What would Logan Roy do? That’s the question on everyone’s minds as the Roy children head to Norway to make Succession‘s endgame deal with Lukas Matsson (Alexander Skarsgård). Three weeks ago, Matsson was the most screwed-over character out of anyone on the show. Following Roy’s death, he’s back in play. But no one is acting normal—do they ever?—and the loss of the family’s patriarch has frazzled everyone’s brains.
As the full team arrives at Matsson’s retreat for Episode Five, it’s almost as if everyone has forgotten how to talk entirely. “I metabolize fast because I’m dynamic,” Hugo (Fisher Stevens) says as he holds a giant plate full of pastries, immediately turning around and telling an Olympic skier in attendance that finishing in fourth place at Sochi was “almost huge.” Tom (Matthew Macfadyen) asks Matsson if he remembers a very specific joke they once shared, and Cousin Greg (Nicholas Braun) mentions an Economist article he read about France. Apparently, it left him walking away with the idea that you “shouldn’t bet against old lady baguette.” What the hell is happening here?
Later, during the meeting with Matsson, Kendall (Jeremy Strong) and Roman (Kieran Culkin) are speechless when the GoJo CEO suggests also acquiring ATN. They leave to consult Shiv (Sarah Snook) about whether or not this deal is what their dad would want, and she tells them to just get it done so that they can move on. When Kendall and Roman start to chicken out, she makes her own play with Matsson. As the episode progresses, it’s clear that Shiv is more like her father than Kendall and Roman. She can play (business) ball with freaky CEOs who mail their blood to employees they’re having secret sexual relationships with. She can say “fuck!” only once per sentence so it sounds more cool—and she understands the big picture more than her brothers. This is about taking your vast amount of money and making it even bigger. That’s it.
But even in a show where everyone is a self-interested, deranged wacko with nine-figure bank accounts to their name, it’s still hard to remember that—in the end—they’re all simply awful to each other. It’s all they know, and it’s all they can do. Sure, it’s also the business talking. But it’s also the very real legacy that Logan left them. You say “fuck off!” 20 times a day, make power moves, and stab your confidants in the back until you’re the richest person when you close your eyes at night.
It takes someone outside of the family, Lukas Matsson, to treat them with even less respect than their father ever did to make Roman finally snap at the episode’s end. “You really couldn’t push this a week?” he asks Matsson. “No part of you that thought let’s just reschedule because their dad just died? You just dragged us out here, you inhuman, fucking dog man.” He might have ruined the whole deal—which appears to be Kendall and Roman’s next move—but at least the middle child finally woke up to the world he lives in. Connor (Alan Ruck) had his come-to-Jesus moment two episodes ago when he realized his father was never going to come to his wedding—and it hurt him even more than the fact that he’s dead.
We may wonder who succeeds in the end, but it’s realizations like these that are all we can hope for these lost kids. Succession has another five episodes left—let’s see who’s next.
Josh Rosenberg is an Assistant Editor at Esquire, keeping a steady diet of one movie a day. His past work can be found at Spin, CBR, and on his personal blog at Roseandblog.com.