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The Ending Of Succession Season 3 Episode 5 Explained

In "Succession" Season 3 episode 5, "Retired Janitors of Idaho," everything the season has been building towards comes to a head when the annual Waystar-Royco shareholder's meeting arrives. After Kendall Roy (Jeremy Strong) dropped a bomb at the end of Season 2 by going public with his father's culpability about the sexual harassment scandal in the company's cruise line division, Season 3 has spent the first four episodes detailing the fallout. It's become clear that Waystar-Royco will never be the same, and the shareholder's meeting will determine just how different things will be — for the company, and for the family.

At the meeting, Logan Roy's (Brian Cox) longtime rival and fellow media mogul Sandy Furness (Larry Pine) is attempting a hostile takeover. The Roys have two choices: either leave the matter up to a shareholder vote — and after last week's episode, that doesn't look promising — or make a backroom deal to negotiate a new power structure. Logan is convinced that even thought the shareholders aren't confident about the Roy family's leadership, he can simply wow them at the meeting and win them back. Problem is, Logan isn't exactly the most self-aware person on the planet when it comes to his own limitations, which we'll delve into below.

When Logan ultimately isn't up to the task, it falls to Shiv (Sarah Snook) to negotiate with her counterpart, Sandy's daughter Sandi Furness (Hope Davis). In the end, the two daughters hammer out a compromise that allows the Roys to retain control of the company — at least for now. 

Here's what the ending of "Retired Janitors of Idaho" is all about.

The madness of King Logan

"Succession" has always been a show about how the rich and powerful are just as petty as anyone else, and this week's episode hits that theme hard. Ultimately, the fate of Waystar-Royco and the Roys themselves has little to do with the health of the company, and everything to do with the health of two elderly and prideful men.

When the backchannel negotiations start, Sandy Furness's medical condition is worsening and he's confined to a wheelchair. Weakened though he might be, he still has plenty of energy for grudges. Sandy is open to a deal, but only if the Roys agree to humiliating terms like giving up their private jets — or PJ's as they refer to them. This has little to do with business. Stewy (Arian Moayed) even admits to Kendall that if no deal happens, they'll happily move on to the next company. 

Sure enough, Logan responds with a characteristic "f— off." Unfortunately for the Roys, Logan picked a terrible time to stop taking medication for a urinary tract infection. This causes him to have a mental breakdown on the big day and he even starts hallucinating a dead cat under his chair. Most importantly, it leaves Logan incapacitated on the biggest day of the year. Any competent CEO would just do the right thing, take the meds, and make sure he'd be lucid. But again, old men and their pride.

By the end of the episode, it's clear how unnecessary everything was. Logan, Sandy, and everyone else had numerous opportunities to let cooler heads prevail, but each time they chose the pettiest option possible. Meanwhile, their multibillion dollar conglomerate continues to cause immeasurable pain. 

Shiv plays the hero, and pays for it

In the Season 3 premiere, Logan finally gave Shiv a position of responsibility at the company, promoting her to President of Domestic Operations. Before Season 3, Shiv had worked outside the company in politics, and this was the closest she'd ever come to being named the favored heir. However, since then it's become clear that Logan is just tormenting her.

Coming into this week's episode, Shiv seems the most aware of the stakes of the shareholder's meeting, warning everyone that a shareholder vote might cost them the company. So, when Logan has his breakdown, Shiv steps in and resumes the backchannel negotiations with Sandi. She agrees to give up the PJ's, and in return both she and Sandi will get seats on the board of directors. 

No, Shiv didn't get everything Logan wanted, but she did manage to salvage the Roys' position. When Logan comes to his senses, is he grateful? Of course not. He screams at her to "stop "buzzing in my f—— ear" and indicates that he might sabotage her deal in the days to come. He never acknowledges what she's done for the company, or that his own selfish actions very much necessitated what she did. 

For Shiv, it's an excruciating moment. Not only does she get no credit for saving the company, this also crushes any hope she might have had that her father would pick her to take over the company when he's gone. Going forward, will Shiv stay loyal to Logan? Or will she just tolerate more abuse? 

The Roys lose the Raisin

Episode 5 is full of turning points, and some of them don't even happen on screen. This week, the Roys' media war with the president, whom they've nicknamed President Raisin, backfires on them in the worst way.

For a refresher, Kendall's bombshell at the end of Season 2 kick started a Department of Justice investigation into Waystar-Royco. In episode 4, the Roys used their ATN news division and their popular conservative anchor Mark Ravenhead (Zach Robidas) to attack the president for a neurological condition, a scandal that's become known as "Memorygate" (and here's another elderly man in a powerful position who doesn't have access to his faculties). 

In episode 5, Roman (Kieran Culkin) takes a call from the POTUS and learns that the attacks on his mental fitness have convinced him to not to seek another term in office. This is terrible news for the Roys, because the next president might have no interest in leniency for their sexual harassment scandal.

It's telling that most of this has happened onscreen. Another of "Succession's" ongoing themes is that the Roy family is so rich and powerful that they're insulated from the real-world consequences of their actions. Here, even the President of the United States is reduced to a background player. A powerful one, but still not worthy to share screen time.

Kendall takes yet another "L"

This season hasn't been kind to Kendall. Throughout Season 3, Kendall's storyline can best be summed up as: "Kendall thought he'd be a hero but reality has other ideas." Since his bombshell revelation at the end of Season 2, Kendall has repeatedly found himself the target of scorn and mockery from his family, the media, and the public in general. This week, it's more of the same. 

After being shut out from the backchannel negotiations, (and getting his kid's bunny rabbit sick), Kendall makes a desperate play to insert himself into the story by storming the stage at the shareholder's meeting and reciting the names of the victims from the cruise line scandal. It goes over like a lead balloon, and one observer nicknames it "The Sermon on the Marriott." Afterwards, Logan humiliates Kendall by setting up a meeting with him, and then ghosting him and blocking his phone number.

The moment echoes the one from Season 3 episode 3, when Kendall crashed Shiv's town hall meeting by playing Nirvana's "Rape Me" over the company's loudspeakers. Once again, Kendall is using real people's pain to advance his own agenda — or, rather, he's trying to do that, and everyone else is seeing right through it. When it comes to parenting, it's difficult to ever side with Logan, but this is one instance when Kendall totally deserves his treatment. 

There are four episodes left in this season. At this point, one of the biggest ongoing questions is, will Kendall ever learn? 

If you or anyone you know has been a victim of sexual assault, help is available. Visit the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network website or contact RAINN's National Helpline at 1-800-656-HOPE (4673).