“Are you going to keep it light?” Roman (Kieran Culkin) asks his father Logan (Brian Cox) in the opening minutes of this week’s episode of Succession. Bad luck for us, the viewer: 20 minutes later, the king is finally dead, the big catalyst incident that the series has been building towards in the last 29 hours of its screen time has finally landed like a jet. private in flames. Seen in retrospect, Logan Roy’s unusual family declaration of love last week takes on an added note of desperation, as if the Succession Perhaps the patriarch knew more about the fragility of his health than he was letting on. Either way, Cox will be missed, and with Logan’s death the show will lose some of its roaring, rushing power, and a new Succession – one that does not orbit around a dark, still place, like a black hole at the center of a galaxy – will be forced to take its place.
It seems necessary to start with something light – a Greg-the-egg salad, if you will, unlike the three-course meal of heartache, rage and crying that makes up the bulk of this episode. It will come as no surprise that most of this week’s notable and quotable lines belong to cousin Greg (Nicholas Braun), whom we first see calling Tom (Matthew McFadyen) to verify that he has a proper backup for the meeting Logan is currently on his way to with Lukas Matsson (Alexander Skarsgard) in Sweden. “Yeah, I have three or four people gathering for me,” Tom replies. “Greger? Greg groaned. “Yeah, I roped up some little mini Gregs from the pigsty. Little Greglets,” Tom replies with obvious glee.
“Okay, well, don’t turn me into a word, Tom, I’m a dude!” Greg sighs, shuffling around Connor’s wedding in a way that, in fact, is absolutely begging for “Gregging” to be turned into a verb. “Who are all these little guys, these little Greggies running around? Who are these little Gregs? That Greg himself, despite being played by six-foot-seven Nicholas Braun, is a “Greglet” and a “little guy” himself is obvious, even if it defies the laws of physics.
It wouldn’t be a Succession wedding without at least one haunting or sexual anecdote about someone’s mother, and because this season is Connor’s (Alan Ruck) wedding, it’s Connor’s turn to expose his mommy issues – he is triggered by her wedding cake, a Victoria sponge, because it looks too much like the one she was given as a child the day her mother was committed to a mental institution. “He says it’s a goofy cake,” Willa (Justine Lupe) informs Kendall (Jeremy Strong), sounding like it might occur to her that her future husband is a goofy cake himself. .
Elsewhere, Roman (Kieran Culkin) has been told to fire Gerri (J Smith-Cameron), the surrogate mom he had an arguably haunting and unmistakably sexual relationship with in seasons one through three. “I guess you just lost [Logan]’s trust,” he told her, ashamed. “Since when?” Gerri retaliates. “Since you sent me repeated pictures of your genitals?” “Well, that’s reductive,” mutters Roman, though if there was any motivation behind his mid-meeting penis spam last season beyond “it’s just like, here’s my dick I guess. “, we don’t hear it. Furious at his father for what he believes to be an emotionally manipulative power play, Roman calls Logan to complain about having to fire his old I-have-no-idea-what-word-to-use-for. -defining-Gerri-and-Roman’s-thing, ending her voicemail with, “So, like, are you ac***, I guess that’s the question, give me a buzz!”
‘You’re going to be a monster and you’ll be fine’
If Roman feels a bit proud to stand up to Logan in this voicemail, his pride comes before what might be the most dramatic fall in series history, as Tom calls him from the private jet mid- way from Sweden and informs him, on a line that’s crackling with static, that Logan is “sick, he’s very, very sick – it’s very, very bad.” Roman, who unfortunately answered said call with the indelible and immortal greeting “f***y sucky brigade, how can I help you?”, attracts Kendall, then Shiv, and the three oscillate wildly between optimism and panic. as Tom holds the phone to Logan’s ear and lets them say their final goodbyes.
In his much discussed New Yorker profile Last year, one of the many thinkers Jeremy Strong cited was playwright Harold Pinter. “The more acute the experience,” Strong described it, “the less articulate its expression.” Part of what brought me to utterly unexpected tears in the scenes surrounding Logan’s death was the portrayal of that very inarticulation, which felt like a truer reckoning with grief immediately after death than the usual orderly speeches and the redeeming moments we see so often. on the television. Time and time again, the Roy children have contradicted themselves, one minute declaring their love for their monstrous father, and the next offering a caveat. “I love you, dad,” Kendall mutters, “even if you screw up…I can’t forgive you. But it’s okay.” (Even Shiv (Sarah Snook), whose tearful “Dad, don’t go” was the thing that finally drove me to something close to sobbing, immediately follows her plea with the same expression of inchoative rage: “You’re f ***in’…”) Here, there were no zingers, no quotable lines; the transcripts of my notes, taken as a whole, sound more like a cry for help than a memorable scriptwriting .
Something else that struck a chord: I couldn’t help but notice that when Tom put the phone to Logan’s ear, Roman and Kendall and Shiv all offered a variation on the phrase ” I’ll be fine,” and it occurred to me that this is something parents usually say to their children. Had Logan Roy ever said that particular phrase? It is impossible to know, although it is extremely possible to make an educated guess. When Shiv and Kendall return to Connor’s wedding holding hands, they look like they’re eight years old and the image is heartbreaking. when they tell Connor what happened and he says, without thinking and calmly, “oh, he never loved me” before moving on to a more appropriate expression of his grief, that’s doubly the case.
What is or is not suitable in the face of death is the central question of the episode, as is the central question of Succession as a whole has often seemed to be what is appropriate or sincere as an expression of love – if a father who behaves tyrannically towards his children in order to teach them strength can be a loving parent in his own way, and if a child who is trying to beat their father at his own game, maybe it was just to gain his respect and affection. When Kerry (Zoe Winters), Logan’s girlfriend and assistant, emerges from the bathroom of the private jet where he died with an eerie smile, her affect is as wildly incongruous as in her audition tape last week; when Tom calls his cousin Greg and says “he died and you looked outside [for me], and what’s at the bottom of your stocking, Greg? An old man who fucking hated you,” then dissolves into horrifying, creepy laughter, it’s shocking but not exactly unnatural. What do we do when cruel men die, and what do we do when those cruel men are our bosses, or our lovers, or, above all, our fathers?
In the end, Willa and Connor live out their loveless marriage, and after debating whether or not they should cover up Logan’s death in order to preserve the company’s market value, the Roy siblings discover that his poor health has already hit the news, and decide to do the right thing and issue a statement. “Everything we do and say today is remembered,” Kendall says. “It’s going on the Congressional record…we’re very susceptible to being misinterpreted, so what we do today will still be what we did the day our father died.” The last part of this statement is true even for those of us who aren’t in charge of multi-billion dollar businesses, and it’s another reason why no form of grief is “right” or ” appropriate”. By the time the episode ended with a photo of Kendall gasping, watching Logan’s body being unloaded from the private jet, I was dazed, a bit overwhelmed, and generally left to think more or less the same as Jeremy Strong is described as thinking in this savage New Yorker profile: what the shrek just happened?
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