Television’s most miserable wealthy family is back to fight over control of Waystar Royco, and The Ringer will be following their scheming every step of the way. Each week, we’ll break down the biggest developments, track who’s leading the literal line of succession, and catalog each episode’s most savage burns, best Cousin Greg–isms, and more. Let’s continue with the fourth episode, “Lion in the Meadow.”
Succession’s Line of Succession, Week 4
The Waystar shareholder meeting looms large over Succession’s third season—with each passing episode, it draws nearer. While it’s unclear how much time has elapsed this season—seriously, how many weeks has it been since Kendall’s bombshell press conference?—the FBI raid of the Waystar premises couldn’t have come at a worse time for the company. At the start of “Lion in the Meadow,” the shareholder meeting is four days away, and investors are getting cold feet. That includes Josh Aaronson (played by Adrien Brody), who owns a crucial 4 percent stake in the company and is considering a last-minute defection to either sell or join Sandy and Stewy.
To assuage concerns ahead of the shareholder vote, Josh requests that Logan and Kendall come to his private island and assure him that Waystar can withstand some Roy family infighting. We’ll get into the nitty-gritty of that showdown shortly, but Logan asks Shiv to be on “fire watch” in his absence. It’s a golden opportunity for Shiv to prove that, despite her inexperience in the corporate world, she’s the right Roy kid for the top job. (I’m sure that brutal open letter condemning Kendall’s behavior in last week’s episode won her some brownie points, too.)
Ultimately, though, Shiv’s execution is a mixed bag. She tries, and fails, to assert her authority over Frank and Karl in the middle of settlement negotiations with Sandy and Stewy. When Logan relays to Shiv that Karl didn’t appreciate her input, she pouts like a child getting her favorite toy taken away. And if there’s one thing Logan doesn’t like seeing from a potential successor, it’s weakness. “I don’t need another toothache,” he tells her. “I gave you a destination, I can’t walk you there, OK?”
On the bright side, Shiv did succeed in getting ATN’s hotshot anchor Mark Ravenhead—yes, the same guy Tom questioned last season about definitely being a neo-Nazi—to criticize the “raisin” president, thereby pressuring him to dial down the Department of Justice’s investigation into Waystar. (Sidenote: In an ideas meeting, Ravenhead says, “I like pedo daycare, it’s strong.”) But while Ravenhead’s unfavorable coverage of the president is a win for Logan delivered by Shiv, he’s more likely to remember how she failed to impress him than what she did to turn the tides in his favor. Such is the Sisyphean struggle of trying to gain Logan Roy’s favor—as both a daughter and an employee.
Meanwhile, Roman goes on an episode-long quest to get some dirt on Kendall, resurfacing an unhoused person they coerced into getting Ken’s initials tattooed on his forehead during Kendall’s bachelor party in New Orleans. (More on that shortly.) But as Gerri points out, Roman would also be undermining himself by making this information public because he went along with the prank. “How does this advance my personal position?” Gerri tells him. “You need to think about that 24/7. You should get that tattooed on your head.” Gerri is certainly listening to her own advice. She hasn’t made major moves since being installed as CEO, but with Roman willingly feeding her this kind of information, she’s amassing leverage. With all the attention on the Roy children, the Mole Woman is living up to her name.
Takeaway of the Week: Human Playthings
It goes without saying: What Kendall and Roman did to that unhoused person was gross. But their bachelor party behavior is also emblematic of how the Roys view people under their socioeconomic strata—that whatever happens to them doesn’t matter because there was, as has been repeated many times on the series, “no real person involved.” It’s telling that Roman refers to him as “Tattoo Man” rather than identify him by his actual name. Sadly for Tattoo Man, Roman pulls him back into the spotlight with the hope of puncturing Kendall’s new woke image, only to be disheartened by the fact that Kendall’s initials are now barely visible on his head. (He had the insignia removed to, understandably, help his employment prospects.) It’s hard to decide what’s more dehumanizing: the initial act in New Orleans or the way that Roman and Hugo poke and prod at the man’s forehead in a conference room.
But the Roys get a taste of their own medicine this week when an unlikely source treats Logan and Kendall like his own playthings. That would be the aforementioned Josh Aaronson. Josh initially flexes on the Roys by demanding that Logan and Kendall meet him together despite their very public blood feud. Then, after Kendall begrudgingly acquiesces to that demand, Josh requests that they fly out to his private island instead of meeting in the city on account of his daughter running a fever. “Nice, love it,” he says to Logan upon arriving at his island. “Fucking King Kong come out to dance for me. I’m honored.”
It doesn’t take long for it to become clear that Josh, who, in Adrien Brody’s capable hands, looks like if Noah Baumbach was getting over a divorce by heavily investing in crypto, isn’t being truthful with Logan and Kendall. For one, his supposedly sick daughter is doing front flips in the pool:
What Josh wants above all else is a song and dance—the type he would rarely, if ever, be afforded under normal circumstances. A 4 percent stake might not sound like a lot, but 4 percent of one of the biggest companies in the world means owning a private island. The meeting with Logan and Kendall isn’t really about his concerns with the company’s business prospects; it’s about watching one of the most powerful men on the planet squirm.
Perhaps the cruelest aspect of Josh’s scheme is how he preys on Logan’s physical vulnerability. He urges Kendall and Logan to take a long walk on his premises, and after saying that he’s arranged for a cart to pick them up on the way back, they just … keep on walking. As Logan wheezes, Josh yells back, “I’m gonna call the house, ’cause this is the quick way but sometimes it takes longer,” a statement so nonsensical that it might as well be a twist of a knife. The inevitable eventually happens, and Logan keels over from exhaustion.
Josh uses Logan’s debilitating episode as an excuse to pull his support ahead of the shareholder vote, but as Kendall sees at the very end of “Lion in the Meadow,” he’d already arranged a meeting with Stewy after theirs. Aside from establishing himself as a deceptively awful person, Josh has the Roys backed into a corner. It doesn’t look like the shareholder meeting is going to go their way, and if the family loses its own company, it’ll leave a mark more permanent and damaging than even a face tattoo.
The Most Callous Display of Wealth
Since Logan and Kendall aren’t on the best, uh, terms at the moment, the fact that they agreed to a meeting where they’re in the same room feels like an accomplishment in and of itself. But before they can talk with Josh, they have to get to his island. That means Succession gets to return to one of its favorite 1-percenter staples: private air travel. But Kendall and Logan’s respective egos are so big that sharing a private helicopter and plane just won’t cut it. No, they’ll fly separately, right next to one another, resulting in this absurd image of excess:
Setting aside how bad this dick-swinging contest is for the environment—it was only two episodes back that Kendall pleaded with his siblings to help him save the planet—it’s also a really bad look for the Roys. What better way to show the investor you’re meeting that father and son aren’t on the same team than by literally refusing to fly together?
Still, separate private jets is one thing; owning a private island is another. (I’m pretty sure even the Roys aren’t flexing that hard.) It’s difficult to get a full read on Josh’s island based on a scenic walk by the ocean, but from the way his house looks, he definitely took the wrong lessons from Parasite.
The Most Brutal Insults of the Week
5. After logging on to a conference call with all of Logan’s underlings: “Holy shit, the gang’s all here, huh? It’s like the fucking Sgt. Pepper of broken corporate America.” —Kendall
4. The fine folks down on seven: “You know they’re calling me ‘Terminal Tom’ down on seven? Cause I’ve got cancer of the career.” —Tom
3. After complimenting Kendall in front of Josh: “Yeah, well, you’ll say anything to get fucked on a date, won’t you?” —Logan
2. On Shiv trying to be the big boss at Waystar: “Remember when you had that play post office and you used to stamp all the mail that came into the house? … This is a little bit like that, isn’t it?” —Connor, with a rare yet admittedly effective burn
1. After Kendall starts to wonder whether Josh is colluding with his dad: “You OK, son? Some of those drugs you do can make you paranoid, is that right?” —Logan
The Cousin Greg Corner
Cousin Greg’s ineffectual attempt to play both sides appears to have finally come to an end this week, after Logan requests an audience with him. “I have this stupid worry that I’m gonna go over and there will be like goons and stooges and rough jacks there to administer a beating,” Greg tells Kendall. But Kendall knows that Logan even acknowledging Greg’s presence is a significant development: “It means you have weight, bro.”
Of course, it’s one thing for Greg to have leverage; it’s another to know what to do with it. In between sips of a very strong rum and coke, Greg has no idea what to ask Logan for should he agree to abandon his personal lawyer and sign Waystar’s joint defense agreement. The predictably awkward exchange ends with Logan telling him to come back when he knows what exactly he wants, and Greg chugging the rum and coke that’s at least 50 percent rum:
But while Greg looked clueless in the room with Logan, he did come up with some smart demands. As he explains to Tom, he’ll ask to be an operations director at one of the Waystar theme parks, preferably the one in Buffalo, so he can return to New York City on the weekends. Greg made it clear last season that he never wanted to follow Tom to ATN; now he can work in a less toxic environment that (presumably) employs fewer neo-Nazis.
Tom doesn’t handle the news well—what with the possibility that he could go to jail while his bestie takes over a glorified Six Flags. He tells Greg the story of Nero and Sporus. (“This is not IP I’m familiar with,” Greg says.) Nero, Tom explains, was a Roman Emperor who pushed his wife down a flight of stairs before castrating his favorite slave Sporus and marrying him. “I’d castrate you and marry you in a heartbeat,” Tom says, which is both bizarre and yet, within the context of Succession’s cruel universe, one of the most genuine expressions of affection that’s ever been said on the show.
But if everything goes well for Greg and his new plan, the character will come full circle. After all, our introduction to Cousin Greg in the Succession pilot was at one of the Waystar theme parks, where he was puking through the eyes of one of the mascots. It’s not exactly a Roman epic, but returning to the park feels oddly poetic all the same.