Thursday, March 17, 2022

REVIEW: 'The Dropout' - The Truth Destroys Lives While Elizabeth Works to Keep the Walgreens Deal Alive in 'Flower of Life'

Hulu's The Dropout - Episode 1.05 "Flower of Life"

With the Walgreens deadline looming, Elizabeth and Sunny scramble to find solutions to their technological failures. Ian is drawn into Elizabeth's lawsuit against Richard.

"Flower of Life" was written by Liz Hannah and directed by Francesca Gregorini

People desperately want Theranos to be great. They believe in the noble idea Elizabeth delivers. She can revolutionize the health care industry. No one will needlessly suffer ever again. It's all performative. Elizabeth cares more about the image and the perception of victory than ensuring the product works. In fact, she deflects whenever a true conversation starts. She has to accept the September 2013 deadline for Walgreens is impossible. She has to grapple with the reality she has devoted her entire life to the concept of success. She built an image in her head of what a meaningful life would be. She has followed it exactly. The company is an extension of her identity. People can't criticize the company without also criticizing her. The two are the same. They are forever linked. Any moment where Elizabeth sees the value in walking away is shut down. She is continually propped up as a success. That's because everyone has bought into the fantasy. Over the years, several people have become disillusioned. They can't speak out against the company though because of the NDAs they've signed. Elizabeth has created a culture of silence and corruption. Sunny demeans and belittles the staff as well. This is a corporate entity that looks after itself and its bottom line. It doesn't ultimately care about the humans who work there or who believe in the product. Instead, everything has to be fine. Any disagreement needs to be shut down immediately. Ian fears he will lose the job that provides health insurance if he tells the truth in a deposition. His science was essential to the patent application. Elizabeth didn't contribute anything to the product. She is credited though. Ian could destroy the company if he wanted to. But again, that would cause his life to implode. He is torn apart as a result of this drama. He dies because everyone would rather live in the fantasy than accept reality. If they were to be truthful, then it would be acknowledging some monstrous people have been right all along. Richard Fuisz has been a misogynist with a bruised ego for a long time. He believes Elizabeth should be grateful for him. Instead, he's full of spite because she was handed everything. She was never challenged. She was allowed success without having to work for it. He doesn't think she is entitled to the money and influence flowing into the company. That's his perception from the outside. The company is losing money each year. It always remains on the verge of delivery. It can never get its product just right to make that a reality. And so, it's the same old promises over and over again that somehow pull in numerous influential people.

Elizabeth is proud of the people who serve on her board. They have bought her influence. She has modeled her life after Steve Jobs. She mourns his loss and believes everyone who works at his company idolizes him just as much. It's all built into the argument that Elizabeth processes things differently. She deflects from the conversation about her uncle dying just as much as Sunny trying to talk about the product's failures. At the funeral, she has no emotions. She simply presents as the company and the accomplishments she's promising. She can eventually latch onto this story of her uncle's disease to further inspire hope in the company. She can twist the facts to her agenda. She sees the effectiveness of those emotional arguments. However, she can only acknowledge actual feelings when they come to targeting her. She wants her opinions to be validated above all else. And so, people have to drop everything they are working on when she has a suggestion. Everyone has to support her vision. Sunny sees how silly some of these developments are. They aren't necessary. They distract from what the company should be doing. That's how Elizabeth views the world though. Ian's death should be celebrated because it means the end of Richard's lawsuit. That's especially cruel and callous. Ian believed in this company. He was eager to develop the science. He was prevented from doing so for years. He was planted at a desk and asked to do nothing. He accepted it because he needed the job. It wasn't fulfilling in any way. It was simply terrifying. He yearns for the in-house legal counsel to offer him comfort. She only cares about protecting the company. That's her job. Ian understands that. He still needs someone to provide legal advice that can reassure him during this crisis. In the end, he can't find any solution he can live with. His wife supports him no matter what. Instead, she is left behind to pick up the pieces of this cruel world that discarded him so quickly. She has no agency and no standing. She has nothing of value to give. Elizabeth must protect her company's information no matter what. Sure, the pieces are falling in line for Richard's vendetta to eventually expose her as a fraud. He receives confirmation of such from someone who always had that clarity. Elizabeth was too eager for this professional trajectory. She had no understanding of human connection and emotion. And so, she was never capable of providing a service that could transform the world. She was all talk. She could craft a convincing idea. She offers nothing more than that. So many people want to believe the inherent goodness of what they are doing. Others are far too cynical to take anything at face value. This show reveals how trusting the world can be even in the face of mounting evidence to the contrary. It's all a risk. The personal consequences are vast. Elizabeth doesn't care whatsoever. Sunny cheers her along too despite the fear they would fall apart should this company ever fail.