Episode 8 of Five Days at Memorial starts this finale with Dr Horace’s account of what happened on that fifth day inside Memorial. After leaving the hospital, he felt guilty about not staying and how the doctors became blind to their main ethos – “do no harm.”
At Baton Rouge, 11 months after Hurricane Katrina, the Attorney General gives a press conference, confirming that Anna Pou and two other nurses – Cheri Landry and Lori Budo – have been arrested on charges of murdering those patients. Poring over the details of each patient who was injected, Butcher and his team come to the same conclusion for all patients – homicide.
Assistant District Attorney Michael Morales shows up and takes charge as the lead prosecutor of the case. Unfortunately, he’s decided to go against the evidence Butcher and Virginia have gathered and chooses to go a different route with his argument.
A month passes and Morales has drafted a letter from Eddie Jordan to the attorney general saying they don’t need Butcher and Virginia working on this case anymore. They want a summary of the 50,000 pages of work that they’ve spent so long to gain instead.
However, the media side of things is still working in their favour. In fact, the heat gets so overwhelming that Anna’s defence lawyer suggests she go on 60 Minutes and tell her side of the story. She comes across really well, although some of what she says is pretty subjective, especially as she claims she doesn’t believe in euthanasia… but does believe in “comfort care.”
Virginia refuses to take this lying down and pores over the toxicology reports again with irrefutable evidence. The thing is, public opinion is what swings things here and it’s something Butcher is quick to point out to his co-worker. And speaking of opinion, Frank (the coroner from last episode) actually thanks Anna for everything she’s done. Even worse, he comes out and publicly claims there’s no evidence… even though there clearly was.
Virginia is livid and after questioning Frank to his face, starts to lose faith in the system. In fact, she’s going to quit.
We then have another time jump, this time 18 months after the Hurricane on February 20th 2007. Frank re-examines his statement about there being no homicides inside the hospital, having had second thoughts thanks to Virginia’s scathing assessment of his work.
This goes to court, where – through a series of time jumps – we learn the jury have come to the decision that they won’t indite Anna after all. That’s still not the end of it though, and that’s partly thanks to the DA not taking on the forensic experts or the evidence Butcher had worked so hard to collect.
One year later and Anna Pou steps up and accepts an award, going on to give a scathing assessment of how the authorities completely abandoned them. Everyone is on their feet applauding…except Horace.
Horace confronts Anna about her blatant lies in front of everyone, pointing out that the Coast Guard helicopters do fly at night. “Just because you remember things one way, doesn’t mean you’re right.” He says, and eventually walks away, wishing her well and leaving her to stew in her own guilt.
As the episode closes out, we learn that Anna Pou continued to practice medicine in New Orleans after the credits have rolled. Alongside her attorney, she also helped write three bills to protect healthcare professionals in disasters from most legal action, which passed unanimously.
The civil lawsuits brought against Anna Pou by the three families were settled whilst no one from the hospital were convicted for what took place. Despite new flood precautions being set up, it may well be that they need to be updated as early as 2023.
The Episode Review
So Five Days at Memorial ends with a pretty average final episode, one that gets caught up in the aftermath events for Hurricane Katrina and a somewhat muddied focus on who the protagonist is in this. Are we supposed to be rooting for Anna or Butcher?
Either way, the events leading to Anna and the other doctors not being arrested for what happened to those patients is likely to spurn mixed reactions and I’m certainly not about to dive down that rabbit hole here!
After how good the opening set of episodes have been for this show, it’s a little disappointing to see the series take its foot off the gas for these final few chapters.
I compared this to Dopesick a few episodes back but in all honesty, Hulu’s series maintained a shock and tension throughout that felt palpable and raw. This one, however, eases up on the tension and these last 3 episodes have felt quite tame as a result.
We also don’t really see much of what happened to Susan and Diane either, with no focus on the former reuniting with her mother. That’s a bit disappointing and it would have really helped give this some much-needed closure to help showcase what everyone has been up to since Katrina.
Either way though, the ending is certainly conclusive enough and this has still been a solid watch.