Netflix Painkiller recap guide: All 6 episodes explained

Painkiller. (L to R) John Rothman as Mortimer Sackler, Matthew Broderick as Richard Sackler, Sam Anderson as Raymond Sackler in episode 103 of Painkiller. Cr. Keri Anderson/Netflix © 2023
Painkiller. (L to R) John Rothman as Mortimer Sackler, Matthew Broderick as Richard Sackler, Sam Anderson as Raymond Sackler in episode 103 of Painkiller. Cr. Keri Anderson/Netflix © 2023 /
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Painkiller. West Duchovny as Shannon Shaeffer in episode 105 of Painkiller. Cr. Keri Anderson/Netflix © 2023
Painkiller. West Duchovny as Shannon Shaeffer in episode 105 of Painkiller. Cr. Keri Anderson/Netflix © 2023 /

Netflix Painkiller episode 5 recap: Hot! Hot! Hot!

Painkiller episode 5 takes us back to the 1950s, the beginning of Arthur Sackler’s legacy. A very much alive Arthur teaches a young Richard a valuable lesson about legacy. He uses Arthur Nobel as an example. Nobel invented dynamite, but people remember him for the Nobel Peace Prize.

In the present, Edie points out that the Rockefellers poisoned half the planet, but when people think of them, they generally remember museums and theaters; why wouldn’t the Sacklers think they could do the same thing? Purdue believed they’d sailed through the congressional hearing and were now untouchable. But that one lie allowed John Brownlee’s team to subpoena Purdue and force them to turn over all their documents.

A maliciously compliant Purdue does just that. The company gives Edie and her team everything, meaning millions of pages of interoffice memos, call logs, emails, etc. Almost all of it, by design, was useless. Edie and everyone else on Brownlee’s team gets to work combing through everything to find something credible they can use.

Meanwhile, a desperate Glen is doing anything he can to get his hands on more Oxy. His doctor has already realized Glen has an addiction and refuses to give him another prescription. He offers to prescribe methadone instead, but Glen refuses.

Instead, he starts pawning tools and anything else he can find at his shop—even his wedding ring. Glen goes to a pain clinic and tries to bribe the bouncer to let him cut in line. Waving a wad of cash around in a place like that isn’t smart. Within minutes, Glen gets robbed. Now he’s back to square one.

Brownlee, Edie, and their team arrive in Connecticut to speak directly with Howard Udell. Unfortunately, the secretary, a woman named Deborah Marlowe, refuses to let Edie in because she wasn’t “pre-approved.” Edie has to wait in the lobby while the discussion takes place. Things don’t take long to turn weird and ugly behind closed doors.

For starters, Richard plays with his dog in the lobby, throwing the ball against the glass and generally making lots of noise. It’s rude and unprofessional. Inside the conference room, Brownlee lays out their terms. They want Purdue to issue a public apology, taking responsibility for the harmful effects of OxyContin.

They also want billions of dollars donated to the communities most affected and new labeling on Oxy’s packaging. Udell, acting on Richard’s orders, doesn’t give them anything. His counteroffer is a $10 million “gift” to a charity of Brownlee’s choice…and that’s about it. Brownlee ups the ante, now saying he wants Purdue to take Oxy off the shelves altogether and pay more money to rectify the damage they’ve done. They reach a stalemate.

Brownlee’s team shifted strategies since the paperwork didn’t lead them anywhere. They start cold-calling people, hoping to get someone from the inside to speak out against Purdue. Edie contacts everyone from Shannon Shaeffer to the secretary she met at Purdue, Deborah Marlowe.

Deborah immediately hangs up when Edie tells her why she’s calling, but then during a meeting, the men, especially Howard Udell, berate her and belittle her work, dismissing her from the office. Enraged by the treatment she’s received there over the years, Deborah calls Edie and tells her she’s ready to burn it all down.

The year before the McCloskey statement, Deborah had been instructed to compile a report on all the bad things Oxycontin was supposedly doing to people. She created an in-depth memo highlighting the addictive properties, how people were abusing it, where, etc.

Everything. Howard was pissed that she’d actually written it down and sent it to people in the office; supposedly, “interoffice memo” means something different to him. Regardless, Deborah ended up shredding it all. But Edie convinces her to testify. They agree to fly back to meet with her the following day to get her on the record. This would prove, definitively, that Purdue lied under oath and knew about the dangers of OxyContin before February 2000, as they’d claimed.

Edie and Brownlee fly back to Connecticut to prepare for the deposition, unaware that Deborah is a long-time addict and Oxy user. She never shows up to the meeting, instead going doctor-shopping and trying to get a script for the drug. Down in North Carolina, Glen also hits rock bottom, going to Tyler to ask for money or a hook-up to get him more Oxy.

Thinking they’re in the clear from their legal troubles, Purdue goes big on their annual sales conference. Richard flies out all his employees to Miami, where the company is hosting the event, which is basically just a giant party/rave. Richard brings out OxyContin cheerleaders, plushies, an Oxy theme song, and mascots. All the bells and whistles you can think of are at this event.

It’s at this party that Shannon starts to realize just how insidious Oxy is and how powerful Purdue is overall. She’s shocked when she finds none other than Jay McCloskey in attendance, the Maine attorney who previously sent 5,000 letters to various physicians trying to warn them of the drug’s dangers. Now he’s a “consultant” for Purdue. Curtis Wright from the FDA is there, too, and so is Dr. Cooper.

Shannon notices Molly is wearing the Tiffany bracelet he tried to give Shannon. Molly pointedly calls Shannon out for pawning her off on Cooper. Shannon couldn’t f**k him, so she did. People like Britt and the other sales reps aren’t even phased. Edie wasn’t necessarily wrong when she called Britt a madam; these girls are pimping themselves out to doctors to get them to sell more OxyContin and put more money in their pockets.

It’s disturbing, but Shannon finally seems to be understanding that. She also learns that all of these female sales reps, cheerleaders, and other Purdue employees are using Oxy recreationally. Britt and another girl convince Shannon to try the drug, coaxing her into snorting a line. Shannon gets incredibly high and falls into a swimming pool, where she nearly drowns.

At the same time, Glenn realizes he needs to change something if he ever hopes to get his family back. He hunkers down in his garage on a mattress and spends a terrible night alone, going through drug withdrawal.

Written by Maddy Lennon