Episode 7 of The Girl from Plainville begins with Conrad giving Michelle a lukewarm apology for making her believe he’d committed suicide. She wonders what she can do for him, but he says she’s done plenty. The problem is that nothing is ever enough for him.
At the trial, Dr. Peter Breggin takes the stand. He testifies as to how Michelle’s medication may have hindered her judgment. He also brings up that Conrad’s medication could have increased the risk of suicide.
In 2014, Conrad asks Michelle if he’s selfish for wanting to kill himself. He says he’s scared of failing again, and she counters that he must not really want to die if he’s so scared to try different things. Part of her wants him to try something and fail, so he’ll be forced to get help.
Conrad later mentions he made a half-hearted attempt at suicide, and Michelle becomes furious that he didn’t tell her. He tells her there’s nothing anyone can do to make him want to live.
Michelle unloads everything that’s been happening on Natalie. She makes her promise to keep Conrad’s struggle a secret.
In the trial, Dr. Breggin testifies that he studied a significant change in Michelle’s behavior 11 days before Conrad’s suicide. He believes she was involuntarily intoxicated by the medication she was on. On July 2, he maintains, Michelle became a different person. In her mind, she was starting to help Conrad get to heaven.
On the date of July 2, 2014, Conrad tells Michelle he doesn’t want to go to hell. She promises him he will go to heaven, and he asks her to help him with his plan. He’s going to try again tomorrow. All she asks is that he say goodbye before he dies.
Rayburn responds to Dr. Breggin’s testimony the next day of the trial. She discredits some of his claims. A lot of his information was based on some of Michelle’s contradicting texts. He also never talked to Michelle to determine his diagnosis of her. She even shows that his observation that Michelle’s behavior changed on July 2 can’t be correct. She sent messages to Conrad encouraging him to kill himself before that date.
Back in 2014, Michelle wakes up to a ‘goodbye’ text from Conrad. She sobs, thinking he’s gone. But then he texts an apology. He took some sleeping pills and fell asleep.
This makes Michelle angry. She says she thought he wanted this. Now she feels like an idiot for being sad because she thinks Conrad has been lying about wanting to die. She accuses him of playing her, and says he will have to prove her wrong.
Conrad insists that he will. That is when Michelle pre-emptively texts Natalie that Conrad has gone missing.
The trial ends with closing arguments. Rayburn maintains that they have proven Michelle’s conduct was intentional. She argues that the judge shouldn’t only consider Conrad’s background and mental health. He should consider Michelle’s actions. She knew Conrad’s vulnerabilities and exploited them.
For now, Michelle is free–at least until the judge reaches his verdict. She goes with her dad to her sister’s choir performance.
While they sit outside in the car, her dad asks her if Dr. Breggin was right. Did she essentially black out when she encouraged Conrad to kill himself?
She doesn’t respond, but he tells her he’ll love her no matter what.
During Hayden’s performance, Michelle zones out and fantasizes that Hayden calls her to the stage, where she and her classmates surround her and sing “Teenage Dirtbag.”
The Episode Review
Just when you think you have this fictional version of Michelle Carter figured out, she acts in ways that are completely off the wall. It seems as if she enjoyed that humiliating fantasy at the end of this episode. We’ve seen it before that Michelle spins something horrible into a cry for attention, so I have to wonder if that personality trait is behind her unconventional decision to waive a trial by jury. Does her desire for attention go so far that she craves bad things to happen to her? Does she want the judge to find her guilty?
If there is an enthralling way to execute a fictionalized trial, The Girl From Plainville doesn’t quite accomplish it. The event does peel back some interesting information, however. Rather than rehash old news, the show brings in Dr. Breggin’s intriguing findings.
Due to being structured around back-and-forth arguments, this penultimate episode is slow. But it does further develop Elle Fanning’s and Colton Ryan’s characters in fascinating ways.
What did you think about the trial? Did the prosecutors manage to prove Michelle’s guilt beyond a reasonable doubt?
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