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You Come For Me With Love: Rewatching ‘Succession’ From The Heart (1.3, “Lifeboats”)

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.

If Succession‘s pilot episode was about the incompatibility of family love and family business, and Succession 1.2 was about love as a barrier to its own expression, Succession Season 1 Episode 3 shows us what happens when those themes collide in unguarded moments. “Lifeboats” also illustrates, with clear, cold brilliance, how isolating life at the top is. To quote noted philosopher Sam Obisanya, the Roys have “never been so connected, yet never further apart.”

We open in the darkness in bed. Just like the pilot episode! I love a good immediate callback. This time, though, it’s Kenny Boy, up and at ’em with his alarm at 4:45 AM on the nose. I’m not sure if we’re meant to believe this has been Ken’s routine ever since he got clean and started working at Waystar in earnest or if he’s getting up extra early today because he’s so excited for the first day of school. I think this is probably a touch earlier than he normally wakes up to do his morning exercises and get fuckin hyyyped.

He’s really quite restrained, though; Ken is straight focus in these opening scenes. But Succession itself isn’t, offering up a little Jeremy Strong fan service with some shots of Kendall in the shower, all lathered and dripping. On the way to work, Ken’s focus does waver long enough for him to exchange glances with a couple of sanitation workers. I wonder when the last time Logan bothered to let his gaze wander out the window to the ants marching upon the city sidewalks was.

Meanwhile, at the office itself, it’s apparently snowed?

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There’s nothing lonely or isolating about life at Waystar Royco HQ, nothing at all, why do you ask (COURTESY: HBO)

This is a goofy continuity error, one I will embellish upon (because of course I will) in the Errata section all the way down there at the end of this article. And I should state that I don’t really care about the error, because this is a haunting shot. And no creature within it is lonelier than that poor, walled-off tree. Not even Kendall, who takes that long elevator ride up to the Waystar main offices still by himself, wanders the floor alone with the lights flickering to life as he comes within range, and takes in the still-life of Logan Roy’s greatest hits (pun-heavy front pages of newspapers bearing world-defining stories; Logan at a table with Boris Yeltsin; Roy family artwork from the old country). It’s all shadows and glare.

Later that morning, at the Roy-Wambsgans household, Tom talks to Shiv’s vagina while she eats cereal. That sounds like it would be pretty fucking cringe-y, doesn’t it? Well color me as gobsmacked as Logan Roy mid-brain hemorrhage, because somehow Tom manages to make it actually kind of charming and a little bit sweet and sexy. “What’s that?” he tells Shiv’s vagina. “You miss me? Well I miss you too – maybe we should arrange a date while she’s not around.” True, you could easily read Tom’s choice of words as a reduction of Shiv to her sexy parts and thus just another retelling of that old joke about how a woman is the annoying thing around the vagina. But still! For Tom, not bad!

What is bad: Tom and Shiv have a dog named Mondale and they don’t pet him. This is an unforgivable sin. But more than that it’s just baffling. Look at that beautiful sweet dog laying there so beautifully and sweetly and dogly! With his beautiful shaggy chestnut coat, ohhhhh who’s a good boy, who’s the best boy. All he wants is a little love and attention, yes he does. And that means physical touch, Tom, are you or are you not from Minnesota where it’s cold and people need touch and companionship to survive until the ten weeks of summer you guys get.

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What’s even sadder is the screengrab above is our introduction to Mondale, but it’s not the first time we “meet” him. This is how Succession frames the shot when Tom comes downstairs and walks over to Mondale and calls his name for the very first time on the show.

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Tom (Matthew Macfadyen) reaching partway through his very good boy Mondale’s crate without actually petting him and Shiv (Sarah Snook) not even being in the same room and indeed not even turning to face the sweet snuggly puppy that’s ostensibly hers in Succession Season 1 Episode 3. (COURTESY: HBO)

You can’t even see the fucking dog! This is a travesty. Succession, I know you’re trying to be subtle about how cold these people have become. But this is almost too much. If it weren’t for Logan putting Shiv’s hand down his pants later on, I would have to call Mondale’s debut the most loveless scene in Episode 3.

Once people have started to come in to work and the day has officially begun, Ken calls Rava. Who is a little bit busy getting their two children ready to go to school. But all Ken wants is “thirty seconds.” Is it so he can tell her he just wanted to hear her voice and see her smile? Is it so he can tell his kids he loves them and wish them a good day at school? Maybe to thank her again for being there for him at the hospital and also for being a wonderful mother?

Well…no, not really; what Ken wants is Rava’s take on whether he should Hulk out on the upcoming call with the bank or stay Bruce Banner. And by “the bank” he means the bank – the huge financial entity that loaned Logan all that money to buy amusement parks on the DL thirty-plus years ago? And to whom Waystar now owes three billion dollars? Yeah, that bank. He called Rava. To talk about that. Rava tells Ken he should maybe consider consulting with like the company’s financial analysts and lawyers and shit? But she can barely get a complete sentence out because, again, she’s a little bit busy trying to get the kids out the fucking door. Dude, I’m amazed she even picked up the phone. If you call me between six and seven-thirty in the morning on a weekday you are going to get the dulcet tones of the automated voicemail message and not a goddamn thing more. Priorities, Ken. You have kids; you’re not the most important person in your life.

Elsewhere in childhood, Roman has a new trainer.

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Roman (Kieran Culkin), prone beneath Brex (Brock Yurich), who would not know a waste of time if it hid its erection beneath him. (COURTESY: HBO)

Giggling; laughing; snorting milk out my nose. Just, (thoughts trail off into another series of laughs that sound like a wild animal tickling its prey to death). I mean. What is there to even say.

So then let’s double down!

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If it’s humiliation you want, Roman, you needed look no farther than that headband

I know I overuse typed-out laughter, and so I’m actually going to refrain from using it here. But that’s also because if I did, the line of “ha”s would be longer than the line of shot glasses Syd would need to fuck Will Schuster from Glee.

OK. Moving on from that or my giggles will consume the rest of my life. Shiv and Tom stop by Logan and Marcia’s (Penthouse? Home? Apartment? Compound? I’m calling it a compound from now on. That’s not quite right but it feels right.) compound so Shiv can say hey to her father. She’s not at all nervous about what she perceives to be Marcia’s suspicious control over Logan during his convalescence. Nope, Shiv is not at all concerned that nobody seems to be able to see Logan unless Marcia says it’s OK. They’re getting along great. And Shiv takes it really well when Marcia says that no, nobody can go upstairs to see Logan on this particular morning; he’s really not feeling great. Even though, earlier, he did try to put on a sock. The full-time medical staff taking care of Logan are weirdly cagey and non-responsive, too, even when Marcia is out of the room.

Office. Ken. Feeling good; feeling loose. Ready for his big boy call with the big boy bank about the big fuck-off amount of money that will only come due in the fuck-you worst-case scenario. Right? Right, Gerri? Gerri? You there? Oh, sorry; I forgot that you’re busy trying a little too gingerly to tell Kendall Roy that maybe he should not do his best Logan Roy impersonation on this telephone call just because that’s who the bank has always dealt with. I know you have a weird idolization complex-slash-love-hate-love-hate-love-love-hate-love-love relationship with your father? but most people don’t…like him. Consider that a helpful little business tip from me to you, guy.

The head banker-fellow’s name is Mr. Polk. Unlike America’s 11th president, though, this Polk is not a slave-owning sectionalist warmongerer. On the contrary – he’s a pretty boring-sounding, typical-banker-sounding dude. If he reminds me of anybody it’s the bank examiner from It’s A Wonderful Life. Which is extra unusual when you remember that Polk sounds like this while talking to the guy who’s in charge of the company that owes him not just three billion dollars, as we’ve heard at every mention to this point; and not three-point-two billion dollars, as Kendall himself clarifies at the beginning of the call – but “three-point-two-five billion.” Because, as Polk tells Kendall, “We round up.” LOL. Ken, you are on thin ice above the Mariana fucking Trench.

However, it would seem that Ken doesn’t quite agree with my assessment. He kind of dances around straight-up asking Polk to just not pursue full repayment should Waystar’s stock drop below $130 per share, a figure it’s all but certain to plummet way beneath thanks to general unease about Logan’s health. I am having a hard time concentrating on the specifics of their conversation when I realize that in addition to acting like the bank examiner, Mr. Polk also sounds like Chris Parnell doing Dr. Spaceman from 30 Rock. I more than half expect him to tell Kendall not to eat the night before the bank’s evisceration of Waystar because he’ll have a nice big breakfast of pastries and shame waiting for him. And then Ken does probably the only thing worse than taking a literal shit on Polk’s face: he tries to call what he thinks is Polk’s bluff by telling him, in a tone of voice half casual-between-friends and half I-am-unsure-how-to-sound-casual-or-even-human, to “Fuck off.”

And then he plays the waiting game.

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Kendall Roy (Jeremy Strong), seen here post-fucking around and very much in the midst of finding out. (COURTESY: HBO)

Kendall waits. And waits. And continues to wait. Gerri waits and while she waits she digs a mental abyss for her mind to fall short-term-memory-first into. Meanwhile, Kendall is still standing there, still waiting, still waiting, no doubt wishing he’d chosen either the Hulk or Bruce Banner instead of squeezing out a half-chummy insult that went over like a wet fart during foreplay. Kendall tells Polk to fuck off at 12:10 into this episode. It isn’t until 12:38 that he dares to ask if Polk is still there. Do you know how long twenty-eight mother fucking seconds of silence is? Roman could rip up hundreds of millions of dollars in million-dollar checks in that time. Logan’s hemorrhage didn’t take half as long. 28 seconds is an eternity. An eternity into which Ken no doubt sees his father’s company fading like an unfulfilled childhood wish.

When Polk finally does get back on the line, he’s still all business. I’m reminded of Ken’s laser focus at 4:45 this morning and how it’s kindly drifted somewhat over the course of the day. “Look,” Polk tells him. “If you need to talk to me, maybe it’s better we go through an intermediary. I’m not a particular fan of foul language, and I don’t like to be insulted. Thank you; good morning.” CLICK. Well. Maybe the sanitation workers are looking for a new crew member. John Ottavino, voice of Mr. Polk, take a bow.

Speaking of tumbling from the Ritz to the rubble, take a look at Cousin Greg cruising through the Waystar lobby looking like the giddiest Christmas morning goofball you ever saw. He could not be more excited to finally start work here! most likely because he gave his last $20 to Shiv a week ago and he’s been sleeping on an uncushioned pew in the hospital chapel. Homie’s starving to death. But that doesn’t stop him addressing the two anonymous douchebag suits who pass him as “Gents.” Greg could give Tom take Minnesota lessons. Especially when he asks the lobby receptionist for passage into the building and can’t tell her what his job is (“I’m…not entirely sure”) or what Tom’s full name is (“I don’t think I ever got his last name”). HAHA GREG OH MY GOD. You’d call the police on this obvious huckster if he weren’t just as obviously too stupid to ever con anyone but himself.

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Karl (David Rasche); Roman (Kieran Culkin); Kendall (Jeremy Strong); and Gerri (J. Smith Cameron) are the least-reassuring four people in the building rn (COURTESY: HBO)

The phone call with Mr. Polk wasn’t enough humiliation for Kendall’s first day; he’s also scheduled a meeting with a bunch of Waystar senior staff and department heads – an “unnecessary” meeting, as Karolina points out – to get everybody “shaking the tree” for new ideas. It’s not really clear quite what Kendall actually wants. As has been the case in the first two episodes, this pointed uncertainty is by design; Succession does an amazing job deploying corporate jargon and related non-speak with such terrific energy and purpose that those qualities obscure the fact that the words are just more complicated airflow. What he tells the crew, beyond that he called the meeting because he wanted to say “…Yo” (facepalm; double facepalm. Very super cool of you, Ken – very Keanu.), is that Waystar needs “disruptors” to bring him new media ideas and new platforms for consuming that media and an armada of eyeballs to consume it. There’s no concrete idea in his words beyond the underlying message of “We need more people buying what we’re selling.” (He also uses a beautifully stupid mixed metaphor involving lifeboats, which further underscores Succession‘s characters’ thought abuse of language as a way of life, in part gives this episode its title, and which I will unpack further in the Errata section below.)

Before we depart this scene, it’s time for the fourth installment in You Come For Me With Love’s always-thrilling series Roman Roy Sits Normally. In today’s update, the always-crafty Roman finds a brand-new way to sit in a chair, one so obvious I can’t believe Succession had the balls to hold it back (AHEM) until Episode 3.

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Roman Roy (Kieran Culkin) keeping it tight on Succession. (COURTESY: HBO)

Good for you, Roman. This is one of the few times in your life that you’ve taken a stand on anything. You’re disrupting your own disruption! Thank for you making this edition of Roman Roy Sits Normally so special.

I almost forgot to mention that Shiv actually comes to see Kendall at the office because she’s worked herself into such a frenzy of worry over the idea that Marcia is essentially holding Logan hostage. Ken, showing remarkable restraint following his shitplat phone call, does manage to calm Shiv down somewhat (though not change her mind). This despite Shiv taking a shot at Kendall because she also suspects that he’s trying to assuage her fears only so he can stretch out his own tenure as interim CEO. And when Shiv, on her way out the door, asks how everything’s going, Kendall actually tells her the god’s honest truth: “We are on the verge of total corporate collapse.” Naturally, Shiv doesn’t believe him, because it sounds just like the kind of silly disarming joke you make when you’re any business person doing any business work at any business place.

What are some other things that business people do at their business places of business work? Let’s take a peek inside some of Waystar Royco’s other top executive offices and see, shall we? Here’s strapping young Roman Roy, also enjoying his first day in a fancy new position. And what’s that he’s got there? A boatload of electronic mail messages, you say? Why, that’s barely a blip on the radar for this virile mastermind!

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This e-mail could have been a meeting (COURTESY: HBO)

Roman’s face in response to the flood of unanswered e-mails is strangely similar to the face he’ll make when he accidentally sends his father a picture of his dick 24 episodes from now. Just less mortified. It’s a face that says “I don’t know what I’m doing, but…maybe I should?”

Never one to be deterred, though, Roman strides boldly to his office’s wall of floor-to-ceiling exterior windows and pulls down the curtains so he can get some real work done in the now-tranquil space he’s proud to call his home away from home. Of course, those aren’t opaque curtains, so we can be sure that Roman isn’t going to get up to anything naughty – right, Roman?


…Roman? You in there, buddy?

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Bravo, Succession writing and editing teams – bravo. (COURTESY: HBO)

Gonna be hard to top this for the greatest scene-to-scene transition in Succession‘s history.

At the same time, though, look who it is! Succession‘s hottest character not named Rava – say hello to Stewy, everybody! We meet Kendall’s old college pal and ongoing business buddy and current venture capitalist scum of the earth at a corporate-as-fuck-looking coffee shop. Kendall wants to give vent to some of his fears about Waystar’s precarious position; Stewy, while a seemingly sympathetic ear, is mostly in this conversation for the cronuts, which he licks less like a man attempting to communicate into the fourth dimensional aether via the sex organ his enraptured essence has found himself kneeling at the altar of and more like a guy at a knife fight whose opponent reaches across his body to his leather sheath and pulls out a swordfish that’s speared a crustless sandwich.

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Stewy (Arian Moayed) laying this particular truth on a member of the Roy family for what will be the final time, I’m sure. (COURTESY: HBO)

Oh – and plot-wise Stewy is also here to ask Kendall, on behalf of an anonymous mutual friend, if it’s OK for the friend to try and fuck Rava. And Ken, after stammering less than I expected him to, says it sure is fine, fine and dandy, why did you even feel like you have to ask, bro. I’m giggling at the sad dolt because the question has obviously jolted him, and we know what happens when Ken’s adrenaline gets going.

Outside the coffee shop, as they stroll beneath their umbrellas in the rain like two calm lovers reunited after many years, Stewy broaches the possibility of Kendall maybe just selling Waystar out from under Logan’s nose while he’s got the chance. “YES,” I shout in response; “KEN IT’S THE ONLY WAY OUT, THE ONLY WINNING MOVE IS NOT TO PLAY DID YOU NOT WATCH WARGAMES A MILLION TIMES AS A BOY” – but Ken, though mildly intrigued, isn’t quite ready to play Global Thermonuclear War. Stewy’s line of reasoning in selling this idea does baffle me a bit, though. He tells Ken this is his, Shiv’s, and Roman’s chance to be “fucking, fucking, like, ugly, petro-rouble rich.” And thus to be able to do whatever they want, indulge whatever life-journey whims they have (like Roman “snorting his body weight”). And indeed that is an intoxicating possibility. But my poor-as-fuck, never-seeing-a-million-dollars-let-alone-a-billion ass sitting here watching this has to ask the obvious: were the Roy kids not already rich enough to do that? By this point in his life, Roman has surely snorted his body weight several times over, correct? And Shiv already has the life in politics that Stewy references? And Kendall is already trying to make inroads into tech via Vaulter?

I think the thing I’m missing is the same thing that keeps 90+ percent of people from ever truly understanding how fucking much money a billion dollars is and thus from truly understanding how fucking disgusting billionaires are: this is a simple case of You Can Never Have Enough. There’s no amount of money that will ever be enough. The way that not-billionaires feel about unexpected medical bills and higher grocery bills and the gritty stuff that reminds you of how close to financial disaster and its accompanying fears of starving or freezing to death, that is how billionaires feel about indulging their whims. When you are a billionaire, your whims are expensive. You’re not sitting around building a model train set in your basement – you’re buying actual railroads. Or newspapers and TV stations and “portfolio[s] of online brands and digital video content.” Yes, every member of the Roy family may be worth billions of dollars individually. But a billion dollars can vanish in a disgusting hurry when you have a billionaire’s taste.

And now I can’t stand the sight of the word “billion.” Let’s take a quick break with a thematically and titularly relevant slow jam. #Kenstewy shippers, this one goes out to you:

Moving on from that instead of dating myself horribly with a Carl Sagan joke: one sight Shiv can very definitely stand is that of her ex-boyfriend Nate (Ashley Zukerman), who’s still got puppy eyes and a drippy dick for her. Despite coming to his hotel room and flirting with him steadily, Shiv doesn’t give in to Nate’s (super-subtle) entreaties just yet. Instead, what she’s got in mind is something fairly bonkers even for a Roy child: she wants Nate, who appears to be a legit political operative whereas Shiv appears to be kind of dallying in the field, to do some for-real opposition research on Marcia. As in, she wants Nate to dig up all the dirt on her stepmom that he can.

Off the top of my head, I can think of two very big reasons not to ask for this. The first is that it’s a crazy fucked-up thing to do, a betrayal of trust at least on the level of an affair (AHEM). And the second is that Marcia Roy is the diametric opposite of Roman Roy in that she is very much a Serious Person. I would rather be in a cage fight with a wolverine than have her openly waging war on me.

Shiv, of course, isn’t thinking about any of that. Look at her goddamn face at the end of this scene and tell me she doesn’t know she’s got Nate’s dick wrapped around her finger for as long as she deigns to keep it there.

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This face twirls hair like pasta on a fork (COURTESY: HBO)

Back at the office, we get a quick little comedy between Greg and Tom. The former is responding to his slow starvation with the very sane and practical action of stuffing leftover office snack platter food into unused, clean, pristine plastic (doggy) bags. The latter is passing by giving idle orders to his assistant when he observes Greg and mocks him for wearing deck shoes and using doggy bags for anything other than hoisting dogshit. (I find it somewhat amusing, in a mildly absurd way, that Tom “Pseudo-Nouveau Riche” Wambsgans is not disgusted by the notion that Greg would want to hoard food due to his admitted “lack of sustenance” but by the fact that Greg is using bags meant for dogshit hoistery to hoard it.) After a little light beratement and the ejaculation “How squalid” in response to Greg revealing he’s been staying a youth hostel, Tom tells his assistant to find somewhere in the company for “the talented Mr. Greg” to start making bank gainful employment. Thank God we have an end to this chapter in Greg’s arc. I was feeling sympathy hunger every time he appeared onscreen.

Know who else is hungry? Sandy Furness, ably played by Larry Pine, whose name is not pronounced like the thing that heats your house and which name – “Sandy Furnace” – kind of sounds 70s porn star-y although that association falls apart the minute you consider what part of it is actually sexy. (None, the answer is none. No part of it is sexy. Nobody wants sand in their sex furnace.) Waystar’s share price is about to finally fall under $130 (though it won’t until the end of this scene) and, wouldn’t you know it, Sandy – who just so happens to be a bitter business rival of Logan’s since forever – has arrived in the building just as that happens and just after Kendall had a secret public meeting with his old business and personal pal Stewy. HMMM, COINCIDENCES ABOUND. Sandy lays the charm on thicker than Nate buttering Shiv’s bread, but Kendall is all “This meeting could have been an e-mail.”

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Ken (Jeremy Strong), getting very serious now with Sandy Furness (Larry Pine) in Succession 1.3. (COURTESY: HBO)

Also, when Sandy tells Kendall to tell Logan he stopped by, Ken says he’ll be happy to do that “maybe when [the] news is, uh…less likely to kill him.” Which brings about the only awkward pause in their exchange. I find this fascinating because it’s the second time in two conversations with Big Boy Businessmen who’ve been doing this shit roughly as long as Ken has been alive that he’s let himself be cowed by the senior fellows instead of backing up his words. Granted, the “fuck you” to Mr. Polk was never going to work even if Ken hadn’t been tentative as a virgin in broad daylight. But the meeting with Sandy is different; it’s totally obvious that he’s there as a friendly vulture, just circling around Waystar to see which parts smell the deadest. Ken should not give one lonely fuck if he offends Sandy. If anything, now’s his chance to Logan out.

But now that the stock price has dropped into Oh Shit territory, Ken has to stay late at the office with Gerri (sensible) and Roman (uh) to try and figure out ways to keep the company from dropping out of existence. Shouldn’t this be an all-hands-on-deck meeting? I know Logan’s backdoor financing is still a state secret, but, like, don’t you want to expand the circle a little bit to get some more brains firing away on this? (Then again, looking around the conference table one more time, maybe that would do all harm and no good.) They aren’t coming up with shit, and we already know that this place is like a cage to Roman. So naturally he suggests they take their shirts off to trigger some good hearty disruptive outside-the-box thinking.

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That’s the second time Ken made this face today. (COURTESY: HBO)

Gerri doesn’t know what to think, other than she wants Roman to put his shirt back on. Kendall’s face is a joy. He’s willing to go jacket-free, and then Roman starts walking on the coffee table and the ideas just start flowing like perfect destructive disrupting magma, rolling over everything that exists and leaving a perfectly clear landscape upon which the New Waystar can be built.

Naah – they mostly just decide to fire a bunch of people. They call it a “structured retreat.” I wish I were kidding, but that’s the joke. Blink and you’ll miss it! Because you’re blinking away tears. Employees? Humans with paychecks and dependents? SECONDARY. This scene is also the second time a Roy used the term “disruptor” in Succession Season 1 Episode 3. But they’ve used it differently every time, even though they seem to intend it to mean the same thing in every instance. In the boardroom meeting, Ken uses “disruptor” as a pejorative, a blanket term for anything that shakes up the media landscape in ways unhelpful for Waystar, as well as something that Waystar itself needs to embrace (but without really defining what it means). In the late night shirtless meeting, Roman uses “disruptor” as a(n actually kind of smart) reasoning for taking his shirt off. The spectrum of this usage is so broad that the word might as well be “woke.” Or “epic.” There’s no specificity to it; it just doesn’t convey.

The Logan Roy “Comin’ For Ya With Love, Baby” Scene of the Week

Shiv, armed with Nate’s guy’s knowledge that Marcia used to live in Paris and go to parties where there were also criminals (arms dealers, but even so. What does Shiv think Marcia’s going to do, kidnap Logan and hold him until the government releases some black market shadow figure?), grabs Tom and Connor and bum rushes Marcia at home. She makes it into the inner sanctum, where Logan is no longer Logatose but doesn’t seem exactly…with it. But that doesn’t stop Shiv from acting like nothing’s wrong, because if her and her brothers’ time at the hospital taught us anything it’s that the Roys treat a crisis like anything else that can be controlled through brute political and / or financial force. She also tries to assassinate him by dropping this little surprise.

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Shiv Roy (Sarah Snook) just fuckin’ nailing it (COURTESY: HBO)

HAHA SHIV JESUS CHRIST what the fuck are you thinking, “Hey Dad, it’s good to see you, you’re looking great and I picked up some milk for Marcia so I just wanted to pop in and say we’re coming for dinner tomorrow, also last night I scooped two stray cats into a a canvas bag and threw it from my car into the East River, OK gotta run.” Proportionally, this is as badly fucked a delivery of information as Tom’s proposal. And yes – to Logan, Shiv getting engaged to Tom is as heinous an act as murdering two cats is to you, sitting at home reading this with a good heart in your chest and a non-septic brain in your head.

But Logan’s response will have to come another time. Because he is very much not well. He tells Shiv “I love you” in the sweetest voice we’ve heard from him to this point, maybe the sweetest voice we’ve ever heard him use through all three Succession seasons. Shiv looks both skeptical and confused, because of course she does; her father is not one to drop casual and heartfelt “I love you”s (or, let’s be honest, any other type). But after a moment she tells him that she loves him, too. And then he takes her hand in his. And then he guides her hand into his pants.

Shiv recoils, then flees. Marcia is gentle with her on the way out the door, saying that mornings aren’t good for Logan because the morphine leaves him delirious. And maybe that is part of the reason that he clearly thought his daughter was someone else – Marcia, the yet-unveiled Lady Caroline, a cocktail waitress from a long-ago night of passion, whomever. For me, this exchange is less about Logan’s addled state of mind and more about the fact that his presumption, his default position when presented with a woman at his bedside, was to make a move. And that Shiv’s recoil was her second in the scene. The first was when her father told her “I love you.” I could go on about how it’s weird that that is straight-up uncharacteristic of Logan, but this recap is already too fucking long and this scene gets sadder the more I think about it. So let’s instead pivot quickly to something a bit happier.

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Ken (Jeremy Strong) looking…truly happy? for the very first time? in Succession. (COURTESY: HBO)

Look at that fucking face! Are there elementary school photos of Jeremy Strong floating around out there? Do we have his kindergarten class picture or anything like that? Because wow it’s nice to see Kendall looking this happy; it’s so unusual and his warmth is so palpable that there’s something truly childlike about his face. And I do mean that in the best possible sense. It’s likely that he’s floating on air because a) he’s at dinner with Rava and b) thanks to Stewy’s comment earlier, Ken has both reconciliation and a little bedroom time share on his mind.

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Natalie Gold’s Rava is feeling some stirrings for Ken (Jeremy Strong), but not in the part of her body he would prefer. (COURTESY: HBO)

But then we shouldn’t overlook reason c): after Sandy’s little visit to Waystar HQ, Ken called a second coffee shop meeting with Stewy where he proposed that Stewy, instead of buying Waystar outright, simply invest $4 billion in the company and become a part-owner. After a few lines of coke off his iPhone in the coffee shop bathroom, Stewy admits that he’s not entirely opposed to the idea. Which Kendall, in turn, knows means that Stewy is in fact 100% on board with the plan and that he (Ken) has just found a way to save the company with a few hundred million to spare.

So, yeah, he and Rava go back to his place and fuck.

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1/2 of Jeremy Strong as Kendall Roy and about 1/12th of Natalie Gold as Rava in Succession. (Not pictured: love.) (COURTESY: HBO)

If memory serves, this is maybe the only sex scene in Succession‘s entire run? If Kendall and Naomi have a scene that’s anything like this in the coming seasons, I do not recall it. Possibly because Naomi is not Rava. It’s not thoroughly happy sex, because Ken spends the whole time insisting breathily that he and Rava are getting back together, and Rava parries his every thrust by insisting that no, they really are not. And the next morning, she checkmates Kendall by informing him, as civilly and tenderly as possible, that she’s moving ahead with the divorce: “I got a lawyer? He’s…nice? Let’s just keep this all really, really nice, okay?”

And then Ken’s sadness brunch really gets underway when he stops by to see his father and actually gets an audience, tells him about the $4 billion, leaves out the part where Stewy gets voting shares and a seat on the board, and is promptly told – in a sentence that only takes 15 seconds to get out – “You are…a…fucking idiot.”

FINALLY! Greg, who has apparently been walking around New York City just smiling and saying hello to every single person dressed in a suit or business casual from the minute he started his new job, pauses near a bench in Central Park where a pair of well-tailored chaps (well, one well-tailored and one wearing clothes, at least) are sitting and having a quiet conversation. Greg pauses not just because they are clearly business douchebags, but because he recognizes one of the men as someone with whom he saw Kendall having coffee earlier in the week. Also, because he needs to tie his shoe.

But the fellows don’t see him at all. They go right on having their little conversation, sitting right out in the open as if they’ve got nothing to hide.

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Stewy (Arian Moayed) and Sandy (Larry Pine) just hanging out on a bench in Central Park doing absolutely nothing at all on this lovely early autumn day, and how nice it is to see you. (COURTESY: HBO)

DUN DUN DUN! I dunno man, if I had just put together a $4 billion deal to buy into my good friend’s family super company super lickety-split like that, I might not want to sit out in public chatting with my good friend’s family super company’s super-duper enemy like that. But what the hell do I know about business anyway, right? I’m just a lowly recapper, toiling away for your entertainment. And if you’ve made it this far, let me please give you a hand.


–About that mixed metaphor! At the board meeting, Kendall tells everyone that Waystar needs “a thousand lifeboats” to keep it from becoming “the biggest fucking horse trader in Detroit, 1909.” At the end of the meeting, he also tells everyone that “‘steady-as-she-goes’ hits the iceberg.” Let’s push aside the horribly mangled timeline for now – the Model T reference is accurate, but the Titanic sank in 1912 – and conjure up the relevant visual: try to imagine what Kendall is talking about without seeing, in your cold, indifferent mind’s eye, the world’s largest cruise liner being pulled across the ocean by a team of horses infinitely long and which team, slowly, steadily, and inexorably, sinks beneath the waves, to neigh again nevermore.

–One more thing about the meeting & I promise it’s cheerier than millions of horses drowning! It didn’t occur to me until this rewatch that Roman lets the bit about Logan trying to put on a sock slip out without even realizing what he’s doing. As in, he doesn’t understand that a) that is a hugely inappropriate admission to make right now and b) it actually tells everyone in the room exactly how serious Logan’s condition is without any more information necessary. And Roman doesn’t see that he’s done it because he was just going for a cheap laugh at another person’s expense. You might not need it for awhile, but you can have that carved on your tombstone now, Roman.

–OK now about that continuity error I mentioned about 6,000 words ago. In the pilot, every exterior shot with a tree in it – every swooping helicopter shot and every shot from a car window as it cruised along a parkway – showed every tree almost completely free of leaves. (We also heard at one point that it’s “five weeks to” either “the holiday” or “Thanksgiving,” I don’t remember which and I can’t be bothered to go check because I know you don’t really care and it doesn’t matter anyway. The point is it’s not earlier than very late October.) Then, at the beginning of “Lifeboats,” Kendall enters the Waystar lobby and through the glass wall by the elevators we see a tree covered in heavy snow. And now, at the end of “Lifeboats,” we pass through a Central Park where only a few trees, among them a rather sickly looking American Sycamore, have lost any foliage at all. Again: I don’t care about this; it’s not unusual for shows to film their pilot episode months or even a year before they get picked up and then shoot the rest of the season. These examples are just so stark that they stand out for me, a person who spends a great deal of time wondering about trees and snow.

–The dog’s name is Mondale, hahaha but also fuck you Jesse Armstrong

–Forgive me for dropping yet another sitcom reference into just this one Succession recap, but I’m getting a sort of Arrested Development, Michael-and-Lindsay-Bluth vibe from the scene with Shiv and Kendall at the office. Someone should do a Succession fan edit of these two but set to David Schwartz‘s amazing ukulele soundtrack. Sarah Snook could perform the cover.

–Waystar’s stock symbol is WAYA.

–Kendall actually got a sweet, quiet moment with Marcia, so gentle you could almost miss it. When he stops by the house after his first day and Marcia asks if she can pass along a message to Logan for him, Ken makes the anti-Shiv play and agrees. But he can’t figure out how to say what he wants to say. And it’s not because he’s trying to guard against Marcia tampering; it’s that he doesn’t want his father to misunderstand how much trouble Waystar is in or think that Ken is incapable of handling it. And Ken probably knows Logan will think that no matter what. So he fumbles and draws blanks for a minute, then laughs and says, quietly, that it’s all pretty complicated. And Marcia, far from thinking he’s condescending to her by assuming she wouldn’t understand the information, smiles and tells Kendall, “I’m sure you’re doing the right thing.”

–In their first scene together, after he promised a secret rendezvous with Shiv’s vagina, Tom told his fiancée “Don’t make me choose” when she asked him to come with her to try barging past Marcia to get to Logan. He even put a little baritone into his voice, the sweet simp. Later on, after she’s gotten the “intel” from Nate, Shiv pulls Big Tommy Wambaritone out of his very first staff meeting as the new whatever the hell his ascendant job is with nothing more than a phone call and an order.

–Marcia gets a terrific and seriously underappreciated line: “Not all of us are born into good ease.”

–Was it the left sock or the right sock?

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