December 1, 2023

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Succession “Kill List”

Season Four, Episode Five

Did anyone expect the Roy siblings to do well once their father was out of the way?  Because they weren’t built that way.

So, here’s an assumption that Gerry sort of makes:  having survived Logan Roy, the various executives of Waystar plus the Roy kids should be able to handle Lukas Matsson and his own executives at GoJo.  Matsson wants all of those people to come to his company’s corporate retreat to finalize the Waystar sale, and while Kendall and Roman (plus Shiv) go into this whole thing with a whole lot of confidence…well, they were never able to handle Logan.  He was always one or two steps ahead of them, and his final words to most of his children, that they weren’t “serious people,” seems to have an echo with Lukas as he refers to Kendall and Roman’s various ideas and offers as “Scooby Doo plans”.

Matsson is a very different man from Logan Roy, but in the end, he’s not that different.  This is probably another example of how Succession shows the ultra-rich to be awful, manipulative people, all with their own unique spin on being awful and unique, and yes, that includes Nan Pierce.  People like Kendall, Roman, and Shiv, well, they may also be ultra-rich and nothing that happens over the course of the remaining episodes is likely to change that, but that doesn’t mean that they are the killers their father said they’d need to be in order to really succeed in his world.

Two thoughts on that:  if they aren’t that sort of killer, it’s because Logan never really raised them that way, and furthermore, as much as the viewer might have wanted them to prove the old man wrong, it sure as hell looks like that really isn’t the case.  The Roy kids are probably failing upwards at this rate, and once again, it looks like a different Roy is coming out on top this episode, and this time it’s Shiv.  Kendall is out of his depths.  Roman loses it since, you know, Matsson summoned them mere days after their father’s death while Connor is back home working out funeral details, and even though the episode ends with Matsson making a far bigger offer for the company than the Roy boys had proposed, it was done his way and not theirs.

Apparently, as he confessed to the one Roy he seems to respect (Shiv), it’s less about the money and more about winning.  Kendall and Roman got a huge offer that the board is sure to take up.  But it had little if anything to do with their own skills as negotiators, so Matsson wins and gets a photo from Shiv showing her brothers’ downcast faces.

Oddly enough, Tom is also a winner as the “kill list” of who will be getting fired after the merger shows he’s the only man in the group not getting canned.  Why?  Who knows?

But it says a lot about the game that the two oldest men on the board, Karl and Frank, seem rather fine with their upcoming forced retirement.  These are two guys who, quite frankly, don’t want to do this anymore.  Heck, Karl was pining about retirement not that long ago, and Frank is the most normal guy on the show, the father figure Kendall never really had who shows the young man something like love and sound advice that Logan never gave him.

That may be the way out for the Roys.  Forget the business world.  Take the money and do, well, anything or nothing.  It seems to have worked out for Connor.  He’s living a much less stressful life doing nothing of consequence.  He may not be happy, but he’s happier than his half-siblings at any given moment.  Wouldn’t Kendall prefer to just spend time with his kids, find a loving partner, and forget all about Waystar?  Probably.  He’s not cut out for the top job.  His father was right.

Shiv and Roman probably aren’t too far behind there either, especially with Shiv’s (still unannounced) pregnancy, and she and Tom are almost getting cozy again.  Why stick with something that makes them miserable?

Then again, that’s probably the theme to this entire series.