Succession recap: series three, episode five – catastrophe strikes as Logan loses his grip

Spoiler alert: this recap is for people watching Succession season three, which airs on HBO in the US and Sky Atlantic in the UK. Do not read on unless you have watched episode five.

The long-awaited shareholder meeting played out like a blend of anxiety dream and boardroom farce. But who would emerge victorious? Here are the minutes from episode five, titled Retired Janitors of Idaho …

‘Shit munchers’ assemble

We last saw sickly mogul Logan Roy (Brian Cox) wobbling during that walk on the wild side with swing-vote investor Josh Aaronson (Adrien Brody). As we rejoined him on the morning of the 46th annual shareholders’ meeting, the warhorse was looking his age again. Bodyguard Colin (Scott Nicholson) strapped him into a surgical support boot as the boss fretted about “needing a piss”.

His health issues became a recurring theme during this pivotal episode, not least because he had sent PA-cum-carer Kerry (Zoë Winters) to “sit out front among the shit-munchers”, meaning she couldn’t oversee his hydration and pill-popping regime. Uh-oh.

At least his propaganda campaign against the Raisin was working. ATN questioned the president’s capability for office and demanded the release of cognitive test results, strongly echoing Trump’s “person, woman, man, camera, TV” saga. Would the pressure prove enough for his administration to dial down the DoJ inquiry?

Outside, protesters waved placards declaring “Your profits = women’s pain” and “Rapestar Royco”, gleefully filmed by rival network PGN. Word was that Waystar’s future hung in the balance. The battle between the Roys and the hostile Maesbury Capital/Furness Media alliance was too close to call. Let the machinations begin.

Kendall played puppet-master

Deal or no deal? ... Sandi (Hope Davis) and Stewy (Arian Moayed) try to reach an agreement with the Roys.
Deal or no deal? … Sandi (Hope Davis) and Stewy (Arian Moayed) try to reach an agreement with the Roys. Photograph: Home Box Office/HBO

Monitoring proceedings from “Shadow Chamber HQ #theresistance”, Kendall (Jeremy Strong) was in communication with both sides – Waystar’s vice-chair Frank Vernon (Peter Friedman) and investor Stewy Hosseini (Arian Moayed) – trying to broker a deal to keep the company under family control. Specifically, Kendall’s control.

Negotiations had stalled. Logan was willing to take it to a vote, bullish that he could win outright. Kendall urged Stewy to bring Sandy Furness (Larry Pine) back to the table: “At this point, it’s about managing egos.” True. The rival patriarchs were as interested in shafting each other as they were in reaching a settlement. As Gerri Kellman (J Smith-Cameron) said, the clause Sandy really wanted was “Logan to sit on a corkscrew and spin”. Very mature.

Connor kept his eyes on the prize

While Kendall made manoeuvres, his siblings skulked behind the scenes, terrified they would lose their birthright and have to find proper jobs. Connor (Alan Ruck) took the opportunity to ask his father for a senior exec role to burnish his reputation for a presidential bid in four years.

When Logan pointed out that he had no track record, Connor bridled: “Roman’s a knucklehead, Shiv’s a fake, Kenny’s screwy. Why can’t I get a shot?” He wanted “nothing vital”, like head of European cable. Logan grunted his assent – an early clue that he wasn’t entirely cogent. Luckily, Con’s big head was about to be turned by another job vacancy opening up.

Take away the PJs? How dare they

The deal was on and off like Kendall’s black cap. With Sandy (Larry Pine) seemingly suffering dementia, daughter Sandi (Hope Davis) did the talking. First they demanded veto on any Roy family member ever taking over as CEO. Understandably, ambitious siblings Shiv (Sarah Snook) and Roman (Kieran Culkin) balked at this condition but Gerri and CFO Karl Muller (David Rasche) thought they could work around it. “With all due respect, Gerri, get bent,” said Roman. “Don’t fuck me over to consolidate your position.” Trouble in slime puppy paradise?

They’d nearly met in the middle when Sandy and Sandi threw in another proviso: no more private jets, which were “elitist and out of touch”. Aviation humiliation was a step too far for the entitled clan. “Fuck ‘em!” snapped Logan. Roman figured he was playing hardball. Shiv was increasingly worried her father wasn’t in his right mind. Time for another piss.

All hands on deck for Frank

Just another day at the office ... Gerri (J Smith-Cameron) was thrown into the deep end by Frank at the shareholder meeting.
Just another day at the office … Gerri (J Smith-Cameron) was thrown into the deep end by Frank at the shareholder meeting. Photograph: Home Box Office/HBO

Welcome to every PowerPointer’s worst nightmare. Interim CEO Gerri was due on stage but while she was busy fighting the corporate binfire, the unfortunate Frank was shoved out there and told to “vamp”. Kendall called it “playing maître d’ at the Bistro Bullshit”.

It was hilariously excruciating to watch as Frank was passed notes telling him to keep talking. He eventually introduced Gerri out of sheer desperation. Passing him on her way to the podium, she hissed “Cowardly prick”. Bit harsh, since he’d already done what felt like hours of frantic improv. In turn, Gerri cut to a corporate video, starring every female staffer they could find.

A bad day at the office for Cousin Greg

As a mere pawn in the war between father and son, Greg Hirsch (Nicholas Braun) was having an even worse morning. Kendall said he might have to “burn” his cousin in the malfeasance investigation – despite promises made en route to season two’s climactic press conference. Adding insult to injury, Greg was merely “a morsel” to throw the DoJ. The alternative? Withdraw from Waystar’s joint defence agreement and come back over to Kendall’s side.

Just when things couldn’t get grimmer for Greg, the leggy princeling was summoned to see “gramps”. Ewan (James Cromwell) was furious that he’d dispensed with the services of his personal attorney, Roger Pugh (Peter Riegert), to “throw your lot in with my brother and his gang of crapulent shills … in the service of a monstrous endeavour”. That’ll do, pig.

Partly out of spite, Ewan was leaving his entire estate to charity, specifically Greenpeace. “Even my part?” stammered Greg, with Braun putting in a terrific, tearful performance. “That was the first part,” replied Ewan. Greg duly vowed to sue Greenpeace. “I like your style,” said Tom. “Who are you going after next, Save the Children?”

‘The piss-mad king of England’

Logan was becoming befuddled. He asked Colin for deal advice and kept barking “pills!”. He rambled incoherently about the Raisin, Ravenhead, Michelle-Anne and his mysterious sister Rose. He repeatedly requested that son-in-law Tom Wambsgans (Matthew Macfadyen) escort him to the john. We knew it was serious when he called Shiv “Marcia”, asked for ex-wife Caroline, mistook Kendall for Frank and insisted there was a dead cat under his chair.

PA Kerry confessed that he had a urinary tract infection. If he didn’t take his meds, he became confused. He hadn’t wanted anyone to know but Logan’s pride had backfired again. Had he risked the whole company due to delirium? Connor was on hand with reassuring remarks: “UTIs at his age can make you crazy. Reagan had one and nearly nuked Belgium.”

His offspring’s contrasting reactions to Logan’s illness were revealing. Roman was protective but squeamish. Tom was tenderly caring (“Need me to hold the sceptre?”). Shiv and Kendall were more worried by the business ramifications. All heart.

Roman wore his big-boy trousers

The White House had been “coming at us from all angles since the ATN pivot”. It was another matter when the president himself phoned for an urgent chat. Logan was busy with an imaginary cat and in the scramble to decide who’d take the call, Gerri nominated Roman, who had met the Raisin before. Besides, “if anyone here is bootleg Logan, it’s him”. Hugo Baker (Fisher Stevens) muttered “Tommy Tourettes, are you kidding?” but it was too late.

Anyone else feel a pang of pride when Romulus stepped up? The Raisin ranted that he wasn’t running for another term due to ATN exaggerating his “minor neurological issue”. Roman gamely tried to change his mind to no avail. Not only had Waystar lost its most powerful ally but they might now get a less accommodating president and a more aggressive DoJ. At least Connor was happy. “Boom-shacka-lacka, hell yeah,” he airpunched, failing to read the room as usual.

Shiv saved the deal … but didn’t impress daddy

Mission accomplished? ... Shiv (Sarah Snook) made a deal but didn’t curry favour with Logan.
Mission accomplished? … Shiv (Sarah Snook) made a deal but didn’t curry favour with Logan. Photograph: Home Box Office/HBO

Realising that Logan’s “urethra has wrested control from his brain”, former political fixer Shiv salvaged the settlement. She met Sandi and worked it out woman-to-woman – a nice touch for a drama that’s so often about willy-waving. Sidelined by their fathers, they found common ground and both got a seat on the board in the process. The Roys narrowly kept control of their company.

Tom was so jubilant, he suggested celebratory sex. When Shiv realised he’d been tracking her fertility cycle (“It’s not creepy, I counted the days in iCal”), her ardour took a cold shower. With the possibility of prison looming, Tom was suddenly broody. His wife not so much.

Casual sexism kept rearing its head. Connor called Shiv “Madam Secretary”. Logan talked over her. When a congratulatory toast was raised to Shiv, her father’s fury spilled over. “Stop buzzing in my fucking ear,” he yelled, dismissing it as “a shitty deal”. All she wanted was Pop’s approval. Poor Pinkie couldn’t win.

Kendall’s cringe-inducing stage invasion

I seem to say it every week but: oh, Ken. As Karl announced the settlement and called off the vote, Kendall crept on-stage. He gatecrashed Karl’s speech and pompously asked the head-shaking shareholders to “join a moment of silence for all the victims of crimes that took place on our watch”.

Despite Waystar cutting the mic, “Woke-ahontas” read out the women’s names, and announced he was launching a foundation to honour those who had suffered. Squirmingly awkward. Logan growled that they “should’ve chopped him down”. “Might seem suspicious,” mused Gerri. “Kinda like shredding a human document.” Tom’s main issue? “He’s not even wearing a tie”. Bless.

Logan got revenge another way. He set up a meeting with his son, then left him waiting while he left the building. As he sat stewing, Kendall had never resembled Michael Corleone more. When he phoned, Logan instructed Kerry to “block the number – permanently”. Oof.

The heir apparent

Despite Shiv’s “helluva Hail Mary” of a deal, it was Roman who ended the episode with Logan’s paternal paw patting his back. Unfair, but them’s the Succession breaks.

Line of the week

When Roman questioned Sandy Sr’s faculties (“How do we know he’s not your meat puppet?”), daughter Sandi deadpanned: “Oh, I just do what my dad tells me. Like you guys.”

Notes and observations

  • Lovely to see the return of drawling ATN head Cyd Peach (Jeannie Berlin) to the Roy inner circle.

  • Stewy’s style choices are too delicious. Last week, loafers with no socks. This week, the black rollneck of power.

  • Many commenters predicted “rabbitcam” would backfire. Bunny + breakfast bagel = bad scenes.

Rejoin us next Monday as the series enters its home stretch. In the meantime, retired janitors or otherwise, please leave your thoughts and theories below.

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