Succession (Season 4), Episode 5: If anyone had any doubts that Succession won’t be the same without Logan Roy’s toxic presence, they were wrong. Well, not entirely. Cox’s departure has left a big vacuum that cannot be filled in the same way. But the show has shrugged off his death with minor tremors to get back on track. Episode 5 announces Succession’s return as the sharp, ravenous, and twisty game of wits and power after the recent slowdown. This episode had a huge ending that has significant repercussions for the rest of season 4.
Succession is gathering momentum, and it is increasingly heading toward being a zero-sum game. Given how things are shaping up, episode 3 was, in fact, the anomaly in season 4 of the show. Here is a recap of episode 5 of Succession’s season 4 on HBO, titled “Kill List.”
Succession (Season 4), Episode 5 Recap
There is a serious overhang of the GoJo deal in episode 5 of Succession. Think of the current mood as that in The Office, season 2, Halloween episode. Everyone is worried about how the buyout plays out. Matheson and GoJo run a lean ship, and the workforce is mostly young people with incredible achievements in the past. Kendall and Roman have taken over from their father and have already got to work out a problem. Their ATN Studio has run into a bit of a crisis. Key personnel like the producers and some of the anchors have gone on holiday.
The company also has to dole out nearly a quarter of a billion to do the reshoots and handle the CGI work for the studios. Tom and Greg are amongst those who are the most nervous, given their big backer – Logan Roy – is no more. It still feels weird that Brian Cox will no longer be playing Roy. He was such a pivotal part of the show that you would imagine he would go out when the show would end. Anyway, the Waystar team takes off for the annual retreat of GoJo in Norway.
Most have been spooked by the email the GoJo team sent them, naming a list of employees whose future hangs in the balance. Shiv is starting to suspect the number of pieces in the press defiling Logan’s name. Kendall’s secret will not hold for long. And given how he has taken to the role, he seems determined to keep Shiv away from the decision-making, even as Roman tries to be inclusive. Karolina brings up the downsizing discussion in the plane, which suggests that GoJo has a really low retention rate.
The possibility of their own workforce getting affected is very less. Gerri tries to cheer them up by saying, “They are Europeans,” and too soft. Waystar employees have been “raised by a pathogen called Logan Roy,” and there is no way anything could challenge them. That is Logan Roy’s legacy right there in a nutshell! “We’re snakes on a place,” mutters Hugo. Perfect. The “eagles” land in Norway to scenic beauty, rain, and a whole lot of mud.
Kendall and Roman find the rooms to be too small. But they don’t have a lot of time to complain as they head for the meeting with Matheson. With Shiv, of course. And the other execs. Connor has a slight problem back home, with Marcia insisting that Logan wear a kilt for the open casket. But the siblings couldn’t be less bothered. “144” is the number – below it, our team is unhappy and above, happy. The meet and greet went as expected – cold and indifferent with corporate cutthroats.
But the crucial meeting of the leadership with Matheson is even weirder. He immediately puts them on the back foot and suggests Roman and Kendall drop “Shiv and the village elders” from the table. So, the deal is now squarely being discussed between Roman and Kendall, and Matheson. There is a lot of nervous energy in the room, chiefly due to the brothers. Matheson is cool, confident, and a cold-hearted assassin. It definitely seems like he gets what he wants. And what he wants is ATN as well.
Roman immediately gets defensive. He does not want to sell it at any cost. But when Matheson floats the number – 187/share, 50-50 cash, and stock – Kendall is intrigued. The brothers are too shocked to say anything and run it through the execs and Shiv. The former are thrilled. The deal happening was their first priority. The siblings’ original plan was to keep ATN and merge it with PGM, as we saw in episode 2 of season 4. Logan wanted to keep ATN, and that is why he carved it out in the deal with Matheson. Roman recognizes that and says they should not sell ATN in the package.
Kendall is on a different tangent and says they must not come off too thirsty for the deal to be done. Shiv wants it done. She thinks it is a toxic asset. Also, the news studio has run into a problem. Cyd has given an open line to Jared Manken’s campaign team, something that will blow ATN’s credibility if the news gets out. Only Roman is aware of the issue but says it is “mutual backscratching.” Well, the time for serious drama is over as Greg and Tom take over.
The former attaches himself to the siblings and awkwardly tries to play the “family car” while Tom sits at Matheson and his execs’ table, where they discuss whether France will make it. When Tom finds himself unable to cope, he gives Greg the “pawn sacrifice eyes,” and he comes over to make himself look, and Tom look good. Matheson says Greg’s name wasn’t on the list of all things. Greg introduces himself as “the cousin,” and Matheson makes fun of the entourage as being connected in Swedish with his execs.
Kendall takes offense, and Matheson asks for a counter right there on the spot. They want to keep ATN, but Matheson says it will be a bad deal for them. Matheson feels the current dynamic of the news operation is unfit for the future of broadcast media. That has to change for ATN to survive. Kendall and Matheson get into a war of words. Things get a little too serious for the siblings’ liking, and they take a break. Ultimately, the decision rests with the Board of Waystar. Kendall might get the majority with him, but it will be tough. This deal is too good to pass – the one with ATN.
Shiv and Matheson talk about the deal. The Swede comes clean about his stance – he likes to bust other people’s peace, but when it comes to money, all he wants “is a number.”
Ending Explained: Is the GoJo deal canceled?
We get to the final leg of the episode, and Kendall has taken a drastic turn in his stance. He wants to “tank” the whole deal. Not just the one with ATN, but even without ATN. He feels Matheson does not get what Waystar is all about and that he will destroy their father’s life’s work. Kendall beseeches Roman to run the company together instead of taking the deal and sitting around, doing nothing. But if the execs get a whiff of their new plan, the brothers will be toast in front of the Board.
Roman agrees to Kendall’s proposition and gets ready for the “new adventure.” Shiv and Matheson’s chat gets personal. He expresses his insecurity about other people’s judgment. Even though he has achieved so much, Matheson feels there is still a murmur of discontent about him. Shiv opens up about her failed marriage. Matheson narrates his own failed relationship with a girl when his “joke of a frozen brick of half a liter of his blood” became serious for her. As remarkable as that story is, the even more intense revelation is that the girl is Ebba.
She is the comms manager of GoJo, and we see her quite a few times in this episode. Shiv thinks it will be a PR nightmare for him if the deal goes through the media. She suggests some measures to tackle this situation. Kendall hatches the plan to derail the deal. He gives Greg the responsibility to tell the journalist “the truth” about the clash of cultures and how everyone is not getting along. Greg does not know it is to tank the deal.
Kendall then sets up a screening of a movie for the GoJo employees in the morning to further disorient them. This is the movie that the company is producing, and it is touted as their big entry into Hollywood. It has gone way over budget and created problems. Shiv mentions the disparaging news article, but Kendall and Greg plead innocence. Kendall still gives the appearance he wants the deal, and everyone is convinced. Roman and Kendall go up the mountains for another meeting with Matheson.
He immediately senses that they want to tank the deal. They try to circumspect around the truth, but Matheson is not taking it. He wants the deal to happen soon and says if Logan were still alive, he would be embarrassed by his kids. Matheson threatens to go around them and talk directly to the Board. Roman is deeply hurt when Matheson mentions Logan and goes off on a harangue against him. He calls out Matheson’s “inhumane” attitude for calling the siblings when their father had just died.
Roman’s distress is also from before, looking at the photos Connor sent him of Logan in the casket. Roman announces that the deal is off and he hates Matheson. The Swede is left speechless and wondering what will happen next. The Waystar team is back on a plane heading toward home. The others do not know that the deal has tanked. Matheson calls Frank, and he ups the offer to 192/share. Do the brothers take the deal now? Do they even have an option? Because the execs will take it straight to the Board, and the brothers will not have a say.
Shiv tells Tom that ATN is going too as part of the deal. She says they are letting Cyd go and asks Tom to dinner. Matheson calls Shiv and asks for a photo of her brothers’ faces. Karolina gets the list of the people being let go and those being retained. Everyone except herself, Gerri, and Tom are being let go.
What an ending that was! Matheson played such a smart move by directly calling Frank and substantially upping his offer. It may not sound like a big deal, but the premium he offered is too generous.
This was the brothers’ big defeat. They had no intention of selling, even as Shiv did, but got outmuscled by Matheson. Shiv’s reaction at the end when she learned that the brothers went behind her back and wanted to tank the deal is also intriguing. Logan’s death has indeed changed their dynamic, and it is back to being disjointed. The happiness lasted a grand total of three episodes, then.