“If I stop, I’ll die, and if I don’t stop I’ll die, so, I guess I’m gonna die.”
The very bleak line is a good precursor for what’s to come in the finale of Hulu’s “Dopesick.” This eight-episode miniseries has been a poignant acting showcase featuring some household names like Michael Keaton, Rosario Dawson, and Peters Sarsgaard, and some up-and-comers like Kaitlyn Dever and Will Poulter. Its finale does a great job of wrapping up the story and catching us up to speed on the current state of the opioid crisis.
Everyone has to pay for their sins, and most of the main characters of “Dopesick” come to that. Even Richard Sackler (Michael Stuhlbarg), the highest on the Purdue Pharma ladder, has to pay his penance. Keaton’s character in particular gets a perfect ending that didn’t go for the easy way out. He may get back on track, but it was a long process for him to repay his debts.
As we know by this point in the series, not every character goes the distance, and the finale of “Dopesick” does a great job of continuing on certain stories despite that. Because of the deaths of some characters, it opens the door for others to shine. Phillipia Soo immediately comes to mind, as finally gets to show some vulnerability, but also a coldness that ultimately overtakes her now that she climbed the ladder. Viewers are also caught up with characters like Martin Willis (R. Keith Harris) in the future as the investigation continues on for years.
Like “Dune,” “Dopesick” is just the beginning. Rick (Peter Sarsgaard) and Randy (John Hoogenakkeer) take on another case on Purdue, and like the opioid addiction itself, they just can’t escape Purdue. This finale is grim and by no means a “crowd-pleaser.” It almost takes us up to the present day (2019), showing that there is still a fight to be won. Even if “Dopesick” is not the type of miniseries that will get a second season, the fight will have to continue to put an end to this.
The courtroom scene towards the end of the episode puts the icing on the cake; the real-life footage at the end is very moving, and while “Dopesick” wasn’t perfect (and perhaps an episode or two too long), it accomplished its goal of bringing attention to this important issue with great performances that felt authentic. The series easily could have been a melodramatic cliché, but it always felt genuine and sincere. “Dopesick” is easily one of the best series of the year, and this finale hit on all cylinders.
For our review of episodes 1-7, click here.