So, here’s the question some of us have asked, and some of us have been too scared to utter out loud: Will “Succession” still have its stakes raised high enough to maintain the same nefarious charm after Logan’s death?” Even as an admittedly biased fan of the show, I don’t particularly deem the question unfair. The OG Roy, whom we’ve known to be evading death as casually as he did taxes, has been the wicked marrow of the sadistic drama. It’s only fair to wonder how things would run without the fantastic Brian Cox crushing people as though they were mere bugs. So, with fear and excitement, I started off with the long-coveted episode of “Succession,” which faces its biggest challenge yet. And I’m happy to report that the conniving board and the poor boneheaded Roy kids have taken up the hatchet and are still going just as strong without the added depravity of Logan Roy—the dude apparently rolling the news in heaven. God help the poor angels if that were true.
No Time To Sulk
We’ve seen this look on Ken’s face before. It is as though he’s always in mourning for the life that was lost the second he was born to Logan Roy. So, there’s nothing to write home about on that front. Although there’s something quite unnerving about seeing the wisecracking Roman do something as normal as brushing his teeth, did we always think that he had a butler for that? But let’s not spend too much time here. There’s something I’ve seen coming a mile away just because I have faith in the show screwing up a character’s life just as they were about to get off the burning train. Shiv may just be pregnant. Oh boy. Do we really want to see a child born into that mess? Her perpetual power stance and the snake-like looks shared with her almost about-to-be-ex Tom certainly suggest that the Roy princess isn’t too happy about the possibility of offspring. If Shiv does choose to go through with the pregnancy, it may just be a power move to show her mom how much better she would be at the job.
Ken walks into the wake to overhear Hugo losing his bearings over a phone call with someone who’s given him a proper wedgie. Siblings together in mourning for a dad who never loved them, estranged widow back from not-so-perpetual shopping to check if her fortune is in order, hush-hush exchanges between the core group made of snakes—a fitting ‘Succession’ wake, innit? Well, at least pre-grieving seems to have taken the load off Roman. Although, like his siblings, I’m not very convinced. Greg isn’t too different from Colin, who’s also wandering about like a lost puppy. Struggling not to be lost in the noise of the changing times, Greg’s efforts are genuine, and I feel for the big kid. Rejected by the grieving cousins but accepted by Marcia, who’s a bit of an outcast herself, Greg brown-noses the inheritor of the fortune, whose eyes are keenly placed on the money. Sure, we’ve taken the mickey out of Connor, but if there’s one guy who lives life on his own terms, it’s the oldest Roy kid. And he’s even found the perfect wife in Willa, who’s as quick with the disses she serves up as she is with her financial maneuvering. But Marcia is a businesswoman through and through. There’s no space for sentimentality in the $63 million she stands to gain from selling Logan’s house to Connor. And why wouldn’t she feel entitled to the fortune when she was in a close, intimate phone-calls relationship with her husband, however to the horror of his kids the information may be?
Let’s Check Out The China, Shall We?
Not that there was any doubt about the kids’ ulterior motive behind stalling the GoJo sale in the first place, but the fact that their dad dying has taken all the fun out of the game is proof enough that they were only doing it to mess with Logan. Now that the beloved rival is gone, the trio doesn’t want to be stuck cradling the skeleton of a company. But they’ve overestimated how big a breathing space they will receive from Matsson, who’s not taking his call going unanswered all that lightly. Clearly not to be fooled by the excuse of the tragedy, Matsson demands an immediate meeting with at least one of the kids if they want the sale to go through. The kids may have only been wondering about the CEO throne on the sly, but Frank and Co. don’t have time for subtlety. They have to put forward a name for the interim CEO position the second the board and the shareholders call a meeting.
With Hugo being a bit out of the loop, thanks to his daughter selling a bunch of shares before Logan’s death was public knowledge, Karolina is suddenly sticking up for Gerri. From almost getting the heave-ho to now standing a chance to win the throne again, Gerri waves the flag of her experience in the face of Karl, who’s understandably enthusiastic about trying out the wheel. What’s rather amusing is a fish taco-chomping Tom who’s lost in strange waters being humiliated for even mentioning the possibility of sitting in the CEO chair. But his nightmare has turned into reality: Tom has lost his protector. The kids have lost their father, who’s now whitewashed by the conservative media, and they’re grieving in their own peculiar ways. It’s primarily chucklesome roasting that Logan missed on one of his last few days that the kids deem an appropriate eulogy to their dad.
Roman, with his “the reviews are in” at the obituaries, and Ken, with his sad-clown hijinks, the wake is in keeping with every detail of how this monumentally screwed-up family functions. The losses are of love, and the gains of business, and none of it is in Kerry’s favor. Even more lost than Colin, if that’s possible, Kerry is the face of complete devastation. Is it love? Whatever it is, it’s certainly not just the misery of financial deprivation that makes the vicious woman kneel down and cry her eyes out. Rather ironic how it’s Roman, who has probably kept the most distance from his dad’s girlfriend so far, that ends up lending a hand and a shoulder to the poor, devastated woman.
A Note From Beyond The Grave
I mean, it’s a billionaire media mogul’s wake. Did you really think there wouldn’t be a cryptic last will and testament of sorts? Sure, no one has to walk on literal fire to earn their desired spot. But crossing the frightening political threshold is no easy feat. Frank has come across a makeshift list of wishes in Logan’s belongings, micromanaging not just the details of how he wants the funeral to go but also the declaration of the name of the new CEO. Now, however much Frank and Karl may wish to see the worrying piece of paper get flushed down the toilet, that is a risk no one is willing to take. Therefore, it’s time to call forth the contenders and make them privy to their dead father’s wishlist. Clearly messing with the poor guy even in his death, Logan’s letter declares Kendall as the new CEO of the company. Is this it? All that he has always fought tooth and nail for within an arm’s reach. Not so fast.
Turns out, the senile old dude had etched a few lines on the letter with a pencil, one of which either underlines Ken’s name for emphasis or crosses it out as a no-go. Of course, Shiv is of the argument that it’s the latter, and the devil’s advocates are leaning towards backing her claim. But whether it’s Ken who gets to rise to the occasion like Cinderella or not, a name has to be selected before the board convenes. There’s a lot Shiv and Roman have to come to terms with. It’s not just that the rug has been pulled out from underneath them; Roman is faced with the fact that dad was just yanking his chain with the ATN deal, and Shiv has to accept that Logan never saw her as a serious contender at all. Already having less sway with the board isn’t making it look too hopeful for Kendall. And having his siblings turn their backs on him is a sure way to order up a headstone for his lifelong dream.
Well, lo and behold, there’s the savior trio right when Ken needs a little bit of persuasive backing. Stewy, Sandi, and a wheelchair-bound smirky Sandy showing up at the time to strengthen their puppet’s claim to the throne may have just saved Ken’s agenda. It’s the utter disbelief on Ken’s face that gets to you. How could dad have made him the CEO when he never gave him a crumb of approval in his entire life? And is Frank reassuring Ken that his father loved him despite being a vile man in his way of buttering up the successor? Sometimes, it really does get hard to sniff out the rare sincerities (or the void of them, for that matter) in the emotionally convoluted world of ‘Succession.’ If there’s one concern communicated by Frank that does come off as genuine, it is the fact that he wants Ken to reconsider getting himself mixed up in the despicable business that has knocked the tar out of his time and again.
Ending Explained – Will Kendall Be The Man His Dad Would Approve Of?
It was all too foreseeable that a lot of emotions would be at play in the wake of Royco remodeling. What’s unexpected, especially coming from Shiv, is that she would hold herself accountable for her dad’s death. If they weren’t playing hardball with the GoJo sale, Logan wouldn’t have to be on the plane. But as Tom comforts her with the truth, which we agree with, it was just his time, and it could’ve happened anywhere else. Maybe it’s the prospect of being a mother that makes Shiv build castles in the air and get a hilarious fantasy of her father singing his grandkids to sleep. That wasn’t Logan. That would’ve never been Logan, even if he had dragged his existence on for another 50 years. Now that Logan’s halo has been lifted from above him, Tom is likely to be kicked out the second Shiv signs the divorce papers.
To save his marriage and, in turn, his own neck, he takes on the hopeless job of appealing to Shiv’s sentimentality. And when that inevitably fails, “lip balm Tom wom” attempts to cajole up Roman with his argument that it’s Roman who should be steering the ship. But Roman is smarter than biting off more than he can chew. He’s under no delusion that he can run the company alone. What he means to squeeze out of Ken is the guarantee that big bro wouldn’t be the only one to step up from COO. Ken certainly knows how to show his siblings that he isn’t playing around, as he lets out a growl to command attention and have a proper talk about how it’s going to go down. Shiv may agree that the company should be run by the family, but she certainly isn’t going to be stopped from throwing her hat in the ring. Two is explainable to the board, but as Ken and Rome strategically push out Shiv with the argument that someone as inexperienced as her will look flaky, the Roy family’s generational sexism once again gets to have a field day. There’s nothing Shiv can do to convince the power-hungry brothers otherwise. And however much she may try to believe in their promise that they’re not going to fling her out of business, Shiv knows that her future as a Roy successor isn’t looking too good.
Shiv stumbling and taking a rather embarrassing fall is a fine analogy to how far down she really has fallen in her life as a Roy kid, a person, a wife, and most importantly, as the person she hoped to be. With substantial backing from Stewy, a couple of manipulative knee-jerk responses from Roman, and most essentially, the piece of paper, Ken and Rome win by a landslide. As the board votes concede the coronation and Karolina and Hugo get busy chalking up their narrative, Waystar Royco’s future co-kings dress up in battle gear to face the world. For a guy who died trying to fish out his phone from the toilet, Logan has founded and molded a behemoth company whose future lies in the hands of his two fairly incompetent kids and their ability to see the GoJo sale through.
The light of hope does seem to flicker a bit as the two meet their strategists at their dad’s office, with the chair loudly empty of the man’s presence. Karolina and Hugo have come up with two battle schemes to establish Ken and Roy as valid successors to the throne. If they go with “Operation Embalm Lenin,” they get to follow in their dad’s footsteps with a family-friendly image of Logan and Co. out there for the shareholders. But should the need arise for a grittier, albeit fresh start, they have the option to vilify dad to the public and bring light to all the abuse he had carried on with. In light of their dad’s death, Roman and Ken feel it sensible to go with the first choice. And while that makes sense for Roman, who has repeatedly fallen for Logan’s manipulation and desperately wanted to believe that he was not the absolute worst, why would Ken miss a chance to humiliate Logan in public, especially when he can’t be hurt by his dad anymore?
As it turns out, Ken is, in fact, not opting for the high horse. Bargaining with his wildly topsy-turvy feelings about his dad as he zooms into the underlined part of the letter, Ken once again gives us a hopeful peek at the version of him that Logan wanted to squash and encourage at the same time. He does want to establish his competence by dragging Logan’s name through the mud. And like a true Roy kid, who Logan would have been insanely proud of, he blackmails Hugo into keeping it all hush-hush–”only soft, no print.” The smirk on his face does ignite in me the urge to draw a parallel to the cryptic smile on Logan’s face when Kendall waged war against him the first time. If only Logan could see the cutthroat businessman his son has become.