Wow, you guys, we made it. Anyone else feeling the stirrings of grief that this brief window of joy in 2019 (our year of discontent) is coming to a close? Since last week’s congressional hearings, there’s been a lot of chatter out there in Succession-land about who might be the blood sacrifice Logan referenced last week. After all, you can’t make a Tomlette without breaking some Greggs.
But as it turns out, that sacrifice was a red herring of sorts. Because guess what this season turned out to *really* be about: Kendall Roy proved to his daddy that he is indeed a stone cold killer after all. What I’m saying is, he’s a little bit more L to the OG than we, or maybe even he, realized. Like, if he was a Smashing Pumpkins song, he’d be the lyric “The Killer in me is the killer in you.”
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But I get ahead of myself. Let’s go back to the beginning—no not to Scotland which apparently turned Logan Roy into a sociopath—but to the entire Roy family trading their enviable chunky knits for some stellar resort wear. (Let it be noted that the fact that this entire episode basically takes place on a CRUISE sized ship is some Alanis Morrissette-flavored irony.)
Greg has testified and Hugo is watching from the back of a car with Logan, who is making the opposite of a Christmas list. It has five names on it as potential fall people: Gerri, Cyd, Frank, Ray, and Karl. (Haha, Ray.) On the other column there are question marks next to Tom and Kendall. Hilariously, he puts himself down as “me.”
Logan asks if Roman is safe. Turns out that he is okay and, not to worry, they got him a doctor, a shrink, and some fresh clothes. But Logan is distracted by an incoming call from a major shareholder, Phillipe Layton. He does his whole I’m-a-tough-bird routine, but Phillipe ain’t buying. He suggests that Logan sacrifice himself in order to keep the shareholders happy. Logan says he’ll think on it.
We next see what looks like a Jerry Jones-sized yacht. It’s docked on sparkling Mediterranean waters, Connor and Willa arrive bickering about her play and reviews. Tom and Shiv arrive and Tom keeps asking if one of the passing women on board is the one that Shiv has set up to be the third party in their planned threesome. Kendall arrives holding hands with Naomi Pierce with Greg tagging along behind. Greg is having panic about having to take off his shoes since he has some sort of toenail issue. “Sails out nails out, bro,” says Kendall. Oh yes, nails are out—just not the toe kind.
Connor and Willa look at her reviews. They are not good. There’s a headline so bad that Willa actually grabs the iPad and throws it into the sea, which is my favorite thing Willa has done all season long!
Roman arrives to cheers and teasing of the Roy variety. He’s not feeling it. He reminds them they thought they were going to die and jokes (?) he was raped a little bit but all good now. Oh Roman! Everyone is chagrined and he immediately switches back into joking form but I, for one, am concerned.
The family lounges: Kendall in the Christ position in the gorgeous pool; Shiv in an insanely amazing oversized hat; Roman, inscrutable in shades. Kendall fills him on the hearings and Roman tells him he watched, and Kendall did well. Shiv agrees. Kendall, understandably, waits for the other shoe to drop. But his siblings mean it. Roman asks who will become the successor (drink!). Kendall assures him it won’t be Ken. Roman tells his siblings he really did think he might die, and asks if they come through this current crisis, is there a way for them to, you know, TALK to each other about stuff? And ugh, the poor Roy children really don’t know how to deal with earnestness. They immediately start doing silly voices and poking fun, which is a weird way of saying “not a chance!” but even Roman starts to smile. But then Logan’s whirlybird arrives and all jokes stop.
Logan bounds off the helicopter and goes straight to Roman, calling Karl and Laird with them to talk business. Laird is enthusiastic about the money prospects and incredibly complimentary in regards to Roman’s acumen in the pitching room. Smiles all around! But, Roman stops things to tell his dad that he thinks it might not be a real offer. And this is the most calm and reasonable we’ve ever seen Roman. And Logan is paying attention. Karl backs up Roman. Laird sputters a bit but Logan tells him they can’t go with it. Laird loses his mind a little bit and the next thing we know he’s off on a smaller boat, headed toward shore. Bye Laird! (Or, as Logan calls him, Jamie!)
Logan and Kendall watch him go and Logan fills in Kendall that he still can’t believe he’s in this mess. I can’t believe that hipster hat that Kendall is wearing. He tells Logan that Stewie is in Greece, but Logan shakes off that suggestion.
Greg is drinking rosé champagne (not his favorite), when Tom lets him know that the private money deal is off so heads are going to roll. Meanwhile, Logan (in the chunky knit of straw hats), watches Kendall be happy with Naomi Pierce. He’s distracted when Connor asks him for a cool hundred million. Logan tells him maybe, if he cuts off his campaign. He tells Connor everyone thinks it’s a joke and that he’s embarrassing him. Finally.
Logan tells the assembled group that he will not make an announcement that day, and tomorrow they’ll discuss the whole head on spike thing, but tonight everyone should drink up and be merry. Not so likely.
Much like some Agatha Christie novel where everyone is trapped together and gets picked off one by one, the pack turns on one another and starts batting names around. Everyone is getting real nervous. Not so much Kendall, who is having fun with Naomi till his dad comes over to stop it. He makes Kendall sweat a bit, over the etiquette of bringing her aboard, and then Kendall babbles about how good she is for him. Logan is like, we don’t have enough provisions. Logan wants no part of her and her drug past. Or maybe he just doesn’t like happy Kendall.
In Tom and Shiv’s lavish suite, Shiv is all excited to start their threesome adventure, but Tom quickly starts to unravel in the reality of it. First he suggests he watches. Then he suggests that the woman watch him and Shiv. Shiv, quite rightly, points out that he’s turning their threesome into a twosome. Poor Tom, his good square midwestern roots are showing. They agree to call it off and Shiv skulks off.
Logan awakens in his massive bed alone. Aw, I miss Marcia! He greets the day and insane views with a phone call asking if “she’s gone.” Sure enough, Naomi is the next one to get packed up on a boat and taken to shore. Poor Ken, he looks truly broken. He tells her that his father loves him. She corrects him that it’s the broke in him that Logan loves. She leaves and Kendall cries. Ken!
Logan makes a little speech that ends with him saying that he’d like to announce himself as the fall guy. His children rush in to tell him, no, no, they can’t do that. Kendall makes some sense about stability. Logan says he needs one meaningful skull to wave—he says that he’ll take care of whoever it is that has to go. The names start flying: Gerri, Frank, Karl. Roman, in the purest sweetness we’ve ever seen, quickly rushes in to turn the tide of the conversation elsewhere when the heat is put on Gerri. Roman offers up Tom instead. Shiv looks thoughtful. She says he looks logical and Tom freaks out. Logan asks if Tom works, and Kendall says he’s not a big enough skull. So Roman says, coining an instant classic: How about some Greg sprinkles? (Greg is not as down with this as all of us.) Connor offers to sacrifice himself but nobody gives a fig about that.
Kendall is running on a treadmill with the biggest, most awesome pair of headphones I’ve ever seen. A friend asked me to identify them, and the Internet delivered: Beyerdynamic. Their noise-canceling ability appears excellent and you almost can’t hear that he’s running to LCD Soundsystem’s “North American Scum.” (Mmmhmm.)
Logan asks if the two of them are okay. Kendall makes some noises in return and Logan asks if Stewie is still available. Turns out he’s in Axios. He warns his father it might be humiliating. Logan says he gets it, but that what he knows he needs to do he doesn’t want to.
They arrive, Stewie is awfully chill, and Kendall lays it out on the line—they are there to make a deal. Logan says it’s a one time offer and not to counter. But Stewie gives it a hard pass. Logan can’t believe it. Kendall sputters typical Roy threats, but Stewie is unmoved. He knows he’s in a power position and delights in telling the Roys to eff off.
Off shore, Tom and Shiv tool around looking for an appropriate cove to picnic. It looks to me like Shiv might be reading some Sally Rooney (makes sense), but Tom is distracted and morose. She offers to talk. Finally, he spills. Shiv toasted him, everyone has hung him out to dry. And finally it gets to the heart of the matter; he’s still mad about the fact that she sprung an open marriage on their wedding night. And man, it turns out he’s been really mad this whole time. Shiv is thrown—we’re not used to seeing Tom like this. And then, bless him, Matthew Macfadyen delivers the following with pure heartbreak in his voice and eyes: “I just think if I think about it, a lot of the time I’m pretty unhappy. I love you, I do. I wonder if the sad I’d be without you would be less of the sad I get from being with you.”
Shiv’s face collapses a little bit in on itself. It makes sense, her marrying a guy like Tom. He’s the anti-Roy in so many ways that must feel comforting and safe. Why else would she push him all the time? But this is something you can see is breaking her. She tells him she’s sorry and that she’ll talk to Logan. No, says this new forceful Tom, he’ll talk to Logan.
And boy, does he. He plops right down with Logan upon arrival, and to all of our surprise and certainly Logan’s, grabs chicken off Logan’s plate and eats it with pure menace. “Thank you for the chicken,” he says. I love this new Tom! Logan doesn’t: He asks his daughter just what the what is going on with his son-in-law. She tells him she thinks that the tension is getting to people. He tells her he’s considering Gerri, Tom, and Greg. He tells her that he’ll take care of Tom. She asks why not Ken? Logan agrees that it would play. And then, Shiv comes apart like a little kid again. She tells Logan she doesn’t think it should be Tom. He sighs and tells her to tell him what she thinks. It’s the sort of tough choice people need to be able to make. Always testing his children, this guy. She tells him she can’t choose but begs again for it not to be Tom. “Please. For me.” Logan gives a gruff nod and leaves her.
It’s sunset and Kendall is deep in thought, isolated from his surroundings thanks to his gigantic headphones. He watches Shiv come out with a comforting word to Tom. With a sad look on her face she sends him in to Logan. He nods, understanding everything.
He walks into Logan’s quarters, already on the verge of tears. Logan greets him and tells him that his hands are tied. He tells his son that he and Marcia used to read to one another. He talks about the Incas sacrificing a child to the sun. “What could you possibly kill that you love so much it would make the sun rise again.” Also, he misses Marcia. But the long and the short of it is that it’s Kendall on the block and Kendall rushes to tell him it’s okay. Logan plows ahead: There will be a press conference where Kendall takes the fall and directed the coverup and it went no higher. Kendall keeps agreeing. But then he asks Logan a question: Did he ever think Kendall could do the top job? Logan is all, um, well, you’re not a killer. You have to be a killer. Kendall takes this in. He gazes at the sea. Logan asks if they’re good and Kendall says he deserves it for what happened in England. “It’s good to pay.” Logan, showing his true monster stripes, calls the waiter who died one of those “no real person involved.” Blech. Kendall puts his hand on his father’s shoulder and kisses him on the cheek.
They go out to the assembled guests who are waiting anxiously. Logan tells them that he’s decided and Roman—secretly sweet Roman!—raises objections. Kendall tells the table it’s fine. Logan tells Roman he’s going to be COO. Interesting. Kendall smiles at his brother and tells him it’s great news.
The next day the helicopter takes off with Greg and Kendall, which is a weird twosome. On the plane home, Greg is nervous. Kendall tells him he can go to the bathroom without jumping out the window. He stops to tell Kendall to say he’s sorry about the whole thing. Kendall looks thoughtful.
But before you know it, he’s exiting the plane in a sharp suit. Greg too. They pile into the awaiting cars and go straight to a press conference. Carolina tells Kendall that Logan is watching. Indeed, we see he is. Shiv sits down next to him (wearing the best high-waisted pants ever), and he asks her if she is okay. She says she can’t eat. Logan says it had to be done.
Kendall gets up to the microphone and guess what: Kendall decides to go rogue. He says that everything is Logan’s fault, he is a bully and a liar and a malignant presence at the company. He also makes the statement that Logan keeps a watchful eye over the whole empire and the idea he wouldn’t know about cover-ups and payouts “fanciful.” AND he has copies of the records that have Logan’s sign-offs on them, and we pan to Greg carrying an unmarked folder. (The Chekhovian gun has finally gone off.) “This is the day his reign ends,” Kendall says.
Logan watches his son go full turncoat on television. His eyes are cold. But wait, there’s a gleam that appears and a half-smile on his face. Is he proud of the fact that his son turned out to be a Roy after all? Or is it pride that he has pushed Kendall into making a killer move that will ultimately win share-holders over and keep the company in family hands? I’m leaning toward the latter after repeat viewings—Logan practically dared him to do something like this. But I suppose we will have to wait till season three. (UGH I DON’T WANT TO WAIT TILL SEASON THREE.) But in summation, this show simply crushed this season. Bravo to the Succession gang. Woe to the rest of us who have nothing to do for the next year except to start over.