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You Come For Me With Love: Rewatching “Succession” From the Heart (1.2, “Shit Show at the Fuck Factory”)

Welcome to “You Come For Me With Love,” Screen Speck’s unnecessarily detailed Succession recap series focused on how the show uses love as a means of exploring its characters’ isolation and disconnect. Also, on dick jokes. Get ready for Succession Season 4 by following along with us here.

Succession‘s pilot episode offers up a ton of meaty misuse of the word “love,” which the Roy family, to the surprise of…few? I’m going to assume few; nearly none, but not quite – doesn’t really seem to understand at all. This trend only accelerates in Succession 1.2, the skillfully entitled “Shit Show at the Fuck Factory,” which sticks us in a hospital and puts Logan Roy’s life on the line so his children can bicker about which of them has the most solid claim to daddy’s little multinational conglomerate and never actually say out loud that all of their lives would be considerably better if Logan just…passed away.

Lest you presume that my intention with this Succession recap series is to mock the show, though, let me kindly disabuse you of that notion right now. All this misuse, all the Roy and Waystar bungling of language and poor usage and dancing around what they really mean when it comes to uncomfortable concepts like love and decency and human connectivity, is very much by design.

One of the Roys’ many dysfunctions is their general inability to trust other people in positions of power. Given that the general concept of “family” encompasses a loving, nurturing dreamscape paradise as well as the quintessential power dynamic, and given that the Roys believe their business is a family business, Succession‘s writers, by entertaining the back-and-forth inherent to these themes, have set up a beautifully frustrating unsolvable puzzle for their characters to play with. And this is before we’ve even gotten to the corrupting influence of endless wealth or the reality distortion field that is international mass media!

But good god, is it ever exhausting just thinking about balancing all of that, let alone actually writing it. No wonder Georgia Pritchett said it’s likely Succession will end after Season 5. And possibly after Season 4! Which might mean that we have only three more full months and ten more episodes before bidding adieu to Waystar Royco forever.

Without further ado, then: let the Succession recap begin.

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Juliana Canfield as Jess – poor, sweet Jess, who deserves so much better than what she has. I would prefer a ten-episode spinoff series exploring her life before Waystar and the high-wire mishaps that led her to employment under Kendall Roy, and I will accept no fewer than eight. (COURTESY: HBO)

We open in the back of Ken’s car in the immediate aftermath of Logan’s collapse in the helicopter. The man’s eldest second-eldest third-eldest child overall and second-eldest with his second wife is, understandably, distraught. When the car hits a snarl, Ken implores the driver, “Can we just find a way around the traffic?” Because if time and space can’t bend to the Roys’ will, what’s the point of all their power and wealth? (Seriously, though, Ken, why didn’t you just take the helicopter? You certainly spent enough time gallivanting about in it last episode.)

I am not entirely unsympathetic to Kendall’s fear and growing anxiety. But it’s hard to truly care because look who’s back there with him it’s Jess! Hey guys, it’s Jess! Man, I love Jess. She pulls off great side-eye and gives the impression of talking a fuck-load of shit about her boss behind his back. The first time I watched Succession I cheered madly for Jess every time she appeared on-screen without really understanding why. After a little while I came to the realization that I really needed Jess as an example of someone pure and good and unmoved by the Waystar death machine. (Aside from the fact that she’s Kendall’s assistant, of course.) Succession doesn’t ever show us too many people outside the Roys’ immediate orbit – peons, if you will – and just as rarely lets us linger with them awhile. So sure, maybe I’m projecting onto Jess a bit. But I need somebody in the hellscape to cheer for once in awhile.

At the hospital, chaos reigns – but only for the Roys themselves. Shiv, Roman, and Kendall take turns berating each other about whether Logan is really getting the best possible care (and by “care” I mean “doctor with the shiniest medical school pedigree”). When they need a break from laying into each other, they take it out on the doctors. Roman turns into a smartphone diagnostician. Shiv comes up with a second alternate hospital possibility. Kendall thinks the hippocritic oath-upholders of this particular establishment might be “sandbagging” the Roy family because they don’t “know who we are.” Lawrence from Vaulter sends a condolence basket of fruit that actually looks well on its way to being rotten. Connor…is Connor.

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Alan Ruck as Connor Roy, AKA “Iceman,” in Succession. (COURTESY: HBO)

Hahahaha, classic ‘Con. Seriously though, between last week’s “I drink your milkshake”-esque little goblin tale about Western water rights and this episode’s quick waltz into Demolition Man technology, what is Connor’s obsession with liquid? This feels very much like the origin story of a millennia-old science fiction villain. Connor’s Succession spinoff should be set 40 years from now, in a desolate, Mad Max-ian wasteland, where Connor is a grizzled Immortan Joe so far beyond old his face looks like it was carved out of a coconut. I would watch that show. Connor Roy in full-blown madman mode would be a monologue for the ages.

But Connor’s younger siblings won’t shut the fuck up about the facility and the doctors and the lack of information and general movement with regard to what they seem to believe are the magic brain hemorrhage-curing wands that remain locked up in a cabinet somewhere. Of his very much unconscious and hospital-bedded father, Kendall actually says – to a doctor! – “The socioeconomic health of multiple continents is dependent on his well-being.” Even Shiv can’t believe what she’s hearing.

One other person who won’t shut the fuck up? Cousin Greg, who made his way to the hospital with the rest of the Roy brain trust and is being suuuuuuper duper smooth in attempting to ingratiate himself with these people he barely knows in order to secure the second chance job he barely-kinda got from Logan before Logan definitely totally blew a blood gasket deep inside his head. The only reason the family doesn’t ask him to please get the fuck off the premises is they’re too distracted with worry about the damage that gasket may have done when it blew. Finally, Marcia does tell Greg to fuck off in the most straightforward, Marcia way possible: she asks him to go to the house and get some tartan slippers and other things for Logan.

Then Roman piles on, asking Greg to also bring the unsigned new copies of the family trust. Only he doesn’t say that to Greg. Nor does he describe what to, you know, look for. He just tells Greg to get “the documents” in “the envelopes” and then yells at him for being too tall for neck comfort. (Real life factoid: Kieran Culkan is exactly one foot shorter than Nicholas Braun.) So now Greg’s got a mission, he’s got a purpose, and he’s got zero money to his name after Shiv took his last $20 to use at the vending machines.

Shiv took Greg’s money, by the way, while Greg was trying (and failing) to scheme on the phone with his mother. If my memory is correct, Succession Season 1 Episode 2 is the last episode in which Greg’s mom appears. Which is a good thing, seeing as how she never got developed into anything more than a frustrated parent (understandable, when Greg’s your kid) looking for a meal ticket. But! It wasn’t until this glorious Succession rewatch that I became truly jealous of Mary Birdsong, the actress who plays Marianne Hirsch. Can you guess why? I’ll give you a hint…

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Mary Birdsong as Marianne Hirsch, who knows damn well how to live life to the fullest, in Succession. Also pictured: unidentified good boy, ohh who’s a good boy who’s a good good dog. (COURTESY: HBO)

MARIANNE LIES AROUND ALL DAY PETTING HER DOG. This is amazing. She appears in two (2) episodes total, is either sitting on or lying in her bed in every single scene, and in “Shit Show at the Fuck Factory” is hanging out petting her good sweet puppy dog during every single second of screen time. Oh my god, what a gig. Get paid HBO Prestige money to hang out with a goofy-looking ball of fur and love among a forest of pillows? I would like this job full-time, please. To whom do I appeal; I must know.

(Succession fun fact: Marianne is also the first person on the show to pet a dog. Aside from Tom’s idle pat upon Mondale’s head when he eats Shiv’s pantyhose in Season 3, Marianne may actually only person on this show to ever pet a dog. Fuckin’ billionaires. No understanding of what’s important in life.)

On the other end of the spectrum from characters we’re never going to see again: this would be a good place to point out that Succession 1.2 is notable for ushering onstage a huge percentage of the show’s supporting cast. (And, interestingly enough, that we meet every single one of them through Kendall.) In addition to being our introduction to Jess, “Shit Show at the Fuck Factory” is where we meet Gerri (J. Smith Cameron)! And Karl (David Rasche, one of the all-time great actors of sniveling toadies [and yes I do mean that as a compliment, David Rasche you are a goddamn delight!])! And Karolina (Dagmara Dominczyk)! And Willa (Justine Lupe)! And it’s our bittersweet intro to Eva, played all-too-briefly by the wonderful Judy Reyes.

We meet all of these cats and kittens – AKA Waystar Royco’s answer to The West Wing‘s senior staff – when they swoop into the ER waiting room, scoop up Ken, and bring him to the “not quite a war room” they’ve set up in one of this hospital’s anonymous conference rooms. They’re very careful to explain to Ken that it’s specifically not a war room, despite the conference table laden with communications equipment and snacks and water and all the other stuff you need to pull an emergency all-nighter, because “war room” seems to imply that that will be the situation if Logan, you know. Dies. For now, the non-Avengers have assembled simply to try and control the message about what’s going down Waystar-wise before the stock market opens.

This is, then, the first time that Ken is really confronted with the naked possibility and naked truth of what taking over as CEO might mean. And he…doesn’t quite rise to the moment. He’s a little bit distracted, you see, because he hasn’t stopped snapping at people long enough to process anything about his father’s brain blowing up in a particularly unreachable cranial choke point. When Ken says naah dude not right now, Karl “reassures” him with soothing loaded corporate-speak: “No, no – of course. You are in no fit state.” And Gerri gives him this look.

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J. Smith Cameron remixing “Whatchu talmbout, Willis” for 21st century white America as Gerri in Succession. (COURTESY: HBO)

But Ken is at least fit enough to understand that he is being tried and found wanting. So he actually does his father proud at a moment when it’s 100% impossible for Logan to see it by reaching up through he grief to spin some PR bullshit. Ken reasons that since almost nothing Logan did right before his hemorrhage has actually been put to paper and made real – not promoting Roman to COO after ousting Frank, not promoting Tom or bringing Shiv on board, and not announcing that he isn’t stepping down from the top spot – the Waystar “brain” “trust” can simply act like none of it actually happened. “Words,” Ken posits, in a moment of beautifully poignant nihilism, “are nothing. Complicated airflow.” General Counsel Gerri goes along with this plan (without explicitly agreeing, of course), because ignoring the corporate chaos of the pilot episode “would certainly simplify things” for the company in the short-term (i.e., while Logan hovers somewhere between death and eternal internalized rage over not being able to Frankenstein his children together into one competent being).

Thus, we’ve set this episode’s dramatic machinery in motion. The rest of Ken, Roman, and Shiv’s intertwining plots are all about trying to wrest control from each other while it is, however temporarily, beyond their father’s reach. And I’ll get back to that in a minute. First, though, let’s enjoy a few comic interludes. Like Roman Roy Sitting Normally!

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Sarah Snook as Shiv Roy, striking the universal pose for “What in the hell are you doing” while observing her brother, Roman (Kieran Culkin) taking the least ass-comfortable position one can with a chair of this sort, in Succession Season 1 Episode 2. (COURTESY: HBO)

I know this particular Succession character detail has already gone through its four stages of viral fame. But I’m late to this show and easily amused, and so I invite you to be either easily amused or re-amused along with me. In the pilot episode, we got a nice little shot of Roman sitting upside-down in a padded lounger while Logan proposed to consolidate his power in a new version of the family trust; that screengrab will henceforth be known as Roman Roy Sitting Normally #1. The above shot, then, is Normal Sitting #2. Behold! Gaze upon the wonder that is Roman’s complete discomfort with the missionary position in all its forms and senses. I wonder if we’ll ever revisit that comparison beyond just chairs (he said, giggling like a complete idiot from this side of the keyboard).

Then, when Shiv and Roman’s little side conference turns into a literal fight (however one-sided), we get this voice of reason stepping in to sort things out:

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Matthew Macfadyen as Tom Wambsgans doing Tom stuff in Succession. (COURTESY: HBO)

Just kidding, it’s Tom Warm Screams finding his girlfriend fighting her brother and backing away as if he stumbled upon the Thunderdome. He’s in and out so quickly he might as well be Grandpa Simpson. Succession hasn’t yet established that Tom is from Minnesota and even after it does the show is really slow to allow him some genuinely Midwestern mannerisms, but I’m willing to retcon Tom’s fear of getting involved in this instance. Not because he’s afraid of violence (though he absolutely is, Tom’s the kind of guy who talks a big game and then gets caught halfway through sneaking out the back door. As in he literally gets stuck. Hopefully they do this in Season 4), but because this is a family matter and it would be completely inappropriate for him to intervene in any way. Even though it wouldn’t, you giant idiot, you’ve been dating Shiv for long enough that the relationship has become complacent and you want so badly to be a member of this family that you subject yourself to ungodly humiliation every day for it. God bless you, Tom, you prototypical conscientious objector; never change.

While we’re on the subject of Logan Roy’s favorite invisible punching bag, let’s stop in at one more shop along Hilarity Row. Because when you are Tom Wambsgans, and you find yourself alone with your girlfriend’s father’s third wife at the father’s hospital bedside in the middle of the night after he’s suffered acute brain trauma, you naturally bring up how you want to propose to the father’s only daughter. It’s just point A to point B, people; this particular emotional road is so well-traveled it may as well be the Pennsylvania Turnpike. Tom says he’s been considering proposing marriage for some time, but he wanted to ask Logan’s permission first; and even though Logan is currently just a skin bag with a mouth, maybe it would be a nice gesture if Tom asked Logatose (Comatogan? No, Logatose) for permission anyway?

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Hiam Abbass as Marcia, who we need to see a fuckload more of in Succession Season 4, please and thank you. (COURTESY: HBO)

There’s no way to convey in a recap the devastating simplicity, the utter frankness with which Marcia says these things. The best way to explain it is she’s one of the very few characters on Succession, and maybe the only character, who isn’t trying to get in a dig with her comebacks and rejoinders. All the blood-relation Roys are engaged in an endless game of Verbal Knife Fight (plus Tom, but Tom is the guy who brings the swordfish). Marcia understands this but doesn’t really try to participate. So her “burns” aren’t really burns or comebacks – they’re declarations of fact. It’s like if I said to you “God damn, this salt-encrusted fish is as salty as a Real Housewife in the third hour of the reunion episode,” and you just looked at me and said “Salt is salty.” What else is there to say?

Of course, none of Logatose’s children understand this about Marcia, kind of in the same way that they don’t function as a family in the sense that almost everyone else in the world understands a family to be. To them, everyone has to be playing the game, all of the time. (The game of Business Murder Power Accrual, not the lol ok sure baseball game of the pilot.) And Marcia is neither stupid nor naïve; she distrusts the children right back. Which is how you get beautiful, perfectly framed shots like this one.

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Roman Roy (Kieran Culkin) and Shiv Roy (Sarah Snook) on the outside looking in at Marcia Roy (Hiam Abbass) and Logatose (Brian Cox) in Succession Season 1 Episode 2. (COURTESY: HBO)

(W/r/t the above screengrab, here’s a fun little Easter egg for you. The name of the manufacturer of Logatose’s hospital bed, if the word on the panel of the foot of the bed is any indication, appears to be Stryker. While Stryker is a real-life manufacturer of bed frames of all sorts, it’s also a nod to Colonel William Stryker, the character Brian Cox played in the 2003 film X2: X-Men United. And if this has already been pointed out a million times on social media and in DVD commentary and everywhere else, don’t tell me. I want to relish my little discovery even if I’m so late to the party it’s become a completely different party.)

Believe it or not, though, this isn’t Marcia’s finest, most levelheaded hour. When Kendall, Roman, and Shiv generate enough noise and hubbub about potentially switching doctors and / or hospitals to create a literal showdown outside the nurse’s stand, it’s Mrs. Roy who puts an end to the possibility quicker than a cattle gun to the forehead. “No,” she tells Shiv, her voice somewhere above a whisper but not for an instant out of her control. “No discussion. I am his next-of-kin. I am his proxy. I am in charge. Thank you.” For the kids, action – movement – is the only fathomable solution to The Problem of Dad’s Brain. They can’t accept that not operating and only observing, as the actual doctor recommends, is not just the best course of action but is any course of action. It’s noteworthy that Marcia is the only Roy capable of and comfortable with sitting still.

Back at Marcia and Logan’s house, Greg is having a bit of a hard time literally getting into the building. He can’t pay the cab driver who brought him because he’s still very much without cash, but the doorman refuses to help him out because he doesn’t know who Greg is. And of course neither Marcia (who just wanted this fly to stop buzzing in her face) nor anyone else from the family called ahead to let the guy know about the big gangly idiot coming his way. It’s a funny scene, with Greg ping-ponging between two incredulous people. And it ends at exactly the right moment, when someone does call the doorman to give him the go-ahead. But it also occurs to me that this is the kind of thing Succession doesn’t do too often: show us the direct, person-to-person consequences of rich people’s actions upon poor people. (“Poor,” in this sense, means “anyone who can’t afford to suffer those consequences.”)

When he finally manages to get inside, Greg lives it up for a minute. He calls his mom for another strategy session while stretched out across an Alaskan King-sized bed eating a half-wrapped takeout sandwich and for a moment free from all cares and obligations in the entire world. Oh, except for finding the mystery envelopes that Roman instructed him to bring back. And then also not finding them, which Shiv counter-ordered. An appropriate visual metaphor for Greg would be a game of Twister in which he gets tied into a human pretzel. Braun’s got limbs enough to pull this off; let’s see it happen in a future episode and not just our minds.

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Roman Roy (Kieran Culkin), who can also stand normally, doing so here right behind Gerri (J. Smith Cameron) in Succession 1.2. (COURTESY: HBO)

And while we’re on the subject of Succession daydreams, did anyone else watch Roman saddling up behind-slash-next-to Gerri in this scene and think he was considering mounting her, because that’s sure as shit what it looks like to me. Romangerri won’t be officially birthed until Season 2, but I would like to suggest that this exchange is where it really began. Instead of that delightful activity, though, Roman wants to talk about propping Gerri up as interim CEO, per he and Shiv’s plan to block Ken’s power grab. Despite Roman’s insistence that Gerri would have the support of the family, she’s simply not interested. And for one of the best possible reasons, too: it’s “the job that made your father’s brain explode.” Smart as a fuckin’ racehorse whip, that Gerri.

Let’s pause for a brief interlude – it’s time for Installment #3 of Roman Roy Sits Normally.

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J. Smith Cameron as Gerri and Kieran Culkin as Roman “Latin for ‘Loves Chairs'” Roy in Succession. (COURTESY: HBO)

This has been Roman Roy Sits Normally.

Across town, Ken is trying to bring poor humiliated Frank back into the company and install him as interim CEO. And of course Frank wants nothing to do with the job, probably in part because Logan was just so completely kind and generous in firing him from a major position without cause and making him write his own press release announcing the fact. He’s kind about it, but he even tells Kendall that he “doesn’t have a price” – there is no amount of money that will make him take the position, no matter how temporary it may be. I find it hilarious that no one outside of the family wants this job, and more hilarious still that no one in the family stops to think for just a moment, just the merest little glimmer of a moment, about why that might be.

Before we arrive at the big family showdown, though, there are a few more pieces of side business to attend to. First and foremost, this is how hot Rava looks when she drops by the hospital unannounced to offer Kendall some emotional support at four o’clock in the mother fucking morning.

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Natalie Gold‘s Rava is so far out of Jeremy Strong’s Kendall’s league that they aren’t even playing the same sport, speaking the same language, or following rules that overlap anywhere. (COURTESY: HBO)

Oh, and “emotional support” wasn’t a euphemism – Rava goes in for a big hug, then backs off slowly with a curious look on her face. Because of course Kendall, rather at the end of his tether after this excruciating and excruciatingly long day, has a big ole hard-on for her. This is both understandable and the most human thing Ken has done on Succession so far. “What can I say,” he tells her. “It’s, uh – I don’t know. Adrenaline. It’s just my body. Hey. I’m glad you’re here.” Rava says, “Yeah. I can tell.” LOL. As the two of them walk away, their heads the only things filling the frame, we hear the distinct sound of two hand pats. I am pretty sure that Rava patted Ken’s dick like a mother patting her child’s head specifically to defuse any sexuality about this specific hospital situation. And now I’m imagining Kendall Roy’s dick in a tidy little schoolboy suit – and now you are, too!

Here is what Shiv Roy looks like just before running into her boyfriend in a hospital corridor.

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Shiv Roy (Sarah Snook), pleased with herself after a successful bathroom endeavor in Succession. (COURTESY: HBO)

And here is what she looks like literally seconds later, after Tom “Situational Awareness” Wambsgans gets down on one knee and proposes marriage with Shiv’s father hanging above death’s open mouth down the hall.

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Tom, Tom, Tom. (COURTESY: HBO)

LOL oh MAN Tom did you ever read this one the wrong way. On the list of responses to your marriage proposal that you do not want, “What the fuck? Seriously?” is up there at the very top. Right behind “Why is there still a finger inside that ring?” This is the worst-slash-most-entertaining proposal in filmed history. Tom could not have made this more awkward or uncalled-for if he had done it from the inside of a wheat thresher. Tobias Fünke would have held his tongue. Hitler did a better job proposing to Eva Braun. And he did it in the bunker and they followed it up with his-and-hers-suicides. Tom, Tom, Tom. Oh, Tom. Do I ever have fun watching you.

To his credit, he does understand immediately that, just, no. If Connor’s remark about cryogenics is classic ‘Con, Tom’s response to Shiv is classic OOF. (Which is what “Wambsgans” means in old Norse.)

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Triple-distilled Tom Wambsgans, ladies and gentlemen. (COURTESY: HBO)

OH and let’s not forget Shiv’s eventual response: “But so you know…yeah; whatever.” This show and fuckin marriage proposals, Jesus Christ it’s funny. If you need any hard evidence that the Roy conception of love is fuuucked, here you go.

And while Tom is immediately and thoroughly elated when Shiv (mostly) says yes, elated to an extent that he won’t be again until his desk-flipping spree two full Succession seasons from now, he is of course not too high up to come back down and knock Greg around some upon the latter’s triumphant return from the Roy abode. After mocking the pre-Egg, though, Tom kinda-sorta rethinks his whole Greg strategy and sets in motion the Nero and Sporus storyline that will titillate us for years to come.

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Tom Wambsgans (Matthew Macfadyen) extending an olive branch both literally and metaphorically prickly in Succession. (COURTESY: HBO)

Succession Season 1 Episode 2’s final dalliance with love comes across the final sibling showdowns. Before he goes to see Frank, Kendall outright shoots down the idea that Roman could simply step in as Waystar’s COO, telling him that their father’s brain wasn’t working right when he made the decision (which I don’t think Kendall really believes) and then laying this Marcia-level truth on him, which Ken absolutely does: “Come on. It was a negotiating position, Rom – [Dad] was fucking playing you. To get you to sign the trust. Do you even know what it fucking involves?…I love you, man, but you’re not a serious person.” (Emphasis added as heavily handed as possible just in case you didn’t notice Kendall dropping the word “love” in there.)

This is Kendall’s moment of near-complete honesty. He can’t be completely objective in this debate; Logan shit on Ken’s dream of becoming CEO after first setting him up to take over. So there are sharp notes of entitlement and revenge in what he’s saying. At the same time, he is 100% correct. Roman Roy is serious about many things: sexual dysfunction; arrested development; mordant sarcasm; defensive irony. But “serious” in the sense that Kendall means and in the sense that Waystar’s shareholders will mean when they find out he’s COO, Roman most assuredly is not.

And Roman throws this back in Ken’s face near the end of the episode, when the two of them make their little deal with the devil (greed, the devil is greed). Roman will support Ken as interim CEO, Ken will approve Roman as COO, the family business will stay a family business, and the company stock will stay hearty and hale when the markets open. Why didn’t they just cut through the bullshit and make this, the simplest arrangement, hours and hours ago? Because they were in no fit state to do so, that’s why. Shiv, who remains intensely skeptical, signs off with vocal reluctance plus her unsolicited belief that the whole thing will crash and burn.

But Kendall could not care less about that. He got the thing he wanted; his father’s fate fades into the back of his mind; and he’s ready to smile in the face of the morning sun. He goes up to the hospital roof with Gerri, who offers her congratulations before letting Ken know about a couple of those buried bodies Roman alluded to hours earlier. More specifically, she needs to tell Kendall Roy, Acting CEO, about the three billion bodies’ worth of off-the-books debt that Logatose has been keeping secret for over three decades. I transcribed this part because it’ll be important later:

In 1985, Logan needed cash, badly, for the expansion into parks. So he took out a loan through the family holding company. He knew that besides Frank, none of the other board members could see what was happening. And then he added that loan to the company’s already considerable debt….Kendall, the thing is, it’s secured against Waystar’s stock; and when the stock hits $130, they can pursue repayment in full. Which, if they decided to do that, would eviscerate us. [Kendall: Yeah, but there’s no precedent for that; they’ll never do that – they’ll renegotiate.] Well, that depends…well, you see, the banks know that the man they invested in can no longer function – as far as they’re concerned, you’re just some kid. With nice hair.

And so, in addition to that particular thorny pickle bucket, we’ve arrived at the final series-long thematic subplot for this specific Succession episode.

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Gerri (J. Smith Cameron) giving Kendall (Jeremy Strong) some good advice that can nonetheless be really hard to follow. (COURTESY: HBO)

Don’t worry, Ken; you’re not going to become one of those “Men will literally X instead of go to therapy” examples just yet. (Though it would of course help if someone other than your smoking hot, legitimate-resentment-filled ex-wife gave you a big hug once in awhile.) Because after The Heir With The Flair’s coronation, after the doctor has reassured everyone that it’s OK to go home and get some sleep, and after Marcia has fallen asleep in the chair at Logatose’s bedside, what should happen but Logatose vanishes into the aether…and Logan Roy wakes up. I doubt that there’s a cut scene of him calling Kendall and saying “SIKE,” but in my head there is and always will be.


–The sight of Shiv curled up near-fetal in the hospital chairs is a quiet + sad little nod to how badly their circumstances have stunted all the kids’ emotional growth.

–It’s interesting to note how often these characters use the word “so” as an amplifier. I’m not going to keep separate track of it because there are too fucking many and I wouldn’t be able to do anything else, but it’s at once the perfect way to intensify meaning and the perfectly incomprehensible way – all it really means is “very.” One of the two best examples I noticed in “Shit Show” were Tom, just before his bedside non-proposal, telling Marcia “I’m so sorry. It’s so weird” about Logan. The second is Greg telling his mother “It’s so fucked up.” In both instances, “so” becomes a shorthand for the enormity of the situation & thus a means of acknowledging that things have become life-or-death without actually addressing their simple, coin-flip severity.

–Shiv asked Greg to not bring the copies of the new family trust to the hospital, and Greg did as she asked. Shiv then thanked Greg as she walked backwards away from him. And while Greg’s reaction was priceless and almost adorable…

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Nicholas Braun as Cousin Greg “Not Yet Cracking Under Pressure; Not Yet Tomeletting” Hirsch in Succession. (COURTESY: HBO)

…he forgot one crucial thing: he didn’t make her promise to do something for him first. (Or to outright do something.) Even with an empty wallet, Greg is the very pushest of overs.

–”Shit Show at the Fuck Factory” is a great click-worthy headline, but the hit piece that Lawrence has Vaulter publish specifically to embarrass Waystar and to strike back at Kendall doesn’t actually do anything, plot-wise. Part of the reason might be that Vaulter published it in the middle of the fucking night, which, unless you’re talking about breaking news, is kind of a big cockup, traffic- and buzz-wise.

–Ken has the most on-the-nost line of the episode: “You can’t put a value on human life – except, in our case, you rather precisely can.” It’s certainly not going to stop you guys going forward

–In addition to the envelopes, Roman wants Greg to bring him back a sweater than smells like Logan. But he can’t just say that to Greg – who understands exactly why Roman wants it, and acknowledges that “that’s really nice” – without insults and berating and the embarrassed defensiveness of a child caught doing something naughty. “If you tell anyone about this,” he stammers, “I’ll…cut your dick off.” Even in this moment of extreme weakness and uncertainty regarding his father and the maybe-death bed upon which he lies! For childishness, Severance‘s innies have nothing on the Roy kids.

–Frank’s line “I am just an attendant lord, here to swell a scene or two” is a paraphrase of the fifth-to-last stanza of T.S. Eliot‘s “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock.” The complete stanza, which sums up Frank about as beautifully as can be done with English, is as follows:

No! I am not Prince Hamlet, nor was meant to be;

Am an attendant lord, one that will do

To swell a progress, start a scene or two,

Advise the prince; no doubt, an easy tool,

Deferential, glad to be of use,

Politic, cautious, and meticulous;

Full of high sentence, but a bit obtuse;

At times, indeed, almost ridiculous –

Almost, at times, the Fool.

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