If Michael Scott were here, he would’ve said, “Well, well, well, how the turntables…” to Rome and Ken as they spilled their Logan-ness all over the place trying to wear the big stinky shoes. But I’m infinitely less confident than Mike, so let me just say that I agree with him on this and move on. The latest episode of Succession may distract you with the playpen it has put together for the new, supremely unstable co-CEOs of Waystar Royco, but have you seen just how much brighter Shiv has been glowing? I mean, I’m sure you and I both thought that Sarah Snook couldn’t get any prettier because, well, that’s the queen of my heart right there. And yet, Shiv is glimmering on the battlefield as she fights her demons on the down-low and grows gills to survive underwater just in case her brothers make an embarrassing mess of their dad’s legacy. Can I get a “We’re here for you, queen”?
So, Deal Or No Deal?
Fasten your seatbelts, for you’re about to go on a rollercoaster of Succession-specific amusing atrocities that will make you pause and say “oh no” more times than you can count. There’s Logan Roy, for crying out loud, not quite back from the dead, in case you were wondering, and in complete bully form. Investor Day is closing in, and so is the launch of the embarrassingly named Living+, as the two letdown Roy kings brush the crumbs of faithlessness off their thrones and get ready to take on the mantle. How are they doing so far? Well, um, you have Kendall Roy on a truckload of coke already making mountains out of the molehills that their numbers really are. Projecting the muffled shrieks of his insecurities inside while committing borderline fraud by making Royco’s new real estate venture, Living+, sound way more lucrative than it is. Fake it till you make it, right? Well, the problem with Kendall’s complete lack of self-awareness is that there’s no way for me to tell if he’s actually faking his confidence when he’s proven time and again just how far-fetched and ludicrous his dreams can be. And Roman is almost just sort of traipsing around his brother, dropping ideas to pull a fast one on Matsson’s deal. Well, they can’t really spill their guts about what really went down on the Norwegian mountain now, can they? What they do manage to get out through mumbling and fumbling makes no mark on the decisions of the elderly. As of now, it’s Swede:1, CE-bros:0.
What’s Going On With Shiv?
Existing almost in the background for the bulk of the episode while having the spotlight on her, this week’s Succession is all Shiv. From dilly-dallying with a barefoot Lukas who’s fighting with every fiber of his being to keep it strictly business, to calling her brothers out for keeping her in the dark about their urge to tank the deal, Shiv’s on top of everything. Infinitely smarter than Dumb and Dumber, Shiv is playing all the ends and keeping multiple options open because why shouldn’t she? If there’s one thing Snook, Strong, and Culkin have in common, it’s the fleeting glimpses of pathos that you would miss if you blinked. Grief works differently for billionaire nepotism babies than it does for us. With scheduled tears and well-orchestrated correspondence with all the parties, Shiv has made quite a comfortable bed for herself to lie in. It isn’t necessarily a tactic when she debates Matsson’s bitterness about Living+. She’s just back from a hug, one of the sweetest things these snake-like siblings do with sincerity, and there are morals and love left in the Roy queen still. There’s nefarious beauty in the transitional dynamic between Tom and Shiv, defying the rulebook of love and proving how it can exist in the absence of goodness and how it can thrive in the presence of wickedness. Just the fact that they can come together and share a laugh over admittedly money-minded Tom’s backstabbing and vicious Shiv’s contemptuous bullying is proof that Jake Peralta was right. “Stuff can be two things”.
Something About Apples And Trees
You know there’s no stopping Ken’s choo-choo train when he gets hopped up on the rush of getting a shot to make a name for himself. The more Ken’s coked-up hijinks escalate, the more his “of the people” mask slips off. There’s more of Logan in him than we could’ve probably ever known had he not come to power. Hearing him proclaim with a smirk that he would not take no for an answer from the designing team who’s just been handed the impossible project of Hollywood-ing up the stage at a day’s notice is the first time we see Ken for the tyrant he really is. It is only furthered when he demands that his subordinates thank him for the “cool new rule”. God, I hate Ken! And at the same time, it’s hard not to succumb to the heartache I feel when I see his face change from excitement to the look of absolute gloom when he’s told that nobody really believes that he can pull off the presentation. Of course, it’s Roman delivering the news and ditching his co-host position. And of course, he’s had quite the Roman’s day out. Not knowing how to channel all the manic energy he’s feeling on his first day of making a mark, Roman royally screws up the supposed casual lunch with studio executive Joy and whimsically gives her the boot for not being a total bootlicker. And after firing a significant employee for merely stating that ATN’s obvious right-leaning agenda is detrimental to its creative relationships, Tyrannovermis Rex fires Gerri for having the guts to oppose him and saying to his face that he isn’t as good as his dad. If it couldn’t be more hilarious and hopeless to see the co-CEOs royally botch up their first day, Ken getting a rush out of Rome’s autocracy is just the cherry on top of the lump of muck.
Does Kendall Pull Off The Presentation?
Does “L to the OG” haunt you in your nightmares of cringe? Because if you ask me, it is what dreams are made of (judge me all you want) and a staple on my playlist. And you bet I jumped out of my seat for a chance to see Ken’s peculiarity glistening up on another stage. Albeit, I was cautious. After all, however “fantastic” Ken’s birthday was, we don’t want a repeat of that. So, I clutched my heart when the CFO threatened the co-CEO with complete annihilation if he went up and threw ridiculous numbers at the audience. And boy was I not ready for what I was about to witness when Ken got on stage! It’s a glorious train wreck, adorned with a conversational necromantic deepfake of Logan Roy, and I can’t look away. Rome and Shiv fighting for life to not die of cringe is a direct and almost commemorative callback to Ken’s rap for the benefit of Logan. Promising the preposterous extension of life complete with the best entertainment ready at the deathbeds, Ken’s every word is surprisingly convincing to the audience, who stand to lose nothing from cheering him on.
Memes flood in almost simultaneously with the applause that Ken’s receiving for getting up there and killing it. We’re shocked and amused, and Ken’s got us wrapped around his manipulative finger again. You didn’t think that the Viking would actually take Shiv’s advice and lay low, did you? Not when the Swede’s got a knack for throwing more dirt over his already filthy name with striking tweets. And a tweet it is for the new king on the throne, reading an unbelievably offensive “Doterick macht frei”. For those of you who don’t quite remember, Doterick is the name of the dog mascot that frequents the Royco theme parks. And Lukas evidently took a little inspiration from the infamous writings on the entrances of the Nazi concentration camps at Auschwitz during the Holocaust, which originally read “arbeit macht frei” which when translated means “work sets you free”. It’s excruciatingly tense to wonder how Ken would react to the tweet when Raj from the audience brings it to his attention. And again, extremely surprisingly, Ken steadily rows the boat on the tumultuous waters and says things that can neither be regarded as a direct humiliation of the future buyer of his company nor a pathetic apologia on Ken’s part.
At the same time, Ken finds it best to include how Lukas would be lucky to acquire a company that is about to start a brand new, superbly lucrative real estate venture. It’s all applause for Ken, acknowledged even by the dismissive CFO as the worthy king of Waystar Royco. Sure, Rome also gets called a “king”, but feeling like an afterthought makes him walk out of there jealous and burning with rage. The three Roy siblings’ grief is the background to all that they’ve been doing to stand upright and not be stampeded. Ken’s mentioned that he’s got a great “grief guy”. And I don’t know if it was a professional suggestion that Ken took and transformed the Living+ launch into an outlet for his mazelike feelings towards Logan. But if you picked up on the look on his face as he said that he would have jumped at the chance of getting another 100 years with his dad—to say all that’s been left unsaid—you know there’s an ocean of dread, pain, and scars Ken hides behind those empty eyes of his.
And it’s an ocean that Ken walks into in the ending sequence. When something as immense as the waves of a sea can’t stop him from staying afloat, you know that Ken has come a long way from being the battered little guy who was high and drowned in a shallow pool. If that isn’t closure, I don’t know what is. Unfortunately, the same is not the case with Roman, who has a deep fake of his dad bullying him going on repeat, close to his ears. Love languages are strange. And for Rome, the only times he ever even felt that his dad saw him were when he was abused and shattered into pieces. And Shiv? Well, we’re only scratching the surface of this one.