TV Recap – Succession S4E5: ‘Kill List’

It’s amazing to think that we’re already halfway through the final season of Succession. Five episodes deep and the intensity continues to ramp up beyond belief, putting into question just how much more can the audience handle before this powder keg blows in just over a month’s time. And with Logan’s death still looming over the atmosphere of this season, ‘Kill List’ produces the backstabbing, business-dealing, fast talking and conversation interrupting goodness that the foundations of Succession were built on.

With new interim CEOs, Kendall and Roman, at the helm of Waystar Royco., and even despite the passing of their father, Logan, only having occurred a few days prior, the show, as they say, must go on. In this case, the show being the song and dance of who’s got the biggest (financial) appendage in the currently withstanding deal to sell the company to tech billionaire, Lukas Mattson. 

Welcomed back to the offices of which their father once ruled, Kendall and Roy are met with congratulations and applause, which are dismissed by Kendall, who continues his regression to the unstable and volatile fixation of gaining that power he ever so desires. Swapping his t-shirts, baseball caps and coats for the button-up shirt and dress jacket, the remnants of the Kendall who drove himself to a mental breakdown by trying to destroy his father’s company, because he couldn’t have it himself, slowly reappear, creating an unnerving feeling around what his true intentions are now he’s another step closer to his former dreams.

Ready to embark on the journey to Norway to meet Matsson at his company’s retreat, Kendall and Roman are side-swiped by an email from Matsson’s team requesting that the entire group of Waystar Royco. advisors (the likes of Hugo, Gerri, Karl and Frank) also make the trip over. The battle defences rise, with the expectation that this crew will be met with an equal force over in Norway, ready to fight tooth and nail to get all the cash they can for this deal, or as Kendall so eloquently puts it: “bleed the Swede”.

The Americans arrive to the scenic and beautiful mountainside retreat in Norway where the first alarm bells ring for Kendall and Roman, who feel they’ve been shafted into the smallest accommodation at the site as a power move from Mattson, despite both of their rooms being stunning villas comparatively for the other 99% of the world. The second red flag comes when the Roy family entourage descend on Matsson, who is on his lonesome, almost disrespectfully rocking a large rain-coat and hoodie, looking like the last thing on his mind is $144 million deals. Making a mockery of the force shown by the Americans, Kendall and Roman divide from the group and head into the war room to begin their campaign in which they have been tirelessly preparing for. A campaign that is immediately thrown into the shitter when a frustrating conversation with Matsson leads to him dropping the bomb that he wants to also purchase ATN – Logan’s media company that was going to become the new playground for the Roy’s siblings, and something that wasn’t part of this deal.

Matsson offers $187 million, enough to be one of the largest paydays for the Roys, the entourage and the board of Waystar Royco. But, Roman’s undying loyalty to his father, and Kendall’s drive to take back what he believes was rightfully his, creating a speed-bump made of pride and Swedish resentment in the way of everyone else’s potential riches. As Kendall and Roy go back to the board with the new offer, Tom recruits Greg to try and dig up dirt of Matsson from his own employees, while Tom himself tries to situate himself close to Matsson, often met by a standoff-ish and mocking demeanour from all of Matsson’s minions on the retreat. 

Feeling slightly left out of the more pressing matters, despite being told by her own brothers that her involvement was necessary and her presence was not to be ignored in the big decisions, Shiv has an opportunity to flex her negotiating abilities when Matsson approaches her at a party, and asks whether her brothers are going to actually take the deal. Perhaps foolishly (or maybe even tactically) admitting to Shiv that the money isn’t a worry, as long as ATN is in the deal, Shiv leads Matsson to believe the deal will probably be agreed upon. Sharing a whiskey and some coke together, Matsson once again foolishly (or again, perhaps tactically) admits to Shiv he has some potential HR issues personally that could cause some upset with the Waystar board, information that Shiv takes on board without judgement, leading Matsson to declare his faith in Shiv, and for Shiv to hold the ammunition for later on if she needs. 

Meanwhile, Kendall uses his masterful art of manipulation to convince Roman that tanking the entire deal could be of benefit to them if they decide right then and there that the Roy brothers are dedicated to running the entire operation post-interim roles. Roman, who is still obviously heartbroken by his father’s death, and with his burning desire to continue his dad’s legacy, sees this as his chance to do just that. However, the deal must be tanked through Matsson’s doing, as the repercussions from the board if they found out this was Kendall’s doing would ruin any chance of running the company from there on in.

One final trip up to the peak of the mountain for the conversation that will determine everyone’s future is dominated by Matsson calling out Kendall and Roman for only focusing on the negatives of their company before making the deal, in what they cover up as being fully transparent. The back and forth bickering between the three constantly sees Matsson and his incredible intelligence and veracity coming out on top, never once budging at the demands of the Roy brothers. Frustrated and angry, Roman launches a verbal tirade of Matsson (who at that moment, once again shows his disrespect by urinating while talking to Kendall and Roman) about how insensitive and frankly dickish that he demanded everyone to travel to Norway just days after Logan’s death, and not giving them anytime to process their loss.

Kieran Culkin is sprinting for the Emmy is this heartbreaking and powerful tirade of insults, F-bombs, C-bombs and pure emotion of a man who is truly hurt by his devastation and the lack of respect being shown by someone who clearly has the upper hand. Laughing in his face, Matsson simply says: “you’re fucked”, and helicopters away as his goodbye, leaving Kendall and Roman unsure of where the deal will land, and Roman agitated beyond belief.

Flying home from Norway, Karl receives a phone call from Matsson saying the deal is going ahead, and he will pay $192 million for it all. The bump up in price is met with elation from everyone, except Kendall and Roman, who have to keep up appearances despite the dawning realisation that Matsson has well and truly taken them for a ride, and enjoyed every last second of demise that he has caused along the way. With Shiv, keeping quiet about her interaction with Matsson, she receives a call from Matsson requesting a photo of Kendall and Roman’s miserable reaction to the news. A request in which she complies.

The final moments of the episode conclude with yet another Matsson bomb dropping as an email with a ‘kill list’ is sent through naming all of those who will be laid off from the company once the deal goes through. A large majority of those people who made the trip over to Norway, now for no apparent reason other than for the diabolical Swede to fuck with everyone in his twisted, psychopathic and rich way.

New episodes of Succession release Monday’s on BINGE.

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Nick L'Barrow
Nick L'Barrow
Nick is a Brisbane-based film/TV reviewer. He gained his following starting with his 60 second video reviews of all the latest releases on Instagram (@nicksflicksfix), before launching a monthly podcast with Peter Gray called Monthly Movie Marathon. Nick contributes to Novastream with interviews and reviews for the latest blockbusters.

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