Ladies and gentlemen, we have gathered here today at the Marriott Marquis in Times Square to witness the long-awaited, perhaps even dreaded, shareholder meeting of Waystar Royco. A feat that has been episodes in the making. I will attempt a similarly daring feat today: recapping an hour of television about a business maneuver I knew before the opening credits even rolled that I wouldn’t understand even a little bit. Could I look up what a proxy battle is? Easily. Do I want to know what a proxy battle is? Not in the slightest. But stay with me — after all, Succession isn’t really about the boardroom logistics, is it?
We find Kendall at “HQ of the #Resistance” where he is amped up, as usual. He spends most of the episode calling himself the Puppet Master and accidentally ordering the execution of his kids’ pet bunny. But for once, Kendall isn’t the main attraction (not yet, anyway).
Our focus this episode, rather, is Team Waystar Royco and their attempts to avoid a shareholder vote — which, if allowed to happen, would almost certainly hand the company over to Sandy and Stewy. Initially, their way out is essentially a filibuster, taking so long with their speeches that Stewy doesn’t have enough time to win over the shareholders with his. Now, Kendall isn’t completely exaggerating on his Puppet Master title. He and Stewy finally have a secret meeting in this episode, during which Kendall uses all the sway he has left to convince his former friend that the only way to succeed is to avoid the vote by settling. (Side note: Stewy is, and I cannot stress this enough, wearing a turtleneck at this meeting). And so, with this invisible push from Kendall, the Waystar Royco executive suite has only to land on a settlement to save the company. And we are… rooting for them? If only because we need them in charge to keep having a show, I guess. Very Funny Games of you, Jesse Armstrong!
So, bewildered by the new desire to meet, Logan sends Gerri, Karl, Shiv, and Roman to talk to their enemies. In a hotel room, they encounter Stewy, Sandy, and Sandy’s daughter Sandi — a naming choice I have neither the time nor degree in psychology to unpack. Sandi has come to help speak for her father, who is unable to do so due to illness. The deal they’re offering is mostly straightforward and I frankly do not understand it because I do not have an MBA. But the Roys are okay with it. That is, until their last provision: no Roy family member can ever be CEO again. Gerri and Karl see no problem; Shiv and Roman are obviously less enthused. Logan is the final word, and his word is no, which Sandy and Sandi are willing to work with.
Now, every good tale has its side quests: in this episode, they belong to Greg and Connor. Kendall takes time out from his new marionette gig to inform his cousin that he might need to turn him over to the DOJ, even though he doesn’t want to. Except it’s pretty clear that he actually does want to, and that this is revenge for Greg betraying him. Watch out Ken — we saw what Greg did over not being given an expensive watch! Never one to learn from any past experience, Greg tries to get back in his grandfather’s (and grandfather’s lawyer’s) good graces, but all he hears back is that his inheritance is officially being donated entirely to Greenpeace. Greg’s hurtin’ this episode!
Connor, on the other hand, continues to be the king of timing and decides to ask his father for a job in their European cable division. Listen… he may be annoying, but the man has taste! In the most Connor fashion possible, he takes Logan’s dismissive nod as a yes, which he actually seems to eventually turn into a reality. Nothing like the ability of a rich, white man to manifest his own upwards failure, I guess.
Just when things seem to be looking up for Logan, a call comes in: no more deal. That is, unless the family agrees to get rid of their private jets. I know Sandy is supposedly calling the shots here, but I’m sorry — this has Stewy written all over it. It’s petty and I love it and I love him for it. The Roy family is predictably stressed out of their minds over not being able to contribute to pollution in their jets (their “PJs” as they so affectionately call them). As Roman says, “First they came for the PJs and I said nothing.” Yes, he actually says this.
So, what to do? First move is telling Karl to go “vamp” to stall the crowd. Cue Wendy Williams’ rendition of “Native New Yorker” playing on repeat in my head for the entire rest of the episode. (For the record, Karl does NOT vamp, but rather makes Frank continue vamping.) Logan finally comes to his decision on the deal: an unsurprising “fuck ’em.” Then off to pee for about the 100th time.
Tom is Logan’s preferred bathroom attendant, for some reason. When he hears his father-in-law groaning in his stall he rushes in to help, asking, “You don’t need me to hold the scepter, do you?” The scepter, Tom??? I die a little inside. Then Logan calls Tom “son.” Son??? Tom dies a little inside but in a different way, and the rest of us realize that something is deeply wrong with Logan. Shiv calls Logan’s assistant, who informs her that Logan has secretly been going about his day with a urinary tract infection that is causing his brain to stop functioning, essentially sliding him into dementia-like symptoms.
Chaos erupts. Was Logan in his right mind when he said no to the jet deal? Does he have medicine he can take? Who will remove the imaginary cat from under his chair? (That last one has an answer: Colin, and he does so with full commitment to the scene). Adding to the chaos is the arrival of Kendall, who comes to berate the team for fumbling the deal and turns irate when he sees his father’s state. This dissolves into one of the angriest yelling matches the Roy siblings have ever had. Usually there’s a hint of fun in their arguments — they kind of love taking digs at each other. But this time it’s raw when Shiv and Roman tell Kendall to leave. It seems like things have finally gotten too real.
Eventually a doctor arrives, but everyone still has no clue what Logan really wants to do about the deal. So Shiv takes matters into her own hands. She meets with Sandi and attempts to make a girlboss alliance by pointing out how Sandi’s dad doesn’t appreciate her. Ironic, coming from Shiv! But it works — Sandi gets her father to agree to a deal where each side gets an extra board seat (presumably for Shiv and Sandi).
Meanwhile, the President of the United States calls for Logan, and everyone agrees that Roman is the best person to speak with him. The gist of it is this: ATN’s coverage of his mental decline has caused the President to decide not to run for reelection, in order to spare his family the trauma. That’s right, the battle between these two power-hungry yet practically incapacitated old men, Logan and Sandy, has literally changed the course of U.S. history. And Roman Roy is the first to hear the news. What I hate the most is that this is probably not a far-fetched scenario.
Finally, Karl gets to announce the good news about the settlement to the shareholders — yes, Karl gets rewarded for having vamped not one second! It’s not all fun and games for him though, because who emerges but Kendall. After creepily lurking up behind Karl on stage, he overtakes him at the microphone and proceeds to lead a moment of silence for the victims of the cruise assaults, then announces that he is creating a foundation to support women. These should be noble acts, but coming from him at this particular moment in time, it reads as manipulative and icky. Eventually someone cuts off his mic, and the shareholders depart, seemingly content not to have to vote.
With the family in disarray despite the narrow escape from takeover, Logan asks Kendall to meet — only to stand him up and block his number. The war wages on.
So, who were our winners and losers in what might have been one of Succession’s best ever episodes?
Sandy, Stewy, & Sandi: while they didn’t fully take over Waystar Royco, even I can see that they ended up on top in the deal. They also made the entire Roy family sweat, which was really their top priority all along. Oh, to have so much money that you can spend $50 million to make your nemesis nervous.
Roman: the youngest Roy son continues his upwards trajectory in his professional development. Not only was he selected as the best person to talk to the President, but Gerri calls him a “visionary” in front of all the shareholders. I really don’t want to find any of this cute but his smile upon hearing this… it was adorable. I’ll have to make peace with that.
Ewan: teaching people lessons left and right! Greg’s “gramps,” despite being insufferable at times, is the only one with any sense of a moral backbone. Cutting Greg out of his will and donating his entire fortune to Greenpeace is not only good for the world, but shows that he actually does care enough about his grandson to show him that his actions have consequences — something the Roy kids desperately need to learn.
Shiv: I went back and forth on this one, but I’m naming her a winner because she really did singlehandedly save the company from a doomed vote. Logan will definitely make her life miserable for it, but he’ll be wrong!
Alan Ruck: Connor the character can never win, but Alan Ruck’s delivery of “Oh, I would LOVE to say no to the President” will stay with me for the rest of my life. Emmy for that alone.
Logan’s UTI: a UTI nearly sending the entire company up in flames? It’s a level of genius absurdity that only Succession could pull off.
Greg: his playing both sides has finally caught up to him, and he ends the episode planning to sue Greenpeace to get his inheritance back. I’d say that’s a clear L.
Tom: so close to happiness, yet so far. First, he finally hears Logan call him “son,” only for it literally to be a symptom of mental decline. Then, he reveals to Shiv that he’s been tracking her period in his iCal and planning sex around it because he’s so desperate to have something concrete tying them together while he’s in prison. That’s not what babies are for, Tom, PLEASE.
Kendall: I want to root for him and on paper the things he’s publicly fighting for and against are noble, but he could not be going about it in a worse way. I simply can’t take his victim advocacy seriously and his whole stunt this episode just read as toxic. Plus, getting blocked by his dad is probably one of the worst things that could ever happen to him.
Jess: listen… if there’s one thing Juliana Canfield is going to do every episode it’s ACT. I feel her exasperation on a deeper level each week. How much more of this can the poor woman take?
The shareholders: they had to sit through all of that.
Kendall’s bunny: ate a bagel, is probably dead. RIP.
“I Can Fix Them” of the Week
The man. The myth. The vamping legend. The only one smart enough to work with Kendall, not against him. Yes, this week’s fixable character is none other than the real MVP of the shareholder meeting: Frank.
In weeks past, fixable characters have made poor choices, but due to a subtle sadness or overt hotness I was willing to help them make different ones. This week, however, we’re taking a new lens on fixing – because Frank is, in fact, doing GREAT. He gives a marathon performance at the meeting, going terrifyingly into the unscripted unknown with ease until expertly giving Gerri no choice but to relieve him. He puts his all into it, and what does he get? The nickname of “Sweaty Spaghetti”? I won’t stand for it.
So the only thing I’m fixing is the where, not the what. If I were there, Frank would get the applause he deserves and the push he needs to take his knowledge of Shakespeare and theatrical talents elsewhere. Preferably someplace where his skill is not actively making the world a worse place, for his sake and ours.
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