it.
Grace, who is Mary Whitney? It is written underneath your portrait, at the front of your confession, "Grace Marks.
Alias Mary Whitney.
" Oh, yes.
It is not a good likeness of me.
And Mary Whitney? That was just the name I gave when James McDermott was running away with me.
And you just gave any name that came into your head? Oh, no, Sir.
Mary Whitney was once a particular friend of mine.
She was dead by that time, Sir, and I did not think she would mind if I used her name.
She sometimes lent me her clothing, too.
She was always very kind to me.
And without her, it would have been a different story entirely.
Will you tell me your story, Grace? As the real one is not written in your confession, as you say.
- Will you tell it to me? - What part of it, Sir? From the beginning.
(SAILORS SHOUTING) (BELL RINGING) GRACE: What it says at the beginning of my confession is true enough.
I did indeed come from the north of Ireland.
Though I thought it very unjust when they wrote down that "both of the accused "were from Ireland by their own admission.
" That made it sound like a crime, and I don't know that being from Ireland is a crime, although I have often seen it treated as such.
But our family were Protestants, and that is different.
(MAN SHOUTS INDISTINCTLY) GRACE: We left Ireland with little warning.
My father was English and, while in Ireland, he got into the company of some Orangemen of bad reputation, and there was a house burnt down of a Protestant gentleman that had taken the side of the Catholics.
Get on.
Be quick about it.
GRACE: And another one found with his head bashed in.
We left rather quickly.
Why did God saddle me with such a litter of thieving Irish scoundrels? The world doesn't need any more of you.
You should have all been drowned like kittens in a sack.
Stupid woman! (GRUNTS) Michael, Claire.
Come, pick it up! (MAN SPEAKING INDISTINCTLY) (BELL RINGING) GRACE: I will confess to having a wicked thought.
When I had the young ones all lined up in a row, I thought, "I might just push one or two of them over, "and then there would not be so many to feed, "nor so many clothes to wash.
" I thought maybe I could spare them this life with this man.
But that was just a thought put into my head by the devil, no doubt.
Or, more likely, by my father, for at that age, I was still trying to please him.
(CROW CAWING) (CAWING) Three crows in a row mean death.
My foot will never touch land again.
Mother, why do you say that? I feel it in my bones.
(CAWING) GRACE: And so it turned out.
(MAN SHOUTS INDISTINCTLY) (PEOPLE CLAMORING) (BABY CRYING) (SHIP CREAKING) (BABY CRYING) GRACE: My father spent most of the voyage passed out from drink.
Through the storms and sickness, we barely knew where he was.
Which was just as well.
There was more than enough suffering without him.
(COUGHING) (BABY WAILING) (RETCHING) (WAILING CONTINUES) (MAN SPEAKING INDISTINCTLY) (GRUNTING AND GROANING) (MAN YELLS) (SHIP CREAKING) (PEOPLE SHOUTING INDISTINCTLY) GRACE: I thought of Jonah in the belly of the whale, but at least he only had to stay there three days, and we had eight weeks of it ahead of us.
And he was in the belly all by himself, and did not have to listen to the moaning and vomiting of others.
(SIGHS DEEPLY) I did not mean to offend your sensibilities, Sir.
The ship was, after all, only a sort of slum in motion, though without the gin shops.
And I hear they have got better ships now.
Perhaps you'd like to open a window.
"O, come hither and behold the works of God.
(SPEAKING OTHER LANGUAGE) "How wonderful he is in his doings.
(SPEAKING OTHER LANGUAGE) "He turned the sea into dry land "so that they went through the water on foot.
"There did we rejoice" GRACE: The passengers were Catholics and Protestants mixed.
And if in a state of health they would have squabbled and fought, as there is no love lost.
A sea voyage may be God's reminder to us that we are all flesh, and all flesh is weak.
There is no way to avoid attending both, I suppose.
(PRIESTS READING SERMONS) No one seems to object while they're on water.
(COUGHS) (GASPING) (MAN COUGHING) It is not the cholera, which will be a relief to the captain.
Most likely a tumor.
There is no way of telling what it is without cutting her open and that will kill her for certain.
Can we carry her up on deck for the air? It would be a mistake to move her.
(CLEARS THROAT) The air is so foul down here, I am half-choked.
PHELAN: There, there.
There, there.
Here are some spirits I have for medicine.
(COUGHS) It would do you good to cry, girl.
She is in heaven now with the blessed saints, even though she was a Protestant.
We have not opened a window to let the soul out.
Perhaps it will not be counted against your poor mother.
There are none to be opened down here.
I have never heard of a custom like that.
Each of you, kiss Mother good-bye.
MINISTER: We therefore commit this body to the deep, to be turned into corruption, looking for the resurrection of the body, and the life of the world to come, through our Lord Jesus Christ, who, at his coming, shall change our vile body, that it may be like his glorious body, according to the mighty working, whereby he is able to subdue all things to himself.
- (CROCKERY SHATTERS) - (GASPS) Imagine that.
Your teapot breaks now, when the waves have calmed down.
My Auntie Pauline gave it to us just before we left.
No doubt it came untied when someone tried to steal it.
She is trapped because we couldn't open a window.
Just like you said.
Now she'll be caught down here forever and ever, sailing back and forth across this hideous, dark ocean.
(SOBBING) You see what queer ideas a person can get? But I was only a young girl at the time, and very ignorant.
Can you continue, Grace? What happened when you arrived? (SAILORS SHOUTING) (INDISTINCT CHATTERING) GRACE: We arrived in Toronto and the people appeared to be very mixed as to the kinds of them, with skins of all hues, which was very new to me, and you could never tell what sort of speech you were going to hear.
Altogether it was just like the Tower of Babel.
(PEOPLE SPEAKING INDISTINCTLY) - (GASPS) - Get the bloody breakfast on, you lazy witch.
GRACE: Unfortunately, it soon became clear that my father's character would not improve without my mother there to temper it.
FATHER: What's taking so long? You stupid, ugly whore! - (THUDDING) - (GRUNTS) I'm sorry, Grace.
I wasn't myself.
I don't know what got into me.
(MUFFLED SCREAMS) (GASPING) (GROANS) GRACE: I did not want to be led into a grave sin of that kind, though I was afraid that the fiery red anger that was in my heart against him would drive me to it.
(WRITING ON PAPER) Time you went out in the world to earn your own bread and send your wages back.
You're eating me out of house and home, you ungrateful slut.
I've asked the landlady to find a job for you.
Who will look after the little ones? Katey.
Katey? Yes.
Now get out and send money back.
Before I box your ears so hard you can't hear a thing.
I told them I would come back for them.
And, at the time, I meant it.
If you'll forgive me, Sir.
I'm a little tired.
No wonder.
We will begin again tomorrow.
Before I go, could you tell me a little more about Mary Whitney? You mentioned her earlier.
Well, Sir, that will bring me to a happier part of my story.
And you will see why it was her name I used when I was in need of it.
Our landlady secured me employment at a fine house in Toronto.
You must be Grace.
The new girl.
I'm Mary.
You shouldn't stand here.
I'll take you in the servant's entrance.
You must have had a very long journey.
You won't see much of Mr.
Alderman Parkinson.
But when you do, you might be blinded.
He has so many gold pins and snuff boxes and gold watch-chains you could get five necklaces out of him if he were melted down with the earrings to match.
PARKINSON: Serve cheese biscuits, warm.
And give this room a little more going over.
And make sure that there are four bottles of good claret for after lunch.
That's Mrs.
She ought to be the Alderman herself, as she is the better man.
This is the parlor.
They have two sons, they're both away in the States at college, which is just as well.
This is Honey, cook.
This is Grace Marks.
Now I'll show you to your bed, which is the same as mine.
Agnes, Effie, this is Grace Marks.
Effie is quite melancholic.
Her young man was transported to Australia for being in the rebellion, and he died there.
And she tried to hang herself with her apron strings and they broke and they found her half-choked and out of her mind.
She had to be put away.
- What rebellion? - "What rebellion?" You must have just arrived.
It was against the gentry, who run everything here, and they keep all of the land and the money for themselves.
William Lyon Mackenzie, he led the rebellion, but it failed and so he escaped through ice and snow in women's clothing over the lake and into the States.
And he could have been betrayed many times, but he wasn't, because he was a fine man who stood up for the ordinary farmers.
Anyway, it's best not to mention politics.
Except amongst friends.
I don't know anything about politics, so I wouldn't think of mentioning it in any case.
(WHISPERS) Are you a radical? You are not to tell the Parkinsons.
They have heard a different story from me.
But my father lost his farm.
The government troops, they burned the log cabin that he'd built with his own two hands while fighting off bears.
And then he died while he was in hiding in the winter woods and my mother died of grief.
But our time will come.
We will be revenged.
She had a very fierce look when she said this.
Grace, when you get your wages you must hide them.
I've made a little pocket in the mattress here.
My wages go directly to my father.
Didn't you say your father was a drunk? You can't give him your wages.
But what about the children? How will they survive? It won't benefit your brothers and sisters.
He will just drink it away.
I am afraid of him.
He won't get at you here, and if he tries, I'll speak with Jim in the stables.
He is a large man with friends.
You may be very young, and as ignorant as an egg (CHUCKLES) but you are bright as a new penny, Grace Marks.
And the difference between ignorant and stupid is that ignorant can learn.
I think we're gonna get along just fine together.
In the morning, I'll have Miss Honey advance you your wages, so we can get you a proper dress.
(KNOCKING ON DOOR) Very sorry to interrupt, Dr.
I wanted to know if I could bring you any refreshment? No, we're fine.
Thank you.
We're in the middle of (INAUDIBLE) Um (CLEARS THROAT) I'm sorry, Doctor.
Are we not done? Yes.
Yes, of course.
That was quite a lot for one day.
Shall we begin again tomorrow? GRACE: I went to the pump, and on turning around, I saw McDermott dragging Nancy along the yard, leading from the back kitchen to the front kitchen.
This was about 07:00.
I said to McDermott, "I did not think "you were going to do it that minute.
" He said, "It was better to get it done with.
" GRACE: In the courtroom, and in the asylum, every word that came out of my mouth was as if it was burnt into the paper they were writing it on.
GRACE: He presently came to me and said, "Open the trap door and I'll throw her down the cellar.
" GRACE: And once I said a thing, I knew I could never get the words back, only they were the wrong words I gave him a piece of white cloth, and followed him to the trap door GRACE: Because whatever I said would be twisted around.
(GROANING) Even if it was the plain truth in the first place.
(SCREAMS) But now I feel as if everything I say is right.
As long as I say something, anything at all, you smile and write it down.
When you write, I feel as if you are drawing on me, drawing on my skin with the feather end of an old-fashioned goose pen.
As if hundreds of butterflies have settled all over my face, and are softly opening and closing their wings.
But underneath that is another feeling, a feeling of being wide-eyed awake and watchful.
It's like being wakened suddenly in the middle of the night, by a hand over your face, and you sit up with your heart going fast, and no one is there.
(GASPS) (SIGHS) GRACE: And underneath that is another feeling still, a feeling of being torn open, not like a body of flesh, it is not painful as such, but like a peach.
And not even torn open, but too ripe and splitting of its own accord.
And inside the peach, there's a stone.