Warning! Spoilers for Succession season three, episode five, "Retired Janitors of Idaho", are ahead.
We're firmly in the "full fucking beast" throes of season three of Succession and by now we can all admit – nay, embrace publicly! – that something in the HBO show whips up a little sadistic thrill in all of us, and we love it. We full-body cringe at the industry bro one-liners, stare open-mouthed at the betrayals and peek through our fingers at anything Kendall – aka the most neurotic, faux-woke fictional character ever to draw breath – says. But it’s the trash talking, the vicious burns, the just plain deranged exchanges in the vipers' nest – often so rage-filled they don’t even make sense, or so immature they revert to playground rhetoric – that provoke that involuntary cackle in all of us.
This week we’re dealing with the fallout of the last episode, in which Logan and Kendall failed to gain the confidence of billionaire investor and Waystar Royco shareholder Josh Aaronson, played to perfection by Adrien Brody wearing, frankly, a disturbing number of layers. The Roys are left with one of two choices: go to a vote and risk almost definitely losing control of the company, or settle and share power with Sandy and Stewy, this way maintaining ultimate control but potentially losing the PJs (just your everyday casual acronym for private jets).
At the annual Waystar Royco shareholders meeting, it’s utter chaos. The blag brigade – consisting of Frank, Karl, Shiv and Gerri – take it in turns to buy time on stage like grinning show puppets so behind the scenes they can strike a last-minute deal with Sandy and Stewy, then make the announcement to the shareholders. The usual bitter, dick-swinging Roy camaraderie is there between the siblings, each sucking up to their father, but for some reason Logan doesn’t seem so compos mentis.
The air is thick with the usual sneakiness, tension and panic, which makes the episode prime for some of the most utterly unhinged verbiage and brutal Roy disses we’ve seen on the show so far...
“Shouldn’t you be on a rainbow soapbox somewhere, screaming ‘Time’s Up’?”
Stewy is back and boy, does he know how to deliver a perfectly manicured uppercut, rendering Kendall embarrassed and crestfallen. In one of his first lines this season, Stewy goes in on Kendall’s performative attempts at cementing himself as some sort of woke feminist #GirlBoss – or as Roman would put it, "wokeahontas". Whether it’s shouting cringe social justice phrases like "Fuck the patriarchy" at paparazzi, pretending to care about the sexually abused female victims of the cruise scandal or berating "the great whites" in power (showing his utter lack of self-awareness as…a very rich white man in power), it’s near unbearable to watch.
Much has been said about the Succession "uh huh" (see the iconic supercut) – predominantly used by Logan as a disapproving and dismissive grunt which translates to something akin to "What you’ve just said is the most stupid, inane or obvious thing I’ve ever heard, it doesn’t even warrant a full coherent sentence as a response" and usually reduces the recipient to a nervous wreck. In this episode, Logan hits Shiv with a patronising "uh huh" and a two-second stare so vitriolic and baffled by her stupidity that you physically feel her shrivel up. I had to pause the TV so I didn’t absorb the evil by osmosis.
Frank, “the panic-meister cooking up a sweaty spaghetti” and “maître d' at the bistro of bullshit”
As Waystar’s COO and Logan’s long-term (long-suffering) confidant, Frank tends to get the poky end of the stick, whether it’s being forced to be the bearer of bad news or the first on stage to stall the shareholders. As Logan says in the episode: "We nail you to the cross, Frank, all right?" In this episode, Kendall hits the nail on the head with these observations mocking the ever-obliging Frank.
“Roman’s a knucklehead. Shiv’s a fake. Kenny’s screwy”
We’ve never taken airy, somewhat deluded, oldest Roy sibling Connor seriously but now, in an effort to ramp up his chances at running for US president (yep), he’s rolling up his sleeves to play dirty. First up, he wants to head up European cable. Does he know a thing about European cable? Nope. Instead of listing his own credentials, he goes for the jugular with single-word character assassinations of his siblings to curry favour with his father.
“My brother and his gang of crapulous shills”
A line delivered with meticulous acidity by Ewan Roy – Logan’s disapproving brother and Greg’s disapproving grandfather – who tells Greg that he has made his bed with the wrong people and therefore is financially cutting him off and giving his inheritance to Greenpeace. No doubt one of the best ye olde, centuries gone insults to make the script so far, made better when you google the meaning of each word. Define: crapulous shill.
“The fucking demented piss mad king of England”
Having suffered from heatstroke and a host of other health complications, we discover that Logan now has a UTI, making him disoriented and incoherent. He even starts imagining a dead cat under his chair. It is wild. Seven variations of the insensitive diagnosis "piss mad" do the rounds among the Roys before absolutely finishing us off with Roman’s savage reference to 18th century ruler King George III.
Okay, it’s not a diss per se but in the biggest burn of the episode – a spurning with a capital S – Logan arranges, via his assistant, to meet Kendall after the shareholders meeting. Little Kenny’s face lights up; he can’t contain his joy. Could this be the moment he finally gets his father’s approval? Maybe a truce? He waits nervously. We hear steps in the hallway…and it’s Kendall’s assistant, informing him that Logan has just left the building. We cut to Logan, who gives his assistant his phone and tells her to block Kendall’s number. Cut back to Kendall, who is visibly destroyed. An abhorrent checkmate of power play, designed to build Kendall up with hope and rip the carpet from underneath him. Daddy doesn’t love you.