Elizabeth Holmes (Amanda Seyfried) is on damage control after the damning Wall Street Journal article comes out. She spends hours calling all of the members on the Theranos board to make sure they are still firmly on her side. Her way of continuing to hide behind lies is by categorizing the writer of the article, John Carreyrou (Ebon Moss-Bachrach), as a misogynist. That this entire article boils down to a man being afraid of a woman in power. In a bizarrely out-of-touch moment, Elizabeth likens this very truthful article as being on par with the oppression that Rosa Parks faced. Elizabeth is drowning, her usual scare tactics aren’t making John go away. They’re making him more determined to bring her down.
Erika Cheung (Camryn Mi-Young Kim) and Tyler Shultz (Dylan Minnette), the young Theranos Whistleblowers, are frustrated at the lack of impact the WSJ article is having on the company. Erika files a formal complaint to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) about Theranos and signs her name, finally coming out from under the cloak of anyminonity. Emboldened by Erika’s actions, Tyler informs his grandfather, George Shultz (Sam Waterston), that he will be going on the record with John’s next article in the WSJ. George takes Tyler’s actions as a personal attack, calls Tyler a liar, and kicks him out of the house.
Erika’s complaint to CMS brings Gary Yamamoto (Peter James Smith) to Theranos for a lab inspection. Elizabeth and Sunny Balwani (Naveen Andrews) continue to lament that government red tape processes are outdated and stifling to them, the self-proclaimed changemakers. Gary’s report is the nail in the coffin. A two-year shutdown of the labs by way of the boring, bureaucratic policies Elizabeth and Sunny thought they were too intellectual for.
Unsurprisingly, Elizabeth turns on Sunny. She needs a scapegoat and who’s better to take the fall than second in command, Sunny. Elizabeth holds a board meeting without his knowledge and announces that Sunny is stepping down. A fact that Sunny only learns after the fact.
Even as the entirety of her company falls around her, Elizabeth maintains that she did nothing criminal. Whether that’s because she’s actively trying to pretend that her actions didn’t have consequences or she truly doesn’t understand the extent of what happened is an answer the public may never get. Only Elizabeth knows the truth and she’s proven time and again that she’d rather lie than face the consequences of her actions.
The story of Elizabeth Holmes continues to be fascinating as the final episode ends. So much of what went wrong for her and her company can be boiled down to Elizabeth making a plethora of mistakes and then trying to find someone else to blame. She weaponized feminism to perpetrate her lies and rode to the top on the backs of women in science and technology who actually put in the work.
The Dropout is a perfectly preserved time capsule of the early-2000s. From the fashion to the always exquisite musical choice, the show managed to capture the greed-filled world of Silicon Valley. Elizabeth Holmes and the rise of Theranos probably could have only happened during this time in American history. When tech start-ups boomed and “girl power” was emblazoned everywhere. Women in Silicon Valley are still facing the repercussions of Elizabeth’s actions. Investors are less likely to invest because they don’t want another Theranos-level scandal and women are being told to dye their hair so they look less like Elizabeth.
The show ends with a series of updates about the people involved in the story. Erika testified against Elizabeth and now runs a nonprofit focused on ethics in entrepreneurship. George never publicly apologized to Tyler like the show had him do. In one of his final conversations with Tyler, George did admit he was wrong, but it was never about preserving Tyler’s name. Sunny’s jury selection began in March 2022. Elizabeth became a mother and was found guilty. She’s awaiting sentencing and may face up to 20 years in prison.
All episodes of The Dropout are now streaming on Hulu.