Friends and fellow Roy Family Downfall enthusiasts, we are back with another recap of Succession. The title of last night’s episode was “Lion in the Meadow,” and the theme of today’s recap is “sweating” because that hour of television had me STRESSED.
I began to sweat within the first minute of the episode, when Kendall talks about having manifested the FBI raid on his father’s company. Manifested it!!! He seems to have completely bounced back from last week’s control room breakdown and is back to being hip to Twitter language, I guess. In fact, I found his apparent emotional recovery almost jarring — while he does tell Shiv their relationship may never recover, I was surprised that there didn’t seem to be even a hint of sad, injured Kendall in the building.
The first curveball in Kendall’s life arrives when he receives a request from the executive team to join a conference call. Which he does, under the name “Little Lord Fuckleroy.” I will always appreciate this show for reminding us that you can be one of the richest, most powerful people in the world and still have the humor of a middle school boy the day after realizing he can curse without getting smote for it. The request is both simple and enormous: one of their largest investors is getting cold feet in advance of the shareholder meeting (due to, you know, his investment being raided by the feds). The team wants Kendall and Logan to go see him together and convince him everything is okay. Also known as lying. At first, Kendall is a hard pass, but Frank manages to convince him of the importance of this meeting to secure the company’s future.
Kendall’s not the only one with tough decisions to make. Greg has an invite from Logan to discuss his allegiances. After promising Kendall that he’ll continue to be his “sturdy birdy,” the Roys’ favorite cousin arrives in his great-uncle’s wood paneled den, and Nicholas Braun proceeds to give us his all-time greatest five minutes on Succession. Cousin Greg is so visibly nervous during this fairly straightforward (and, for Logan standards, friendly) conversation that I found myself sweating a second time. He orders a rum and coke, which is arguably one of the funnier things he could possibly ask for in this situation. It’s not just any rum and coke, though — it’s a metaphor. As Greg is being handed more power than he’s ever held in his life, he struggles to handle this hefty pour that’s “strong, for a man.” Logan has laid out a sweet deal: agree to Waystar Royco legal representation and get… whatever you want. This leaves Greg with an enormous choice, and an equally enormous glass of alcohol. “Shall I chug this?” he asks. He manages to hold his liquor but I’m not sure how he’ll do with his leverage. This amazing scene closes with another iconic Greg one-liner, about the 60s: “Better times? Not for all!” Who’s woke now, Kendall?
Shiv, meanwhile, is having difficult conversations with the men in her life. First up: Tom, who she finds ranking prisons. He’s particularly fond of the one upstate that has a kosher vending machine. Shiv wants Tom to have ATN be more critical of the President (as a reminder, Logan is trying to threaten the President of the United States into helping him). Not one to pass up an opportunity to undermine his wife, Tom becomes ethical in his work for once and refuses. But it’s Shiv, so that doesn’t last long. He is quickly off to push ATN, with a side quest to capture Greg’s loyalty.
Shiv’s second meeting is with Connor. He wants a piece of the pie, a.k.a. a real job at the family company. Shiv tells him they were thinking of letting him host a wine show on their food network, Gourmando. Connor refuses this dream job, because Connor is an idiot.
Back in enemy territory, Kendall is preparing for his trip with Logan to woo back their investor, Josh Aaronson (Adrien Brody). It is here that we learn an important fact: that Kendall has a giant rabbit who he lets FaceTime with his children. Somehow we’re supposed to just roll with this.
After the bunny shock wears off, we get to watch Logan and Kendall fight to be the pettiest person on the trip out to Josh’s private island, each one trying to make the other one go too early or too late, but always alone. Kendall arrives first in the end, and we discover that he and Josh are besties. Bros. Buds. Yet just as Kendall invites Josh to his birthday party (“I know everyone!”) Logan arrives and captures Josh’s full attention. I wondered: “Is Josh better at emotional manipulation than the Roys?” My answer came almost immediately, when he left the father and son alone to stand in both matching hats and deeply uncomfortable silence: yes.
Back at the office, things have gotten predictably unpredictable. Roman is engaging in straight chaos: he has tracked down a formerly homeless man whom he, Kendall, and some friends coerced into getting Kendall’s initials tattooed on his forehead during an “ironic” trip to New Orleans. In a scene reminiscent of the infamous baseball game from the first season, Roman and Hugo examine the man and complain that the tattoo (a mark that has caused him considerable strife) is too faded for their blackmail use. If you needed your weekly reminder that these people are despicable, there you have it!
Also chaotic? Mr. Tom Wambsgans. He pays Greg a little visit that soon turns into a full meltdown. Tom asks his executive assistant if he knows the story of Nero and Sporus — it’s not IP Greg is familiar with — and proceeds to tell him the story of the emperor who killed his wife in order to castrate and marry his slave. Then, in a line reading that has rightfully been compared around the Internet to Matthew MacFadyen’s compelling performance as Darcy in Pride & Prejudice, Tom says:
“I’d castrate you and marry you in a heartbeat.”
The deeply intimate moment soon ended when Tom tried to force Greg to wrestle him, but my sweating continued. Tom’s heart to heart with Shiv soon after feels positively sterile in comparison, his talk of their post-work ice cold white wine ritual merely a lukewarm statement of fact. It is only Tom and Greg now, and a proposal that will truly, profoundly haunt me forever.
We are back at Josh’s estate. He insists that the three men take a walk through the brush and sand together, despite Logan’s initial protestations (petition to stop making Logan relatable!). After making his guests work for their lunch, Josh gathers them around a table full of frankly, unappetizing seafood, where he shares his concerns about the leadership of the company. Logan tries to show the necessary faith in Kendall that Josh requires. And after some pushback from Josh, he finally drops a bomb: “He’s a good kid. And I love him… And, maybe, it’ll be him one day. It’s in his blood. He learned it all from me. And maybe… maybe he’s the best one of all of them.” It’s an absolutely shocking thing to hear come out of his mouth. Josh, the master manipulator, leaves the two alone once again to stew on this (a hilariously well-timed silence, followed by a “what?” from Logan).
Finally, they start making their way back to the house. Josh promises that they are taking a shortcut, which seems fake. Logan and Kendall take the opportunity to viciously argue. Soon, Josh admits that “this is the quick way, but sometimes it takes longer.” Which is unfortunate, because Logan is… unwell! He refuses to ask for the cart to be driven to fetch him out of pride, and in the middle of trading insults with his son, suddenly can’t breathe. After what feels like the longest walk in the history of walks (you guessed it, I was sweating!) Logan finally admits that needs to sit down, and Josh calls a doctor. The Roy patriarch is ultimately fine, but Roman informs Kendall that the show of weakness was enough to scare off Josh.
Or so he thought! As Kendall looks out the window of his plane, he sees Josh and Stewy, his two best friends, give each other a giant hug. It seems as though Josh’s only motive was to torment the Roys on his way out the door and into Stewy’s arms.
So… we obviously had a lot of losers this week, but let’s start with the few bright spots.
Greg: playing fast and loose with his loyalties seems to be working for him, as he is in the position to pick himself a cushy job in Buffalo that lets him have weekends back in Manhattan. But will he get complacent or will he still try to take down capitalism from the inside? (My money’s on the former.)
Gerri: Gerri has a date that’s making Roman all kinds of jealous, but she remains in charge. Set those boundaries, girl!
Stewy: always one step ahead of the Roys, and always hot (even from a distance).
Karl: the man finally got to eat something!
Roman: this is a tenuous win, since he was really disgusting in this episode. But everything is relative, and relatively speaking he makes the slightly less evil choice (on Gerri’s advice) not to use the tattoo photos as blackmail. Plus, his delivery of “good day” to Kendall at the episode’s end was an all-time great line reading.
Logan: loses an investor, almost dies(?), has to say nice things about his son. A rough day all around.
Kendall: nothing worse than seeing your two best friends become best friends behind your back. Also nothing worse than hearing your father say everything you’ve ever wanted to hear while you know it’s all fake.
Shiv: how is she so bad at her job? She tries to put pressure on Ravenhead and can only get results when her dad steps in. She pisses off Karl to the point that he tattles. She can’t even hold her own against Connor. “We don’t get embarrassed,” she says. Well, I think you should be.
Tom: possibly has his lowest moment of the series when he must ask the question, “What if I forget to burp the toilet wine?”
Iverson & Sophie: pro, they have a giant bunny / con, they can only have it over FaceTime.
“I Can Fix Them” of the Week
Isn’t it obvious?
Yes, fellow fans of King Kong (2005), that one’s for you. For us.
Josh has so much going for him (a lot of money) and yet needs so much help (spending the money in normal ways). He’s also played by Adrien Brody and if that doesn’t interest you, you’re lying. I’d easily get him to ditch the New Balance sneakers and too many layers, divest from evil media companies, and stop tormenting his guests with emotionally manipulative hikes for his own enjoyment.
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