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Monday, 15 November 2021

REVIEW: Succession Recap: "The Retired Farmers of idaho”

 “I just do what my dad tells me”

Contributed by Jackson Maher.

Well, that was the most stressful episode of Succession I’ve ever sat through. Scratch that, I was pacing for most of the episode. At one point I hid behind my couch, curled up, peeking over the cushions through my fingers trying to put as many layers between my eyeballs and the trainwreck I was watching unfold. I became so physically uncomfortable and sweaty that I had to take my shirt off. That was truly some “shirts off shit.”

Last week reminded us that Logan’s health is a ticking time bomb looming over the entire series, and this week’s episode—“The Retired Farmers of Idaho”—gave us a sneak peek into that Logan-less future. Spoiler alert: it looks bad.

The health of Logan and the failing infrastructure of human bodies is something that I’ve compared to capitalism’s relationship to climate change, but I’m not sure any single episode of Succession has made that comparison felt as on point as this. The three most powerful players in the Succession universe all were shown to be failed by their bodies this week. Logan became “piss-mad” with a urinary tract infection that nearly had him submarine the company. Sandy was reduced to the “angriest vegetable” in the world, unable to even speak to anyone outside of his daughter, who may or may not have been using him as her meat puppet. Finally, President Raisin himself was forced to drop out of his re-election campaign as news of his memory and health became a media-fueled scandal.

There is something so viscerally distressing about watching Shiv, Roman, Karl, Gerri, and everyone else look pleadingly at Logan, waiting for his decision on bated breath, all while we, the audience, know that he is completely out of it. It’s like they’re waiting for God to speak to them and tell them what crops to plant. Logan is their magic conch

The message is clear—the pillars of this world, this metaphor for capitalism, are dying. The natural world is coming to collect. So what comes next?

Naturally, the first place to look is the next generation. After it becomes clear to everyone that Logan is delusional, the first instinct of the group is not to question Logan’s orders but instead to figure out how to Weekend at Bernie’s Logan. “It’d be great to get the body out there,” Karl and Karolina argue before an imaginary cat situation makes it clear that Logan can’t make an appearance, let alone bully a vote from shareholders.

Shiv and Roman bicker over how true they should stay to Logan’s orders. 

Roman is incapable of any feeling towards his father other than his unique blend of fear and reverence. As he once said in Rava’s apartment, “I just think he never fails or ever will.” Here he claims that this is “classic dad” and that Logan is always “6 moves ahead.” But even when he’s confronted with the truth that his dad is completely out of it, he can’t confront that truth. He walks away from his recovering father asking to be called when Logan is “less scary” and even when it becomes clear a deal is the only way forward, he still worries what Logan will say once he does recover.

Shiv is much more willing to fight for the deal. She pushes back when Logan tells them to kill the deal and then is the one to negotiate with Sandi (the one who can talk), but when Logan does come to, he rips her for giving up too much. This is what made Kendall’s decision to try to end Logan important. Any takeover has to be complete, and to do that, “you have to be a killer.” Until the kids fully move on from the past—are willing to kill Logan—they’ll never be able to make decisions for themselves, and they’ll always be beholden to the orders of a piss-mad king.

Speaking of Kendall, he offers an increasingly erratic and rudderless direction for the future. He is incapable of listening to anyone’s advice and his demands fall on deaf ears. Gerri literally rolls her eyes when he tells them that they need to fix the deal, and then everyone rolls their eyes at him when he tries to make the shareholder meeting about him and his performative wokeness. 

In the past, “because my dad told me to” seemed like a powerful statement, one that ensured that the Roy children were in a powerful position. But now, as Logan’s health declines, “I just do what my dad tells me” is becoming an increasingly damning idea, something that we see parroted back to Shiv early in the episode when the Sandy/Stewy/Sandi team (henceforth to be referred to as the S.S. Sandy) tries to weasel in a veto option on any Roy children taking hold of the firm in the future. 

Sandy Sr. is a literal vegetable, and the idea that his daughter is simply listening to him and doing everything he says is just as absurd as it is for the Roy children (or maybe even Americans invoking the Founding Fathers). Ultimately, it is through Shiv and Sandi’s acknowledgement that they don’t have to be the puppets, but instead that they can be the puppet masters, that the deal is sealed.

The future doesn’t belong to the old pillars like Sandy and Logan, but as long as they continue to hold their influence, there can be no true moving on.

BEST LINES

Every week I make note of a metric ton of brilliant lines that I’m not able to finagle into the main review, but I still want to highlight the standouts.

  • Kendall to Frank: “There he is the panic-meister, cooking up his sweaty spaghetti”

  • Ewan to Greg: “Because—because Greg your life is not a bagatelle. Because you are putting yourself in the service of a monstrous endeavor. Because...because you need to take yourself seriously, kid.”

  • Stewy on Sandy: “Good luck but the fucking belligerent zucchini here is set to close on negotiations for good”

  • Hugo: “Should we call in a bomb threat?”

  • Roman: “Fuck yeah Connor, we just alienated our most powerful ally. I mean, it’s kinda nice to know that we can, like, puppet master the entire American republic project and all but...”

  • Tom to Greg: “You’re going to sue Greenpeace? I like your style Greg. Who do you think you’re going to go after next, Save the Children?”

POWER RANKINGS

Each recap, we’ll countdown where each character stands. This list is based on who is in the best position to accomplish their goals, whatever those may be, and just my general and totally objective view of who had the best episode.

17. Kendall’s children (Last week: 13) - Poor Sophia and Iverson, they keep losing. The rabbit is sick because Kendall bullied their nanny into giving it a bagel. These kids are so screwed. Will no one think of the children??

16. President Raisin (Last week: 12) - My favorite thing about Succession’s President is that he has never been seen or heard. We have no idea what he looks like, he is simply a conceptual puppet. Even when he calls Logan or Roman, the conversation is completely one-sided. And now that he’s dropping out of a re-election campaign, it seems like he’ll probably never be seen, heard from, or even remembered ever again. Seems apt for a man with a questionable memory.

15. Maya (Last week: N/A) - The proxy solicitor was pretty useless all episode. She never gave anyone a straight answer on how the vote might turn out. I think Tom was pretty spot on when he said he could have just asked Greg. Maybe she can get a job at 538.

14. Karl (Last week: N/A) - My man got a sneak peek of his future when he saw Sandy in that syphilis-induced wheelchair, which couldn’t have been great for his mental health after those 5a.m. nights. Shout out to him giving the most Karl of answers when Shiv asked him if they should renegotiate the deal with Sandy and he just said “ummmmmm” and didn’t answer.

13. Greg (Last week: 4) - Yikes. Kendall squeezed him by threatening to hand him over to the Department of Justice. He continues to hit on that social media manager and get absolutely nowhere. Ewan eviscerated him, cutting him out of his estate and telling him to get his shit together. And now he’s suing Greenpeace.

12. Kendall (Last week: 3) - I’m not sure Kendall could have had less weight or self-awareness in this episode if he tried. He told Bianca to give the rabbit a bagel, and then said a human doctor could treat it. He claimed to be able to save the deal, but basically just got told to go home. He gave his Sermon on the Marriott, and then got ghosted and permanently blocked by his own dad. Just a week of straight L’s for Ken.

11. Tom (Last week: 10) - Things are not looking great for Terminal Tom. He spent the entire episode cozying up to Shiv and telling her that everything she was doing was smart and good and then blew it by trying to sneak a baby in her. At least he did catch that Logan had totally lost it and got a good ol’ attaboy from the big guy.

10. Sandy Sr. (Last week: N/A) - He might be a belligerent zucchini but he also got his deal and embarrassed Logan with the private jet concession.

9. Jess (Last week: N/A) - I’m not sure if this is the right placement for Kendall’s assistant Jess, but I need to shout out some all time great reaction shots from her in this episode. Her silent judging of his stupidity is all of us.

8. Roman (Last week: 8) - Roman got yelled at in a cringeworthy presidential phone call and tried desperately to stick to Logan’s orders despite it being obvious that he had lost his marbles. Although, Gerri did look to him to okay the final deal, so he’s still got a super powerful ally.

7. Frank (Last week: N/A) - The Roy family perpetual punching bag had to filibuster like he was Patton Oswalt, which was humiliating for sure, but also he succeeded! The vote was delayed through his air-eating words and he bought the team time to make the deal. Plus, in a UTI stupor, Logan inadvertently defended Frank: “I’m the only one who’s allowed to be nasty to Frank.”

6. Shiv (Last week: 7) - It’s really hard to place Shiv on these power rankings because every episode seems to be 1 step forward, 2 steps back, and then a final step forward. She kept to her guns and was able to seal the company-saving deal, which is great. Then she found out her husband was tracking her cycle when he tried to hump her and got yelled at by her dad. But also one of those added seats might be for her, which would be a big win.

5. The Sandy Who Can Talk (Last week: N/A) - The other seat winner! How much power Sandy really has is hard to gauge, but she’s solidified her position while also getting her dad everything he wanted. It’s just like Shiv only without the creepy husband, and with her dad being too weak to yell.

4. Logan (Last week: 5) - It’s clear this family is doomed without him and he maintained control of the company. Sure, he didn’t get everything he wanted, but it’s yet another crisis averted.

3. Connor (Last week: 6) - What a week for the Conheads! A path to the presidency has opened! Boom Shakalaka Hell Yeah. 

2. Stewy (Last week: N/A) - Stewy is a perfect example of how all you need to truly win in capitalism is to already have money. The deal is sealed and Stewy makes out with more power and money, and all he had to do was invest and wait.

1. Gerri (Last week: 2) - Gerri maintains her power at the top of the company, she is able to keep Roman close when it looked like she might alienate him, Logan still sees her as a confidante and not a threat, and a potentially more aggressive DOJ is bad for Logan, so it’s probably good for her. Keep girlbossing Gerri!

 Succession Continues Sunday on HBO and Monday on Sky Atlantic & NOW.


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