Patience is a virtue… especially when judging a TV series. My feelings about Netflix’s 19th-century crime drama Alias Grace, which debuts today, see-sawed back and forth as I made my way through all six episodes. There’s a lot to like about it — it’s gorgeously shot and quietly compelling, with a potent lead performance from Sarah Gadon — but at times, it gets sluggish and overly gloomy. Stick with it, though, because the sixth and final episode is truly remarkable, weaving all of its disparate narrative strands together for a thoroughly satisfying finish.
When we first meet Irish immigrant maid Grace in 1859 Canada, she is in prison for a sensational double murder, gawked at by the public as an infamous “murderess.” She’s visited by handsome psychiatrist Dr. Jordan (Wolf Hall‘s Edward Holcroft), who could help set Grace free if he writes her a positive report, so she recites for him her long, grim life story, leading up to the murders. Along the way, we learn about her horrific crime in tantalizing bits and pieces — but we’re never quite sure if we can believe the tale Grace is telling us.