The Roy siblings try to move forward without Logan, starting with the sale to GoJo.
In the middle of another excellent on-location Succession episode, Shiv (Sarah Snook) wearily says, “Everything was better a week ago.” It comes off as a line that shows how much she misses her deceased father, but she’s really lamenting the loss of a North Star. There’s no more Logan for the Roy siblings to fight against, and “Kill List” shows how adrift the “cast of Bugsy Malone” is when trying to fill that massive hole where their father used to be.
The cold open is a nifty reflection of the first scene from the series premiere. Then, Kendall (Jeremy Strong) was jamming out to rap music in the back of a limo, heading to the Waystar offices as the heir apparent. Now, Kendall is still listening to rap in the back of his limo (the Jay-Z song “Takeover” from the classic album, The Blueprint– a killer track even if it’s on the nose here), but now he’s technically in charge, and still just as miserable.
He enters the office with a hero’s welcome and new underlings to do his bidding. After taking a moment to eye his father’s empty desk, he checks in with Roman (Kieran Culkin) and the gang about the next moves with selling the company to GoJo.
They get a message from GoJo CEO Mattson (Alexander Skarsgård), requiring them to go to Norway to negotiate the deal during their company retreat. GoJo says it’s their way ofensuringe Waystar is a good fit for their company culture, but it’s also a great screenwriting move to get this whole ensemble to Norway. Kendall also drops his first breadcrumb that he wants to abandon this deal when suggesting they don’t go overseas.
On the plane ride, Shiv starts to see more stories drip out about how terrible Logan was and how his sons are holding everything together. Kendall tries to change the subject by offering to screw over Tom in the sale, but the seeds of sibling mistrust have been planted.
The gang arrives at a secluded forest retreat surrounded by breathtaking vistas of mountains and waterfalls. Of course, Roman and Kendall immediately complain about the size of their rooms.
Similar to “Tern Hav,” this is another episode where the Roys and their top execs have to schmooze with a group of humans with completely different temperaments. This time they’re trying to sell rather than buy, but they still fail terribly at it, like when Hugo accidentally offends a former Winter olympian who just missed the podium. Mattson shows up with a condescending attitude toward everyone on the Waystar side. He asks Shiv if he’s gonna be sued if he hugs her. (She replies with a great, “Want to find out?”)
Director, Andrij Parekh, shoots Skarsgård looming over the siblings, making him seem like a threat, even if he’s wearing a dirty hoodie. Mattson also knows he’s smarter than these doofuses and brings that energy into his meeting with Ken and Roman. He tells them he wants Waystar for 180 per share, but he also needs their news organization, ATN, in the package so he can “IKEA the fuck out of it.”
Since the original offer was 144 per share, this seems like a great negotiating tactic when the boys bring the offer back to the execs, but it’s a double-edged sword. Kendall has his sights on sitting on his dad’s corporate throne, and Roman sees ATN as his dad’s prized possession he died fighting for (he would also like to take it over, I’m sure). Even when they’re winning, they’re still losing.
Outside in a rainy quad area, Tom and Greg stand next to two pigs being roasted on a spit (ominous for my boys). Greg mentions the titular kill list that’s floating around for when GoJo takes over Waystar. We also start to get peeks into how much of a weirdo Mattson is when Greg mentions he likes to listen to podcasts when having casual sex with strangers. (I wonder if he’s listening to Joe Rogan, or is he more of a Fresh Air guy?)
Mattson’s true feelings about the Roys and their company start to come out during the counter-offer meeting with Roman and Ken. Mattson says he wants to make them rich, but Ken makes it clear they’re already rich, and it’s not about money at this point. They put their foot down about ATN, and Mattson calls them “a tribute band.” This pushes Ken to commit to dropping the deal, and he’s able to get Roman on board by telling him Mattsonwillo destroy everything their father built.
Meanwhile, with Shiv out of the loop from her brothers, she meets with Mattson to give him great negotiating advice like “offer more money.” They bond by unveiling some of their baggage with each other.
She tells him about her and Tom’s marriage collapsing, and he counters that by admitting he may be sending liters of his own blood to his ex, Ebba, who still works for him. When he asks Shiv if there’s a way to hide that fact, she replies with, “Deniability may be hard since she has so much of your blood”. He ends the conversation by comparing her to Logan, which is exactly what he knows she wants to hear, and Shiv is officially team Mattson as of now.
Ken and Roman have a final negotiation with Mattson on the rocky, misty ridge of a mountain. It looks more like the setting for a Lord of the Rings battle. Roman and Ken try to tell Mattson how much of a nightmare Waystar Studios is and how much of a money suck this all is, but he immediately sees through their ploy. He accuses them of “Scooby Doo-ing” him, trying to scare him away from the supposedly haunted amusement park that is Waystar.
Mattson tells them their dad would be disappointed in them, which triggers Roman. While Mattson is taking a nice, long mountaintop piss, Roman calls him an “inhuman fucking dog man” for making them travel right after their father’s death. To dig the hole deeper, Roman then accuses him of killing his dad by dragging out the negotiation for so long. Roman seems to forget here the siblings are the reason they didn’t take the original offer, but Culkin’s performance is so fierce here it’s easy to forget details like that.
This should put a death knell on the Waystar purchase, but on the plane ride home, Mattson calls Frank to let him know he’s pushing up the asking price to a cool 192 per share for everything, including ATN. Gerri tells the boys how good they did and how proud their father would be. It’s the exact thing these two have been wanting to hear their whole lives, but now it makes them sick. It looks like Mattson is taking Shiv’s advice after all. When you have infinite money, it doesn’t matter what the price tag is if you’re not the one on the throne.
Boars on the Floor:
- “You’re my #1 (Location Scout)!”: Succession is a show about corporate greed, late-stage capitalism, and Daddy issues, but it’s also a great vacation show! I doth my cap to the location team, headed by Katya Sparwasser, who have picked incredible settings for these filthy rich assholes to suffer in over four seasons of television. This location in the Nordic hills is one of the show’s most beautiful so far. The pristine forests, surrounded by mountains and rivers, look dazzling and also contribute to how alienated and out of place the Roys are in this environment.
- I noticed a quick moment in the credits where the little girl (I assume it represents Shiv?) is surrounded by her brothers, but in the next frame, the brothers are gone, and she’s looking around for them. Seems pretty symbolic.
- This week’s ATN headline in the opening credits: “China hack could see 40M Americans entombed in their electric cars.”
- “Norway, Sweden, what’s the difference? They’re all descended from the same rapists.”- Tom
- Greg is excited to go after some “Norwegian wood” overseas.
- J. Smith-Cameron continues to crush it with another great Gerri speech about how soft Europeans are with their “vacation mania” and free healthcare. “They may think they’re Vikings, but we’ve been raised by wolves. We were exposed to a pathogen by the name of Logan Roy, and they have no idea what’s coming to them.”
- Damn, this show is so good at buffets. Can we get a menu for this spread?
- Frank wants to talk the “foreseeable unforeseens”.
- Connor and Willa are left in the States handling Logan’s funeral arrangements, and he’s not happy that Marsha wants Logan buried in a kilt.
- Shiv shares that ATN has an open line with Jeryd Mencken’s campaign, making sure we don’t forget we got an election coming up in a few episodes.
- Roman wants to keep ATN because it was Logan’s favorite, and he died trying to keep it. Shiv responds with, “Let’s just keep one of his old sweaters. Less racist.”
- “The baguette might be mightier than the bagel.”- Greg, after mentioning he read an Economist article about France.
- Shiv and Tom have a confrontation that’s not unlike two children who like each other, pulling each other’s hair on the playground. She kicks dirt on his shoes and says no one takes him seriously because they’re so white. He flicks her earlobe and says, “Your earlobes are thick and chewy, like barnacle meat.” These two are made for each other!?
- “People are fucking tiny, right?”- Mattson, a normal cool dude.
- “If a deal collapses in the woods, is it an SEC violation?”- Roman
- We finally get that kill list in the final moments of the show. Good for Gerri, Tom, and Karolina to avoid it, but I wonder if the other execs, like Frank being on it will lead to some pushback with the GoJo sale?
- Shiv asks Tom to have dinner when they get back. Is she gonna break the pregnancy news to him??