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Prison Camps for Grannies: Breaking Down Episode 6 of ‘Succession’

As Lukas Matsson closes in on the acquisition of Waystar, Kendall pitches a revolutionary product: fancy retirement homes?

HBO/Ringer illustration

Television’s most miserable wealthy family is back for one final season of scheming, and The Ringer will be following their tragicomic power struggle 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 sixth episode, “Living+.”

Succession’s Line of Succession, Week 6

One thing that’s become apparent about the business side of Succession is that there’s always an opportunity for handshake agreements to fall apart. With every episode, the Roy siblings’ potential acquisition of Pierce Global Media, which is contingent on the sale of Waystar Royco, looks like it will die on the vine. While GoJo founder Lukas Matsson made an offer for Waystar that Kendall and Roman couldn’t refuse, that doesn’t mean the interim co-CEOs will stand idly by and lose their father’s company. (Whether Kendall and Roman are capable of running a multibillion-dollar media conglomerate is another question entirely.)

Time is not on Kendall and Roman’s side, so much of Sunday night’s episode, “Living+,” sees the siblings scrambling to undermine the GoJo deal in the lead-up to investor day at Waystar Studios in Los Angeles. Their efforts … do not exactly inspire confidence. Roman meets with the head of Waystar Studios, Joy Palmer, with the intention of funneling more money into its theatrical and streaming projects. Instead, the conversation abruptly ends with Roman, totally unprompted, firing Joy after airing out his own insecurities that he’s unqualified as co-CEO. Later, when Gerri chastises Roman for impulsively sacking the head of the studio, she suffers the same fate as Joy. (Tough beat for all the Roman-Gerri shippers out there.) It’s unclear whether these firings will actually stick, but at this point, Roman’s position of power is imploding at the same rate as the ill-fated rocket he oversaw in Season 1.

While Roman is firing people with abandon like he’s hosting The Apprentice, Kendall is looking into Living+, a new Waystar initiative to be unveiled at investor day. The service is essentially branded retirement communities with promotional tie-ins to other pieces of Waystar IP. (I hope this doesn’t give the Fox Corporation any ideas.) For Kendall, Living+ could be the key to pushing Matsson out of the deal: If he can juice the numbers at the product launch as if it’s a piece of shiny new tech, Waystar’s stock could rise high enough that GoJo would have to up its offer, which is already substantial. Of course, that’s easier said than done—as Cousin Greg notes, “I think it’s hard to make houses seem like tech, ’cause we’ve had houses for a while now.” Kendall’s solution: reveal during the presentation that Living+ gives its members an inside track at life-enhancement and life-extension therapies, the galaxy-brain implication being that this could be humanity’s first step toward achieving immortality. (Don’t worry, we’ll get into the nitty-gritty of this bonkers product launch shortly.)

Meanwhile, Shiv is acting as a sleeper agent for Matsson and subtly sows some discord between her brothers. She points out to Roman that Kendall’s grand (unrealistic?) vision for Living+ is shaping up to be a disaster, and he’d be wise to stop him—or at the very least, pull out of the presentation and let Kendall take the massive L for himself. “You know he could do anything up there, and then you’re a part of it,” Shiv says. (Kendall doesn’t help his cause by making the two brothers matching flight jackets for the “launch” that somewhat resemble those worn by Jeff Bezos and his Blue Origin crew.) Roman follows Shiv’s advice, which, in all fairness, seems like a shrewd bit of self-preservation. What’s more, during Kendall’s presentation, Shiv urges Matsson to create some kind of distraction, leading to an ill-advised tweet from the tech mogul comparing Living+ to concentration camps:

Alas, the efforts to thwart Kendall—and Living+, which Matsson has no interest in pursuing once he takes over Waystar—backfire in spectacular fashion. Between Matsson’s problematic tweet (he swiftly deletes it) and a shockingly well-received presentation from Kendall, the momentum shifts in favor of the no. 1 boy. Kendall is hailed as a genius by the Waystar higher-ups, while Roman seethes that his brother gets all the glory for himself. Shiv, meanwhile, wonders whether she’s backed the wrong horse. Whether the successful launch of Living+ will be enough to stop GoJo from acquiring Waystar remains to be seen, but full credit to Kendall for snatching victory from the jaws of defeat. Perhaps Logan really was trying to underline his name as Waystar’s successor after all.

Takeaway of the Week: LOL Capitalism

Make no mistake, while Kendall is the big winner of this week’s episode, it could come at a considerable cost. What Kendall is promising with Living+ is patently ridiculous: Not only does he embellish the number of housing units that Waystar could build in these retirement communities, but he also straight-up suggests that joining the service might lead to a higher life expectancy. “Can we really do it?” Kendall says during the presentation. “You know, are people who subscribe to Living+ support really gonna live 10, 20, 30, 40, 50 years more?” I’ll just go out on a limb and say the answer is no. (The speech has shades of LeBron James joining the Miami Heat and guaranteeing “not two, not three, not four, not five, not six, not seven …” titles for the team.)

If Kendall throwing out unrealistic numbers for the sake of boosting Waystar’s stock wasn’t unethical enough, he also commissions Greg to oversee some extremely misleading edits of Logan talking about Living+ in some old promotional footage. Greg has an editor change Logan’s words so that he says the real estate brand will “double the earnings” of the parks division. (Even in death, Logan’s opinion carries a ton of weight.) The whole situation is on a razor’s edge—you can connect the dots between Kendall’s impulsive (and potentially unlawful) decision-making and his well-established history of addiction. But the biggest tell is what Kendall says to Roman right before the launch, after admitting he added even more housing units to their inflated projections: “It’s enough to make you lose your faith in capitalism—like, you could say anything.”

Indeed, you can. If there’s a real-life parallel to what Kendall is doing with Living+, look no further than the infamous rise and fall of Theranos, the Silicon Valley startup founded by Elizabeth Holmes that deceived investors into believing the company could develop a needle-free method of blood testing. (At its peak, Theranos’s valuation reached $10 billion.) Therein lies the fundamental problem with late-stage capitalism: It practically encourages scam artists to do their thing because of the short-term rewards in the market. Never mind that Kendall’s presentation, and what Living+ could offer its members, is complete bullshit: All that matters is Waystar’s stock soaring in the aftermath.

One of the driving forces behind Succession is the belief that a system where enormous wealth is hoarded by a small fraction of people should be torn down. (I mean, hard agree.) In a similar vein, it’s exceedingly rare for the 1 percent to face real consequences for their actions, whether they’re burning a Pulitzer Prize–winning digital media brand to the ground or overseeing a company with a culture of racism. But if there’s one case when the extraordinarily privileged can actually meet their comeuppance, it’s when they defraud investors—after all, Holmes was sentenced to 11 years in prison last year. (It’s also not looking great for FTX cofounder Sam Bankman-Fried.)

I don’t want to make too many assumptions about how Succession will end, but it’s hard to imagine that Kendall wildly overpromising on both Living+’s growth as a real estate enterprise and its ability to keep people alive for an extra 50 years (?!) won’t come back to bite him—and Waystar as a whole. Kendall may have given Matsson second thoughts about buying Waystar, but it could come with the price of something far worse: the company entering a death spiral not seen since the days of Theranos.

The Most Callous Display of Wealth

On the subject of privilege, I’ll slightly alter the usual focus of this section of our recap. That’s because callous displays of wealth aren’t always about material items—though Succession has plenty of 1-percenter flexes to throw around—but can also be about the ways in which rich people treat those below their socioeconomic strata, especially in the workplace. In his erratic attempt to turn Living+ into a valuable asset for the company, Kendall wants to add a little pizazz to the presentation. (Lest we forget, this is a man who decided to serenade his dad with an original rap while wearing a custom baseball jersey.) Kendall lands on ordering the set designer to build him a replica Living+ home, complete with clouds hovering above it.

It’s a mighty ask, and one that would require an absurd turnaround—the Living+ product launch is happening in less than a day. When the set designer tells Kendall that he wants the impossible, our guy won’t take no for an answer. In fact, Kendall makes a new decree: “Here’s the rule, OK: No one can say no,” he says. Even Bobby from Queer Eye wouldn’t be able to build a damn replica house in the span of 24 hours.

Once again, Succession shows how the wealthy elite make unrealistic demands and expect underlings to do their bidding without questioning their authority. Kendall, in turn, gets exactly what he deserves: The following day, the replica house is only partially built, and the solution for clouds is a smoke machine. (Props to the set designer for giving it a shot; no pun intended.) It’s a fitting image for Kendall and Roman’s turbulent reign as co-CEOs:

In the end, Kendall scraps the replica home from the presentation, but that doesn’t mean he’s out of bad ideas. (Considering what Kendall’s 40th birthday party looked like last season, what else did you expect?) In addition to implying that Living+ could help its members avert death, Kendall briefly interacts with old footage of Logan—a tacky, cringe-inducing ploy to use his father’s image to bolster his own:

To quote the grumpy legend himself, Kendall’s product launch was about as choreographed as a dog getting fucked on roller skates.

The Most Brutal Insults of the Week

5. On the values of the creative community at Waystar Studios: “I get it, and I love the values. I mean, it’s an incredibly evolved, ruthlessly segregated city you’ve built on this geological fault here.” —Roman

4. After Roman makes the case that firing Joy is something Logan would’ve done: “Oh, well, maybe. But you’re not your dad.” —Gerri

3. On her relationship with Tom: “You were the one after the one—the actual one—and that’s always, you know, that’s hard. … But you, I mean, I’m the whole story for you. I just twisted your heart right up.” —Shiv

2. Upon firing Gerri: “Shall we get started on the paperwork? You want to do it yourself, or do you want me to get somebody a bit sharper?” —Roman

1. When the crew filming the old Living+ promo inevitably piss him off: “God, you’re fucking useless, the lot of yous. You’re as bad as my fucking idiot kids.” —Logan, still delivering the show’s most savage barbs from beyond the grave

The Cousin Greg Corner

If Cousin Greg’s stock was soaring by the end of Succession’s third season thanks to his association with Tom, it’s taken a nosedive ever since. Greg the Egg has been on the periphery for much of the final season, and “Living+” is no exception. Greg’s biggest (and, really, only) contribution to the episode is done on Kendall’s behalf, when Kendall demands that Logan’s old Living+ video be misleadingly edited so that the real estate brand has his enthusiastic stamp of approval. (What’s even more confounding is that Logan originally says that Living+ will “provide a significant boost” to the parks division, which is already glowing praise; there’s really no need to fudge the footage.)

In any case, the sequence does give viewers a rare glimpse of Greg holding the most power in a room. Unsurprisingly, he’s not great at wielding it. “Make it happen, OK?” Greg tells the editor, who has some understandable concerns about the request. “Or I get in trouble, and I don’t want to get in trouble. I want to get in the good books. So you help me get in the good books, understand, Mr. Snippy-Snip?”

It’s hard to take Greg seriously when he’s barking orders, and the unnamed editor barely changes his expression throughout the exchange, underlining just how unintimidating Greg is as an authority figure. With only four episodes of Succession left—time sure flies when childish billionaires are constantly stabbing one another in the back—we’re still waiting for Greg to have his breakout moment(s) of the season. Hopefully, Greg getting in Kendall’s good books will lead to more than five minutes of screen time in the weeks to come.