Episode 5 of The Girl from Plainville begins with Michelle texting Conrad. She tries to send him some intimate pictures of herself when he asks, but she backs out.
In the present day, Joseph Cataldo informs Michelle and her parents that he can’t get the case against Michelle dismissed; there’s too much evidence. Michelle wants to testify, maintaining that the jury needs to hear her love story.
Cataldo advises her against this. To try and dissuade her, he has her read some of her incriminating texts to Conrad aloud in front of her parents. Hearing their daughter read, “Why don’t you just drink bleach?” inevitably changes her parents’ perception of her. But her mom is still on her side.
Katie Rayburn, meanwhile, asks that Lynn testify in front of a jury for their case. She warns her that the defense will try to make Conrad’s suicide look like his father’s fault.
Rayburn and Teresa Adams question Susie about her falling out with Michelle. She says Michelle became “needy” and “intense.” Her mom brings out notes that Michelle left for Susie in their car–notes Susie has never seen.
They take the notes as evidence. They have records of Michelle’s texts to her friends, one of which claiming that Michelle kissed Susie. With this information, they disclose their belief Michelle’s actions toward Conrad were an attempt to get Susie’s attention.
Michelle struggles at home and at school. Her sister gives her the cold shoulder, as do her classmates. One student, Aidan, tells her that rumors fade and that he doesn’t believe any of the ones about her.
In a flashback, we see Michelle drop off a note in Susie’s car, then go back home. In her room, Michelle eats chocolate until she throws up. She later texts Conrad about her binge-eating and issues with her body image. She thinks she needs to go somewhere to get help.
Michelle also tells him she had feelings for Susie and once thought Susie felt the same. Conrad asks if she still loves her, and she says she doesn’t know. But she sees a future with Conrad.
In Cataldo’s office, a Dr. Peter Breggin sticks up for Michelle. He says medications she was on could have influenced her behavior. He wants to testify on her behalf before the jury.
Rayburn comes to see Co at his workplace to tell him she knows about his assault on Conrad. Co goes to Lynn, angry that she would say anything about the incident. He pins the blame on her, yelling that Conrad was living with Lynn when he died.
One night, Gail comes to Michelle to say that her grandma died. Around the same time, Rob hooks Conrad up with a girl at a party. The teen uncomfortably has sex with her. Afterwards, he calls his mom; she picks him up.
He tells her he doesn’t want to go to school anymore, that he can work with dad full time. She asks if he needs help. All he needs, he says, is for her and his dad to just give him a break.
Back to the present texting-suicide case: The judge in the case limits the scope of the investigation to 18 months before Conrad’s passing. This means he won’t allow Susie Pierce to testify.
This is a blow to Rayburn and Adams, but they believe Michelle was trying to get the attention of her other friends as well. “We make all her friends Susie,” Rayburn says.
Conrad attends the funeral of Michelle’s grandmother, making it the second time the two have met face to face. Michelle skips the reception to go out with him. They meet at an empty baseball field at night. After playing an imaginary game, they lay in the field together.
They muse a lot about death. He asks what she would say at his funerals. She would declare that theirs “was an epic love story.” They later kiss, and Conrad takes out a condom, but Michelle isn’t ready to have sex.
In 2015, Michelle gets ready for prom despite her mom’s reservations. She goes with Aidan, but imagines she’s dancing with Conrad. She eventually starts crying and leaves.
With mascara running down her face, she goes running on the treadmill at home–something she did religiously when she struggled with her body image.
The Episode Review
It often happens that true-story-inspired series overestimate the amount of adaptable material they have. That much is glaringly apparent at The Girl From Plainville’s midway point.
The drama weaves an interesting web of mystery around Michelle’s supposed romance with Susie. It seems everyone has a different idea of the true nature of the young women’s relationship. Whatever the truth is, the enigma of Susie’s part in Michelle’s sinister motivations adds some intriguing layers to the case at hand.
For the most part, however, this episode doesn’t really take us much deeper into the Michelle/Conrad story or shed much more light on any important characters. Rather, it slows and drags out its minimal plot.
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