‘Painkiller’ Episode 1 Recap & Ending, Explained: Who Was Edie Flowers?

When atomic bombs were dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945, the country responsible for the detonation thought only of victory in the war, disregarding the ordinary people who lost their lives in the blasts. This illustrates how extremely powerful individuals in a nation make drastic decisions that have the potential for economic or broader advantages, even at the cost of risking the common people’s lives. In Netflix’s latest offering, Painkiller, director Peter Berg depicts such drastic circumstances through its fictional retelling of a horrific true story. Painkiller is a story about a pharmaceutical company known as Purdue Pharma, owned by the Sackler family, that came up with a life-threatening drug called OxyContin disguised as a seemingly harmless painkiller that led a significant portion of the American population to develop addictions and subsequently lose their lives.


Spoilers Ahead

Who Was Edie Flowers? What Was She Investigating?

In the opening of each episode of Painkiller, a grieving family member shares a disclaimer, saying that even though the show’s characters and plot are not real, the tragic death of their child very much is. In the first episode, the story kicks off with a scene where Richard Sackler, the person behind the OxyContin drug, is desperately attempting to deactivate a smoke alarm in his home. This scene indicated that these events were unfolding after a lawsuit had been filed against him, highlighting his decaying mental state due to the challenging circumstances he found himself in.


The story switched to Edie Flowers, an investigator who worked for the U.S. Attorney’s office in Roanoke. She traveled to New York to meet with lawyers and medical experts, aiming to share the information she had gathered about how harmful OxyContin was and how the Sackler family had come up with the idea of the drug, making a lot of money from its marketing and distribution. Initially unsure about the trial’s outcome, Edie thought the lawyers might settle with the Sacklers for money. However, one of the lawyers, named Brianna, showed Edie a video of Richard Sackler’s interrogation. This video gave Edie new hope and perspective, making her determined to hold the Sacklers accountable for their actions.

Edie Flowers began recounting how she had initially come across the name of the medicine, OxyContin. Her journey had started in Dr. Coyle’s office, where she had been looking into cases of doctors billing Medicaid without providing actual medical procedures. While examining the prescriptions and billing records of this doctor, she stumbled upon the name of a new drug, OxyContin. This discovery had caught her attention because the drug had been prescribed to a significant number of patients. The significant amount of its prescription had raised a red flag for her, marking the point where she had decided to launch her investigation. Edie’s curiosity had led her to dig deeper into the history of the Sackler family and the creation of OxyContin.


Edie Flowers continued her conversation with the lawyers, explaining the history that unfolded decades earlier. She had recounted how Dr. Arthur Sackler, a psychiatrist, had achieved considerable success during the 1950s by developing a medication known as Valium. This invention elevated his reputation significantly. To maintain his public image and status, Dr. Sackler turned to collecting art. However, as he grew older, the stress began to accumulate, and financial challenges increased, leading him to drown in debt. However, at the age of 73, he passed away due to a heart attack.

Following Dr. Arthur Sackler’s demise, Richard Sackler stepped in to take control of the family business. He had started a new venture by creating a new medicine called OxyContin, which included a potent painkiller known as Oxycodone. This drug belonged to the same class as heroin, a powerful and addictive substance that was also life-threatening. Richard Sackler recognized that people held skepticism about using morphine for pain relief. To overcome this hesitance, he cleverly included the term oxy in the drug’s name, making it more acceptable to the public. Richard’s clever strategic move not only restored his family’s reputation but marked the start of a new era in the pharmaceutical industry, with OxyContin becoming a central topic in conversations about pain relief and addiction.


Who Were Glen Krygar And Shannon Schaeffer?

Purdue Pharma didn’t just invent the medicine; they had a clever marketing strategy for its wide distribution. They sent their medical representatives to the colleges and encouraged the students to help promote and advertise the medicine. One of the students was Shannon Schaeffer, who was convinced by one of their medical representatives, Britt, and joined the team to advertise and promote the medicine. Shannon had a dysfunctional family, which was frustrating for her. So, when Purdue Pharma offered her a way to escape, she took it. Britt’s words got Shannon interested in the medicine’s benefits, so she decided to join her and started staying at her place. They promised her money and a good future. Joining Purdue Pharma seemed like a chance for Shannon to forget her problems and start something new.

Simultaneously, a darker side of the story began to unfold, revealing the customers who fell victim to this dangerous allure of OxyContin. Among them was Glen Krygar, the owner of a tire company, whose life took an unexpected turn after an accident at the workplace. While having a scuffle with his stepson Tyler, an accident caused Glen to plummet to the ground from a crane, resulting in a sharp metal object cutting deeply into his back. He was immediately rushed to the hospital, where an urgent surgical procedure was carried out to address the damage. Despite the medical intervention, the excruciating pain that Glen experienced proved to be overwhelming for him.


In the initial stages of his treatment, there was a little bit of relief as the prescribed pain medication provided medium comfort, but soon enough, the pain increased, and it became impossible for Glen to tolerate the unbearable sensation. His journey took a tragic turn with the introduction of OxyContin into the pharmaceutical market. His doctor, in an attempt to manage his discomfort, prescribed OxyContin to Glen, but in a smaller dosage. To ease the discomfort, Glen began to take the medicine on a daily basis. Without realizing it, Glen’s increasing involvement with drugs was about to bring trouble into his life. The choices he was making while using them would soon lead to a series of challenges he never saw coming. In the next episode, we’ll see how these drugs start affecting his health, relationships, and future. This marks the beginning of a challenging phase for Glen, where things could deteriorate, transforming his previously calm life into the shadows of addiction. Glen’s life, despite being a fictional addition to the series, embodies those who fell victim to this drug’s addiction and lost their lives. Through Glen’s portrayal, we can get a closer look at how addiction and withdrawal feel.

Notify of

1 Comment
Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Poulami Nanda
Poulami Nanda
Poulami Nanda hails from a medical background, yet her journey is to cross the boundaries of medicine and survive in the cinematic world. The surrealistic beauty of cinema and art has attracted her from a very young age. She loves to write poems, songs, and stories, but her dream is to write films someday. She has also worked as a painter, but nothing attracts her more than cinema. Through her writings, she wants to explore the world of cinema more and more and take her readers on the same ride.

Latest articles