At this point in Succession, it is impossible to tell if anyone is actually winning, because it seems like everyone is losing. No one lost more than the biggest baby in the Roy family, Kendall, who threw a massive and extraordinarily bleak birthday party in this week’s episode that was essentially a monument to his trauma.
What became clear shortly after the Roy siblings walked through a pink tunnel meant to represent their mother’s vagina is that Kendall is enduring a midlife crisis on a grand scale—and because he is incapable of processing his feelings in a way that is either healthy or sustainable, every person that has ever crossed his path will be forced to contend with it. The party itself is meant to be a showcase for Kendall—an event that was supposed to culminate in a musical performance featuring your boy nailed to a cross in a tuxedo, warbling an earnest cover of “Honesty” by Billy Joel.
Thankfully, that didn’t happen, but some other stuff did! Most importantly, Roman managed to nail down a deal with Lukas Matsson (Alexander Skaarsgard), a dickhead tech bro, by weaseling his way into a giant treehouse and charming him by being just as much of an asshole as he is capable of. He did his papa’s bidding, and surely, he will get a big reward. Tom and Greg will not be going to prison, and Shiv continues to get the short end of the stick. Just another day in the Roy’s New York, baby!
Here are our collective thoughts.
No winners, honestly. This was such an endlessly bleak episode that even the actual undeniable wins—Tom not going to jail imminently, Greg securing a date with Dasha from Red Scare™, Roman securing the bag with Alexander Skarsgaard—were met with such intense lows that the positives were essentially canceled out. I don’t know what was more miserable. Was it Kendall trying to find the birthday present from his children in a drunken rage? Or him misappropriating his misery at Connor’s damn cost. Was it Shiv realizing that even her own ever changing moral compass is becoming increasingly compromised by the behavior of the family company she so desperately wants to be a part of? Or maybe it was seeing Roman so drunk off the very idea of scoring a win for his father that he’s…kind of starting to lose it? How many mom and dad fucking jokes is he gonna spew before getting some therapy?
I don’t think I’ve ever been more stressed watching an episode of this show. Perhaps the only real winners were the partygoers who got to avoid A performance by Tiny Wu Tang Clan and Kendall flying through the air in a harness.
Winners: I’m giving it to Tom and Roman this week. Shortly after Tom finished browsing his preferred list of prisons, he learns he probably won’t serve jail time. Naturally, he celebrates by terrorizing Greg. Roman’s also been proving his worth the past couple of episodes. Something about his self-awareness is really endearing and I think he’s growing on me?
Loser: Ken spent this episode spending all of his dads money on an immersive birthday experience. I’m fully expecting the card from his dad to send him over the deep end. I wonder if this is part of a larger plan to break Kendall down to the point where Logan completely owns him. Buying him out seems just a little too easy for his dad. How sad was it that he filled his party full of pretenders and yes people and then couldn’t even find the gift his kids made him? I wonder if everyone this rich is this sad.
Honorable Mention: Naomi is back. With her very limited vocabulary and terrible haircut. I’m still mad about her behavior at Rava’s house. I can only assume the writers are keeping her around because she’s going to breakup with Kendall soon, or at the very least, play a role in his downfall.
Winner: If hard-pressed to select a “winner”, I’d argue that the only people that came out on top are the staff of the event space where Kendall held his ridiculous and very depressing monument to himself, since it seems like they at least got paid. Other winners? Rava, for no longer being married to Kendall; Tom and Greg for not going to prison (yet! You never know), and, begrudgingly, Roman, for sealing the deal with yet another asshole. It seems this is becoming his specialty! Just like Daddy wanted, hm?
Overall, though, nobody “wins” anything, because by now, it’s clear as day that the entire family is rotten to the core, and are simply working their way around their rottenness the best they can.
Loser: Shiv lost bad, because her brother and her father are working in and around her, without actually including her in any of the decisions they’re making. Kendall, my man, is an eternal loser, but never was this more evident than at his 40th birthday party, which is essentially the kick-off event for what will shape up to be a rip-roaring midlife crisis. It was hard to laugh at any of this, because it was all so deeply sad and depressing? Kendall digging through his pile of presents, looking for the one thing in his life that means anything was sad. Kendall, gazing over Manhattan’s glittering skyline wrapped in a blanket from his childhood, as he considers the emptiness of his life—very sad. Because of these twin sadnesses, it feels like punching down to call this fictional character a loser, which is a testament to Jeremy Strong’s ability as an actor. Otherwise, everyone loses. Please put them out of their misery.