Choosing a presidential candidate means that the Roy family battle lines will be drawn and re-drawn in a razor-sharp episode.
The Roys (primarily Shiv) may have saved Waystar last week, but on Succession episode six, it’s a battle to save the country. The family gathers alongside pundits and donors at a secretive conference to unofficially pick a new GOP candidate. After last week’s farce, the sixth episode of Succession plays out like a chamber drama, largely taking place in the hotel suites and country diners, all while the Roys draw and re-draw interfamily battle lines. In the words of Michelle Anne (Linda Emond), “Welcome to Clown Town.”
The Roys embark on a journey to the Future Freedom Summit. It’s a secretive gathering of GOP conservative donors joining together to strategize on the party’s pick for President, as “The Raisin” revealed last week he won’t be running for re-election. Shiv (Sarah Snook) is in her element, back in the political game, and still feeling a bit high on herself for saving the company at the annual shareholders’ meeting. She tells Logan (Brian Cox) that Roman (Kieran Culkin) is out of his league, as the only thing of note he’s ever produced was Dr. Honk, a film about a man who can talk to cars.
Arriving at the conference, they’re ushered in by a speech from Ron (Stephen Root), pundit and unofficial master of ceremony of the weekend. He tells the group he believes the next President is in the room. The front runner appears to be current Vice President Dave Boyers (Reed Birney)—though he does have a lip-licking thing that’s almost unnoticeable. Logan doesn’t care about resume or experience, he wants a candidate that “pops,” and he’s willing to put anyone through a friendly chat and a “coke can” test (He asks Boyers to bring a can of coke with him to his hotel suite) to help make up his mind.
The majority of Succession episode six plays out like Shark Tank in the Royal Suite from Hell. Shiv likes neo-conservative Rick Salgado (Yul Vazquez), as he’s progressive enough to compete with a candidate from the left—and it doesn’t hurt that he promises Shiv that if he’s made President, he’ll make her CEO of Waystar and put Logan in prison. Roman takes a shine to Rick Mencken (Justin Kirk), a conservative media sensation who’s open to all ideas, whether they be from Saint Augustine or “H” (you know, the fascist dictator during World War II). Of course, there’s always Connor Roy – if Joe Kennedy did it for his son, why can’t Logan help Connor get elected?
The majority of Succession episode six plays out like Shark Tank in the Royal Suite from Hell.
The Roys might be picking a new President, but Tom (Matthew Macfadyen) has prison on the brain. Joining him in panic is Greg (Nicholaus Braun), who’s trying to get a lead from Kendall on whether he’s going to get burned. The duo has an anxiety dinner at a local diner, with Tom giving Greg advice about prison food, saying to approach the plate like it’s “Afghanistan”—start from the middle and work your way to the outside. It’s one of the darkest and funniest moments of the episode, cementing their status as the best couple in Succession, unloading their worries over crispy hashbrowns and glasses of lukewarm water.
Their prison time will depend on the successful testimony of Kendall (Jeremy Strong). He’s rehearsed his testimony with Lisa (Sanaa Lathan), who tells him their case isn’t the slam dunk they were promised. Waystar appears to be cooperating, and they’re playing jigsaw with the papers. On testimony day, Kendall blows it in the room and blows up at Lisa in the hallway in front of the government agents. To Kendall, his testimony is a game. To Lisa, it’s flippant arrogance undermining her job.
Worried that his case lacks credibility, Kendall jaunts down to the summit, calling Tom and sharing another awkward diner meal. Kendall wants Tom to flip on Waystar – he needs proof that Logan signed off on all orders. Tom plays Midwest “Ah Shucks” nice with Kendall, saying he’s just a humble servant in Waystar. He deflects his barbs until Kendall says Shiv would finally respect Tom as a man if he flips. Tom deals a blow to Kendall, saying he knows what it looks like when Kendall’s about to “get fucked.”
Back to picking the President – Logan wants someone who pops. He ends up choosing Mencken, after he made a display of presenting a coke to Logan, then departing the hotel suite. In Roman’s words, they came to the market to get their dad a milk cow, but they found a T-rex who will fight. “He’s box office.” Logan smiles at the prospect, knowing if his kids are arguing over Mencken, it means viewers will tune into ATN.
The day after the party, it’s family photo time, with the Roys standing next to their Presidential pick. Shiv, upset at her dad backing the fascist-leaning Mencken, and trusting Roman’s political savvy over her own, draws a line at appearing in the photo. She tells Logan “You’ve got enough people in the shot.” Logan sternly asks her “Siobhan, are you part of this family or not?” Shiv reluctantly agrees to the photo, negotiating that she won’t stand next to Mencken. Logan tells her “You win, Pinky.” Shiv’s floated around this season, struggling to find her identity in the company (and family). It’s a haunting image, seeing her smile zombie-like in the photo, realizing she’s just another foot soldier in her father’s wretched army.
- Most Iconic Line(s): This exchange between Tom and Greg, at the summit:
Tom: It’s a nice safe space where you don’t have to pretend to like Hamilton.
Greg: Well, I like Hamilton.
Tom: Sure you do. We all do.
- Episode MVP: lots of guest stars to tango with this episode, but Justin Kirk as an eccentric right-wing media presenter turned Presidential hopeful Jared Mencken has chemistry with the Roys, bantering with Roman at their meet-cute at the hotel bar. Watch out “Ger,” (as is Gerri, portrayed by J. Smith-Cameron) there’s a new “Jer” in town.
- Best Nickname: From “Panhandle Pete” to “Seat Sniffer,” Succession has a way with nicknames, but Tom’s new Waystar nickname takes the cake. He’s “the Christmas tree.” Why? Because all of Waystar Royco’s crimes will be placed under him.
- Most Likely to Flip: Shiv’s reaching her limits with the family and company, and if she’s willing to draft a scathing takedown letter on her own brother, it wouldn’t be all too surprising if she flips on her father to get back at him for overlooking her.