Succession review, Episode 305: “Retired Janitors of Idaho”

Photograph by Macall B. Polay/HBO
Photograph by Macall B. Polay/HBO /

A tense, hilarious episode of Succession makes great use of every piece on the board, zooming them around and flipping them over again and again.

You always knew when it was a climactic episode on Game of Thrones based on how many people died. In the up-to-the-minute world of Succession — no ones getting their throat slit here — but episodes like “Retired Janitors of Idaho” are just as bloody, and just as entertaining.

We’ve arrived at the all-important Waystar Royco shareholders meeting, where we find out if Logan and family retain control of the company or if the “complicated coalition” of Stewy Hosseini and Sandy Furness (with his daughter, also named Sandy, interpreting for her nearly-comatose dad) can takeover.

“Retired Janitors of Idaho” throws the characters into crisis. Negotiations between the camps are fraught — neither wants to risk a vote so they both want to settle, but as Kendall says, at this point it’s about “managing egos,” specifically Logan’s and Sandy the Elder’s. They’re enemies from way back, so it’s no surprise when Sandy throws in petty little provisos even after a deal has seemingly been reached, like forbidding the use of private jets on account of them being “elitist and out of touch.” (Roman’s succinct response: “Well, duh.”)

Still, Team Logan might just eat the loss, humiliating though it is, expect for the fact that Logan is off his UTI meds and “piss-mad,” as the group puts it. He’s out of it, mistaking Shiv for Marcia and needing to go to the bathroom every few minutes. Only they don’t figure out he’s out of it until after he rejects Sandy’s counter-offer with a classic Logan-ism: “Fuck ’em.”

So what are they to do? Do they take it on faith that Logan was in his right mind when he rejected the counteroffer and wait for Sandy to cave, or even take things to a vote? Or do they assume he was out of his head when he gave his rejoinder and try and salvage the deal? And they have to figure this out as poor Frank is up on stage talking to the shareholders, drawing things out at least long enough for Gerri to come out and tag in for him, albeit unwillingly.

It’s thrilling and funny, makes great use of all the characters, and is full of quotable moments, like when the clueless Connor claims that Logan promised he could run the European arm of ATN. (Shiv: “He was definitely out of it when he said that.”) Or what about when the president of the damn United States calls to angrily tell Logan that ATN’s negative coverage has convinced him not to run again, only to be forced to relay the message through Roman? (“How you doing?” he asks before feeling like an idiot.)

There are so many great currents running through every scene. Like in that one, we get everybody despairing that they’re about to lose a contact in the White House save for Connor, who’s thrilled he can go ahead with his delusional bid for the presidency. Shiv is panicking like the rest of them, and takes it upon herself to revive the deal with Sandy Junior, only she throws in an extra seat on the board to sweeten things; there may be a Shiv-Sandy Junior team-up in the future, especially if Logan keeps publicly sh***ing on her accomplishments.

Add to that Ewan telling Greg that he’s disinheriting him (Greg wants to know if he can use his grandfather “in an affectionate way”) and Kendall trying to steal the limelight for his crusade against his father (“He looks crazy and I think that can be good for us,” says one of Logan’s aids), and you have an episode that starts at a nine and never stops building. It’s chaos, wonderful chaos throughout, with lots of opportunities for comedic spikes and dramatic dips. For instance, look at how Roman almost looks touched when Gerri calls him a “visionary” onstage, or how Kendall won’t stop insufferably calling himself “the puppet-master,” or Stewy condemning Sandy as a “belligerent zucchini.” Everything is so intoxicatingly specific.

The episode ends with Logan blocking Kendall’s number…permanently, and this after Shiv and Roman bluntly tell him he’s not wanted in the family circle. It’s a significant moment that doesn’t quite land as well as it could because the episode isn’t really about their conflict; it’s more of a glorious ensemble piece, and for that it deserves top honors.

Episode Grade: A-

Roy Family Bullet Points

  • Kendall is too busy to complete his sentences: “Yeah what, I’m in the middle.”
  • There’s also a runner about Kendall’s daughter’s rabbit eating a bagel and getting sick, but obviously he’s far more concerned with conquering the world.
  • Tom steps up to help a faltering Logan use the bathroom. “You don’t need me to hold the scepter?”
  • In addition to calling him a “visionary,” Gerri also calls Roman “bootleg Logan.” That might be a compliment…?
  • Greg can’t sue his grandfather but he can sue Greenpeace, where his grandpa is donating all of his money. Tom: “Who do you think you’re going to go after next, Save The Children?”

dark. Next. Succession review, Episode 304, “Lion in the Meadow”

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