Adrien Brody makes the Roys work for him on Succession

How much runway does Kendall "Wokestar Royco" really have left?

Adrien Brody makes the Roys work for him on Succession
Adrien Brody stars in Succession Photo: Macall B. Polay/HBO

If I were as filthy-wealthy as Logan Roy, a man for whom helicopters are practically the only means of transportation and whose penthouse is full of rooms into which he has undoubtedly never stepped, I simply would not walk anywhere. I’m sorry, but what is the point? Let me go full Baron Vladimir Harkonnen, and just float around places. Let me have a golf cart that is summonable at all times, so my feet never touch dirt or sand or gravel. I’m old! I’m not 100% healthy! I do not need to go on hikes on private islands to impress investors who are already suspicious of my longevity!

But the Logan Roy we see this third season is not the Logan Roy of the second season. This is not Logan with Kendall back in pocket, doing his bidding. This is not Logan with a secure grip on all his children, or flirting gleefully with Rhea, or scheming about taking over PGM. This is Logan legitimately hurt by Kendall’s betrayal—not emotionally, I don’t think. Does Logan have emotions when it comes to his children this season? It doesn’t seem like it! He really is mocking and subverting and maneuvering them like game pieces for his amusement. But hurt professionally by Kendall’s actions? Sure. The FBI just raided! He had to elevate Gerri to a reasonable level of power! Shiv has not been particularly impressive as Logan’s “hand-picked” successor, Roman isn’t ready, and Connor, bless his heart, is Connor.

So this is a weakened Logan. An 80-year-old man who has survived a stroke, but who is not yet what he once was—and might never be. Kendall isn’t wrong that he’s been looser with his language lately, more openly homophobic and racist, and less willing to temper his opinions. He’s losing sway with the President. He might be losing control of public opinion. Stewy/Sandy/Sandi (SSS) are nipping at his heels. And so I wonder what Logan really thought he was going to prove by pushing forward on those endless island hikes.

Adrien Brody’s Josh Aaronson is a man playing all sides and considering all angles, but from any vantage point, neither Logan nor Kendall came out of that island trip looking particularly good. “Just the tip, but for like killing Dad?” Roman accuses Kendall, and certainly Logan’s former No. 1 Boy is sustaining the most damage against his father. But Logan’s health and his age exist outside of Kendall’s influence, and at some point, the Roys need to decide between protecting their father or protecting the company. I’m not sure a scenario exists in which they can do both.

“Lion In The Meadow” begins some time after the FBI raid, and I’m sorry to say that Ziwe does not return. Kendall’s obsession with watching his own Ls on Sophie Iwobi’s show is over. He’s now lapping up PGM news coverage on further tensions at Waystar Royco, and his whole “I’m a principled good guy and the rest of the Roys are evil” idea of himself is still firmly in place—so much so that when the Waystar Royco executive suite calls him for help, he practically faceplants getting up on his high horse.

“Little Lord Fuckleroy” doesn’t want to get railroaded into meeting with Josh, who holds 4% stock and whose decision to back the Roys or to back SSS would have a significant impact on the shareholders’ vote. But Kendall also wants the company to be controlled by the Roys rather than SSS because losing family control could mean the shareholders throw all the Roys out on their asses, and if there’s anything these people love more than fighting with each other, it’s lording power over others.

So Kendall agrees to go after Logan’s yelled “Come! Behave appropriately!”, and ends up stepping into Logan’s series of power moves. Logan getting on the helicopter meant for Kendall, Logan forcing Kendall to wait for his arrival. He doesn’t anticipate Kendall bailing on that whole song and dance and going ahead without him. But Kendall doesn’t quite grasp that the whole purpose of this visit seems to be an opportunity for Josh to tell him to shut the hell up. Josh has lost $350 million because of Kendall’s whistleblowing on cruises, and yes, he wants father and son to make up and create a “functional situation”—but only to further protect his holdings.

I don’t think he really cares what Logan has to say about Kendall maybe one day running the business. And I don’t think he has any concern for the women Kendall has crafted into a crusade. “You work for the shareholders. For me. … I have a gun at your head,” Josh says, and although Josh is also an entitled, smarky jerk (the kind of guy Brody excels at portraying), he’s right that the Roys are in a very dangerous position. This shareholder drama has dragged on forever, and it has rarely felt like the Roys ever peer outside their own sphere of self-absorption to consider the other people who make up Waystar Royco.

Meanwhile, the rest of the Roys keep trying to gather ammo against their current enemies of Kendall and President Raisin. First up is Shiv, who is really skipping around Waystar Royco like Bring Your Daughter to Work Day. The disrespect that Karl and Frank level against her—I honestly don’t even disagree with it! They’ve worked with Roman for years, and they’ve seen him act well under pressure (like during that hostage situation with Eduard). Same goes for Kendall, in the Before Times. But Shiv is an unproved entity, and she doesn’t have any wins of her own yet that weren’t engineered by Logan beforehand. Even he knows that: “I gave you a destination. I can’t walk you there, okay? Nothing is a line. Everything, everywhere, is always moving, forever. Get used to it.”

The only people Shiv really seems to be able to intimidate are Tom (now obsessed with what prison he could end up in because of his sacrificial offer to Logan, and what horrible things could happen to him there), and ATN anchor Mark Ravenhead, the Nazi with the $30 million annual salary. When Shiv settles into that hard stare that Sarah Snook does so well, and when she pulls Logan’s name out of her back pocket, she’s able to get stuff done with people who fear Logan and therefore fear her by proxy.

So Ravenhead agrees to start spinning doubt and second guessing the President on air, and Logan is certainly pleased by that; consider his giggling when he lets Kerry listen in on the President’s tantrum about ATN coverage. But will Gerri, Frank, Karl, or even Hugo and Karolina be that easy to strong-arm? They’ve worked with Logan long enough that I think they have some pull that Shiv might not have. And consider that while Shiv is doing only what Logan tells her to do, Roman is out there doing stuff of his own volition.

The homeless man with the tattoo of Kendall’s initials, thanks to a prank at Kendall’s bachelor party in New Orleans years ago, is a pull that Roman offers preemptively. And while Gerri is correct in telling him to table it—being part of the “Tattoo Brothers” would blowback on Roman, too—I think Roman is setting himself apart by doing so much for Logan that hasn’t even been requested of him.

Once again I remain bummed out by the loyalty the child Logan physically abused (and has since verbally abused) has for his father, but I guess it’s not so dissimilar from whatever bonds tie Tom and Shiv together, or Tom and Greg. Greg failing to riff or wrestle with Tom, and already having a plan of attack for the parks job without talking to Tom first, might be more depressing to him than Shiv dropping his hand when someone walked by her office. “I’d castrate you and marry you in a heartbeat”?! It’s not like Tom is being marched off to prison yet, and he’s already saying goodbye to the person he loves the most!

But everything is up in the air in “Lion In The Meadow,” and maybe Tom is right to sense change coming. Josh bails on the Roys, and throws his lot in with SSS. Greg loses Pugh as his counsel, and flips back to Waystar. And Kendall once again suffers a blow to the righteous man persona that he thought would win people over. How much runway does Wokestar have left?

Stray observations

  • Josh’s daughter Kitty was never sick, right? Getting the Roys to come to Josh was just because he could.
  • Nice nod to Brody’s past filmography with “Fucking King Kong, come out to dance for me.”
  • If you want to ruin your whole day and it’s not IP you’re familiar with, read about Nero and Sporus. The Romans were a lot.
  • Shame on me for thinking Connor was the smart one for staying out of the family business. Take the wine-hosting show you are offered and go about your life, Connor! No one is going to trust you with more power than this! Truly though, he turned on Shiv real quick, didn’t he? I guess he thought more about that statement against Kendall and realized his only card to play for a payday is blackmail, so he might as well play it.
  • Of course there was no way that the Greg/Kendall alliance would hold. Now that Greg agreed to the Waystar lawyer, Grandpa Ewan is going to be pissed, right? He and Pugh had a whole plan that Greg might now derail. But do I still think that Tom betrays Waystar and flips over to Kendall? Yes, I do.
  • Kudos to Greg for at least asking Logan, “What’s it worth? What can I get?” At least Kendall bailing on that $40,000 watch promise has taught Greg something about getting your bribes and rewards in writing.
  • What does Shiv do during the day aside from complain about people not giving her updates? All of her actions this episode reminded me of when Marcia ripped into her during “Pre-Nuptial,” S1E09. “He made you a playground and you think it’s a whole world” is a really apt way to describe the power Shiv thinks she has at Waystar Royco.
  • Shiv’s recurring “I didn’t say anything that wasn’t true” line of defense about her Kendall statement is sort of hilarious because it’s not like Kendall didn’t say anything that wasn’t true when revealing Logan’s misdeeds, either. But whatever alliance the siblings once had might be irreparable at this point, especially as Shiv chooses to believe Logan when he says she’s next up in line to run the company.
  • “Accountability’s a fucker.” Kendall… look back upon your history before you say things like this! I am begging for even a modicum of self-awareness!
  • “I’m dating. I am dating, and that needs to be understood.” Okay, Gerri, fine, but what does Laurie offer you, respect and personal boundaries? Who needs those when the utterly devoted and charmingly roguish Romulus is right there!
  • Thoughtful work by directors Shari Springer Berman and Robert Pulcini and costume designer Michelle Matland in presenting Kendall and Logan as mirrors, with dark jackets, dark baseball caps, dark pants, and constantly worn sunglasses. Kendall really has learned everything from his father, for better and for worse.
  • Sophie and Iverson exist! But their rabbit is definitely going to die!

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