Succession Season 4: Living Plus Recap
“Big shoes. Big, big shoes. (LAUGHS) Big, big shoes. Big, big shoes.”
After the shock of Logan’s (Brian Cox) death, the opener for episode 6 of Succession shocked me. When I saw Logan alive and well again, I thought, wait a minute, did the writers pull a soap opera move and bring Logan back to life? Was he ever dead in the first place? I knew it had to be a pre-recording of some sort and just minutes into the episode, we discover that Kendall (Jeremy Strong) and Roman (Kieran Culkin) have reached into their archives to find a clip of Logan talking about his projections for the Waystar business. Even in death, Logan is always quick with cutting insults about his children.
In this episode, Shiv (Sarah Snook) is still doubling down on her team up with Matsson (Alexander Skarsgård), but as usual she is facing off in a power struggle and in this case, it’s over whether she will leave her plane for Matsson’s plane. She wins, and Matsson insolently decides to walk into her plane with no shoes to probably show his willfulness through his shabby appearance (she’s in formal attire, he’s wearing clothes you would wear at home?). But who really knows with Matsson. We do know however, that he is still uneasy about the deal because this meeting is for a check in, on his request. Waystar Royco is doing the roll out for the product launch of Living Plus, a real estate venture that Logan had planned earlier. Matsson doesn’t want them to announce its launch because he doesn’t want to pursue it once he takes over. (If he takes over.) He ultimately dangles Shiv’s precarious position in front of her to mobilize her into doing what he wants: killing Living Plus. Matsson slides in information about her brother’s misbehaviour during negotiations. Shiv tries to play tough, but when Matsson leaves her plane, we see that she will acquiesce to his demands, yet again.
At Waystar Studios, Kendall and Roman act as just ‘concerned advisers’ as they attempt to sow doubt into the deal with Matsson. Among the senior group who are privy to this very confidential information, Karolina (Dagmara Domińczyk) Frank (Peter Friedman) and Gerri (J. Smith-Cameron), Karl (David Rasche), Tom (Matthew Macfadyen), and of course Shiv, listen in as they offer their concerns about going into a deal with a supposed “erratic” Matsson. Shiv thinks she knows the real truth though. No one cares, so they fail miserably. Shiv calls them out for trying to stop the deal, so they confess the truth. Shiv says she’s upset because they all planned to buy Pierce. I almost forgot about that deal. Just as they hug conflicts away, Shiv’s assistant calls her away to a board room. Tom’s intrusion into the room helps us to learn that she booked the room to cry about the loss of her dad (Oh yeah!), because for a second there, amongst her siblings, it feels like she is the only one who remembers their dad is dead … still. Tom embraces her and then they kiss.
In their own quarters, Roman and Kendall prepare for the presentation for the launch of Living Plus. Kendall decides to steer the presentation prep while Roman goes to meet Joy Palmer (Annabeth Gish), the head of Waystar Studio about the issues related to the project from the previous episode. Joy openly offers her concerns related to the rightward lean of ATN and the favourable coverage on Mencken (Justin Kirk). She wants to signal a distance, Roman doesn’t, so they do a little tussle in which, at one point she laughs at him, so he fires her.
Going crazy with artistic license, Ken demands random wacky shit for his presentation for Living Plus. Remember this is a meeting for him to pitch the product to investors and get rich people excited to adopt it, but he’s thinking Hollywood instead of business. And so, he tells everyone that no one can say no to him. (This is why powerful people at the top only have yes men around them.) Roman enters the stadium to see Ken acting mad with power.
Tom and Shiv, on the other hand, find themselves at the same party and begin their weird flirting thing (if you want to call it that). Their flirting consists of biting each other.
Anyway, Kendall’s pitch for the presentation is to spin all their numbers to convince analysts that Waystar has unbelievable growth in their future. His plan to get rid of Matsson is to drive the price of the deal up to make the deal impossible and he will rely on his charm, and creative accounting to achieve this. In the middle of their conversation, Gerri sternly calls Roman away to hold him in account for his firing of Joy. This conversation doesn’t go well either, so Roman fires her because he feels disrespected. Kendall finds the whole thing funny and supports his decision. “Who are you going to fire next?” he asks.
Right after the bro-show, we discover that Tom and Shiv got it in. (For God’s sake!) Matsson calls in the middle of their discussion and Shiv actually ropes Tom into her position with him and they discuss whether she should back him. Tom tells Shiv that he would like to be a couple again and she tells him that he shouldn’t have betrayed her (remember the ending of the last season), so he tries honesty. He tells her that as a money hungry normal like the rest of the population, he wanted to be asked into her world, and ultimately, he felt caught between her and her dad, so he chose Logan because he was his ticket to the money, the career, the suits, the watches. She laughs, but then he asks her to throw everything away to live with him in a trailer park, for love. Shiv says she would, then pauses. Incredulous, Tom laughs, but searches for a sign that she might actually genuinely love him enough to participate in struggle love. Once Shiv detects this yearning, she laughs at him. Heartbroken, Tom looks at her with sadness as if he wanted to cry.
In the control room at Waystar Studios, Greg (Nicholas Braun), demands edits of the video footage of Logan that contrives words from Logan to support Kendall’s ideas. His demands are not technically possible, but the editor needs to make it happen to get him in the good books with the Roys. Kendall is also busy asking people to make the impossible possible by repackaging the Waystar numbers to mean that their business is doing better than they actually are. In the end, Kendall is satisfied to learn that he can corner someone into doing and saying stuff they don’t believe.
Shiv reports to Matsson that Living Plus is still pushing ahead despite her non-existent efforts to stop it. Tom listens into the call with his feet up on Shiv’s desk. (He’s very comfortable.) Matsson tells her to stop the launch however she can, and she squirms while trying to figure out how to achieve this. But she might not need to ever do anything because Kendall’s presentation looks like a complete train wreck. He wanted a house on stage last minute and since it was impossible, he was delivered a hot mess of a stage. Then he has the audacity to throw a tantrum that it didn’t turn out well. Roman watches all of this in nervous amusement. When Roman questions the numbers referenced in Kendall’s speech, Kendall assures him it’s all good. Somehow, just in time, Shiv shows up to disquiet Roman to try and blow up the presentation. Kendall is going mad she tells him. It doesn’t work as well as she hopes because, Roman still backs it.
On the day of the presentation, with Shiv’s words in his ear, Roman slides right out of giving the presentation with Kendall. Karl also intercepts Kendall before his speech to warn him not to say any of the fake numbers he pitched to Roman because otherwise, he would Shiv him. So, Kendall walks on stage a little unsteadied. As you’d expect, this shows up during his speech. He starts off so awkwardly, the cringe is hard to endure, but eventually he finds his footing and ends strong, strong enough that everyone in the Waystar executive walks back any doubt they ever had in him. Kendall is able to exploit his grief instead of processing it.
Kendall’s success bothers all his oppositions, namely Matsson and Shiv. Matsson decides a holocaust joke tweet is the answer to thwart Kendall’s increasing rank. However, Kendall is able to use this tweet to shine light on Matsson’s more unappealing personality, to position him as the crazy white racist who is going to be taking over Waystar. “Save your selves!” he suggests; “get on the Matsson hate train!” For the most part, it works. Ken ends up on top, Matsson deletes the tweet, and Roman retreats. This speech cements people’s trust in Kendall’s leadership and it also squeezes Roman to the side. So, recognizing he fucked up, on his ride back home, Roman listens to a recording of his dad insulting him to soothe his nerves. He’s used to being at the bottom, debased. In their own car, Tom and Shiv decide to host the election party and flirt some more, and Kendall walks alone on a beach, draws number one in sand, and then walks into the water to renew himself for a renaissance.