Typically I file my Succession recaps on Tuesday or Wednesday but because it was such a major episode with lots of spoiler potential, we are diving right in. As always, MAJOR SPOILER ALERT. I’ll also be reversing the character analysis from hot to cold.
Two corrections from last week: I misidentified Willa as “Willow” and her hair is too bouncy to be disrespected by that. Also, I quoted Tom as having said he f-cks like a “freight train,” which is the wrong kind of transportation. He said “bullet train.” I regret the errors.
Hotter than a lucky streak in Macau
Stewy Hosseini’s luscious mane: When he shows up, he’s on the hot list. He’s into the GoJo deal and gets a front seat to the shenanigans without even really having to care about anything. He’s also been a fairweather friend to Kendall (whatever that means in this world) and has, in previous seasons, told Ken to get out. It’s a shame Kendall didn’t turn to Stewy more often this season.
Caroline Collingwood and stepdaddy dearest: Does anyone have more fun torturing the Roys than Caroline? And she’s so good at it! She’s highly entertained by the in-fighting although you suspect she feels a little left out of the action. She’s marrying a hack and she knows it. She toys with Roman and Shiv by telling them she doesn’t have a prenup (she absolutely does). She flippantly disinvites Ken and his children to events to appease her social climbing fiancé. She is awful and I love her.
Anytime Caroline’s on screen it’s a little big naughty, like she’s sharing a bit of gossip with her favourite person as she sucks up all the air. She and Logan must have been quite a formidable pair.
The scene between Caroline and Shiv was brilliant because although Caroline is not effusive, there is a level of insight and honesty (to the point of cruelty) mixed with an avoidance that is so jarring. She’s wildly insulting and so funny. As she and Shiv parse through the bad times, one thing stuck out to me: Shiv said her parents split (and Logan took custody, moving them to New York) when she was 10 and Caroline, justifying herself, said Shiv was 13. This is both a small but major detail: was she a child or a young teenager? Either way it deeply affected Shiv and to justify it, she has to say she was a child. For Caroline to justify her lack of willingness to keep up a relationship with her children, she positions Shiv as mature and cunning for her age. From Caroline’s perspective, I can see why she would relinquish control to Logan (who has all the money in the world for lawyers and would have made her life hell): it was to keep the children invested in the business and protect their positions. It may have been sh-tty, but was Caroline wrong? Logan is still the primary parent and their children are deeply involved in the business (unlike Connor).
Caroline resents her children, especially Shiv, because they made her vulnerable. They are assets she lost, which is why she tells Shiv she should have never had children. It's not wrong to feel this way about parenthood but it is something to share with a therapist or close friend or even a spouse. You don’t share this regret with the person who had no choice in being born, which I feel should go without saying.
And in between all that, Caroline delivers one of the most insightful revelations about Logan: he kicks a dog to see how many times it comes back. Caroline is not immune to that; neither is Marcia or his executive team and certainly not his children. Everyone goes back for more.
Connor and Willa’s decent proposal: It’s quite ironic that out of all of the awful things about the Roys, it’s Willa’s sex work past that worries Connor. He has been surrounded by rapists (like Uncle Mo) and thieves and monsters his whole life, but it is emotionally mature Willa who will be dragged through the dirt if anyone finds out about her past. Infuriating, but accurate. Why he thinks them being married would change that is beyond me. (And it’s so Connor to cluelessly propose at a wedding.)
Lukas Matsson, the egalitarian tech bro: I’m not invested in this character yet; he’s clearly tortured by his new money and looking to gobble up Waystar. (Obviously, this would not be a true partnership.) Until he meets the big boss, I’m reserving judgement.
Shiv Roy and the three g’s: Girlboss, gatekeep, gaslight:
She started the episode playing sick in bed and ended it by explaining Roman’s sexual picadilloes to her father and knifing Gerri as she pounced on the dick pic debacle (more on that below). Shiv has an opening and she is going to take it, finally! (Though let’s be real: she will piss this opportunity away too.) If she takes Gerri down in the process, well, that’s the cost of doing business.
That gutting scene in which her mother confesses she wished Shiv had never been born turns into a positive, as Shiv uses that information to kind of torture Tom with cruel dirty talk and decides to freeze her embryos. In the process, she also gets to emotionally eviscerate Tom, almost like therapy for what she experienced with her mother. This episode was a good run for her and if she was smart in getting her dad a bigger company than GoJo, she’d try the Pierces again. But like Rhea Jarrell once said, Shiv thinks she’s smarter than she is.
Colder than Shiv and Tom’s theoretical baby popsicles:
Sandy Jr. and the ambush: In one short scene we see her realize she’s been sandbagged and manipulated and Shiv and she aren’t going to have any real control of the board. Welcome to thunderdome.
“Talk dirty to me” Tom: Shiv has a lot of sexual power that she holds over Tom; it’s the way she expresses both her affection and dissatisfaction for him. She delivers bad news (like wanting an open marriage) while they are intimate, so her telling him she doesn’t love him while they are being intimate fits right in with that behaviour. He is confused because he really does love her and at times, it seems she loves him, but how much longer can this man take it?
And what does he want? Because even the prospect of embryos (which is a logical compromise) seems to disturb him, as does the idea that those embryos would come with an agreement in case of divorce (a pragmatic suggestion). In their world of two, Shiv is Logan and Tom is the dog coming back for more kicks. But there are moments of levity, like when they pick on Greg. These two are never more enamoured with each other than when teasing their giant cousin.
Logan Roy, still not f-cked: This man showed up to his ex-wife’s wedding with his mistress/personal assistant and wife, which not many people could pull off. Logan did his Logan thing this week, always unpredictable and able to bring his children down with precision. But first it was business: he entertains a merger with GoJo (to everyone’s surprise) because he realizes he’s a dinosaur and needs a big move, and that acquisition is unlikely. If he doesn’t make a deal soon, Waystar is still vulnerable to a takeover.
The only time Logan wavers is with Ken because although Logan believes he is a superior man, I do think he is scared of Kendall. I think he’s scared that he stitched together a Frankenstein of a son who is now out of his control. I think he’s scared of Ken’s addiction. I think he’s scared of his vulnerability. I think he’s scared that Ken will really leave him for good and he’ll be stuck with f-ck knuckle Roman and a girl. I think he’s scared Ken will die before him.
Logan’s angry and disgusted reaction to the dick pic is not surprising because he’s a sexist asshole. Logan is having an affair with his much-younger and powerless assistant but he’s mad about a flirtation between Roman and Gerri, who are on a more equal footing. If Roman was sending dick pics to a high schooler, Logan would not be nearly as concerned.
His repulsion is visceral and his first reaction is to fire Gerri, which is not only highly unethical, but it would be an absolute disaster for the company if it ever got out. The way he quickly turns on someone who has been so loyal and steadfast is wildly cruel on a professional and personal level.
And him having the, um, birds and the bees talk with a squirming Roman was just an absolute gift to us. Roman is like an overgrown teenager and having his dad try to figure out what kind of perv his son was so uncomfortable. This seriously upends Roman’s position as daddy’s current number one boy.
Roman Roy and the dick pic heard round the world: Have you ever meant to forward a sh-t-talking email to a friend or co-worker and accidentally hit reply instead? Well Roman did that, times a million. The realization, the facial expression, the “aww shucks dad” explanation of what a dick pic is and why he does it (Roman doesn’t know why he does it)….Roman is embarrassed for sure, but he hasn’t exactly been discreet in his pining over Gerri (Shiv said everyone noticed how weird he is). At one point, he proposed to her. Gerri has been Roman’s professional mentor and if he loses her, he will lose a lot of his common sense. And because Roman has a humiliation kink, this could make him even more enamoured with her.
Gerri moves into lawyer mode: Gerri is in a terrible, no-win situation. The more she tells Roman to stop, the more he thinks she wants it. Logan is angry at her. Shiv’s line of questioning was basically “what were you wearing.” She immediately shifts into legal mode and knowing how thorough she is, she must have planned for this scenario. She can go public (not her style) but she absolutely should not go to HR (because they are not going to fire Roman, obviously). The irony is that she spent so much time covering up and paying off sexual harassment and assault victims for cruises and now she’s on the other end of it. She knows all the ins-and-outs of how they will try to pay her off and intimidate her.
Kendall says, “let me out”: All through the series, Ken has been high (in penthouses and drugs) and low (in the water, floating in a pool, climbing out of a pool, hiding in a bathtub). The scene between him and Logan is one of the most intense in television history. There is so much said and implied, from Logan using his grandson as a food tester to Kendall telling Logan he will be broken when Logan dies. Kendall is the dog who has taken his last kick and truly wants out. But of course now that he wants that, Logan won’t allow it. I don’t think he ever really wanted that, it was just a way to bring Ken back (and it worked).
Kendall thinks he lost his fight for the company because the world is corrupt. It is, and Logan is corrupt and so is the company. But that’s not why he lost. He lost because he alienated his siblings early on, he is obsessed with validation and press, he is unfocused, and he was dishonest about why he was doing it. This was not for the victims and the fact that he used their cause to build his case is not noble. He is not the white knight. Logan’s frustration is that everyone (from his brother to his son) talks about how awful his business is now that it’s made them rich. He won’t let Kendall tell him about the world or who he is. The way Logan sees it, he exposes the rot, he doesn’t create it.
Logan doesn’t often bring up “the boy” but he does it here to prove a point to his son about love and loyalty: when Ken was at his lowest, his dad cleaned up his mess. And now Ken wants to balk at that? Logan can’t abide this hypocrisy.
Kendall floats away: The big question of course is… did Ken die? Was he testing out his father’s theory of how long it took “the boy” to drown? One thing I know is that HBO is not sending screeners for the finale so anything we read is just speculation. As Lainey said to me last night, if anyone can do it (kill off a lead character), it’s showrunner Jesse Armstrong. Kendall has backed himself into a corner and there are only so many times he can betray his father and go back. If he is out of the company, he is out of the family (he would be even less valuable to them than Connor, who is powerless but also mildly liked). This ending makes sense for Kendall as it’s what they’ve been building towards all series. The New Yorker profile with Jeremy Strong, which dropped on Sunday, also makes a lot of sense in context. J. Cameron Smith said that the finale was devastating.
And yet… the cast spent a lot of time filming in Italy and next week, it looks like they are still there. If Kendall died, the Roys would have to immediately head back to New York as it would be a huge PR crisis, along with working out the shares, board seat, DOJ fallout etc. They wouldn’t continue on at the wedding. For that reason, I see him jerking his head back.
A note on Sophie and Iverson: Why is Rava not there? Why would she trust him to take the children out of the country when he has a very inconsistent relationship with them? It seems unlikely she would allow that. Rava has a solid relationship with the Roys, is invited to holidays and was at Shiv’s wedding. Connor and Greg were invited by Caroline, so it stands to reason that the mother of her only grandchildren would be as well. I think there is a reason for it, I just don’t know what it is yet.