This week’s episode of The Dropout was the most emotionally satisfying yet.
Seriously, after six episodes of Elizabeth and Sunny walking over their employees, lying to their investors, and basically getting away with all of it, it was deeply satisfying to watch everything start to unravel in episode 7. Not only did Elizabeth and Sunny fail to kill the Wall Street Journal story about their fraud but, for once, their heavy-handed attempts at suppression made the situation worse for them. Tyler Schultz refused to sign the new NDA. Even if George Schultz is still too stubborn to admit that he was wrong about Elizabeth, he at least seems to suspect that he’s been played. Even David Boies seems to be at the end of his limit as far as defending Theranos is concerned. Perhaps that explains why he didn’t seem to be too upset when one of his associates made a very basic mistake that gave John Carreyou (well-played by Ebon Moss-Bachrach) the information he needed to keep his WSJ story alive. Perhaps most satisfying of all was the scene where Phyllis Gardner finally got a chance to tell Elizabeth off to her face. It was a stand up and cheer moment in a miniseries that, up until this point, has portrayed the world as being a very dark place.
This week’s episode also deserves a lot of credit for the perfect use of David Bowie’ “Heroes” over the opening montage. Even when the proverbial walls closing on her and Sunny, Elizabeth still convinced a lot of people that she was a hero, a college dropout who has somehow managed to revolutionize the way that blood is tested. To be honest, it was always too good to be true but, for many years, Elizabeth Holmes pulled it off. Not only did she present herself as being a hero but she allowed her investors to feel that they were also heroes for supporting her. As the song says, “We can be heroes …. if just for one day.”
This episode of features several clip of Elizabeth Holmes being fawned over by the members of the political and media establishment. Cleverly, the show digitally inserted Amanda Seyfried into actual footage of Holmes being interviewed and praised by old men like Bill Clinton, Joe Biden, and Charlie Rose. As the miniseries has made clear, Elizabeth Holmes’s biggest boosters were all older men. Women easily saw through her but men like George Schultz, Ian Gibbons, and others took on an almost fatherly role with her. When Tyler asked George if he secretly wished that Elizabeth was related to him instead of Tyler, George didn’t answer. He didn’t have to.
On one final note, I do hope that this episode will be viewed by the people responsible for Inventing Anna because this episode’s portrayal of journalism and a working newsroom feels exciting authentic in a way that Inventing Anna doesn’t. Unlike the neurotic and needy characters at the center of Inventing Anna, John Carreyou gets the story through his own hard work and he fights for the story because he knows that it’s true. LisaGay Hamilton’s performance as Carreyou’s editor was one of the highlights of the episode and her scenes with both Moss-Bachrach and Kurtwood Smith were fun to watch. They left the viewer wanting to know more about the character. Indeed, one of the things that The Dropout does so well is that it creates the impression that everyone on the show is worthy of their own miniseries. I would happily watch a show about Carreyou and his editor.
The Dropout finishes up next week as Elizabeth and Sunny finally face the consequences of their own bad actions. I can’t wait!