Netflix Painkiller episode 3 recap: Blizzard of the Century
Fortunately, we don’t have to wait long to find out what happens to Glen as the third episode of Painkiller begins with him recovering in the hospital. According to the doctor treating him, Glen overdosed and she says his dosage of OxyContin is far too high. She tells Glen and Lily that she’s going to call in their detox team, to which the family is confused. How could something a doctor prescribed need to be detoxed? The doctor says they have an ER full of people taking the drug.
In the present-day timeline, Edie explains that the Sackler family had mastered the art of manipulation, and Richard was ready to win over the FDA worker Curtis Wright by whatever means necessary. He chose to use the “MICE” method, which stands for money, ideology, coercion, and ego, to get to Curtis. Purdue Pharma started making close and frequent contact with Curtis, sending him things and providing him with opportunities.
After asking Curtis to establish an “informal relationship” with the Sacklers, Purdue booked him a hotel somewhere so they could all speak in person. No one knows what happened in that room, according to Edie, but afterward, Curtis approved the language Purdue needed to sell OxyContin. About a year after the drug was approved, Curtis left the FDA and started working for Purdue. Yup, super sketchy.
After OxyContin was approved by the FDA, Richard only got more and more powerful. In a flashback, we see him throw himself a big, lavish party where he encourages everyone to keep selling the drug. OxyContin becomes the most heavily prescribed narcotic in the country and the Sacklers are racking in the cash.
When Glen returns from the hospital, he flushes his remaining OxyContin down the toilet and tells his family that nothing will come between them. Lily seems nervous, understandably, telling Glen that the doctor said he needed to taper off. But Glen is adamant he’s going cold turkey.
Meanwhile, Purdue Pharma starts filling conference rooms around the country for the sales team to keep recruiting people, and Shannon realizes her peers are making way more money than she is. Britt reveals her bonus was $42,000, which apparently is not uncommon. Shannon asks what she’s doing wrong and Britt explains that she needs to get doctors to up the dosage of OxyContin they’re prescribing to patients. Then she’ll make more money.
In present-day, Edie recounts to the law group that amid her OxyContin investigation, she got a new boss, a U.S. attorney from Virginia named John Brownlee who seemed to not have a problem with the drug as long as the FDA approved it. Edie remembers being so confused, asking herself how something legally prescribed could be killing so many people. It must be a crime, but she just had to figure out how.
We see a flashback where Edie goes to a morgue to speak with a medical examiner who is doing autopsies on people killed by OxyContin. In one of the bodies, the examiner finds six pills of 60 milligrams, which doesn’t even surprise her. It’s become so common. As Edie is there, more and more bodies are rolled in. She decides to go to the sheriff to talk to him about the drug.
One day, Shannon witnesses the girl she met at the doctor’s office in the second episode pretending to still be hurt just to get prescribed OxyContin, and then the girl proceeds to snort the drug in the car with her friend. Shannon is extremely alarmed, going up to the car to make sure they’re okay. The two girls are clearly under the influence, but they presumably think Shannon is trying to bust them so they drive away, causing a car accident in the process. Shannon goes home to tell Britt what happened but Britt is unfazed, telling her that drug addicts existed before OxyContin was created.
Without OxyContin, Glen is very clearly struggling. He goes to the doctor and says his pain is at a nine or nine and a half out of 10, and he’s prescribed more.
Amid this, Shannon gets a phone call and is invited to Connecticut to the Purdue Pharma headquarters office to meet with someone named Mr. Udell.
As Edie attempts to put the pieces together of the rise of OxyContin, she thinks back to her prison visit to see her brother. As it turns out, he’s behind bars for selling drugs, and in a flashback, she asks him how he can make peace with himself for putting people’s lives at risk. He even sold drugs to their mother, who was addicted to crack, and Edie is still very angry about it.
Edie has a realization and goes to her new boss to talk about it. The rise of OxyContin is eerily similar to the rise of crack cocaine, maybe even worse. She tells him they’re on the verge of an epidemic and they need to go after Purdue Pharma.
As the third episode of Painkiller comes to an end, we get a few moments intertwined as Shannon arrives at the Purdue headquarters, Glen takes more OxyContin pills on his way home while driving recklessly, and the same girl Shannon tried to help is dropped off in the front yard of her doctor’s office. The girl, named Jess, is dead on arrival, likely due to an overdose of OxyContin. Just as Edie believes, it looks like a true opioid overdose epidemic is beginning.
Written by Natalie Zamora