A horrifying chapter showing the true nature of the opioid crisis.
This recap of Hulu series Dopesick episode 5, “The Whistleblower,” does not contain spoilers.
What this Hulu series does impressively well is highlight the one-track mind of addiction. It feels so real that it’s difficult to watch. The production behind this series did not approach the cycle of addiction lightly.
Dopesick episode 5 recap
Episode 5 opens with a woman arranging funeral arrangements for her daughter. She learns from her grandson that her daughter changed after taking OxyContin. She looks into the opioid ferociously. Eventually, Rick Mountcastle gets in touch. The opening scenes show how the drug became a quick epidemic, taking many lives.
Dr. Samuel Finnix is visiting different doctors in episode 5, so he can build up prescriptions. Meanwhile, Betsy is still struggling with being dopesick, so she sells her mother’s jewelry (including her wedding ring) for money at a pawnshop. The pawnshop owner offers her more money for sexual favors. Devastatingly, Betsy accepts.
As for Richard Sackler, he’s taking the production of OxyContin a step further — he plans to release a new pill — 160mg. He announces to both sides of the family board that he wants to be made President of the company to prevent red tape and family issues linked to shares. He guarantees billions a year, but he has resistance from one side of the family, and he’s laughed at.
Rick and Randy learn that the pharmaceutical company incentivizes sales reps to sell higher dosages — they need a whistleblower. Randy meets ex-sales rep Paula (who protested sales techniques in the last episode) about her experiences. He wants her to testify, but she reveals that she was forced to sign a non-disclosure agreement. She fears the pharmaceutical company, so she asks Randy to leave her house.
From one sales rep to another — Billy sees someone snorting OxyContin in their car, so he tells Amber about it; he’s sleeping with her now. Amber does not want him to report it and calls their job a “golden goose.” The pair then argue about their sexual arrangement as Amber heads out on a date.
It looks like Rick and Randy may have a few potential witnesses to testify, but nothing is simple. A secretary at the pharmaceutical company was asked to research chat rooms regarding OxyContin. It’s full of people who are addicted, and they are celebrating a life of OxyContin. She sends her alarming findings to the board, including Richard Sackler.
Rich manages to get hold of this secretary, and they interview her; they learn she was soon fired after her findings — she claims her boss was furious that she sent that email. She states that she was in a car crash one day, and because she was limping, her boss offered her OxyContin. The secretary was then fired for being a drug addict. She claims to be clean now and that she did not sign a non-disclosure agreement. Unfortunately, she’s scared of the company and does not want to testify. They reassure her that the grand jury will be sealed. However, later on in the episode, it turns out that the secretary is still addicted after relapsing due to the stress of the investigation. Rick and Randy accept she cannot testify. Nothing feels simple in this war against the pharmaceutical company.
Moving to Bridget at the DEA, she is told to rein in her aggression with her war against OxyContin. They ask for someone else to handle their press conferences, someone who is firm but not aggressive. In the media, Bridget and her team announce that they will be tackling OxyContin.
Back to Samuel, who looks high in episode 5 as he enters his workplace; his nursing assistant looks concerned. Samuel performs a surgical procedure at work on a patient, but he struggles to focus. It goes wrong, and they need to call an ambulance for the patient. While at the hospital, Samuel tries to get OxyContin from a doctor, but the doctor soon suspects he’s an addict after his nursing assistant reveals empty OxyContin pill bottles — he’s escorted away.
Betsy’s parents attempt another intervention on their daughter after finding out she stole her mother’s jewelry. After an angry confrontation with her father, Betsy admits she sold it at a pawnshop. The father is furious, so he finds her OxyContin and pours all the pills down the sink. Betsy is angry, irrational, and inconsolable, and she starts trashing her room and burning items in her backyard. The true depth of addiction is sobering in episode 5.
Samuel and Betsy are taken to a rehabilitation facility to recover. Betsy’s parents try and get the jewelry back, but the pawnshop owner wants $3,000 for it.
The pharmaceutical company attends a meeting with the DEA. Bridget attends despite concern. Richard Sackler tells her team that he wants to cooperate to help, support, and train pharmacists and doctors to stop illegal diversion. Bridget does not buy the bullshit and feels they are putting a “bandaid over a gunshot wound.” She clarifies that she wants the pills off the streets, and she will not back down. Richard is a little stunned, so he leaves with his team. Bridget tells her boss that she will create more negative press until they wear the FDA down. The boss approves.
As episode 5 ends, a couple of things happen.
Richard Sackler puts the presidency position up for a vote. Surprisingly, he gets the vote of confidence, and he is named President. He then nominates Kathy Sackler from the other side of the family as Vice President, which makes one family member extremely angry. He also distributes allotments of profits fairly on both sides.
And then, to conclude episode 5, we receive a disturbing scene that marks the end of a brilliant chapter. Billy visits Samuel at the rehab facility. Samuel tells Billy that he’s lost his medical license but feels lucky to be alive. Billy promises that he did not know they were addictive as he had a lot of convincing data. He admits that when he found out the truth, he became addicted to the money. And then Billy confesses to lying to Samuel to make him feel comfortable with him. He wonders how he can stop selling.
But, surprisingly, Samuel tells him it is okay, and life is hard — he asks Billy if he can bring him some OxyContin, which was the only reason he invited him. This will floor audiences.
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