Succession: Retired Janitors of Idaho
November 15, 2021 11:05 AM - Season 3, Episode 5 - Subscribe

Kendall and the Waystar team find themselves working together at the annual shareholders' meeting.
posted by lunasol (30 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
I really started to think the shareholders meeting was never going to happen.

The specter of two frail, fading media titans propped up by their robust but still under their thrall large adult children was a bit on the nose but still very effective.

I imagine "Cousin Greg sues Greenpeace" was really just a throwaway gag but I am dying for it to be an actual plotline.
posted by lunasol at 11:09 AM on November 15, 2021 [6 favorites]

Let they who has not been a bit piss mad throw the first stone.

Romulus really absolutely idolizes his father and even when seeing his utter and complete breakdown, will not in any way hear about him not being a God. His name grows more and more ironic.

My favorite part was how they pinpoint when he went off the rails by how he agreed to give Connor any power at all.
posted by OnTheLastCastle at 12:02 PM on November 15, 2021 [5 favorites]

Two media titans of increasingly questionable mental acuity -- and, on a lower rung, the president of the United States lol. I loved the bit where the Royco underlings debated the meaning of "Fuck em," before convincing themselves that everything was fine, because Logan was so brilliant he was actually playing 3D chess.

Big Jarvanka vibes in this episode. I resisted the Shiv/Ivanka comparison when the show began because S1 Shiv seemed smarter than Ivanka, but...yeah, Shiv is Ivanka. Shiv has one card that she plays relentlessly -- you and me, we're just two girls, doing our best! -- but Shiv was instrumental in this episode only because no one else was willing to risk Logan's condemnation by agreeing to the deal without him. Gerri should have done it, but didn't want to risk Logan's ire. I guess we can see how her calculation paid off in the last minutes of the episode, when Logan ices Shiv out in favor of talking to Gerri.

Does Tom feel relieved when Shiv runs into obstacles at full-speed? I honestly cannot tell. Their relationship is terrible, and Tom loves to kick people when they're down, but I think at his resentful, petty core he's still pretty in awe of Shiv. The pregnancy thing was...I'm sorry, very funny. Succession is a belligerently unsexy show, but even by Succession standards, that hallway moment jumped the tracks so quickly! I don't buy Tom's sudden desire for children, but it's interesting to pair that with the scenes where he took care of a delirious Logan. Tom definitely wants to cement his place in the family. Is there a universe where the board seat Shiv negotiated for herself ("or Connor," she said, unconvincingly) actually goes to Tom? Shiv would kill him, right?

Greg is truly the best comic relief anyone has ever conceived. I love him so much. I hope he's miserable forever.
posted by grandiloquiet at 12:09 PM on November 15, 2021 [7 favorites]

Best episode this season by a long way. It was a little jarring to hear Gerri say the phrase "moon on a stick", as I didn't think this was an actual, real expression, just something that Stewart Lee and Richard Herring used to say in the 90s. That said, the writer worked on In The Loop and other Armando Iannucci things, so it's also very likely he just popped that in as a reference. The whole "piss-mad" debate felt very Iannucci, in the best possible way.
posted by Jon Mitchell at 12:23 PM on November 15, 2021 [6 favorites]

Is it just me, or is Matthew Macfadyen giving off huge Kevin Spacey energy brand of batshit, before we found out how awful Spacey was/is?

I commented to my wife in the first few minutes of the episode "Logan definitely has a UTI that's knocked him off" so I felt really vindicated when it turned out to be correct.

Best episode of the season, I am eager to see how Shiv responds to being blatantly frozen out at the end of the episode.
posted by jzb at 12:26 PM on November 15, 2021 [6 favorites]

I resisted the Shiv/Ivanka comparison when the show began because S1 Shiv seemed smarter than Ivanka, but...yeah, Shiv is Ivanka.

I feel like they've really turned up the Ivanka dial on Shiv lately. At first, it seemed more like she was modeled after Liz Murdoch, but ever since she'd come into the fold, her whole "girlboss" MO has seen very Ivanka-like.

Shiv's arc has been instructive, I think. When she was on the outside, she seemed successful and savvy. But she's shriveled under Logan's rule. No one can truly be successful under Logan, because he has to be the only boss. Even when she literally saved the family's control of the company, he acted like she'd failed.

I liked Emily Van der Werff's piece about this episode, where she looked at the Roy kids' characterizations through the lens of the 4 Fs of trauma responses. And it really crystallized that of course none of these kids are going to be successful within Royco, with Logan at the head, because they're literally within the setting of their childhood trauma, all the time.

Watching this show is such a weird experience, because I root for different characters at different times, but usually I want their plans to fail because the only thing that could possibly lead to healing and health for any of the characters (aside from Logan, who is a lost cause) is the company breaking up and/or coming out of family control. But of course that's the one thing they're all fighting against.
posted by lunasol at 1:52 PM on November 15, 2021 [4 favorites]

Agreed, this season keeps getting better, episode by episode.

I admittedly have little grasp about what Ivanka and Liz Murdoch are like in real life, but I'm not sure Shiv is quite like either of them, besides perhaps being willing to stand up to her tyrant of a father. She's essentially always inhabited a world of brash and angry men, and her way of navigating the world reflects that - there's a delicate tight-rope all that kids are walking: their father only respects people who grab life by the balls (we see this with Greg's pitiful attempt to negotiate, and we see it when he ruefully admires Kendall's play at first), and yet he'll only tolerate so much disloyalty, and he expects them to "earn" it. I could be wrong, but I think Shiv's gamble was smart - she might have pissed off Logan, but once he's calmed down a bit he'll likely admire her hustle. In other words, of all the kids, I think Shiv's main talent is that she can pull off the tight-rope walk better than the others - Kendall is too disloyal, Roman is too loyal/unwilling to step out of his dad's shadow. And Connor, well he's a whole other story.

When she was on the outside, she seemed successful and savvy.

Was she really though? I'd have to re-watch the older seasons to be sure, but I've always had the impression that her success largely hinged on her being the daughter of Logan Roy, and the access to various movers and shakers that that position entails. And sure, having somewhat more social skills than her brothers. To me, both her and Kendall are good illustrations that if you're rich enough and at least somewhat competent, you get to be successful. The system is properly rigged in their favor.

Anyway, so many delightful moments of this episode, but since we're talking mostly about Shiv: her ability to just seamlessly make a joke with full composure after Logan ruthlessly ripped into her in front of everyone at the end, was striking. Even more so since she then expresses clear discomfort when Tom attempts to hug/comfort her afterward.
posted by coffeecat at 3:46 PM on November 15, 2021 [2 favorites]

Admittedly, I didn't know much about the Murdochs before starting Succession - most of my knowledge of Liz Murdoch comes from the podcast episodes of Even the Rich about the Murdochs, which were excellent, and provided a fun backdrop for watching Succession.
posted by lunasol at 5:17 PM on November 15, 2021 [1 favorite]

This episode was so intense it made me kind of uncomfortable to watch it. The spectre of Logan losing his faculties on screen is.. it's a lot. The first season started us there with Logan on his deathbed and so out of it he sexually assaults his daughter. Then they thought it'd be more interesting to make him coherent and powerful again. Now they're taking that away. This show is absolutely not the one to do a Very Special Episode on dad's dementia, but they're getting into the territory where it'd be cruel to do anything else.

Shout out to Chekov's full bladder though. From the very first scene where Logan says he has to piss but he'll just wait, I was anticipating the disaster. I was expecting a garden variety automicturation though; making it a UTI with a temporary mental problem was a surprise. Worked better that way and seemed more like horror and less like a cheap gag.

The main thing I got from the rest of it all is how literally no one in RoyCo is capable of being a leader. Because Logan has undercut everyone. They so clearly needed someone, anyone, to take charge and do things. And they can't. Shiv and Roman arguing about what dad would want. No one figuring out who can talk to the president. Karl, Frank, and Gerri dithering over who would be on stage. Gerri just being entirely useless. She's the damn CEO and she can't make decisions. All of them useless, cut off at the knees by the fear of Logan.

I admire the writers' commitment to making no character sympathetic. Tom comes off best this week but only by elimination; his treatment of his wife is just hideous. And you can bet next week he'll be the biggest monster of them all again.
posted by Nelson at 5:53 PM on November 15, 2021 [6 favorites]

Another amazing performance from Brian Cox. I'd love to see his Lear.
posted by rhamphorhynchus at 7:30 PM on November 15, 2021 [2 favorites]

I just mainlined Slings and Arrows for the first time this summer and Lear is a brilliant comparison. This show is Lear without a Cordelia or an Edgar, and lots of people take turns playing the fool too.

Stray thoughts:
- I was fully expecting cringe from Kendall, and of course he's not listening to the fancy PR team he hired, but I cringed even harder at the tones of voice from everyone during the negotiation scene in the room with Sandy/Sandi, Gerri, Shiv, Roman, and so on. Everyone's putting on so much artifice and it was like nails on a chalkboard to me. It's the same feeling I get when someone is trying to sell me something and calls me by my legal name because they don't actually know the name I go by, but they're following How to Win Friends and Influence People to the letter. Uurgh.

- Karl literally interrupted the bland corporate white feminism video, while a recorded Shiv was is in the middle of saying how they care about women. I laughed but it's so on the nose.

- Tom could tell Logan was out of it because he called him "son." And even knowing that it wasn't real, he still savored the moment a tiny bit because he could pretend he had married into a nice family and was taking care of his father-in-law.

- Tom tracking Shiv's periods. I actually don't find it that weird in itself, since there had to have been some conversation where they were like "yeah of course we're having children" but they just never actually talked about the logistics it beyond that. But at this point, he's got to realize she's checked out, right? I assumed he was checked out too but is this a really bad continuation of his wanting to pretend he exists in a loving family and loving marriage right now? That not-hug at the end was painful.

- At this point Greg is showing his ass and he can go down with the rest of the weasels. Ewan isn't the saint he pretends to be either.
posted by j.r at 8:37 PM on November 15, 2021 [5 favorites]

Oh, how could I leave out Jess rolling her eyes at Kendall getting the rabbit sick because he thinks he knows better than literally the whole internet? Jess is all of us. Poor rabbit.

I also laughed when Roman said the line about all of them trying to get jobs at the same Target branch.
posted by j.r at 8:48 PM on November 15, 2021 [4 favorites]

Am I the only one who noticed the very bleak humor in Kendall referring to his team's workspace as "the eagle's aerie" right after the end of the last episode when he called out his dad's more blatant antisemitism? He's just as racist and sexist as Logan, but it's layered over.
posted by dorothyisunderwood at 11:12 PM on November 15, 2021 [1 favorite]

The moment that really caught my eye was when Logan lashed out and knocked the drink out of Shiv's hand. Her flight/fawn reaction was spot on. These four have been abused their entire lives.

Ewan is just one step removed from Logan. He could give one shit about his family and probably hit his kids as well.
posted by Ber at 7:30 AM on November 16, 2021 [4 favorites]

Shout out to Chekov's full bladder though.

And to Chekov's pills. Logan's assistant has a prescription bottle on hand for the UTI. She is told to stay up front and "keep an eye on the temperature". She can't do that and ensure Logan gets his pills on time. So she gives them directly to him. He puts them in his jacket. No one else sees this happen. Later, as Logan's getting worse, he keeps asking for his pills. The body man gives him Advil. No one knows what Logan's talking about.

Logan is literally carrying his salvation around. It's within easy reach. But neither he nor his entourage knows how to get it.
posted by Teegeeack AV Club Secretary at 9:11 AM on November 16, 2021 [16 favorites]

Ewan isn't the saint he pretends to be either.

Last season I had a moment of wondering where Ewan's money came from, and then I realized it was all Waystar Royco shares, or earnings based on those shares. He hates Logan but is happy to profit off of him. He punishes his grandson for drawing a salary from Waystar but has become wildly wealthy off Waystar himself. The worst kind of hypocrite.
posted by lunasol at 12:20 PM on November 16, 2021 [4 favorites]

Last season I had a moment of wondering where Ewan's money came from, and then I realized it was all Waystar Royco shares, or earnings based on those shares. He hates Logan but is happy to profit off of him.

It was established previously that he's actually on the board of Waystar Royco.
posted by Ragged Richard at 1:08 PM on November 16, 2021 [3 favorites]

Yeah, Ewan is just as bad as Logan, just in a completely different way.
posted by Pendragon at 1:23 PM on November 16, 2021

Ewan is a sanctimonious prick. If he's been going against Logan, for at least a few years, he's been doing it in a way that is suspiciously non-damaging. Nor am I impressed by his judgment of his grandson, given that Ewan appears to have had little to no contact with Greg for his entire life. You can't give a "shape up, kid" lecture to someone you only see once a year! So look, Greg doesn't "deserve" to be cut out of the will for his aimlessness when his grandfather has never even feinted at mentorship, but I also don't believe anyone "deserves" to inherit their parents' wealth. Cutting off his kid/grandkid is probably what Ewan wanted to do anyway. Sending the money to a deserving cause just lets him rationalize it further. (Am I sounding critical here? Ewan is a sanctimonious prick, but his appearances are wildly funny to me and I hope to see more of him.)
posted by grandiloquiet at 1:38 PM on November 16, 2021 [2 favorites]

A small nitpick: If the vote is so close that both sides are anxious for a settlement, why is Sandy wheeled into the shareholders meeting prior to when the vote would be taking place? Surely the Sandy/Stewie team would be concerned with the optics of Sandys' rapid decline?
Also, wouldn't Sandys' condition be a massively useful tool for the Roys to use to sway the shareholders to their side?

Also also, where's Romans gf? I liked her. Has Roman shed her to focus his attentions more on Gerri this season?
posted by newpotato at 1:17 PM on November 17, 2021

I thought Greg was disinherited in S1 because he went to work at Royco. It was that scene in the car at Christmas and his grandfather confronts him about it. I always thought it was weird that Greg would give up a future inheritance to work at a crappy job.
posted by TWinbrook8 at 5:58 PM on November 17, 2021 [1 favorite]

Earlier Greg was informed he would be disinherited if he continued to work for Royco. At the time he was so dazzled by the family and his prospects that he decided to continue working there anyway. Or he just went with whatever the last person told him to do. As Greg does.

In this episode we find out that Ewan actually meant what he said. I don't think Greg believed it would ever really happen but it looks that way.
posted by Liesl at 9:43 AM on November 18, 2021 [1 favorite]

Even after initially betraying Ewan I think Greg was still expecting $5 million in inheritance. Connor and Tom assure him that that's garbage. "Poorest rich person in America"
posted by paper chromatographologist at 10:28 AM on November 18, 2021

There's a Guardian article that explains some of the ambivalence about Ewan: apparently showrunner Jesse Armstrong always conceived of him as another horrible Roy, but actor James Cromwell wanted the character to have political convictions that set him at odds with the Wayster-Royco empire, so we got...both.
posted by grandiloquiet at 12:35 PM on November 18, 2021 [6 favorites]

A Jess centric episode is too much to ask for but I would love to see Jess and Colin and maybe another handler all meet for drinks and a bitch session.
posted by shothotbot at 8:40 PM on November 19, 2021 [5 favorites]

Now I really want Jess and Logan’s assistant to be text buddies and just keep a contantly-flowing text conversation full of snark.
posted by lunasol at 3:46 PM on November 21, 2021 [1 favorite]

“Is there no alternative shape here? We are so close.”
posted by spikeleemajortomdickandharryconnickjrmints at 8:48 PM on November 21, 2021 [1 favorite]

rhamphorhynchus: "Another amazing performance from Brian Cox. I'd love to see his Lear."

Sorry, no can do. They gave away the PJs.
posted by chavenet at 2:47 PM on November 28, 2021 [5 favorites]

They so clearly needed someone, anyone, to take charge and do things...All of them useless, cut off at the knees by the fear of Logan.

Logan is literally carrying his salvation around. It's within easy reach. But neither he nor his entourage knows how to get it.

I was having serious flashbacks to the last time I watched The Death of Stalin. It's the same dynamic, but in a different cultural space and somehow even more pitiful - I mean, these people don't even have to be worried about actually being gulag'd. This show is so good at being hard to watch.
posted by AdamCSnider at 8:02 PM on November 28, 2021 [3 favorites]

I sorta expected the shareholders meeting to be the season finale. I don't feel reassured that things will calm down, though.

"Oh, really? It's not cool to tell the President to blow me? Hey, Mr. President. This... Sorry."

(I've downloaded all the transcripts.)
posted by Pronoiac at 11:45 PM on December 6, 2021 [1 favorite]

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