Fly Guy Code: Season 3 Episode 5: Retired Janitors of Idaho – “The Demented Fucking Piss Mad King of England”

Abe Beame and Jayson Buford return for the latest Succession recap where Shiv makes her power play, Greg is a man without country, and Sandy and Stewy are on shaky ground.
By    November 15, 2021
Photo via HBO

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Jayson Buford was never fond of raisins in the first place.

Abe Beame always knew Wambsgans had incel tendencies.

We open on Ken in his Command Pod, reveling in the fallout of the Waystar raid. He’s with Greg, and you can feel the increasing emphasis on Greg’s role in the fate of this prosecution that Ken just doesn’t seem to either be processing or taking seriously enough.

We open on Logan getting fitted with a boot by his terrifying fixer/body man Colin, the damage done from our time on Josh Aaronson’s Isle of Lost Souls. In the background, we see ATN is going at The Raisin full tilt (“President’s Memory May Be Suspect”). The point of the headline is this is Logan, fighting back in the wake of the DOJ Waystar raid. The juxtaposition also tells us this is going to be an episode about aging and decline.

It’s at last time for the 46th annual Waystar Royco shareholders meeting, this season’s equivalent of the Super Bowl, or at least what we’ve been building toward since the premier. As the trucks line up and the reporters flock to cover the event, we see a PGN (Pierce) van, underscoring the full court media scrutiny surrounding this, what’s at stake if things go left here.

Through a backchannel, Frank conveys to Ken that Logan may be willing to let control of the company go to a shareholder vote, which sounds like it’s a jump ball at best, given the Josh defection. Ken handles this with the grace and aplomb we’re accustomed to. Roll credits.

A sneaky important moment comes early, as Logan and actor Zoe Winters as Kerry (suddenly on Logan pill duty, a historically crucial role in the history of the show), is dispatched by Logan to serve as his eyes and ears on the floor at the shareholder meeting. This means Kerry won’t be around to manage Logan’s UTI medication, setting him up for the fairly stunning turn of events in store.

Karl and Gerri have been working around the clock for a deal leading up to the shareholders meeting but have gotten nowhere. Sandy and Stewy are on equally shaky ground: we learn that their funding is wobbling and at least Stewy doesn’t want to walk away from their seasons long bearhug with nothing to show but a $50 million dollar loss if they lose the shareholder vote. It becomes clear that though Logan’s faction is willing to accede a generous board seats package to come to a deal, Sandy, the sex party-frequenting libertine, in a near vegetative state due to an alleged case of syphilis — and he’s willing to use his dying breath to fuck over Logan and the Roy family.

The episode’s title is uttered by Roman, using retired janitors as shorthand for the faceless masses of 401k/IRA/pension fund Waystar shareholders he holds in contempt – basically saying control of the company can’t be placed in the hands of these dipshits. And yet, the entire episode is as close to farce as this series has come, making it clear that two old rich assholes whose senile brains are slowly reducing to a milkshake consistency slurry shouldn’t be deciding the fate of an $85 billion dollar company either.

Ken spends this episode very much on the outside looking in. He’s “negotiating” with Stewy, but is basically just an information conduit between both sides, with neither taking him seriously. His pitch isn’t bad. To Stewy, his equity is still what could definitively swing the entire deal for Sandy and co., but what’s implied is that bridge has been thoroughly torched. On the other side, as he tries to work with Shiv and Roman through the negotiation, he’s ignored and laughed at. In desperation, he finally raids the stage, taking the mic from Karl and, taking a page from Elizabeth Warren – begins “Saying The Names” of the women who were victimized in the cruises scandal. The final shot is Logan pulling his old 80s power play that he used on Stewy and Sandy in Season Two, setting a meet with Ken he doesn’t show up for. When Ken tries to call him, Logan has Kerry block his number. To say this episode is one long, bad beat for Ken is a gross understatement.

Similarly, Greg is a man without a country. Torn between the Waystar representation he’s sided with in his bid to take over parks, Ken, who can still fuck him up by handing him over to DOJ, and Grandpa Ewan with Pugh, in a quest to definitively tear the mask off the entire capitalist enterprise once and for all, his choice is to blankly nod and stammer with all three. Director Kevin Bray does break out a moment at lunch with Ewan, when Greg is told the threats have been made good and he’s being cut out of his inheritance. The NPR grouch has what feels like a genuinely emotional moment with his grandson, telling him it’s time to take himself seriously. It feels like something important shifts there, but with this season, who fucking knows.

The Sandy/Waystar agreement is in the red zone, but petty stipulations over a veto related specifically to a Roy family member taking over the company, and clipping the wings on private jet use by Sandy (Or Sandi?) is holding things up. Logan is on a motorized track, going back and forth, to and from the bathroom, with his sudden favorite son Tom, and when he isn’t, he’s late stage sundowning, asking Colin for advice on the deal, calling Shiv Marcia, and asking for Lady Catherine. The last play that the Roy family had, in the event the battle goes to shareholder vote, was for Logan to make a grand speech on the shareholder floor. That is clearly not an option, but Sandy and Stewy don’t know that, so the Roy coalition needs to make a deal.

This is where Shiv steps in and finally, finally makes the power play, the smart move, the glimmer of Machiavellian intellect I’ve been waiting to see for going on two seasons. She Is empowered by the inner circle to make a deal with Logan sidelined and the vote near inevitable, and she does, eating the necessary crow for Sandi (a masterfully ambiguous Hope Davis who I pray emerges as a player in episodes and seasons to come, rather than a throw away convenience as many of these stunt casting moves have been so far) and offering a fourth board seat to the Sandy/Stewy team, along with the creation of an additional seat for Waystar – and specifically for Shiv.

But we didn’t even touch on the prospect of an impending presidential election, suddenly unmoored by the Raisins decision, instigated by ATN, not to seek reelection. So to discuss this issue, and many others, I hand the mic to a man who loves nothing more than booking out the chateau and snorting purified sertraline off women that don’t know they’re prostitutes yet, the great Jayson Buford. – Abe Beame

Jay: Hello. So, I actually want to talk about the move that Shiv makes because on the surface, it is a move that had to be done but it isn’t the one that her father would do. It was clear that Logan was not going to be content with the deal that Shiv made. It’s a type of deal you make when your back is to the wall. Logan never does deals like that because he never believes his back is ever against the wall. To do that is to concede the power over the deal and power is the very idea that Logan Roy founded his business on. Siobhan Roy doesn’t understand that and it’s not shocking when Logan, after his UTI mishap, isn’t impressed by the work that she did that day. It seems like Shiv is the new Kendall, not aligned with her father’s telepathy and poised to a relationship of dissatisfaction.

What do we think of the battle coming down to her and Sandy’s daughter, who is named Sandi as well (a detail that I find to be excellent). Two women who work for their Dad’s company. We know that Shiv, because we have spent time with her, is not on the same side politically as her Dad. She’s just too comfortable with her power to go out on her own. The faint idea of her running the company as Elizabeth Holmes with a shorter back is why she joined the family business. Seeing her talk to Sandi was interesting. What did you make of it?

Abe: I’d actually like to push back on your read of the Shiv move. I think she knows full well Logan won’t be happy with her maneuvering in closing the deal. I don’t think said maneuvering was even necessary. I think she saw a hole and barreled through it. Logan’s response is typical non-constructive criticism. The same bullshit he hit Ken with when Ken worked Waystar out of an apocalyptic margin call. He’s never happy with solutions and believes he’d always do better. I think the idea of the two daughters semi outwitting their senile and fading patriarchs was interesting. Hope Davis is such a formidable counter for Shiv – can’t wait to see where we’re going from here.

Jay: I don’t agree! Shiv won’t ever show it, she is too proud to do so, but she is devastated when Logan yells at her by the end. It’s a deflating and humiliating moment, one that reminds me of ‘Lifeboats’’ when Ken comes to his Dad’s room to tell him that he added Stewy to the mix and Logan calls him an ‘’idiot.’’ Shiv, like Ken in that episode, only did what she thought was best in that situation and got called a fly buzzing in his ear. (Lost in all of this, is how funny Logan was when he was dealing with his eroding brain. It was like he was in an old folks home during the most important shareholder meeting of their lives).

Abe: I don’t want to belabor the point, and we absolutely should move on, but I read that moment very differently. It feels like one of those moments when Logan brings the room to a screeching halt with his volume and anger, but Shiv just laughs it off, and brings the room together for a toast. After she just got done shaming him for lapsing due to his health crisis, it feels like power and control subtly shifting, but again, this season, who the fuck knows if it sticks?

Meanwhile, we should discuss Rome and The Raisin, the president has served as an increasingly prominent invisible antagonist, one that the Roy family has alternately loved and shit all over. Now that Logan has chased him out of office, my question is, is Logan actually a good CEO? What deals has he actually secured during the life of the show that improved the position of the company? It’s a lot of semi-hard seductions that go nowhere and bad miscalculations, like this one. He’s constantly flaming his kids, and he’s good at bullying the yes men and women he’s surrounded himself with, but is Logan actually good for the company?

Jay: He doesn’t have to be a good CEO. Like Shiv tells Ravenhead, ‘’We don’t get embarrassed.’’ It isn’t about being good at your job, so much as it is about holding onto the fleeting influence that you have in the year of 2021. The Roys, and their real-life counterparts, are never good at what they do. Not in the eyes of goodness. Not in the eyes of regular people like you and me. They’re insular and within their bubble. All they have to do is be powerful and dangerous. If this is a cynical take, then sure, but Succession is cynicism. Ken thought he had a shot to make a change. Instead, he is pushed to the sidelines and forced to make faux woke speeches, and his dad is going to start blocking his calls. It’s a hard fact of reality. Things aren’t changing. People who work for companies like Waystar Royco don’t work there to be good at their jobs; they go there to never have to worry about being good at their jobs.

Abe: I’d argue we’re saying the same thing, but I think this is a clear example of Logan’s bullying and “effectiveness” coming back on him. Much in the same way he ruins the relationships in his life, and pushes anyone who dares to overstep their bounds on his authority away, he’s effectively driven a president that helped the conglomerate out of office. But the moon is full, the tide is coming in, and Shiv is fertile, what did you make of the most recent Tom cringe?

Jay: Like everything in Wambsgans’ life, he handles this as bleak and awkward as possible. I’m going to jail so let me dump in you so we can have a baby before I leave? It’s incel behavior. It’s a testament to McFayden as an actor that is so pathetic that I am not even mad at him. Who amongst us doesn’t want to give Shiv a kid, but that was shivering to watch. (I know you are more lukewarm on this episode than me, but Sarah Snook’s work was great in this one. She’s been great thus far this season. Giving us some all-time facial quivers. This is also the best fit of the season so far). It’s hard to imagine Shiv not forgetting about that. She’s clearly grossed out by her husband wanting to use her as a scientific experiment. We continue to be mystified at the Wambsgans-Shiv partnership. While Logan is sick, Roman is handling the call with the President who after ATN switched up on him like a Rick Carlisle defensive scheme, is choosing not to run again. This seems like an awfully huge deal. Roman is someone who has been the most on his dad’s side so far this season. Which, and taking a note from Twitter: I hope he sees bro.

Abe: So let’s move to the theme of the ep, as far as I see it. I wrote this about “Hunting” before this season began:

“The episode begins with a doctor warning Logan the medication he’s on can have side effects on his mental and emotional state. It’s an aspect of Logan that I don’t think we discuss enough, this man is being medicated to a state that is probably taking him far beyond the limits of his logic and reason, both in thought and deed. I think it’s very intentionally included here.”

In this episode you have Sandy as a vegetable, Logan checked out, and the president of the United States declining to run for another term due to questions as to whether he’s fit to serve. I’ve discussed the idea that Succession is potentially a cautionary tale about what happens when you leave octogenarians to run industry and government, this episode seems to be a clear referendum on that concept. I had an inkling they may have written this during the uproar over Diane Feinstein’s diminishing mental capacity at the end of 2020. What do you make of the general absurdity of this episode? It felt heightened, like an episode of Veep rather than Succession to me.

Jay: I have heard that from a few people. That they think this season is too much like Veep. A few disagreements with that: Ken is chasing a high this episode, in a chilling way that Veep characters don’t do. Veep also doesn’t exist in the stakes that Succession often does. It’s absurd, yes, but it isn’t a Yorgos movie or even a McKay one, which is what Veep sometimes feels like. On Succession, explosive arguments can happen at the drop of a hat. Everyone is cagey. Nobody is comfortable. The beauty of the show is how people are processing their trauma in real time. Roman’s way is to continue trying to love his father. This isn’t an all-time episode, by any means, it’s merely good. I think it’s the third best one of the season so far, next to episode two and three, but this is not Veep. That’s not a show that ends with Ken being tossed aside. He’s officially someone who no longer matters. Now that the Raisin is out, we’ll see what comes of the DOJ investigation too.

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