We’re officially halfway through the final Succession season, and in this episode, almost the entire cast, with the exception of the forgotten son, goes on a field trip for Operation: Bleed the Swede — a moniker that takes on a stranger meaning than we could’ve imagined.
“Kill List” follows the full Waystar team to Gojo’s annual retreat in Norway (or was it Sweden? They’re all descended from the same rapists, after all), so they can conduct a pre-acquisition cultural compatibility check (spoiler: not very compatible), and partake in some hygge together. The Waystar team thinks they’re just there to squeeze another $5 per share on the sale price, but as always, the negotiation quickly spirals into another realm entirely. Matsson says he wants to include Logan’s pride and joy, ATN in the acquisition, throwing a wrench in the negotiation which leads Kendall to convince Roman that they should stop the sale and “go full boar” on their own. Logan still isn’t even underground, and yet Kendall is already launching his own new Operation: Kill Dad’s Deal.
Does that mean Kendall deserves the FUCK OFF of the week? Miraculously, no, that would be Tom “Mind if I perch?” Wambsgams.
(-1) The episode opens with a scene reminiscent of episode 3, which starts with a shot of Logan in his car. But this time, it’s Kendall in the car, listening to rap music like he was in the series’ pilot episode. Something about Kendall’s energy suggests that he thinks he’s flying high, and we all know what happens every time Kendall gets a whiff of confidence.
(-1) So, Kendall is a reply-all guy.
Kendall: You got my email on Matsson angles, deal thoughts?
Roman: Yeah, which one? You sent several.
Kendall: The last one that said ‘ignore previous emails.’
(-1) Big thanks to the “Previously on Succession” recap for reminding us that about 24 hours ago, Kendall said to Frank, “I wanna do the deal and get out”… and now he’s saying that he likes running the ship and thinks they’re good at it. After a whopping one day at the helm.
(+1) For offering to cut Tom’s throat for Shiv as a distraction when she’s getting a little too inquisitive about where the negative stories about Logan are coming from.
(+1) Like Karl recommended, Kendall tries to open the 2-on-1 date with Matsson with a joke:
Kendall: So what the fuck is this place, like the fucking $50k wedding mill for lawyer’s daughters? Bridal shots by the window?
(+1) He does happen to be right that Matsson does not understand ATN as a product at all. “Wow, you see a way back? Okay, wow, okay. You see a way back for our phenomenally lucrative and influential news operation? You gonna save that? Thanks bro.”
(-1) But he is still extremely wrong in thinking he’s qualified to go from “weekend warrior” to “bossing full-time.”
(-1) “I just think it’s fucking feel the force time, Choose our adventure, full boar, fuck the living shit out of this thing. You with me?” – I never know what Kendall is talking about when he goes on those weirdly aggressive metaphoric rants. Does he just mean like, increase revenue?
(+1) It wasn’t a terrible idea to set up the three-hour Kalispitron: Hibernation screening knowing that the pretentious Gojo team would despise it, but (-1) because he could not be more transparent with this move.
(-2) Because Kendall cannot help but self-destruct.
Kendall: It’s a fuckin’ tightrope walk on a straight razor. Five-hundred foot reputational drop.
Roman: Okay, but why is that making you smile? That shouldn’t make you smile. Who likes tightrope-walking a straight razor?
(+1) Shiv starts the episode off with a reality check:
Kendall: We’re death wrestling with ogres.
Shiv: You’re reading documents is what you’re doing, Ken.
(+1) She’s very much onto Kendall specifically being the one who’s leaking negative stories to the press and she brings it up to him twice. The first time in front of Roman on the plane, and then in front of Greg, who Kendall had just deployed as the leaker.
(+1) On arrival in Norway: “Which way to chairman Matsson’s reeducation camp?”
(+1) When they first see Matsson, he asks if he’ll get sued if he hugs her: “I don’t know, why don’t we see?”
(+2) She’s more than willing to dump the problematic ATN for more money:
Shiv: Sure, fine, get rid of it, it’s a toxic asset.
Roman: It’s also Dad’s pride and joy that he died trying to keep?
Shiv: Yeah, well, let’s just keep one of his old sweaters. Less racist.
(-1) Her weird fight with Tom about his shoes:
“You know, you should be careful, Tom. These people are coming down from Molly, and their pupils? They’re dilated. And your shoes are looking at the sun. No, they’re dangerous … I’m helping you, Tom. This is why people don’t take you seriously, ‘cause your shoes are so fucking white.”
(+2) Shiv susses out the Jeryd Mencken relationship at ATN, which results in her empowering Tom to get rid of Cyd.
(+2) For her reaction when Matsson revealed his “blood sacrifice”: Half a liter? Wow, well I mean, obviously, first of all, good one.
(+2) She successfully rides for the two women execs and most legitimately competent people at the company, Gerri and Karolina. Shiv is carrying secrets for everyone, in addition to the next Roy descendant.
(+3) For this gem of a PR pitch that wraps up her entire conversation with Matsson quite nicely. “Deniability is difficult, given she has so much of your blood…Three-point PR plan just off the top of my head. Point one: Might be hard for you, but stop sending people your blood. And then, you know, like catch and kill, maybe? Or just have like a really open meeting. Do NOT, don’t fire her. You know, Gerri would be good on this. And I can give you some informal advice if you like.”
(+1) For also effectively hiding her pregnancy while simultaneously accepting (but not partaking in) offers for a drink and coke.
(+1) I hope everyone caught him sticking his hand in the caviar as they entered their 2-on-1 date with Matsson.
(+1) For actually reading the dossier on Matsson:
Roman: I saw that your little kicky ball team won a thing. They did a win or something? Congrats on that.
Matsson: Good dossier. Do you wanna know what I have on you?
(+2) For unintentionally getting the price to $187 per share…
Gerri: You effectively achieved a bump.
Roman: We did amazing. We’re amazing people.
(-4) For later going against his own instincts and agreeing to tank the deal after some very light prodding from Kendall.
(+2) But tanking it with a bit of backbone, for once:
“Hey, I was just thinking: Do you remember when you asked me when my dad was gonna die? You really couldn’t push this a week, could you? You just couldn’t, like… there was no part of you that could just be like, ‘Hey, let’s reschedule and move this ‘cause, you know, their dad just died, and, you know….But you just drag us out here, you inhuman fucking dogman … You fucking killed him too. You’re the one who did it. You drained the life out of him. You dragged this whole thing out for six fucking months, and then you bring us out here now. You couldn’t wait, like, a few days….God. … We’re not selling to you. Okay? We’re not doing that. We are going to grind you down, man. We are sand in the gears. Every email is going to take like six months. We’re all going to spend hundreds of millions of dollars, and in the end, you’re going to get fucking bored and move on. It’s not happening, okay? … I fucking hate you. And if you tell the board I said any of this, I’m just gonna say it was a negotiating tactic, and you know what? Maybe it is. But it’s not. So fuck you.”
(+1) For following that monologue with: “If a deal collapses in the woods and no one hears it, is it an SEC violation?”
(+4) And for failing up to $192/share.
THE EXEC BOARD
(+2) The exec team has already implemented their own surveillance state to monitor Roman and Kendall, and have supplied each of the boys with a team of condolence assistants/human listening devices.
(+1) Karolina recognizes the Gojo board is legit. “I mean, Fulbrights coming out of their ass, NASDAQ master race, they’re just a bunch of really impressive, very serious young people.” Still, she hides her fear when she meets the Gojo team and introduces herself to Ebba in Swedish. I bet she knows what they were saying during Tom’s embarrassing perch.
(+2) Gerri won’t show any fear: “Sure, they’re young and they’re fit, but they’re European, and they’re soft… hammocked in their social security safety nets, sick on their vacation mania and free health care. They may think they’re Vikings, but we’ve been raised by wolves, exposed to a pathogen that goes by the name Logan Roy and they have no idea what’s coming to them”
(-1) For Hugo losing serious compatibility points while obsessing over the former Olympic ski jumper on the Gojo team. “They tell me that you nearly got a bronze at Sochi… that’s almost huge, man. Those darn tenths of a second…”
(-5) For each of the execs on Gojo’s “highly caveated, subject-to-change” kill list: Ray (“god fucking damn it”), Mark (“shit”), Hugo (“that slalom motherfucker”), Frank (“naturally, it’s just speculation”), Karl (“let the good times roll”).
(+2) For Karolina and Gerri being allowed to stay and deal with Matsson’s blood bricks, unbeknownst to them.
(+1) Matsson is very good at knowing exactly how to get under Kendall’s skin.
Kendall: I think maybe you don’t understand what you’re buying, and that’s why there’s a disconnect on value.
Matsson: Okay, lecture me, Vaulter guy.
(+2) He showed he has a negotiation formula, repeating a tactic he used effectively on Logan too at the end of season 3:
Matsson: “But do you like it? You like it a little bit, don’t you? There’s something there, huh? You don’t have to answer, but… maybe an indication.”
(-2) That said, this man is a walking lawsuit.
Matsson: Ebba is like an estrogen air freshener we keep around to try to keep us smelling clean.
Ebba: It’s okay, I keep notes. When I walk, it either goes in my book, or they pay me off.
Matsson: You’d never walk, you fucking love it.
Ebba: Mmm yeah, I love it.
(-1) For not reading that Kendall has his own eternally-fleeting agenda that comes before any amount of cash:
Matsson: You call it a trusted brand? No. It’s a parts shop. Good parts, yes. Bad brand.
Kendall: I gotta say, I just think fundamentally you’re wrong.
Matsson: Yeah, well, I don’t care what you think, you’re a tribute band.
Shiv: We okay?
Matsson: Yeah, we’re okay, I’m just trying to make you fucking rich.
Kendall: Already rich.
Matsson: On the offer, I am what I am what I am.
(+1) For trying out this lucky charm on Shiv:
Matsson: “Look, I like to fuck around, but I like to fuck around like psilocybin at breakfast. When it comes to money, just say the fucking number. Is it there, the deal?”
(-7) And then going all True Blood on her:
Matsson: Hey, I’m not gonna give you the whole backstory of anything, but I was seeing this girl, and um, after we broke up, because of some things that we said, uh when things were nice and intense you know, as sort of a nasty friendly joke about what I shouldn’t do, um I.. I sent her some of my blood… uh half a liter frozen blood brick. As a joke, obviously.
Shiv: Half a liter? Wow, well I mean, obviously, first of all, good one.
Matsson: Umm, well she got a bit weirded when I did that, but I just kept doing it again and again and again, and then it became not a joke and then a joke again, and now it’s apparently not a joke.
Shiv: Uh huh, well who is this?
Matsson: It’s Ebba, actually… it’s a bit of a complex situation. I’ll just deny it right, I’ll call bullshit and just lawyer it out.
(+1) He knows exactly how to play Shiv like a game of boar on the floor, and knows that this line will reel her in: “I like you, you’re cool. You’re not judgy. You can take a joke, like your dad.”
(+1) Matsson giving serious Logan vibes on this one while he’s admiring the scenery on the mountaintop and says: “People are fucking tiny, right? But not us. Not us.”
(+1) For realizing pretty quickly that Kendall and Roman are trying to tank the deal by showing them the shitty hibernating robot movie, mentioning the amusement parks issues, and saying they need to slow it down. Not that it was hard.
(+2) He responds by hitting the boys where it hurts: “I wish I was doing this with your dad. He was a prick, but he was honest … I think he’d be embarrassed if he saw you now, his two big boys playing Scooby-Doos … Am I gonna have to go around you, talk directly to the board? Talk to the old ones?”
(+1) Tom seemed adrift amongst the socializing in this episode, but we know he’s still scheming because he tells Greg: “We need to play this very delicately. Laid before you is a chessboard, and every move is crucial, so what have you got?”
(-3) For flicking Shiv’s earlobes, and calling them “thick and chewy. Like barnacle meat.” (+1) Because it kind of worked. (-1) For being like a fucking spelunker.
(-3) This whole cringefest:
Tom sits down with the Gojo team: Mind if I perch? …Lukas, you remember, we laughed… we were at Sun Valley.. we were mocking Sundar’s cargo shorts, the creases…
Lukas: Oh yeah, okay. We were just discussing like, is France gonna make it? Like will they make it… birth rate, youth unemployment, sclerotic state, fucking angry Arabs and all that, will they make it or will they pull a Greece?
Tom: Well, I think what you need to know about from a US news is that we really don’t give a fuck. The US is late imperial and we don’t know because we don’t wanna know. We have our own Paris, and when it burns, we’ll build another.
(-1) The junior Disgusting Brother continues his creep streak. “Excited to get a feel for Scandinavia. Meet some hotties. The Arctic foxes, a bit of Norwegian wood.”
(+1) I have a feeling that his info-collecting on Tom’s behalf will become useful. “Matsson, pretty cold. When he’s fucking randos he does noise cancelling headphones. Podcasts. He just lies back, cans on, watches ‘em slide the beanpole.”
(-2) What is Greg, like a second cousin? First cousin, once removed? And yet he is pushing their family foursome really hard. They thought your name was Craig less than a year ago! Stop trying to make the Quad Squad a thing. Although I have my suspicions that Greg may end up manifesting himself some real power with this tactic.
(-2) The Gojo team immediately clocks this dynamic too.
Lukas: Sorry, who are you? I don’t remember you from the list.
Greg: Well, therein lies a tale. Greg Hirsch, ORY. GREG ORY HIRSCH.
Tom: He’s a cousin, he’s Logan’s nephew.
Matsson: Wait, are you serious?
Kendall: He’s my cousin, he’s good.
Matsson: There’s more of them?! Are you all related, is this one big insular thing?
(+1) For having at least one semi-intellectual nugget in his arsenal:
Greg: Wow, Tom, I read a great article recently in The Economist about this.
Tom: Oh, The Economist! S’il vous plait, tell us more.
Greg: Just in terms of education and quality of life, old lady France, fucking don’t fucking bet against the uh, baguette… the baguette might be mightier than the bagel.
(+1) Kendall seems to have taken to Greg in the past few hours (life comes at you fast when you jump 6 time zones). He defends him from the Swedes laughing at him, and then he trusts him to leak to a journalist that the retreat isn’t going well.
(-1) While the other Roy children are dealing with a Norwegian problem, Connor’s is more Scottish in nature. “I’m at Frank E. Campbell’s, and uh… Marcia’s been in. She’s talking about putting him in a kilt…I’ve got a pretty full plate here, I just had to cancel a room full of working-class whites in Cleveland.”
(+1) He does, however, get full authority to manage the funeral situation. “Carte blanche… if I go into the embalming room and start throwing my weight around. I’m gonna have some asks but I don’t want to get blamed.”
(+1) We don’t get to see the picture that Connor sends to Roman against his wishes of Logan at the funeral home, but it’s karmically entertaining in light of the photo Roman accidentally once sent to his dad.
By our final math, Tom is the winner of our big Fuck Off in this episode. We can’t wait to see if he and Shiv actually follow through on that dinner date. Are any Manhattan eateries serving barnacle meat? What exactly is barnacle meat and what kind of weirdo has it within their immediate recall? The guy that deserves to Fuck Off this week, that’s who.
If you can’t get enough Succession convo from Betches, check out our weekly bonus recaps on the @BETCHES Podcast, which will be out every Monday afternoon of season 4 and can be found on Apple, Spotify, or wherever you listen to podcasts.
Featured image courtesy of HBO.