‘Painkiller’ Episode 6 Recap & Ending, Explained: Was OxyContin Production Stopped Forever?

In the previous episode of Painkiller, we witnessed Edie Flowers and her team of U.S. attorneys on a mission to bring Richard Sackler to justice. Meanwhile, Glen hits rock bottom, and Shannon experiences a reality check regarding the true nature of OxyContin. After being rescued from drowning, she begins to grasp the enormity of the mess she has been involved in. In this sixth episode of Painkiller, our hearts will break as we confront the most horrifying truth about the power dynamics of our world. This will serve as a reminder that escaping such a plight is nearly impossible unless you’re a big shot like Richard Sackler.


Spoilers Ahead

How Did Shannon Help Edie Flowers?

Confronted with the truth, Shannon made the big decision to abandon the luxurious life that Purdue had provided her. She decided to meet with Edie Flowers and help her hold the company accountable for its actions. Upon meeting Edie, Shannon broke down in tears and apologized for how rudely she had behaved with her earlier. She attempted to defend her initial choice to promote the drugs by claiming that she had a strong belief in their health benefits. After the emotional confession, Shannon provided her with all the internal communication between herself and the company, including emails and call records, as a genuine effort to help the case bring down the Sacklers. With the gathered evidence, they ultimately filed a lawsuit against Purdue, bringing the company to justice. However, did Purdue receive the punishment it deserved? Did the production of OxyContin come to a permanent halt? The answer is no.


What Happened To Purdue Pharma? Was OxyContin Production Stopped Forever?

On the very day of the hearing, the juror announced that Purdue Pharma and the US Attorney’s Office had agreed to a settlement, surprising everyone present in the room. The lead members of the company, Mr. Friedman, Goldenheim, and Udell, pleaded guilty to misbranding the drugs. They accepted accountability for the drug’s further responsible and useful distribution. This meant that the production of OxyContin didn’t come to a halt, and Richard Sackler didn’t have to face any trials, be held accountable in a lawsuit, or serve prison time for the felony he committed by spreading lies about the life-threatening drug he created.

The surprise wasn’t just the agreement of the settlement; it was Brownlee’s involvement in it that shook Edie to the core. The alliance with the Department of Justice had already been secured by Sackler. Their contacts reached out to Congress, which subsequently led to Congress reaching out to the White House. And eventually, someone from the White House contacted Brownlee to secure their agreement to the settlement. In the present timeline, we see Edie talking to the lawyers about the story and breaking into tears while reminiscing about it. Witnessing the failure of her dedicated investigation and the prolonged wait for justice, she realized that she had spent her life believing her brother’s drug dealing was the worst. But now she’d been face-to-face with something even worse than that. Her brother, trapped in prison without parole, struggled in the shadows of incarceration, unable to reform even if he desired. In contrast, the powerful Purdue Pharma owner, who had committed the same felony, escaped with just a $4.5 million settlement, continuing drug production.


She concluded her story by painting a picture of the end of her expectations from the law and the nation and illustrating how the powerful often evade punishment. However, as she said her farewells to the lawyers and headed back home, one thing brought a smile to her face: her brother had been released from prison and was now living with her. Shawn had transformed into a reformed person, leaving behind his history of involvement with drugs and crime.

Did Glen Survive?

Painkiller is a cruel show for offering a glimmer of hope in the life of its most suffering character, Glen, only to extinguish it on a poignant note. We witnessed Glen’s thirty-day sobriety journey, during which he was taking methadone, despite its awful taste. He was reunited with his family, and with the love of Lily and Tyler, the series finally seemed to do justice to his character. However, Glen’s story didn’t conclude with a happy ending. Despite spending time with his family, he resided in a separate apartment during his sobriety. Tragically, in the adjacent room, he stumbled upon a couple who had overdosed on OxyContin. Unable to resist, Glen battled the compulsion and ultimately felt powerless before his urge to consume those pills. After popping the pills in his car, he had an intense high. During this drug-induced episode, he had flashbacks of returning home and confessing to Tyler that these events weren’t his fault. He embraced Tyler, and they both shed tears. However, these feelings only existed in Glen’s mind, as his heartbeat gradually slowed, he met his demise.


Final Words

Painkiller offers a remarkable cinematic journey that blends discomfort and engagement throughout the storytelling and its well-crafted character arcs. Its ability to evoke conflicting emotions portrays the show’s brilliance. Painkiller is a gripping narrative that leaves a lasting impact, illustrating how negative inner voices can initially lead us astray and then taunt us for the predicaments they often create. In the show, Richard Sackler’s internal voice, personified as his idolized uncle Arthur, becomes torturous as it constantly reminds him of the harm he has brought to his family’s reputation by his decision to settle. Despite his attempts to distance himself from lawsuits and authorities, his association with drug sales and the marketing of OxyContin made him a villain in the eyes of the whole world. In the climactic ending of the series, we witness Arthur metaphorically berating Richard, which is essentially Richard slapping himself and his ego at the end.

Painkiller ends with certain facts: in 2019, Purdue Pharma filed for bankruptcy due to significant legal challenges. Despite the Sacklers, who are believed to be worth over 11 billion dollars, not facing any substantial incriminating charges for the estimated 300,000 individuals who lost their lives due to OxyContin overdoses in the United States, opioid drugs continue to be in demand, and every single day, approximately 40 people still die due to opioid prescriptions. This persistent issue remains a cause for concern even today.


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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.

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