In the fourth episode of Alias Grace, the Netflix adaptation of Margaret Atwood’s 1996 novel set in 1840s Upper Canada, there’s a quietly chilling scene between young housemaid Grace (Sarah Gadon) and handyman James (Kerr Logan). Leaning over Grace at the kitchen table, James explains how the head housekeeper, Nancy (Anna Paquin), came to work at the home of their mutual employer, Thomas Kinnear (Paul Gross), a wealthy bachelor with a reputation for taking an interest in young servants: Nancy got pregnant while working on another farm, but the father ran off. After losing the baby during childbirth, Nancy was hired by Mr. Kinnear — who promptly began sleeping with her. “Once the horse is out of the stable it’s no good shutting the barn door,” James hisses, leaning over Grace at the kitchen table. “A turtle, ha? A woman once on her back is like a turtle in the same plight. She could scarcely turn herself right side up again, and then she’s fair game for all.” The scene is a tidy summation of how sex was — and, often, still is — weaponized against women, particularly single, working-class women. Alias Grace, which is surprisingly fierce for a Canadian production about a 19th-century housemaid, is a gripping and harrowingly realistic illustration of what happens to women in a world where they bear the shame and consequences of the things men do to them. Based on the true story of “celebrated murderess” Grace Marks, an Irish immigrant and servant accused of killing Thomas Kinnear and Nancy Montgomery — the man of the house and his housekeeper paramour — Alias Grace consists of just six 45-minute episodes, written by Sarah Polley and directed by Mary Harron. Each episode is framed by Grace’s conversations with Dr. Simon Jordan (Edward Holcroft), a psychiatrist from the United States who arrives in Canada 15 years after the murders to determine whether Grace, who has been imprisoned all that time, could be considered mentally ill at the time of the murders; if so, she may be pardoned. Through these interviews, which take place at the governor’s mansion, where Grace has been allowed to spend her days as a maid due to good behavior (and the morbid curiosity of the