“Talking is Healing” is the episode that finally brings us into the courtroom. Whether we know the end results as viewers are not, the desire to find out what happens to Michelle Carter (Elle Fanning) is a driving force for returning each week. And as Michelle, now shown as a hardened, hollow shell two years later, opens by waiving her right to a jury, requesting a bench trial, The Girl from Plainville reminds viewers that while the trial may present vital information on the case, it is limited in scope, the series returning once more to the backstories of both Conrad (Colton Ryan) and Michelle.
Secrets of the Past
While the episode weaves in and out of the court proceedings and witness statements, The Girl from Plainville brings us back to 2014, Conrad graduating from high school and announcing he has obtained his Captain’s license, while Michelle is checked into a healthcare care facility to treat her restricting and binge eating disorders. These moments are brief, mostly due to the separation of Conrad and Michelle, the series moving along to reunite them and begin closing out their story.
Yet, as brief as Michelle’s time is shown at the Klarman Center, it is illuminating, foreshadowing the potential change to come in her relationship with Conrad. As her psychiatrist warns her “to focus on what she can control”, viewers will feel those words reverberate back, an ominous nature swirling around her advice. As Michelle continues explaining her vision board, she acknowledges that she knows her triggers and will continue to work on them – as she has come to understand, she tries to help people too much.
As Michelle returns home, she is allowed her phone back, with various unanswered messages from Conrad awaiting her return. As she embraces her relationship with Conrad, they both come face to face again, reciting the confirmation between them. It is distant and uneasy, the two struggling to reconnect, Conrad clearly affected by Michelle’s sudden absence. Michelle speaks of the hospital helping her, but does not divulge the details surrounding her need for one. Though for Conrad, by her encouragement, he opens up about the swelling anxiety within him, his fears, and the pessimism he sees for the future.
The scene is striking, the crackling fire the only sound to cut through the awkward silences between text messages. There is a feeling of finality to this phase of their relationship, a deep connection lost in the darkness of the night. As if the fire in front of them stands for all they had created over these last few months and could go out at any minute.
Following their reunited text conversation, the series weaves in and out of the trial once again, Natalie (Ella Rubin) and Cassie (Kylie Liya Page) delivering damning testimony, one that speaks not only to the loneliness of Michelle but the potential attention-seeking behaviors the prosecutors are stating as a motive for Michelle’s involvement in Conrad’s death. And as we begin to feel the accusations against Michelle boil back up, the derived empathy and compassion from previous episodes melting away, The Girl from Plainville finally reveals the catalyst.
Maybe then You will Listen
As Michelle prepares to go out with a friend, her plans are unexpectedly changed when Conrad reaches out to her stating he needs to see her. As The Girl from Plainville finally shows the assault between Conrad and his father, it reveals that Michelle was the one he sought comfort in the aftermath. While Michelle’s efforts to comfort him are genuine, Conrad groups her in with all those around him who just deliver empty platitudes. As he tells Michelle about his thoughts surrounding his perceived inevitable fate with death, there is a pleading in his words for someone to just understand – for someone to listen.
As an ominous text comes through, Michelle faces the reality that she could lose Conrad, one of the only friends that she has. There is a fear and an understanding that reads off her face, a transition of knowledge that Fanning exhibits with ease, her transformative performance taking on a new level. There is a moment, so subtle on her face that you come to understand that there may have never been a specific catalyst, rather just, a moment brought on by a pleading cry for someone to listen and support.
The court proceedings of “Talking is Healing” are as expected, giving the episode its filler to keep the story moving. It reinforces the series direction that this is not a story necessarily about a crime, but about the relationship of Michelle and Conrad. And to be honest, the legal aspects are not missed, rather understood as the markers of time that the true story swirls around, enriching the essence of teen love, mental health struggles, and the idea that there is always more to the story.
What did you think about the latest episode of The Girl From Plainville? Let us know in the comments below!
The Girl from Plainville premiered on Hulu on March 29, 2022, with new episodes every Tuesday!
Watch The Girl from Plainville
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