Succession: Church and State
May 22, 2023 7:53 AM - Season 4, Episode 9 - Subscribe

He was, uh, a great man in the, um... in the true sense... Sense of the world... word.
posted by Etrigan (64 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
I have some thoughts but I need to attend to a work deadline - so for now I'll just note, that at the penultimate episode I am still watching the opening credits.
posted by coffeecat at 8:05 AM on May 22, 2023 [18 favorites]

It's very interesting to revisit the discussion, last week, about whether or not Shiv was genuinely emotional over the rise of Mencken and fascism in light of how, this week, there isn't a single moment where she shows a hint of discomfort as she cozies up to him.

There's also an interesting thing, Shiv-wise, in that we've seen her give more wedding/funeral speeches than anybody, and she always goes for a kind of pithy, dismissive tone. It feels like, in this one, she starts out by going for that too, and simply can't. And her line about her father's inability to keep an entire woman in his head at once feels like it's maybe the most genuine thing she's ever said. What a powerful line.

(Shiv-and-Tom giving me whiplash again, meanwhile.)

The moment that's most stuck with me, for some reason, is the bit with Caroline and Kerry and Marcia and Sally Anne (sic?). What an exquisitely tender and generous moment to have portrayed.

This whole episode was exquisite, though. Maybe my favorite of the series, and that's saying something. I have to go back and watch Deadwood after this, because Succession very well might have replaced it as the best-written TV series of all time.
posted by Tom Hanks Cannot Be Trusted at 8:17 AM on May 22, 2023 [16 favorites]

I'm really going to miss this show.

But I was left underwhelmed by this episode. My expectations were too high; obviously the funeral was going to be an enormous set piece, the opportunity to get a lot of characters together for the very last time. And some of that was great; the four women (including "My Kerry") was a real highlight. I think structurally my complaint is probably at the out-size role the funeral speeches played in the script. They were good but it felt a bit like the writers showing off rather than character development.

All three of the main children got to have genuine emotions this time around! Their reactions felt very real and human. Particularly as echoed by the chorus; the look of pity, disgust, and sympathy on Karl / Geri / Frank's faces during Roman's breakdown said an awful lot. They both hate Roman and yet also feel empathy for him.

Weird how Tom was basically written out. I think probably they just had too man other stories to write and Tom has gotten plenty of time this season. They did make effective use of him at the end.

It was interesting how the episode was centered around Roman. At the start, puffing himself up for his grand funeral performance. In the middle, his breakdown. And at the end, his seeking out and finding physical abuse. The broken toy.

Kendall's going to flame out next episode, we presume. Shiv will fizzle. But Greg sure has "American CEO" written across his forehead.
posted by Nelson at 8:50 AM on May 22, 2023 [5 favorites]

(Shiv-and-Tom giving me whiplash again, meanwhile.)

Shiv & Tom... weep. Such a grace note when she made him the offer of tiniest respite of a couple hours at their old apartment. I mean, that something so small could count as grace from one of these kids... testament to fantastic writing and characterization.

Don't think anything could replace Deadwood as best-written. But wow this is so good.

Marcia's generosity both to Kerry and to Shiv (& for Shiv, after she had just got that semi-bullshit from Frank and Karl!) was something else.

BTW why does everyone seem so surprised that Kendall could adlib an excellent eulogy ("excellent," in content, being obviously, horrifically relative)? I am still a bit baffled by the general consensus that the offspring are all failchildren in every way. Each one of them has displayed Logan-like instincts along the way, and done pretty well (morals aside), all things considered. I think that Kendall's facility with words was established back in season one, when he called words "complicated air flow." See also, his excellent speech season 2 finale, and his master handling of the congressional hearings, when Logan himself shit the bed. And his ridiculous success with Life+ (or whatever it was called). Kendall has actually always been able to stand up when a good speech has been needed.

Roman--oh Rome! Awful thing to say, but it feels like suicide is the only way out for Rome. Love that fascist asshole; but honestly, if even Gerri's given up on him, I don't know where he goes. (I also think Gerri's comment to him--"I could have got your there"--meant a whole lot more than getting him to a top spot.) Rome was redeemable, I think; but Gerri was probably his last chance.

Shiv's the most tragic, largely because of the larger burden she bears (literally) and her spot as the one woman fighting in this shitshow. How ironic that she accused Tom's family of being strivers. But also there is Sarah Snook's acting. Unbelievable. And even at the end of this episode, Mattson still promises her absolutely nothing. She hears it as a promise, but he makes no promise. That American CEO could be anyone. Who was sitting across from him in that car?
posted by torticat at 9:02 AM on May 22, 2023 [6 favorites]

Also, Kendall fully breaking bad. Maybe he does actually take the crown.
posted by torticat at 9:09 AM on May 22, 2023

I have to go back and watch Deadwood after this, because Succession very well might have replaced it as the best-written TV series of all time.

I'm enjoying Succession but, unlike Deadwood, I doubt I'll ever watch it again. It just doesn't have the same re-watchability that Deadwood and (my other contender for best-written) The Wire have. Much of Succession has felt unscripted and ad-libbed.

Where it really shines, IMO, is in the acting more than the writing. It's moving at times but also a bit draining and once I know the end, I don't know I need to relive the experience. In some ways, Succession kind of reminds me of Soap. "Confused, you won't be after next week's episode of... Soap" was the promise. It was always, of course, a lie. Doubly so because the series was canceled without a final episode...

(A Logan and Al face-off would be something to behold. Any movies or shows where Brian Cox and Ian McShane chew scenery at each other? That'd be glorious.)

Curious to see if or how this all resolves in the final episode or if it ends up like Soap, just one more cliffhanger and unresolved story lines, just like life.

Big agree on the moment with Logan's wives and mistresses at the funeral. That was unexpected kindness and really touching, though with a little mandatory cattiness. ("She was my Kerry.")

"Awful thing to say, but it feels like suicide is the only way out for Rome.... Rome was redeemable"

Nah. None of them are, or were. And I can't see Roman being suicidal. At least, not going through with it.
posted by jzb at 9:24 AM on May 22, 2023 [2 favorites]

One of the greatest episodes of one of the greatest TV shows. So many great lines and moments. The (non-funny) one that hit me the most was Rome’s “He made me breathe funny”. A whole relationship boiled down to one sentence.

I really thought they were wrapping things up, but then Shiv the Shiv swoops on.

Love the shamelessness of Greg.

Ah, too much to say too little time.
posted by chill at 9:35 AM on May 22, 2023 [2 favorites]

Mattson says Mencken agrees to a US CEO. Funny he didn't name the CEO. It's totally going to be Tom.
posted by Pendragon at 9:38 AM on May 22, 2023 [1 favorite]

If I recall, neither Gerri or Tom were on the kill list. I am thinking that the CEO dark horse could be Gerri. I mean if you want someone who actually knows the business and is capable, she's the one. But is that what Mattson wants?
posted by Ber at 10:32 AM on May 22, 2023

I suspected Roman was going to screw the pooch (or maybe worse: bring the house down, Nuremberg rally style), but the way he so totally and so visibly collapsed struck a false note with me. Worse than an end-of-episode sitcom reset, it felt out of character. No matter his faults and fundamental weaknesses, I just don't buy him going completely fetal.

I kind of expected him to go off-notes and ad lib to the point where he basically wound up agreeing with Uncle Ewan, which would still leave plenty of room for Kendall to win everyone over with "the other side." IOW, they didn't really have to mess with the character to serve the plot.
posted by whuppy at 10:45 AM on May 22, 2023

I desperately want to see Con and Willa's eulogy, especially considering what happened the last time they co-created one of those.
posted by Ragged Richard at 11:14 AM on May 22, 2023 [8 favorites]

I'm sure I'm not the first person who's made the Rose/Rosebud connection, but knowing about Rose at long last sure drives home the Logan/Charles Foster Kane parallel. That bleak combination of feeling like life is cruel and arbitrary mixed with the secret conviction that he was responsible for his own sister's death... man. And presumably that fed into Logan's uncle's abuse of him, too.

Ewan's words about Logan are utterly striking, and I'll be chewing on them for a good long while:
He was mean, and he made but a mean estimation of the world. And he fed a certain kind of meagerness in men. Perhaps he had to, because he had a meagerness about him. And maybe I do about me too... I don't know. I try. I try. I don't know when, but sometime he decided not to try anymore.
Ken's words about Logan were brilliantly conflicted, but also reminded me of a pretty classic language pattern in abusive relationships: the idea that the abuse is worth it, because the abuser (or the relationship itself) is inherently more colorful, more exciting, more meaningful than anything else could be. Which Ken directly compares to business itself, the process of making money, changing the world for no reason other than to simply say that you've changed it. "Now people might want to tend and prune the memory of him, to denigrate that force, that magnificent awful force of him, but, my god, I hope it's in me. Because if we can't match his vim, then God knows the future will be sluggish and grey."

I'm torn between thinking that the series ends on Kendall becoming his father and taking over as CEO, and thinking that Greg takes over as a useful stooge instead. But who knows. I trust that Armstrong et al have thought this through comprehensively, and come to a monster of a solution. (And, knowing them, they'll have found a solution that people shout over for years and years to come.)
posted by Tom Hanks Cannot Be Trusted at 11:54 AM on May 22, 2023 [16 favorites]

For me, the decision to narrow the timeframe covered at the same time we've lost a lot of the jokes (this is the third episode this season where the balance is tipped more heavily to drama than comedy) makes the show feel a lot slower than it has in the past. On the other hand, the acting is (as ever) top notch, and I'm feeling some sort of parasocial joy that that pretentious goofball Jeremy Strong has had such a wonderful place to demonstrate his considerable talents.

I agree that Shiv is really making some assumptions about getting the CEO job when Matsson hasn't said anything close to yes. (You'd think she would've learned from her last rodeo, when her dad screwed her over after promising her the position.) Greg would by far be the funniest person to head up Waystar-Royco. Tom would be second funniest, though I think that would spell the end for anyone wishing Shiv and Tom a happy ending. (Seeing how publicly disdainful Caroline is of her husband who apparently loves and chose to marry should mark the end of anyone wanting to partner up with Shiv. Shiv learned her most awful behavior from her parents.)

After hearing a fairly nuanced take on Logan from Ewan, who knew Logan better than anyone in the world, it was funny that Shiv turned to her dad's yes-men and demanded confirmation that he was actually a good guy. These are not serious people. (I also like that Kendall's terrible Doing Stuff and Making Money speech spurred exactly one negative reaction shot, and it was from Caroline when Kendall credited Logan with their birth. Fucking Kendall, man.)
posted by grandiloquiet at 11:58 AM on May 22, 2023 [2 favorites]

for now I'll just note, that at the penultimate episode I am still watching the opening credits.

I know, right? That title theme is the best ever written, from the repeated fist-pounding treble dissonance to the ever so slightly wonky carnival-ride rhythm. Magnificent work from Nicholas Britell.
posted by flabdablet at 12:24 PM on May 22, 2023 [9 favorites]

I feel that Rome's breakdown was perfection, both in acting and writing. He has been in deep, deep denial. He's the youngest and a total daddy's boy. He continued to speak to his father even when he wasn't "supposed to." He is also completely child-like in his emotional growth. He likely feels the most and puts up a huge front to pretend he doesn't, because his feelings feed into his deep shelf-hatred. He's been throwing tantrums and does what he wants without regard for others to self sooth. So now he is faced with the reality. His dad, someone he loves, someone he was desperate to feel love from, is dead. He can't deny it any longer, no matter how much he hyped himself up for an amazing ovation-worthy speech. No matter how much he "pre-greived."

He can't handle it and reality comes in and he breaks. He reverts to his child-like state needing comfort. He sobs, he asks his siblings about the casket: "Is he... is he in there? Well can we get him out?"

(As a note, I interpreted that as "I want my dad back" whereas my spouse felt it meant "I can't look at it anymore.")

And then Kendall coming in and holding everyone's attention.

And yeah, the women all bonding around each other now that the person they all revolved around is gone... incredible.

Anyway, I loved this episode. It had me completely enthralled. If you watch the behind-the episode the filming was discussed and it yet again was a feat of camerawork and coordination. I especially loved the shot of Shiv outside the mausoleum that rotates around and follows her as she walks, making it feel a bit disoriented. 10/10
posted by Crystalinne at 1:34 PM on May 22, 2023 [10 favorites]

it really like a lot more than an hour.

It was an hour and 13 minutes, not including the end credits!
posted by ejs at 2:17 PM on May 22, 2023 [1 favorite]

"Peter's incredibly excited. I think he's brought his autograph book... he's now going to roll around like a Labrador in a lovely pile of senators."

That is brilliant writing.
posted by flabdablet at 2:44 PM on May 22, 2023 [12 favorites]

I'd definitely like to hear more about Connor's pitch for a "pan-Habsburg America-led alternative to the EU" that he tried to dangle in front of Mencken.
posted by fortitude25 at 3:11 PM on May 22, 2023 [15 favorites]

I also thought the intense dickishness in Roman's reaction to Shiv's pregnancy on the car ride over was a clear sign that he was feeling nervous. Also, what a delightfully funny scene, with Kendall clearly wondering if it's Tom's but being slightly too polite to ask. (Caroline's reaction, also delightful - the amount communicated in facial expressions in that scene...) I found Roman's breakdown believable for the reasons already mentioned - his love for Logan was the least complicated of all the siblings, and he's also extremely emotionally stunted - but we see him getting increasingly agitated the more he's forced to take part in the theatrics of the funeral. As someone who isn't religious and hasn't attended any formal funerals, I was stuck by how much funerals are like weddings - designed to evoke emotion.

Anyway, I agree that Kendall's ability to make a good-enough speech is mostly meaningless beyond the fact that it has given him another wave of confidence. He has always been good a speaking - it's actually having a plan and following through with it that's his weakness - also being likable. At this point, he obviously has Hugo (woof woof) on his side, reliably Greg (for whatever that's worth), and maybe Frank? But at this point, it seems like Frank (along with the other suits) wants to take the money and retire.

The final episode will be 90 minutes - I wonder if this means we will finally get through more than a day in one episode. It sorta seems impossible for anything to really conclude with one more day - will we even know who is president? Assuming that the chronology picks up, my guess is that the joke of Succession will be that none of them succeed. Jimenez will ultimately win, the deal will go through, and Matsson won't need Shiv but might offer her some lesser post that she'll reject out of pride. I guess they can still buy Pierce?

The fact is, none of the children really have much power now that Logan's dead- they have a bit of power as long as they're in charge of ATN, but once the deal goes through, that will be gone too. Their power was always due to their proximity to Logan. That's why politicians wanted to hire Shiv, that's why anyone bothered to take meetings with Roman or Kendall - because they knew in a sense, they were meeting with Logan.
posted by coffeecat at 4:11 PM on May 22, 2023 [8 favorites]

It's hilarious that Kendall did in fact "win" the funeral.

Oh boy did Logan Roy have a type.

I disagree that Shiv shows no discomfort over the Mencken deal. She is very, very good at masking but there is an extended beat towards the end where you can see the distress and the internal conflict playing out. I was screaming at the TV that she still had the choice to walk away with a piece of herself still intact.

But nope. Shiv gets the call from Mattson and thinks she's got her prize, and all of that is wiped out in an instant. Sarah Snook really is killing it.
posted by arha at 6:12 PM on May 22, 2023 [2 favorites]

I am curious to find out if Menken meant what he said in his speech about compromise, and if he sees the Roys and the Mattsons as the welfare queens and kings.
posted by oldnumberseven at 6:41 PM on May 22, 2023 [1 favorite]

Good episode. I bought Roman's breakdown completely, in fact I saw it coming. He's never been good at speaking, and his one move -- turning everything into a joke -- doesn't work at a funeral. And he's the most emotionally affected, as much as he denied it he had the most uncomplicated love for his father.

Also did you see Roman hovering, unable to come inside, when the other sibs were joking about top bunks in the mausoleum? I had flashbacks, I was exactly that kid at a funeral once.

My prediction: Mattson chooses Greg as the US CEO, since he's a useful idiot to him. Greg hires Tom as his assistant and Tom takes it because he doesn't think he can do any better.

(More likely the board will get a say on this and they'll choose Kendall even though Shiv is right there.)

Favorite line: Shiv saying "I'm looking forward to seeing how he gets out of this one" when the casket is being loaded into the Mausoleum.
posted by mmoncur at 9:26 PM on May 22, 2023 [3 favorites]

Roman was holding it together until Ewan’s speech. You could see him breaking in real-time during that eulogy, and he couldn’t recover.
posted by rajbot at 10:14 PM on May 22, 2023 [6 favorites]

Re: Brian Cox and Ian McShane, there is but one season alas of Kings, but you do get Cox and McShane facing each other in a dungeon several times.

One of the saddest things about the show is that together, the three kids make up an even better corporate leader than Logan. Kendall has the big talk and vision, Roman has management and an eye on the pulse, Shiv is an excellent negotiator and backroom player. But they've been brought up to destroy each other, not help.

My money is on Greg who I have come to absolutely loathe. The way they introduced him, he seemed like an audience stand-in for a middle class ordinary person corrupted by the Roys, but underneath, he is a Roy. He grew up expecting a quarter-billion inheritance and when we see him at the start, he's basically wasting time until his grandfather dies, with hints of a family backstory that isn't much kinder either.
posted by dorothyisunderwood at 12:29 AM on May 23, 2023 [11 favorites]

There's a Chekhov's gun in this episode when Ken finds Colin and asks him about his therapy. "We can't get you talking to other people. Work for me. Talk to me." (paraphrased).

I think Ken's homicide from Season 1 will be uncovered/leaked because of Colin's therapy, and that will be Ken's destruction, professional and personal. The siblings that were united at the Season 3 around Ken's confession will use it now as ammunition to tear each other apart.

I thought Tom, who left the party early ("go to the apartment for 2 hours") was the one in the car with Mattson. But Greg still has cruise papers somewhere, I'm sure. And the finale is 90 minutes, with a movie structure. Anything can happen now.
posted by kandinski at 12:41 AM on May 23, 2023 [4 favorites]

Episode 10 is titled "With Open Eyes", also from the Berryman poem Dream Song 29
posted by chavenet at 3:14 AM on May 23, 2023 [4 favorites]

If you haven't yet read that poem, you should. It's a masterpiece. I think it is meant to allude to Logan. It adds a profound dimension to my view of that character.
posted by GrammarMoses at 5:43 AM on May 23, 2023 [3 favorites]

Did we ever find out what that file/folder on Tom's computer was, that he asked Greg to delete, a few episodes back? Will that come up?

I do feel that, with Ken and Roman especially, their personalities swing wildly from one episode to the next. Sure, they should have very different emotional states in different situations, but those states so often flip between, and last for the duration of, each episode. Not a huge deal, just feels slightly clunky. Which Roman is it this week? Super confident, conflicted, or a mess?


If one of the siblings becomes final CEO I assume it will cost them everything else. For each of them I feel that boils down to realising they're entirely alone. Rava asking Ken for divorce and custody. Tom properly leaving Shiv, who realises she does want to be with him. Roman realising he has no one, his Dad's gone, even Gerri doesn't want him. They all hate each other.

Similarly if it was Tom - maybe Shiv properly leaves, with their future child. He's a success, but...

Those are some of the dramatic endings. But, if the obvious comedy ending happens - Greg becomes US CEO - then he's the only one I imagine being entirely thrilled. Apart from his desperation to be as successful and rich as he thinks everyone else is, he doesn't seem to care about much else. Yet.
posted by fabius at 5:54 AM on May 23, 2023 [1 favorite]

note, that at the penultimate episode I am still watching the opening credits.

So do they slip in different bits of commentary in the shots of the news room of monitors? I guess I could google or hit pause or grab them all and edit them down but get so much more insight here.
posted by sammyo at 6:42 AM on May 23, 2023

I love the fact that we just don’t have a clue how it will end. Sure we can guess and make a predication but it’s just a shot in the dark. You could make a convincing case for any of the major players getting the crown at this stage. Even Roman, a puppet CEO with Mencken as a stand in father figure with a technical partnership with Matsson, steering a democracy “almost as mature as Botswana’s”.

A minor point, but I think this is the first time we’ve seen Greg’s mum since the pilot isn’t it?
posted by chill at 6:44 AM on May 23, 2023

Before it's all said and done, let's take a moment to forget all the chatter about on-set Jeremy Strong and just give it up for his performance as Kendall, a role so internal and poker-faced that it might be overlooked in the presence of all the other brilliant, flashier performances.
posted by whuppy at 7:18 AM on May 23, 2023 [7 favorites]

That American CEO could be anyone. Who was sitting across from him in that car?

Could have been Greg and Ewan. I've wondered if Ewan would somehow manage to wrest control of his brother's empire so he could do things the "right way," or whatever. It's dog-eat-dog all the way down, and with all that simmering anger toward what Logan had built... I can't wait till the finale.
posted by heyho at 7:22 AM on May 23, 2023 [1 favorite]

Given the very Titanic-like poster for this season, you might say they hit the iceberg this season when Logan died and the rest has been scurrying around like rats while USS Waystar / Royco slips into the deep.
posted by chavenet at 7:27 AM on May 23, 2023 [1 favorite]

I watched the last two back to back, so I'm still processing all of it. I'm feeling pretty triggered by the election scenario, especially how plausible / not plausible it seemed in light of 2000 and 2016. But I also couldn't get my head wrapped around how just because ATN called WI prematurely, the other networks would. There are a lot of other national news organizations, and the case was pretty good that this wasn't a win for Mencken and that the repercussions if he won on a technicality would be dire. While I understand that they would primarily watch their own coverage - would it really be "how we call it goes," as opposed to "they called it but others are saying wait and see"? It seemed implausible. Especially if they're trying to build a plot point around people calling for Tom's head for making the call. It still allows Mencken to call himself President presumptive. This might just be magical thinking on my part though, still foolishly believing the country could save itself from the next fascist coup attempt. I kept hoping to somehow be rescued. When they said that Connor's proposed eulogy would be "legally actionable" I got a bit excited that it might turn into something... oh well.

All of the acting was so good in this, again - Culkin stands out, but even the little moments - I loved how Jess was trying so hard to not say what she clearly meant with every sentence, knowing exactly how it was going to go. And wordlessly handing him his coat afterwards with just the right look as if it never happened, like he needed.

I loved the moment with the four women. I didn't see it as catty. I saw it as accepting that if you loved the guy (and hated the guy), you had to accept that that's how he treated you. Caroline had the benefit of time to see it play out - I kind of doubt she and the woman she had to deal with (I'm shocked if / that it was only one) ever really talked beyond a scene like Marcia had with Kerry. What I saw was solidarity, that you don't see much in media ever. When a guy cheats, we always blame the woman. Always. And you know what, sometimes the guy's a dick. Sometimes ex wives can get along. Sometimes ex wives and later wives get along. I've never seen this situation, but he was dead and the kids were long adults. If anything, to me it was a moment of less cattiness, and I really liked it. (Then again, you can't really completely exonerate women who go into other peoples' marriages with their eyes open and stay put - this may have just been wishful thinking from some cheaty jerk writers who think they can do what they want and whenever they pull the plug on whoever they get tired of, they'll all get along).

I think they're building to have Greg be the CEO - it makes sense narratively since we started the series with him as the fuckup kid vomiting in the mascot suit. But I don't buy it. He's playing hard behind the scenes, I get that he has the moves. But when he gets confronted by anyone directly, he stammers and stalls and goes wishy washy. Not in a Shiv way, where she constantly hesitates but you can tell she understands and is weighing the options. He just seems like a deer in the headlights, dumbfounded by the ramifications of choices when they're suddenly his to make. I don't know that I believe that everyone could walk all over him - but I think most people could. If they elevate him just because the Roys are all incompetent at outmaneuvering him, it won't feel satisfying. He couldn't keep power. Gerri would eat him for lunch. Or Karl. Or Frank. He would have to show a real turn that the whole 'golly, um well, I dunno" thing was actually an act before I'd be okay with it.
posted by Mchelly at 8:06 AM on May 23, 2023 [8 favorites]

Mchelly, you saw the episode more recently to than me so perhaps I am not remember correctly (though the NYTimes synopsis seems to confirm my memory), but no other networks have called the election - just ATN. It's quite possible he won't be president - which is why I find it slightly odd none of the siblings are at planning at all for that outcome.

I don't get why so many people think Greg will be CEO. Nobody particular likes Greg (besides Tom, in his way), and certainly nobody respects Greg. Greg is good at acting in his self-interest, and because nobody takes him seriously, he's given access to knowledge that he can then use to his own advantage. I have no doubt there is a good likelihood some action by him will be an important plot point in the finale. But CEO? No way. I have a hard time believing Greg would even want the job.

People more likely to be CEO than Greg: Stewy, Sandi (Sandy's daughter), any of the suits, some Swede (if Jimenez wins), Tom, Ewan, someone we haven't met yet, perhaps some CEO in the tech world that Matsson respects.

Another prediction I have is that the Pierce deal could fall through - I don't know anything about corporate law to be sure, but I imagine Nan might see the sibling's willingness to subvert democracy as a bridge too far.
posted by coffeecat at 8:45 AM on May 23, 2023 [2 favorites]

Yeah, obviously Greg CEO is hilarious but this isn't that kind of comedy. He's not plausible.

Tom, yes. Any one of the kids, yes.

BTW why does everyone seem so surprised that Kendall could adlib an excellent eulogy ("excellent," in content, being obviously, horrifically relative)? I am still a bit baffled by the general consensus that the offspring are all failchildren in every way. Each one of them has displayed Logan-like instincts along the way, and done pretty well (morals aside), all things considered. I think that Kendall's facility with words was established back in season one, when he called words "complicated air flow." See also, his excellent speech season 2 finale, and his master handling of the congressional hearings, when Logan himself shit the bed. And his ridiculous success with Life+ (or whatever it was called). Kendall has actually always been able to stand up when a good speech has been needed.

That's what makes this show great rather than just good.

It would be so easy to turn each of the kids into a flat clown. An impossible fuckup who steps on their own dick at every turn and goes Groundskeeper Willie with rakes every episode.

The great tragedy of their lives is actually that shorn of the megalomania and titanic brute shadow of their father each could be adequate versions of what they attempt to be.

Ken actually is a plausible and driven CEO character. If his dad had been a mid-level investment banker or owned a big chain of car dealerships he'd have had to take things more seriously, would have been told "no" by colleagues or bosses a few more times and he'd actually be good at his job. You might think that job is bullshit anyway but he'd be good at it. He *Almost* is despite his father.

Roman has a ruthlessness and action drive to him, as seen in the election episode, that could have genuinely carried him far in life.

Shiv appears to be good at the PR / politics work she did before.

All of them are sometimes right - they're right that Mattson doesn't understand the value of ATN, where the dark magic comes from.

In a second rate version of this show, the kids are worse at what they do and Mattson is better than he is. It's interesting that compared to other things the writers have worked on (The Thick of It, Veep, etc.) the gap between what the characters are capable of and what they would need to be successful is actually *smaller* in Succession. That's probably why this is a tragic comedy in a way that The Thick of It isn't - the fall of Nicola Murray isn't tragic because it is so overdetermined.
posted by atrazine at 8:55 AM on May 23, 2023 [9 favorites]

Kerry being welcomed into the Widow's Club was brilliant, she is completely expecting cruelty, cattiness, exclusion, but she is offered a hand of kindness and understanding. really well done.

can't wait til next week!!!!!
posted by supermedusa at 9:00 AM on May 23, 2023 [2 favorites]

I think ATN calling the election functioned as a signal to the entire Republican establishment to unite behind disregarding the WI votes. You see how the mid-tier establishment Republicans operate in the immediate wake of the major Trump controversies, where they look around to see what everyone else is going to do and hew towards “norms” by default until someone gives them permission to re-embrace Trump. The other networks are the liberal media, so if they haven’t called the election yet, it’s just more evidence that the elites are this that and the other.
posted by chimpsonfilm at 9:46 AM on May 23, 2023 [3 favorites]

you saw the episode more recently to than me so perhaps I am not remember correctly (though the NYTimes synopsis seems to confirm my memory), but no other networks have called the election - just ATN.

In this episode, the audio in the background from the tv news at one point says ATN was the "first" to call it. So at least one more.
posted by mikepop at 9:47 AM on May 23, 2023 [1 favorite]

Two things from the successionTV subreddit:
1) The actress playing "my Kerry" is Brian Cox's real-life wife Nicole Ansari-Cox which delightfully adds several extra layers of charm and humor to the situation.
2) I wasn't familiar with the phrase "Kinder, Küche, Kirche" that asshole president Nazi used to refer to Shiv. It's a German slogan that translates as "children, kitchen, church" — the only roles women should have in society. So, if Matsson does have a deal with Mencken it's extremely doubtful that it involves having a woman as CEO.
posted by ssmith at 10:04 AM on May 23, 2023 [11 favorites]

Groundskeeper Willie with rakes every episode

That was Sideshow Bob, wasn't it?
posted by Grangousier at 10:10 AM on May 23, 2023 [6 favorites]

If I *had* to place a bet at this stage, my chips would be on Kendall taking the crown. I just feel like Jesse Armstrong would have found it irresistable to have four seasons of wheeling and dealing that (plot wise) count for nothing because we just end up where we were in S1E1.

I think almost more interesting a question than the "who" is: how do they draw a line under the show? It surely needs an emphatic ending. Not just that the succession is resolved *for now* but there could be a board vote in 6 months times that changes things, the show, more than most, needs a very definite resolution.
posted by chill at 10:44 AM on May 23, 2023 [2 favorites]

That was Sideshow Bob, wasn't it?

So it was.
posted by atrazine at 11:54 AM on May 23, 2023

Presumably the show ends without us ever seeing whether Mencken becomes president. It doesn't matter whether or not he does: only that the threat of his becoming president forces Matsson to court him, and means that his approval or dismissal of the Roys affects their strategies too.

My favorite awful irony is that, while Roman's siblings respond to him empathetically during his breakdown—and while you see a lot of pity and understanding on other funeralgoers' faces—Mencken is immediately, sneeringly dismissive of it. He will never look at Roman with respect again. It's such perfect dramatic irony: Roman not only undone by his choice of ally, but the first overt victim of Mencken's toxic and patriarchal worldview.

Such a gorgeous and intricate sociopolitical knot. Roman devastated and vulnerable; Roman experiencing the most profoundly human moment of his life; Roman punished for his feelings by both Mencken and then by Kendall, who clearly empathizes with him and sees that this is the most effective cold-blooded way to get Roman under his thumb. The patriarchy destroys men, even (or especially) the ones who most embrace it. And at the same time, without underscoring its point, Succession points out the central impossible request of fascist worldviews: to not only abandon yourself to the glorious cause, but to kill that which makes you human.

More than any of his siblings, Roman grasps that to be a billionaire is to be divorced from the rest of the human race. That's why he can so comfortably embrace Mencken and the alt-right. But he thinks that he is truly above it all, capable even observing his father's death without grief, and his undoing, cruelly, is that he too is human.

Him running into the wave of protestors, hissing in their faces so they'll bash his in... god, it's such a fascinating moment of masochism and vulnerability. Fascism fetishizes the thrill of violence, danger, and subjugation: the theill of being able to deny someone else's right to live, the awareness that you might lose yours in turn. What Roman does is the opposite of that: it reminds me of an academic paper I read on male masochism in BDSM, in which a man's public-facing identity is stripped away and replaced with the sheer physical reality of pain. Roman throws himself at the protests like the aloof elitist he is free to be; he is pummeled to the ground like the tiny little man he is. I'd hope for him to find a catharsis in that, a moment of truth, some kind of release... but there's no chance that Ken will let him do that.

It's funny: Roman and Shiv, in their ways, represent a change from Logan, an evolution in the family. Ken, on some level, does not. While I still kinda think that Greg as CEO makes sense, the strongest case for Ken taking over is that his ascendency would doom his family for another generation, like an ancient curse awoken. That's doubly true if he wins custody of his kids.
posted by Tom Hanks Cannot Be Trusted at 1:05 PM on May 23, 2023 [17 favorites]

I hope it's not one of those jump-ten-years-into-the-future episodes that then leans on flashbacks to show how it all played out.
posted by Stanczyk at 1:56 PM on May 23, 2023

I thought Tom, who left the party early ("go to the apartment for 2 hours") was the one in the car with Mattson.

Hm, yes, VERY interesting idea! I had been thinking Kendall, based on his taking charge at the funeral (and Mattson's reactions at the funeral, throughout). But Kendall was still at the get-together, when Shiv had the phone call with Mattson.

There isn't really any reason that Mattson would have been impressed by Tom, to date? BUT he knows that Shiv is pregnant and that her marriage is on the rocks. Maybe he thinks he could pull Tom in, and that Tom would be easier to control than Shiv would be. Shiv could come along for the ride, based on her very real personal need for Tom at this point, and Mattson could get both. Not sure exactly how that would work, as Tom's going to work for Mattson would represent a second major betrayal of Shiv in about three months. So yeah--in that scenario, maybe Mattson doesn't get a 2-for-1. I'm honestly on the fence at this point... Sarah Snook has done such an excellent job of portraying both ruthlessness and vulnerability (rage and hurt) that I'm not sure how things might go.

It's not gonna be Greg, give me a break! That whole scene when Greg was bragging about firing people... Mattson was NOT impressed (episode recaps notwithstanding). That scene ended with Greg's saying something like "you gotta do what you gotta do," and Mattson's reply, "ehhh... DO you tho?" Greg began the show as a joke and will end as one.

OTOH I am VERY bad at predicting how shows will end, so. Who knows?
posted by torticat at 3:09 PM on May 23, 2023

I rewatched part of the episode and the Mattson and Merken conversation with Shiv was disconcerting because Mattson’s body language and tone was so different from how he’s been with everyone else - subservient and polite and without confidence. Like a predator in front of a bigger predator, showing his belly. He even hunched slightly - this is a show that takes relative height seriously - and it was frankly weird.
posted by dorothyisunderwood at 6:12 PM on May 23, 2023 [9 favorites]

Greg won't be CEO, but Mattson will use his firing skills with pleasure. Maybe the Roy bros, maybe the most ironic, Tom.
posted by ShooBoo at 11:24 PM on May 23, 2023 [1 favorite]

Another thing about Tom is that he gave the absolutely right answer about France at the Norway retreat episode. It's an arrogant, insular answer, but it's strategically correct in the context of how ATN/Fox deals with France ("we don't care, we have a couple of cities called Paris in the US, we have two, and if one burns, we'll build another").

It's also the right tactical answer when someone is playing a game with you: refuse to play their game, play your own. It's the only time where I've actually cheered for smarmy, inauthentic Tom. Fuck those viking psychopaths.
posted by kandinski at 12:00 AM on May 24, 2023 [2 favorites]

Ewan's words about Logan are utterly striking, and I'll be chewing on them for a good long while:

So, it turns out that Ewan and Logan were "bundles from Britain" in WW2 - those children who were evacuated not to the countryside but over the Atlantic to stay with any relatives in the US. This caught my attention because my dad was also one of those kids - also in a ship that was narrowly missed by U-Boat torpedoes, arriving alone in New York and then spending the war with his aunt and cousins. For the three older Roy siblings - deceased sister included - it is a pretty appropriate origin story detail to explain how they got from Dundee to the states at such an early age. But also the idea of them being left completely to the mercy of fate from the beginning. Succession is all about how both money and dysfunction flow from one generation to another - and, indeed, we have just listened to Shiv talking to her own mother about being abandoned to grow up on her own - and joking that surely this is what she would also do with her child.

[my dad, it turned out, had a wonderful time in the states during the war - and seemed to be far more traumatized by returning to the grayness of post war Edinburgh, where everything was still rationed, at 16]
posted by rongorongo at 12:02 AM on May 24, 2023 [4 favorites]

it is a pretty appropriate origin story detail to explain how they got from Dundee to the states at such an early age

Not sure if they’ve ever filled in the blanks, but from what I recall, Ewan and Logan lived in Canada originally after Scotland, where Ewan still lives. I think this is meant to underscore the ideological divide between the two - neither Scotland or Canada are socialist utopias, exactly, but they don’t have the ruthlessness that Logan admires.
posted by Jon Mitchell at 12:52 AM on May 24, 2023

I thought Tom, who left the party early ("go to the apartment for 2 hours") was the one in the car with Mattson.

Hm, yes, VERY interesting idea!

Whelp, on rewatch, no. Tom was still walking out the door while Shiv took the call from Mattson, who was in a car.

People not still in the room (that I could spot, anyway)... any of the boiled eggs. But it's very hard to imagine Mattson scooping up, say, Karl, and toting him away to offer him CEO. The other person not still in the room for the remainder of the episode is Mencken. Which suggests Mencken's in the car with Mattson and leads to one of two conclusions: 1) Mencken knows he lost the election, and is interested in taking on the CEO position at ATN himself as his next step or 2) Mencken expects he can hold on to the presidency-elect, and is willing to take on “Kinder Küche Kirche” in the form of Shiv, as a frontperson and mouthpiece at ATN. Which would be perfectly ironic and a tragic end to Shiv's arc (b/c she would almost certainly take the position).

Rome is already doomed by the video material that's circulating. Foreshadowed by the dick pics with Gerri, there is now the video of his mental breakdown, plus potential footage now of his yelling "fuck you!" at the protestors.

As for Kendall... I don't know. Recappers all seem to think he's been shoring up his support by reaching out to Frank, to Hugo, to Colin. But I don't think we should take Colin for granted. His response after his chat with Kendall was a far cry from Hugo's "woof woof." Colin actually looked disgusted at Kendall... and given his convos with Logan, it may be he's sick of being a dog, or just that his loyalty to Logan trumps any potential attachment to Kendall. And he's got the receipts, to take Kendall down.

As I said before, I'm terrible at predictions! But if I had to put money down right now, it would be on Shiv.
posted by torticat at 1:40 AM on May 24, 2023 [2 favorites]

Mod note: Comment removed. Please avoid linking or posting possible spoilers, thanks!
posted by Brandon Blatcher (staff) at 7:00 AM on May 24, 2023 [2 favorites]

I do love that when Rupert Murdoch finally pops his clogs, the events from the entirety of Season 4, and this episode in particular, can be mapped out on a giant bingo card by onlookers. I love that this is partly because the show’s writers seem to have worked backwards from how they envisage such an event - and partly because life imitates art often enough. A pew full of exes united together, conflicting eulogies from different siblings, a giant mausoleum… check, check, check.
posted by rongorongo at 9:59 AM on May 24, 2023 [4 favorites]

Tom or Greg should not be CEO. It should be Jess.
posted by Apocryphon at 4:23 PM on May 24, 2023 [4 favorites]

Great interview on Vulture with James Cromwell, who plays Ewan, Logan's brother. Fun chat about the eulogy Ewan gives in the episode, about the character's origins and motivations, and Cromwell's own thoughts as it relates to his activism.
posted by They sucked his brains out! at 2:57 PM on May 25, 2023 [2 favorites]

Also, while this was good, it does not feel like the penultimate episode to this series at all. It feels like there's like half a season left in the tank. Maybe emotionally the characters are at the end of the arc, but it feels like all of the business drama is not really close to being solved yet.
posted by Apocryphon at 3:22 PM on May 25, 2023 [1 favorite]

There isn't really any reason that Mattson would have been impressed by Tom, to date?

As someone else pointed out, the timing doesn't work out for Tom to be in the car with Mattson, however, in their earlier conversation together Tom absolutely did the right thing in his response to Mattson regarding being big picture or hands on. When asked this by Mattson his awkward response of (paraphrasing) 'whichever one you prefer' shows Mattson that Tom will be an a**kisser to him, which fits nicely with his need to find an American CEO.
posted by newpotato at 3:04 AM on May 27, 2023 [1 favorite]

Why do people think someone was in the car with Matsson? It didn't seem like there was, even on rewatch.
posted by cocoagirl at 4:50 PM on May 27, 2023 [3 favorites]

Why do people think someone was in the car with Matsson? It didn't seem like there was, even on rewatch

His eyeline. I think we've interpreted it as "he's in a limo, and he's looking at someone sitting across from him". It could be one of the other Vikings, though.
posted by kandinski at 1:20 AM on May 28, 2023

I put off watching this episode because the previous election was such a harrowing flashback to 2016 (and future trauma 2024) and I had no interest in the funeral. Logan was dead and gone as far as I was concerned. What made it worth watching was Ewan’s concise eulogy, “meagerness” sums up Logan vs Kendall’s off the cuff stumbling rejoinder.

I don’t know if it’s true that Rupert Murdoch’s divorce agreement forbade ex-wife Jerry Hall from contributing to Succession storylines but I do hope he watched or at least heard about Ewan’s.
posted by TWinbrook8 at 7:43 AM on May 28, 2023 [1 favorite]

As someone who has mostly followed this show by reading others write about it on social media, this is my prediction for the ending:

Kendal is about to be crowned (because the deal fell through or Matsson shived Shiv), Shiv leaks the waiter-story, Kendal tries to kill himself, is saved by Roman, who dies in the process. Mourning Shiv and Kendal reconcile, drop out of the fight to focus on their families...

Time-Skip: Shiv and Kendal both at peace, enjoying their immense wealth, actually parenting their kids. They're finally free. Psyche! Greg drops by to report that the current C.E.O is showing signs of weakness, and they're immediately back to plotting. They will never be free.
posted by sohalt at 11:13 AM on May 28, 2023

The final scene of Succession: Brian Cox suddenly awakens from a troubled sleep and turns to tell his bedmate, Suzanne Pleshette, about the strange dream he'd just been having....
posted by logicpunk at 7:36 PM on May 28, 2023 [4 favorites]

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