After the tragic execution of Earl Slavitt — and a passionate night with Conner — Hayes throws herself into the CIU's next case.
Credit: ABC/Ian Watson
S1 E10
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Thank you, Conviction, for showing us at least a few flashes of what went down in Hayes’ hotel room after she and Conner kissed in the final moments of episode 9. It’s been nearly four weeks since the on-again-off-again lovers locked lips following the devastating execution of innocent death-row inmate Earl Slavitt — whom Hayes tried and failed to save in “A Different Kind of Death.”

Now, that might sound like an inappropriate time for some good ‘ol hotel sex, what with Hayes crying and all. But as Jackson so eloquently put it tonight: “Sex and death. Classic combination.” ‘Nuff said.

Anyway, much like Hayes did upon her long-awaited return to the CIU, let’s get down to business.

Case No. 10: Sophie Hausen

Right off the bat, it’s clear that whatever lingering belief Hayes might have had in the criminal justice system disappeared completely in the wake of her experience with Slavitt. It’s a big reason why she chooses this week’s case: “If the state can execute an innocent man, why shouldn’t a rape victim take justice into her own hands?” she rhetorically asks her colleagues.

Said rape victim is Sophie Hausen, serving a life sentence for the murder of college basketball star Travis Carter. The team seems surprised by Hayes’ selection of the case — after all, Sophie had motive, no alibi, and her DNA was found on the murder weapon. Why does Hayes think it’s a wrongful conviction?

She doesn’t. “I just don’t think that a college student who loses her virginity while unconscious should be locked up for killing her rapist,” she says matter-of-factly. Hayes wants the CIU to look for evidence of jury bias, judicial overreach, any technicality that could get Sophie out of prison. However reluctantly, everyone accepts their marching orders and gets to work.

What I found particularly interesting during the hour were the varying attitudes about rape culture and the idea of consent among our core characters. Unsurprisingly, Hayes and Tess immediately aligned themselves with Sophie, at least regarding her accusations of rape against Travis — for which charges were never filed and no compelling evidence was found by the university’s own investigation. Also unsurprising was Frankie and Sam’s skepticism: “An accusation of rape isn’t proof of rape.” That may be a technically true statement, but it’s also a contributing factor in why roughly two out of three sexual assaults go unreported; victims fear not being believed. But I digress.

Despite the seemingly overwhelming evidence against her, Sophie insists she’s innocent when Hayes first interviews her in prison. She might be telling the truth, as we quickly learn the original DNA testing on the murder weapon (Travis was shot) didn’t follow proper protocol and relied on a too-small amount of forensic material. When Frankie re-runs the DNA, results show the sample is only a partial match to Sophie, which means the presence of her DNA on the gun could easily be explained by her being in Travis’ frat-house bedroom on the night she was raped.

In another cool re-creation of the crime, Frankie and Tess are able to deduce that the shooter’s only exit option was out Travis’ bedroom window and over the barbed-wire fence behind the frat house. Yet Sophie was arrested with no injuries after the murder, so unless she’s Superman and capable of leaping over that fence in a single bound, it’s unlikely she scaled the fence at all.

With enough doubt cast upon Sophie’s guilt, it’s time to consider alternate suspects. First up is John Bianchi, a former campus cop who investigated Sophie’s rape and sliced his hand on the night of the shooting. The clincher? He was fired after Travis accused him of harassment; though the university failed to expel or otherwise punish Travis, Bianchi staunchly believed Sophie and had motive to take matters into his own hands. The team quickly drops their accusations against Bianchi, however, when he reveals the existence of Travis’ other victims.

That’s right, three other female students went to the college’s rape crisis center about six months after Sophie’s assault — right around the time of the murder — and said Travis raped them. Like Sophie, any one of them would have reason to want Travis dead. This might be good news for Hayes, who’s laser-focused on getting Sophie out of jail, but neither Elyse Salmon (the school’s rape crisis counselor) nor Sophie are at all interested in implicating another rape victim. The CIU (being the CIU) manages to track down the additional victims on its own, and each woman provides the team a remarkably similar account of what Travis did to them.

Another common thread in their stories? The “awesome” counselor who helped them through their trauma: Elyse. This ain’t my first rodeo when it comes to crime procedurals, so I immediately identified her as the newest suspect in Travis’ murder. (And felt a bit smug about beating Hayes to the punch.) A quick look into Elyse’s background reveals she herself was a victim of rape who, like Sophie and the other girls, never got justice against her attacker.

A photo of Elyse sporting a bandaged arm a week after the murder is all it takes to seal the deal in Hayes’ mind — and when she visits Elyse again, a little bluffing and cajoling is all it takes for Elyse to come clean about her crime. Hayes needed this win after Earl, and for the first time all season, she’s there to witness Sophia’s triumphant release from prison into the waiting arms of Travis’ other three victims.

Another case closed, but that’s not all that happened during “Not Okay.”

NEXT: Tess comes clean to Matty

When we first met Matty, the guy whom Tess helped send to jail for the murder of her aunt, I detected a flirty vibe between the two. Turns out I was right: Matty shows up at the CIU offices with a coffee and scone in hand for Tess, who hasn’t been by his coffee cart for a while. They have been texting a lot, though, and Matty sweetly asks out our whip-smart paralegal for a Giants game or a movie. Say it with me now: Aww!

Tess is initially hesitant but eventually accepts his offer. There’s just one thing, though… She hasn’t told him who she really is. In other words, she hasn’t admitted she’s the reason he spent years in jail for a crime he didn’t commit. Methinks that might put a damper on their budding friendship/romance?

Frankie encourages Tess to come clean, which she does toward the end of the hour. Granted, she kind of stuns him with the news in a completely unrehearsed confession at the CIU offices, so it’s no surprise when Matty disappears in anger.

I like the chemistry between them, so I’m really hoping we see Matty again before Conviction comes to a close. After all, Tess was a kid when she picked Matty out of a lineup; she wasn’t malicious and clearly made an innocent mistake (pun kind of intended). I know that doesn’t make up for the years Matty lost behind bars, but once his anger wears off, surely he’ll be able to forgive her… right?

Hayes and Conner: Not ‘on a break’ anymore

Oh, these two crazy kids. They’ve clearly got chemistry, but is that enough to build a lasting relationship on? That’s been the big question swirling around Hayes and Conner all season, and tonight we finally have our answer… And it’s a big, fat yes!

After a few tension-filled run-ins tonight — during which Conner repeatedly asks Hayes if she’s okay and Hayes refuses to talk about what she’s feeling — Hayes gets some words of wisdom from her bro Jackson. (Welcome back, Daniel Franzese!) Per usual, Jackson is hilarious yet refreshingly honest in his evaluation of the situation, urging his sis to make a real go of it with her longtime sex/sparring partner. When Hayes worries what would happen should they crash and burn as a couple, Jackson sweetly says he’ll be there to protect her, as always. Say it with me again: Aww!

I like to think it was Jackson who convinced Hayes to show up at Conner’s office and finally confess her feelings in the episode’s closing moments. She tells him what she wants, he says he wants the same thing, and they both agree they have no idea how to navigate the sure-to-be-rocky relationship waters ahead — but they also agree they’re up for the challenge.

All I have left to say is what I wrote in my notes as I watched the lovebirds’ long-awaited reunion: YAYAYAY!

Episode 10 Case Notes:

  • Jackson: “Oh, no, he just dumped her after the two of you had amazing passionate sex.”
    Hayes: “How do you know what kind of sex we had?”
    Jackson: “You’re a Morrison. We only have one kind.”
  • Hayes: “Jackson, look. It’s your black friend Maxine.”
    Jackson: “Shut up, Hayes. Hi, Maxine.”
  • Hayes, talking to rape crisis counselor Elyse: “It’s a weird time to be a woman, isn’t it? We can be CEOs, presidents, and yet still we are under siege.”
  • Hayes: “I want in.”
    Conner: “On?”
    Hayes: “Us. You and me. All of it, for real this time.”
    Conner: “Me too.”

Episode Recaps

Hayley Atwell stars as a former first daughter in this ABC legal drama.
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