There’s been a considerable upsurge of Shiv-heads within the “Succession” fandom ever since we saw the Roy princess being enfeebled by the testosterone-y majority of the Royco empire. If you must pull for someone in an ocean of people with hardly any redeemable qualities, let alone a moral upper hand, it might as well be the only one with a slight voice of reason that isn’t maneuvered by an underlying emotional distress that needs checking out by a therapist. It does tell you a lot about what sort of people are bold enough to get neck-deep into the pandemonium that is the world of “Succession,” especially when they band together to upheave the one Roy kid who has the least chance at pulling the rug from under the Ken-Rome power-duo. The larger chunk of us is made up of underdogs awaiting a shot to prove ourselves, and tonight, it’s time for our heroine to win one.
Let’s Bleed The Swede
Oh, Ken! Did you really have to try that hard? And just like he isn’t fooling any of us with his powerwalk, Ken’s grand welcome into the Royco palace in mourning hears some passive-aggressive applause by people who aren’t putting any eggs in his basket. The big Roy is gone, and the little Roys can’t catch enough of a break from their witty banter to actually think up a sustainable game plan. The bad version of “CE-bros” is certainly not what Ken wants to pick for his ascension to the throne portrait with Roman. The stakes are high, and the tension is higher between the Roy successors and the “boiled eggs,” who have been cleaning up after the Roy bloodline’s devastating shenanigans.
When has being unwanted kept Shiv from sticking her nose where it needed to be? Being uninvited doesn’t mean that Shiv won’t show up to make her CEO brothers make good on their promise. With the entirety of the board and the shareholders counting on the deal with the Swede to go through, it’s time for Ken and Rome to show what they’re made of and just maybe outdo what their dad would’ve done had he been alive to see the GoJo sale through. Although the supreme egoist Ken is tasting the bitter end of the acquisition now that Lukas’ power move demands that the entirety of the board, along with the Roys, fly to Norway to ascertain that the sale doesn’t fall through the cracks of their strained relationship. Fly they must, only now with the war cry of “Let’s bleed the Swede!”
Overachieving Zoomers Vs. Indomitable Boomers
Greg’s enthusiasm about getting himself a few Scandinavian women may be understandable for the guy he is. But it’s Hugo who’s worried about getting a seat at the musical electric chairs the Swedes have planned for the board. With their deputy in communications being a strikingly fit Olympic skier, there’s no chance in hell that someone like Hugo impresses Mattson enough to stay on. Leading the band is the mightily self-assured Gerri, who sees right through the soft Europeans and their benefits-enjoying existence and acknowledges that being raised by wolves and being subjected to the pathogen that was Logan Roy certainly gives the Royco team the upper hand.
Complete with Hugo’s “we’re snakes on a plane” cheer; the Royco fossils have geared up to face the Scandinavian master race that Mattson’s board is made up of. The news about Logan’s dirty little businesses and how his sons have taken the wheel for quite some time that Ken has sneakily put out hasn’t evaded Shiv’s watchful eyes. Especially suspicious of her two brothers’ suspiciously cool reaction to the news, Shiv finds it best to keep gnawing at it until something substantial comes out. Underestimating her long game, Ken and Rome attempt to distract Shiv by offering to slice Tom’s throat for her benefit. But Shiv isn’t going to be swayed that easily. Certainly not when she’s taken it upon herself to make her brothers pay for leaving her high and dry.
Too Much On The Table
Prepared to intimidate the Royco crowd right as they land in his territory, Lukas has orchestrated quite an overwhelming welcome for the Roy kids he can’t stand. In the middle of coming to a conclusion about squeezing Mattson for $146 billion, Ken and Rome are interrupted by a call from a panicky Connor, who’s apparently fighting tooth and nail to stop Marcia from putting their dad in a kilt. They may not be taking Logan on a beach trip, but Connor is set on sending them pictures of their dad’s corpse on their trip to Butcherland. Stepping right into the trap set in the ruse of a friendly brunch does nothing to stop the Royco officials from overtaking the ambitious youngsters and showing them who’s boss. Sadly, that isn’t the picture in the room where Mattson is meeting with Ken and Rome to talk out the deal. How do you play hardball with someone who’s set on yanking your chain with a humiliating gag about just how worthless your product is? Almost on the brink of letting their emotions get the better of them, Ken and Rome hold on to their argument for dear life and stand their ground in the face of a buyer who’s set on paying however much he deems is a fitting price for the company, whose share value had dropped by 20% on Friday.
Establishing the positive impact of the new faces with the mention that it rose back up by 10% the following Monday, Ken’s determined to strike the home run by getting a better deal than his dad would have. But it’s Mattson. There’s always a catch with the guy, and more often than not, he’s a kid who would want the exact thing you hold back from him. And the trouble is, he’s a kid with enough money to patch up the sinking ship that is the Royco dynasty. He wants ATN, and he’s prepared to pay up a whopping $187 billion if it means that he gets to acquire every loose end of Waystar Royco. It isn’t going against his dad’s wishes that bothers Ken about the new offer. It is being outmaneuvered by Mattson’s smug face that really gets his goat. With the oldies all chuckling and smiling about the massive offer, the only one Ken and Rome are left to take the opinion of is Shiv. But Shiv has troubling news of her own to deliver. Apparently, the world is about to get a whiff of the allegation that ATN’s editorials are in cahoots with Jeryd Mencken’s campaign group. It’s not a good time to be associated with ATN, surely. But Shiv’s standoffish “do whatever you feel is best” demeanor does throw off Ken and Rome, who are in the murky waters of deciding the very fate of their dad’s legacy and their own respective futures.
It’s Hard To Miss The Shot To Be The Boss
Tom making a spectacle of himself trying to stay off the kill list of the Swedes is something we’ve all seen coming. I sometimes do find myself wondering if it’s Greg’s bed-bug-ish determination that keeps his agenda running fruitfully or if it may just be his sheer luck. I mean, the way he comes out with more validation than Lukas ever meant to give him when he offered himself up as the pawn to save Tom from the embarrassment does indicate that luck is something Gregory Hirsch definitely has going in his favor. Devoid of the same cutthroat sense of humor as Logan’s, triggered Ken throws his hat in and sits down to get the deal over with. Clearly overestimating how lucrative and sustainable ATN is in a market that is progressively getting younger and more intolerant of little old angry men with big veins on their foreheads, Ken is sternly dismissive of Mattson’s notion that he can revamp ATN and make it slicker.
What seals the deal (quite an ironic phrase to use here) for Ken is Lukas’ vituperation of the bad name the brand, which contains good parts, has earned. We know how self-destructive Ken is when his ego is hurt. Combine it with Roman’s drive to prove that he is not the loser that everyone thinks him to be, and you’ve got a couple of dinguses who believe that not only can they yank the company out of sure failure by themselves but also that they can run it better than their dad did. But what would Dad do? Would he go through with the deal, which would make him infinitely richer but steal his legacy? Or would he turn his back on the smug Swede? If there’s one thing Ken’s spot-on about, it’s that Logan would’ve done exactly what he wanted. What he’s dead wrong about is that Logan would’ve stood steadfast in the burning boat to prove that he could do the undoable.
Did Shiv Just Outsmart Her Brothers?
Game recognizes game. It takes Matsson but a second to turn his eyes to Shiv, the scorned Roy princess ready to screw over the family as a not-so-subtle payback. At first, it does seem like the vicious Swede is merely trying to sniff out which way the deal is going to go, but when he meets Shiv in private and, after a rather bold admission of his lack of boundaries, tests out her conniving depths, we know there’s a lot more cooking in there than meets the eye. At least you can’t hold his lack of courtesy against the man when you see him asking where Shiv and Tom’s marriage stands in current circumstances. Shiv isn’t too wary of making him privy to the mutual heartbreak they’ve cost each other if only to get through to him so he feels comfortable opening up to her. When he does open up the unbelievably giant can of worms, which unsurprisingly finds the billionaire code-bro as a sociopathic stalker who has been harassing his ex by sending her liters of his blood, Shiv finds the perfect conflict to put her politically crafty mind to.
Lukas would definitely be dragged through the mud if the acquisition goes through and the US media catches a faint smell of how he’s been conducting himself in terms of his breakup with Ebba, who happens to be his head of communications. Impressing him with her non-judgmental informal pointers about how to get out of the mess, Shiv takes an all-in dip into the pool of opportunities that the GoJo sale is about to build. Ken and Roman’s ideas about throwing Mattson off the scent and making him back out of the deal without them taking the fall for it are, frankly, embarrassingly amateurish. They’ve clearly not scoped out the brutal extent Mattson is capable of going before they use Greg to badmouth the Scandinavian vibe to the press and screen their behemoth big-budget film that is clearly a trainwreck. Lukas isn’t about to play around. Certainly not when they’re in his territory and at his mercy. He knows exactly which switches to push to get a reaction out of the brother, whose emotional instability is their biggest weakness. First, he gets a rise out of Roman by cussing out Logan, and then he practically eviscerates the two by saying that their dad would have been ashamed of their sense of business. It doesn’t help that on his way here, Roman received a disturbing picture, probably from the embalming room, from his clueless big brother.
Peeved Roman carves out his headstone when he fails to contain his emotional outburst and throws a challenge in Lukas’ face. Like I’ve said before, everything crucial in ‘Succession’ takes place over the phone. On their way back, Frank receives a call from Mattson offering an amount the board wouldn’t be able to say no to. Outscheming the schemebros with $192 billion on the table, Lukas doesn’t just take over the entire Waystar Royco universe but crushes Ken and Roman’s dreams of ever proving to the world and to themselves that the boat would’ve sailed smoothly with them in charge. Shiv isn’t about to let go of the one man who’ll be the faithful puppy by her side when Lukas takes over ATN and hands her the position of the Roy liaison.
With her plan to push Cyd out for getting too close to the presidential candidate, Tom once again gets to float up to the surface and take a life-saving breath as the head of ATN. Unfortunately for most of them, every one of the oldies other than Gerri, Karolina, and Tom has fallen prey to the kill list. It’s not that what we’ve seen of Shiv’s impressively Machiavelian scheming hasn’t been enough for us to be convinced that she’s been in cahoots with Lukas under her brothers’ noses, but when we see Lukas calling her to get a picture of those two’s faces, we can certainly presume that a lot has been going on away from the audience’s eyes as well. It’s time for Shiv to take her brothers out for a spin, and we can’t wait to see what they come up with to manipulate their way out of this fatal circumstance.