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Succession Retired Janitors of Idaho
Image: HBO

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Succession and the Shareholder Wars

Succession, S.3, Ep. 5: “Retired Janitors of Idaho”

The most eagerly awaited fictional shareholder meeting in television history, one hinted at all the way back in Season 1, finally arrived in Sunday’s fifth episode of the Succession season, “Retired Janitors of Idaho“. It’s the Succession equivalent of a battle episode on Game of Thrones

Even the episode didn’t actually culminate in an up-or-down vote, it was still a nerve-wracking hour- and one whose outcome portends fascinating things in the future for the show. 

The episode is positioned as something of a three-way battle for control of Waystar Royco, with the main Roy family and Sandy/Stewie faction fighting, with Kendall standing in the middle. Throughout, members of all three factions are engaged in back-channel talks with one another. 

There’s also the matter that Logan Roy is suddenly losing his mind. 

In perhaps a commentary on so many American institutions being led these days by very old men of questionable mental acuity, Sandy (Larry Pine) is essentially a vegetable, while Logan, due to a UTI and a lack of medication for same, has taken leave of his senses, as was hinted in last week’s episode

Succession S3 ep 5
Image: HBO

This leaves the two men’s daughters (Shiv, and Sandy’s daughter Sandi) to hammer out an agreement that gives each side an acceptable amount of board seats. The result is that the battle will continue. The Roys will remain in control of the company while sharing power with their enemies, and the two factions will need to uneasily co-exist. 

But they won’t have “The Raisin” to help them, as the president of the United States calls to let the Roys know that he’s not seeking re-election. It’s not clear exactly when we are in the election cycle- is it the mid-primary season? The midterms? – but the funniest moment of this scene is clearly Connor under the mistaken impression that this means his doomed presidential ambitions are back in play. 

Shiv is perhaps the biggest winner of the episode, successfully bringing the deal together, even as her father later snaps at her to “quit buzzing around me,” and Tom makes the creepy admission that he’s been tracking her menstrual cycle with an eye towards conceiving a child. 

Kendall, meanwhile, hijacks the shareholder meeting to hold a “moment of silence” for people killed in the past by Waystar’s misdeeds. It pretty clearly established that Kendall isn’t doing this for the right reasons, but rather to score political points. 

As for Greg, he once again ping-pongs between the two sides, and once learning that his grandfather is planning to donate his entire fortune to Greenpeace, comes up with a plan to sue Greenpeace. If anyone thought Greg was the “good guy” of the show, here’s another reminder that he isn’t; good guys aren’t known for suing Greenpeace. 

Waystar notes: 

  • Connor gets the episode’s best one-liner, noting that media attention threatens to “take a big black light to our semen-stained family scrapbook.” Who knew Connor was so witty?  Maybe he should be the playwright. 
  • Roman’s quip that “first they came for the [private jets] and I said nothing,” once learning that the company’s use of private jets is in play in the negotiations, is almost as tasteless a Holocaust reference as the “Wannsee Conference” joke from Billions a couple of seasons back. 
  • Isn’t blatantly lying to the shareholders, as Karl does from the stage when he tells them Logan is busy behind the scenes, a pretty big crime? Far from the worst this company has committed, but nevertheless… 

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Written By

Stephen Silver is a journalist and film critic based in the Philadelphia area. He is the co-founder of the Philadelphia Film Critics Circle and a Rotten Tomatoes-listed critic since 2008, and his work has appeared in New York Press, Philly Voice, The Jewish Telegraphic Agency, Tablet, The Times of Israel, and RogerEbert.com. In 2009, he became the first American journalist to interview both a sitting FCC chairman and a sitting host of "Jeopardy" on the same day.

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