Sunday, November 14, 2021

REVIEW: 'Succession' - Logan's Health Prevents Him From Offering the Guidance the Company Needs in 'Retired Janitors of Idaho'

HBO's Succession - Episode 3.05 "Retired Janitors of Idaho"

Kendall and the Waystar team find themselves working together at the annual shareholders' meeting, where Logan's health takes a turn.

In 2020, the television industry aired 493 scripted shows across numerous outlets. The way people consume content now is different than it used to be. It happens according to one's own schedule. As such, it's less necessary to provide ample coverage of each episode in any given season from a show. Moreover, it is simply impossible to watch everything. As such, this site provides shorter episodic reviews in order to cover as many shows as possible. With all of that being said, here are my thoughts on the next episode of HBO's Succession.

"Retired Janitors of Idaho" was written by Tony Roche & Susan Soon He Stanton and directed by Kevin Bray

Logan Roy cares about his own emotions more than anyone else in the room. That has always been true. Here, it's actually stated. When he confuses Kendall for Frank during his delirium, he says that he is the only person allowed to be angry at any given moment. He doesn't suddenly become a different person while in this altered state. He still behaves the same. People just can't trust him to give an honest assessment of what is currently happening in the negotiations. It's the worst time for this health crisis to strike. The entire company looks to Logan for leadership. He isn't even technically in charge. And yet, people overwhelmingly understand that he is still the one calling the shots. They look to him for approval on any given idea. People don't know how to fairly access the offers with him removed from the picture. That too is limiting to their world views. It shows just how cavalier they all take this influence and privilege. They believe they don't have to fight hard. They always have Logan to tell them exactly what to think in any given situation. Here, they can't count on him. It's dire because time has finally come for the vote amongst the shareholders. Sandy and Stewy's potential takeover of the company has arrived. A deal could potentially be met. That takes diligence from all sides. In reality, it truly is nothing more than a pissing contest between two aging, senile men. Their feud has defined this conflict not just for themselves but for the various people who work for this organization. Their behavior has imprinted on how everyone is expected to behave in all manners of business. It gives priority to trivial concerns when those shouldn't be the main focus of these negotiations. It seemingly all comes down to Sandy wanting Waystar Royco to eliminate its use of private jets. That's a slap in the face to the Roy family - particularly Roman. It's also such a weird demand. It's a way for this opposition to feel powerful. In this position, they believe they can ask for whatever they want and get it. They can't obtain veto power against any of the Roy children being elevated to the CEO position one day. It's a huge step down to arguing over private jets though. And yet, these are the people who control one of the most influential companies in the world. It's all being driven by the egos of a few fiery personalities. Greg is seen as a disappointment to his grandfather because he stands for no principles whatsoever. He just goes wherever the wind blows him. He continues to fail upward. He has no true bearing as to what any of this means. He didn't grow up in this environment. He's a part of this world now. That takes conviction. It requires knowing what's valuable and going after it. Greg has the ability to sue a charity. Doing so would only make him come across as amoral even more than he already does.

All of this has the potential to change depending on Logan's mood as well. Shiv is the one who puts the deal together in the end. She does so by talking with Sandi directly. That's a strategy Kendall has employed before with Stewy. He is ultimately written off as a train wreck though. He is laughed off the stage because of how crazy he sounds. He's one man going up against this behemoth company. Even if the takeover succeeds, he is still the solitary man making noise about the cruises scandal. Sure, the executives are trying to paint a pretty picture in that regard. They are hoping for a gentle Justice Department to go easy on them. That hasn't exactly been the case so far. The offices were raided after all. And yet, the company and the family trust the President to be an ally. They can persuade him simply by changing the tone of his coverage on their news network. None of these decisions are being made out of genuine concern or trying to inform the public. It's simply about the vested interests of those at the top. They are trying to keep their hold on power. They succeed in doing so. They can't celebrate though. Instead, they are reduced to being berated by Logan who disagrees with the decisions they made. He doesn't like the deal that Shiv struck. She saw it as a continuation of the conversation they were having about bringing her further into the company. She secures a board seat for herself. She sees a kindred spirit in Sandi. They are so often called upon to speak on behalf of their fathers. They are used to sand down the edges of their vitriolic personalities. They have the potential to wield power themselves. They can be called upon to be of greater service. Logan sees that as Shiv reaching beyond the scope of her role. And so, he condemns her. He yells at her. He wasn't in a position to lead the company through this crisis. The family had to rely on themselves in order to survive. Logan isn't grateful for that. He just sees it as a disappointment. The company ceded ground when it didn't have to. Of course, there was no guarantee that he could have sailed the company through this vote without losing family control. People admire him. They view him as having done all of this successfully before. And yet, this is a new challenge altogether. One that has been complex and a part of the narrative across several seasons. Plenty of people have tried to take Logan down. None have succeeded. He is still trapped in the need to define his eventual succession. He was forced to name Gerri as interim CEO. Her role hasn't really changed though. She still looks to guidance from the family. She needs Shiv to negotiate with Sandi and Roman to talk with the President. The messages they deliver back may not be beneficial in the long run. However, they secure themselves for the short term. That should be seen as a victory. Logan can never allow others to be happy and appreciated though. Kendall has a point in his crusade. He has lost the thread of his overall message though. That means everyone in the family feels personally like they are losing even though they maintain so much luxury and privilege. That dichotomy is striking and continues to motivate every single thing done in this narrative. The family complains. And yet, they didn't really lose anything. They are still in control and believe they can continue to fight back against anyone targeting them because they are perceived as vulnerable. This threat is gone. But the overall fears linger. That too is striking and reveals just how cyclical the nature of this business ultimately is for the family and those they trust in the executive ranks.