Lion in the meadow
Photo: Macall Polay / HBIO
As the aptly named Tom Wambsgans contemplates the details of the prison sentence – like maybe he can go to FCI Otisville, the upstate “Jewish prison” with kosher vending machines – he receives a disheartening visit from Shiv, who asks him, at Logan’s request, to order prime-time ATN fascist Mark Ravenhead to adopt a more critical tone of the president in an effort to pressure on him to support his father. It is a horrible task that he knows will result in failure and humiliation. And he will have to do it because Tom is keenly aware that his wife is suddenly above him in the corporate org chart and everyone will know that she is, to put it mildly, taking advantage of him. . And this at a time when the wags call him “Terminal Tom” because, in his own words, he has “career cancer”.
The second seemingly obnoxious task is actually a gift for Tom. Shiv needs him to put pressure on Greg to abandon his weak alliance with Kendall (“I’m a strong bird”) and align with Waystar Royco’s joint legal defense team. Abusing Greg under the guise of corporate mentorship is Tom’s favorite sport. Even in his current weakened state, he has the pleasure of escorting his young load to the kind of windowless storage room offered to Stephen Root’s character in Office space. However, when he arrives at Greg’s office, he finds out that Logan has already done his job for him. Greg decided to use his little leverage to secure a managerial position in the parks division, so no pressure from Tom was needed. This is terrible news for Tom, who resorts to desperate measures – from provocative (a story about Nero’s relationship with the slave boy Sporus) to simply petty (knocking down a coat rack).
Power has always been a central theme in Succession, but “Lion in the Meadow” articulates it with astonishing completeness. Almost all of the scenes are about the assessment and exercise of power, with each character considering their part or setting the screw on someone they perceive to be inferior to themselves. And the results are often very humiliating: just as Tom’s bullying privileges over Greg are waning, so all Roy’s weaknesses are exposed. Chances are the entire family dynasty is drying up before our eyes, which would suit a media empire that has been a heavy and dysfunctional family business since the show’s first season and only gets worse. But the effect of a diminished empire is to make its main players more eager to prey on and harm the less powerful. After all, that was the raison d’être of the Trump presidency.
As much as Shiv relishes the opportunity to force Tom to do his dirty work – even though she has to pretend to be concerned about her legal situation, she does a bad job of hiding her pleasure in giving orders – she hits hard against the limits of his new Title. It’s clear that her father and other Waystar muckety-mucks have found it helpful to send her, a woman from the Roy family, to be the public face of this new, gentler, “We Understand” version of the business. more understanding. This crowning achievement was ruined by Kendall who added “Rape Me” to the event. But Shiv stayed out of the official business of the company for her entire adult life, so understandably she wouldn’t get the respect of a seasoned executive anyway. Still, it’s somehow worse than that: its title makes no functional sense.
And even worse, the first guy to point it out is Connor, the primo family asshole who’s been even less committed to Waystar than Shiv over the years. Connor is looking for “some pie” to support his dad, and Shiv’s suggestion that he do a show on a Waystar food channel called Gourmando doesn’t match the bill at all. He has a serious dirt on the corporate culture under his racist and neglectful father. (“What were they saying around here? ‘No blacks, no Jews, no women above the fourth floor.'”) But Connor knows that Shiv is not the person to give it to him. What he wants ; he compares her current job to the “gaming post office” that she ran as a child. Later, when Shiv tries to give orders to Karl and Frank – two old truckers – Logan takes time for an extremely large meeting just to put her in her place.
But a much more bitter and surprisingly competitive battle between father and son takes place on Long Island, where Logan and Kendall have been summoned to the seaside precinct of Josh Aaronson (Adrien Brody), who owns a 4% stake in the company. In terms of wielding power on this episode, no one does it with Josh’s cool poise and bravado. His status as a shareholder is so precious to Waystar’s present and future that he can persuade two men locked in a prolonged dirty vendetta to drop everything and jump into a helicopter as if fleeing Saigon. He ostensibly wants to know if he can get back the $ 350 million he lost in that battle, but it really is a golden opportunity to harness power – just like Greg the Egg and Connor – and to see what his huge stake in the business can buy him. It’s also an almost literal stress test for Logan, who has to come across as the vigorous leader of the past and not a frail old man who can’t stand a brisk walk to the beach and back.
Between assurances to Josh that, yes, the two can work together, an air of relentless hostility defines the current state of their relationship. Logan’s monologue to Josh that Kendall is “a good kid” who “can be the best of all” sounds compelling enough to sway a skeptical shareholder, but Kendall, to his credit, sees it all. It is only on the endless journey back to Josh’s house, when they are both alone, that the real conversation can begin. Logan is building up his best momentum, confident the news of Greg’s return to the mothership – along with all of his siblings and all the brass in the business – is the final nail in the coffin. He thinks of the meanest, most racist feeling he can manage to extinguish any hope Kendall might have of running the business.
Still, Kendall doesn’t hear it. The press conference that ended last season seemed like impulsive action, and this season’s first episode revealed no real plans for Kendall to follow. (It was a three-step plan: (1) Calling her father for knowingly covering up sexual assault in the Cruise Division, (2) [???], and (3) become CEO of Waystar Royco.) But he’s shrewd or reckless enough to continue to engage. “You’re 600 years old and you pissed off your fucking boyfriend, the President,” he says. “And he sends the Feds at you, and you squirm, but you’re too deep.” He knows Shiv has been a disaster, which suggests he’s still getting information from within. (From his renegade old pal Frank, maybe?) And he points out the carelessly oblivious anti-Semitic language Logan used around Josh.
Maybe Kendall doesn’t have the power he thinks he has. Maybe he’s just some sad drug addict stealing batteries. But Logan didn’t need to switch to Josh’s estate for his own weakness to be revealed. Those levers of power he’s used to pulling may be inoperative – Ravenhead isn’t moved at the moment – and Kendall’s argument that everyone hates him is almost indisputable, though everyone lined up behind him. With the company’s fate up for grabs, every Roy looks foolish, including Logan, the “lion in the meadow” from the episode title. It brings out the worst in them.
• One candidate at a time for the funniest Greg of all time Succession and the most concise review of Edgar Wright’s new film, Last night in Soho: “I don’t know how you were doing in the 60s? Different times. Different times, indeed. Better times? Not for everything. “
• More grandeur of Greg: “I have this stupid worry that I’m going to overcome and that there will be henchmen, cronies and rude jacks to administer a beating. Turns out, Logan rather mercifully concedes that he has a little leverage and gives him time to think about what he wants. He’s a family man, after all. And Greg giving up his lawyer would mark another victory for Logan over his brother.
• A fun diptych of references to the Beatles in this episode of Kendall – first when he refers to Waystar’s end of a conference call as “the fucking Sgt. Pepper of Broken Corporate America ”, and secondly when he assures Josh that he and his dad will work well together because the Beatles put out some of their best stuff while they were chasing each other.
• The whole subplot of trying to find the ‘tattooed guy’ who has Kendall’s initials tattooed on his head recalls the moment in the show’s first episode where Roman offered a local kid $ 1 million if he could. hitting a home run, then tore the check in front of his face when he didn’t. In fact, Roman is giving the tattoo artist this magic number if he can find a photo of the ink he wiped off his forehead.
• As Kendall struggles with her father, he establishes a healthy relationship with his own children by having an assistant live stream a rabbit to them on an iPad.
• Tom: “I’ll caster you and marry you in the blink of an eye.” Greg: “Are you okay, Tom?” “