Halston ends with little to say about its eponymous designer or the impact of his work, a whimpering finale that finds little respite in a story filled with destruction.
This recap of Netflix limited series Halston episode 5, “Critics” — the ending explained — contains spoilers.
It’s 1984, and the JCPenney line is a disaster. Halston has lost control of his life in episode 5, from his friendships to romantic relationships, from his fashion line to his drug addiction. The fashion designer could be compared to a tornado with nothing left to destroy. And he has AIDS-inflicted cancer.
Wrapping up the life of Roy Halston Frowick in the fifth and final episode of Netflix’s Halston, creator Sharr White can’t find a tone for this finale. Due to his actions over the previous four episodes, we struggle to feel empathy for the designer on his last legs, conjuring up an odd mix of forced sympathy and repressed judgment.
He begins showing up to the office at 6 pm, working for a minimal amount of hours, pushing off design deadlines, and snorting an exorbitant amount of cocaine. Epstein, now managing the Halston brand, hires another designer to help meet deadlines, prompting Halston to attempt to quit, a breach of his contract. Instead, a restructuring occurs, pushing the designer out of his own office and into forced retirement, earning $1 million per year for staying out of the way.
As his lawyer says, “You are not Halston anymore. They are.” And Halston’s finale seems overly concerned with this loss of name. It becomes the central talking point of the back half of the episode, instead of anything above a sliver of contrition and redemption for the once-famous man. All of this name-based concern leads to a speech by Halston, given to Joe Eula, about the precious nature of only having one name and protecting it at all costs. Trite and compulsory, the words hold weightlessness, blocked by 200 minutes of screentime of Halston’s ego.
He pays off Victor after his former lover reveals many of his secrets in the tabloids. He meets with an old friend in Martha Graham, agreeing to design the costumes for her upcoming show, enlisting the help from the man hired to replace him with his brand. They create something that critics say “steals the show,” but by that moment of vindication, Halston and this episode doesn’t seem savable.
Halston decides to go to the west coast soon after, spending out his days driving along the Pacific Ocean. And that’s how it all ends, with a string of words sprayed on a screen, with no flash or holler, but with a whimpering sigh.