'Succession' Season 4, Episode 4: 'Honeymoon States'
If you missed last week's episode, catch up here first. And needless to say, recaps are full of spoilers.
Life as a Roy, in a nutshell: The wedding was so sad, and the wake is so funny.
This episode tells a number of stories, in contrast to the singular focus of "Connor's Wedding." So let's do a quick summary, and then we'll work through the stories one at a time.
The day of Logan's wake is also the day the board picks a new interim head of Waystar. The sibs are still enjoying the bonds they developed the day before (the day of Logan's death), and they're really, really trying to stick together and be decent to each other. But it's complicated, because a showdown of sorts develops between the sibs and the "Old Guard" (Gerri, Frank and Karl). After Kendall calls on Stewy for support, the sibs gain the advantage. And once Kendall and Roman are able to convince Shiv to take a back seat for the moment, they are appointed as interim co-CEOs. Unfortunately, Kendall's first act as co-CEO is to betray Roman and blackmail Hugo, so that's ... not great. Elsewhere, Tom and Greg continue to try to figure out best options, now that they're without real allies on either side.
Natural light, windows and focus
The first story is the visual one. As the sibs (Kendall, Roman and Shiv) prepare for Logan's wake, in spite of their devastation, we can see that their worlds have opened up. All three are shown at home — Kendall sitting on the floor, Roman brushing his teeth, Shiv taking a phone call — and all three are up high, surrounded by huge windows that frame the city below. Nothing is more important to the look of this episode than natural light coming through windows, unless it's the way people keep leaning forward to peer through interior doorways at conversations taking place elsewhere. It underscores the way this wake, which should be communal, is in fact a fragmented scatter of little struggles for power. Also make note of Shiv's hair: Her sleek bob that has always indicated her My Father's Daughter mode is back, after some dabbling in wavier hair and a messy bun.
Shiv and Tom: It's Complicated
Before she heads to the wake, Shiv gets good news from her doctor: Her pregnancy (!) is doing fine. The only clue we get about how far along she is comes when the doctor says they can schedule the 20-week scan. When she gets to the wake, she spots Tom, who spends much of the wake sucking up to Roman and Kendall, especially after hearing the diagnosis of his weak position from Karl. Perhaps the most brutally accurate summation of Tom's situation comes from Kendall, who just says: "I like you, Tom. Good luck." Greg perhaps does even worse, being brushed off by Roman and making a weird attempt to trash Kerry to curry favor with Marcia.
Later, Tom catches up with Shiv and tries to "show her some kindness," even though she's immediately onto him as now fearing that he "backed the wrong horse." Accurate! He tries to remind her of their courtship, but she notes it was a long time ago and walks away. There's no indication that Tom knows she's pregnant, and no confirmation that this is Tom's baby, although the most obvious conclusion is that Shiv got pregnant in Italy right before they broke up. One of my favorite touches in the episode is that Shiv keeps buttoning and unbuttoning her jacket, which pulls just a little, a few months in. Also, if you watch Marcia at the moment, late in the episode, when she watches Shiv come down the stairs and then they pass each other, you can see Hiam Abbass' eyes flick down for just a second. I think Marcia clocks that Shiv is pregnant, though it's very subtle.
By the end of the episode, Shiv has also tripped and fallen. Could be significant.
Marcia, Marcia, Marcia!
When Kendall gets to the wake, he finds Marcia waiting. She claims that she and Logan still spoke multiple times a day, including "intimately" every evening. When Kendall finds Shiv and Roman, he brings up Marcia and asks where Kerry is. "In Marcia's trunk," Roman says. "Inside an anaconda. Inside a sarcophagus." ("Trunk," "anaconda" and "sarcophagus" are three inherently funny nouns based on sound alone. One makes a clunking noise, one has a playful dancing rhythm, and one sounds a tiny bit ungainly in the same way as something like "asparagus." It's such good writing for the ear.)
A bit later, Kerry shows up uninvited and unwelcome. Roman tries to intervene as Marcia handles Kerry. Ultimately, Marcia has Colin and the team push Kerry out the back door, and Roman takes exception to this: "Marcia, that was unnecessary, right?"
Perhaps Roman is aware that this has not been a great household in which to be one of his father's partners.
The sibs are truly trying
There are some great scenes among Shiv, Roman and Kendall in this episode. They laugh reading through Logan's obits, realizing that they don't recognize the man being remembered as their father. Connor even joins after a while, and all four are pretty open about their complicated feelings. This feels like growth, for real, and so of course, it feels achingly fragile.
Regardless, the sibs have to come up with a proposal to get control rather than handing it to, say, Gerri or Karl. Long story short, Kendall and Roman are both fine with being co-CEOs. But when Shiv suggests it could be all three of them, her brothers balk. On the one hand, her brothers are sexists; on the other, there's a legitimate argument that she has less experience than they do. After getting their reassurance that they really, really, really aren't going to turn around and cut her out — she asks them to seal it with a promise "on yesterday," the day they all seem to treat as a turning point in their relationship — she goes along, though very unhappily.
The Old Guard has its own plans
Sensing the bad reception he will receive from the sibs upon his arrival, Tom visits the other center of power: Gerri, Frank and Karl. Karl opines that the board might think the kids are, as Tom suggests, "screwups and dips---s," or as Karl puts it, "not constitutionally well-equipped at this moment to take on the role." (David Rasche's comedy chops are no surprise to anyone who first knew him in the '80s as the wacky lead of Sledge Hammer!)
Karl suggests himself as the interim leader. Gerri isn't impressed, though she comes up with this devastatingly faint praise: "I think you're a corporate legend. What you did in the '90s with cable? Huge." Tom puts himself forward as an option too, and Karl tells him this: "The negative case would go: You're a clumsy interloper and no one trusts you. The only guy pulling for you is dead, and now you're just married to the ex-boss' daughter, and she doesn't even like you. And you are fair and squarely f----d." It's so very hard not to quote this entire scene (as you can tell), because it's a fabulous bit of bantering comedy passed around among Rasche, Matthew Macfadyen (Tom), J. Smith-Cameron (Gerri) and Peter Friedman (Frank). This could have been the whole hour, spent watching them talk as Tom polished off the entire tray of fish taco hors d'oeuvres.
The Piece of Paper
Up in the library, Frank and Karl discuss a piece of paper from Logan's safe. (Hereafter the "Piece of Paper.") It includes a note Logan wrote at some point saying he would like to see Kendall take over the company. Karl doesn't want it to mess up his own future. ("I am halfway in on a Greek island with my brother-in-law," he says.) Moreover, Logan's wishes, even if known, aren't legally binding; it's up to the board to choose the CEO.
While Frank and Karl and Gerri discuss flushing the Piece of Paper down the toilet, they don't. They eventually bring the sibs up to inform them. Kendall — unsurprisingly — is more inclined to take it seriously than Roman or Shiv. (This scene is full of little whip-pans and snap zooms and other examples of how Succession uses camera moves to emphasize chaos.) Of course, because Logan is Logan, Kendall's name was, at some point, underlined in pencil. Or possibly crossed out. We also learn that the Piece of Paper says, somewhere, "Greg?" Nobody knows what all this means. Logan, you inscrutable legend and terrible father.
(A gift from me to you based on trying way too hard to look at the PoP: There's a bit of text that has a box hand-drawn around it. That text is Proverbs 12:19, which reads, "Truthful lips endure forever, but a lying tongue lasts only a moment." You know how important honesty was to Logan Roy!)
Bits and bobs
A few quick hits that are taking place during all this other stuff: The sibs are playing cat-and-mouse with Matsson over trying to get the GoJo deal done. Connor reaches an oral agreement with Marcia in about 20 seconds to buy Logan's apartment from her for $63 million. We learn that his honeymoon will take him to Wisconsin, Minnesota, Michigan and Pennsylvania — as Willa's gritted teeth note, "the honeymoon states." Hugo confesses to Kendall that he accidentally leaked to his daughter that Logan had died before it went public, and she sold her Waystar stock. So she was what you might call an insider, who was trading.
There's also an election right around the corner (my math suggests this wake is happening on Saturday and the election is Tuesday). The political conservatives have descended upon the wake, and they are now having a little moment of remembrance for Logan, whom Stephen Root's Ron Petkus calls "a man of humility, grace, dignity." This is where Tom leans over to Greg and gives us a new fact, which is that Logan "died fishing his iPhone from a clogged toilet."
Kendall gets good advice that, of course, he ignores
Kendall has key conversations during the wake with Stewy and Frank, both of whom genuinely seem to like him and aren't related to him. Both press Kendall on whether being interim CEO is really what he wants. Frank wants Kendall to move on from his dad: "He was an old bastard," Frank says, "and he loved you."
Arian Moayed is so good and funny as Stewy. Nobody gets off a statement of condolence as good as this one, to Kendall: "I thought he'd be like my dad. Ninety-five and just started suing the neighbor." This combination of razzing and comforting his buddy sounds awful on paper, but it works, because Kendall finally lets himself break a little, leaning on Stewy's shoulder for a ... not a hug, exactly, but a comforting snuggle?
The co-CEO era
With Stewy's support, Kendall and Roman are named co-CEOs when the board votes.
The first item on their joint agenda is a meeting with Hugo and Karolina in which two comms strategies are starkly laid out. They can praise Logan and promise continuity (what Hugo calls "Operation Embalm Lenin"), or they can go after Logan's legacy to burnish the new era. Roman immediately shuts down the "trash Logan" option, with Kendall's apparent agreement. But later, Kendall goes to Hugo privately. He wants Hugo to go after Logan's reputation as hard and as dirty as he can, and not to let anybody find out, including Roman. Hugo hesitates to do this in secret, but Kendall blackmails him about the insider trading, and Hugo realizes with evident sadness that this is not going to feel any better than working for Logan.
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