The Succession Report Card is a weekly recap feature where we attempt to assign grades to the important people, things, and themes from each episode of Succession. The grades are entirely subjective and the criteria for scoring will change from week to week and occasionally mid-week. Someone might get detention. It’ll probably be Roman.
SEASON 4, EPISODE 5 – “Kill List”
Matsonn’s evolution from “slightly eccentric Swedish billionaire” to “one of the all-time weirdest dudes on television” has been a fascinating thing to watch. This week alone we watched him kind of impulse-buy a cable news operation for $50 billion, casually do cocaine in front of a woman he was kind of negotiating with, admit to sending liters of his own frozen blood to a woman who works for him as a romantic gesture and/or joke, and haul people onto the top of a Norwegian mountain to try to close a massive business deal. Just an absolute maniac. I think I love him. Not in an “I admire the man as a human or businessman and would enjoy working with or knowing him at all in real life” way. Not that at all. It’s more of an “I think I would be legitimately interested in watching a spinoff where he turns ATN into a boring-ass news organization on television while things spiral into madness behind the scenes.”
So… with that said. With me confessing my love of this unsettling maniac who sometimes greets guests with his hood halfway over his head like a hallucinogen-addled monk, why does Matsson get an F this week? Two reasons, both important: One, he more or less got bullied in a negotiation by Roman Roy of all the people in the world, which was a startling development we will touch on later; two, uh… did you see the thing in the last paragraph about the frozen blood? I really cannot make this next point strongly enough: Do not do this. Any of it. Even just removing blood from your body and freezing it and keeping it around the house. Especially not sending it to someone else. And especially not sending it to a person you are trying to woo romantically who also is in a position to sue you straight to hell. I still can’t believe I heard him say all of that.
MUST IMPROVE: Getting Scooby-Dooed
Probably the funniest thing about all of this — Marcia showing up at the funeral home and making crazy demands about Logan getting buried in a kilt, Connor being so hopelessly overmatched by her but also by anything, Connor calling his younger and more important siblings while they’re doing a $200 billion business deal in Norway to ask for carte blanche in handling their dead father’s arrangements — is that Connor wants to be President. Like, of the United States.
Please take 10 or 15 minutes over lunch today and think about how hilarious that would be. Picture him in the Oval Office trying to make a single decision about anything. Really get a good image of him trying to negotiate his way through a debt ceiling crisis. Let’s go ahead and add this to the list of spinoffs I would watch when Succession ends in a few weeks.
MUST IMPROVE: Spine-having
- Claustrophobic little boxes
- Dangling hundreds of feet in the air
- From a thin little wire
MUST IMPROVE: I’m trying to think of something but I keep coming back to “there is no reason for these to exist now that we have helicopters.” Get rid of them.
After promising many times that they would not hose Shiv upon becoming CE-Bros (their words, not mine), Kendall and Roman… kind of hosed her. She’s not looped in on emails or fireside chats about tanking deals, she’s generally just being forgotten or overlooked, and even when she gets a little actual business attention it’s from a coke-tooting potential vampire who might be trying to sleep with her and/or influence the deal he’s negotiating with her brothers. It’s not great.
Oh, and she’s probably still pregnant and running around in thin mountain air and kicking dirt on the shoes of the baby’s father in a childish little battle of insults they’re doing because they don’t know how to have an actual conversation about anything anymore. So… yeah. Not great!
MUST IMPROVE: Earlobes
Just another pathetic performance out of Greg this week. Sucking up to the siblings in a way so transparent that I’m surprised he was even visible on the screen, trying to sound smart by saying things like “I read an article in The Economist” even though there’s a zero-percent chance he did so, dancing to techno so awkwardly I thought he might blow out his Achilles.
I don’t know, man. I really don’t know. I used to love this goof and all of his sad little attempts to attach himself to the buttocks of whichever person will let him stay around for a while. A year or two ago, the techno-dancing alone might have gotten him an A. Now… I don’t know. He has somehow been replaced as the person on the show I have a little soft spot in my heart for by… Roman?
It’s weird. We all have a lot to consider.
MUST IMPROVE: Rhythm, branding, most other things
Saunas seem like a nice idea on paper — “I’ll just relax and get a little steam, maybe open up the pores a little bit,” you think — until you find yourself drenched in sweat in a body-odor-scented room with a handful of other miserable people wearing only towels.
No other animal on Earth would exchange goods or services to cook itself on purpose in a piping hot little box. We went and overthought ourselves into sitting inside a Crockpot and calling it luxury.
MUST IMPROVE: Just sit on a couch in a comfortable room and watch a movie
Various Karls, Franks, and Karolinas
ON ONE HAND: Frank and Karl seem poised to get their golden parachutes with this very lucrative deal and go do whatever exactly these two do with their free time for the rest of their lives. I stand by my repeated assertion that Karl golfs and has won his country club championship. I have no clue what Frank does. Fly fishing, maybe? I can’t decide if I just want that to be true so I can think about him in the hat. Either way, a good start.
ON THE OTHER HAND: Hugo is on the kill list and Karolina might be going to work for a man who just sexually harassed his last comms person with liters of his own frozen blood. I know I keep coming back to this but I can’t get over it. I might just tell somebody about it at the gas station this week.
MUST IMPROVE: Everyone is going to need a new plan here, in one way or another
- Having awkward little conversations with Swedes
- Maybe and maybe not still employed by the cable news company now owned by a Swedish lunatic
- Still not aware he might be the father of a fetus that is growing inside of a woman who was recently seen literally kicking dirt on him
Lot going on with Tom Wambsgans.
I was very proud of Gerri for her little speech about Vikings. I feel like she and Ebba could bond over having creepy bosses who send them inappropriate pictures and/or vials of sensitive biological material.
MUST IMPROVE: Gerri should go get a job as an executive at, like, Popeyes or something
It looks like there’s a deal now. It looks like the little mountain standoff after the attempts to sabotage the negotiations with crappy robot movies resulted in a multibillion-dollar price bump that will make the board happy and all of the children fantastically wealthy. It looks like Kendall got everything anyone could have ever wanted out of all this and got the benefit of not having to run a soulless news organization for the rest of his stupid life, which isn’t what he wanted but is much better.
There’s still a chance he tries to tank this, right? Nothing he said at that fireside chat was changed by a $5-10 billion bump. He’s still a sad little boy who wants to prove himself and run the company and shout “SCREW YOU, DAD” while also lighting candles at the gravesite and crying. I’m leaning towards this happening, if only because you can usually predict Kendall’s next move by asking yourself what the stupidest possible decision would be.
MUST IMPROVE: GET OUT AND ENJOY THE MONEY, YOU BOOB
I love that Marcia has become the show’s little chaos agent, just capable of throwing everything straight into the trash without ever even showing up on the screen. A kilt?! What a maniac. I hope the next episode pauses all other action completely and just follows her around for a day. I want to see her do anything and everything out in the world.
MUST IMPROVE: Screentime
Fikret the driver
I hope, the instant Kendall got out of that car, he pulled a weed vape out of his pocket and took a long drag and turned up the music real loud — just leave The Blueprint playing, it’s fine — and cruised around Manhattan a little bit.
MUST IMPROVE: I feel like, despite knowing nothing about this man, he would be an excellent helicopter pilot
I’m… I’m so proud of him? I really am. He’s somehow become a competent businessman and he’s behaving like a mature adult and he actually stood up to Matsson on the frigid mountain. Like, he really did. The whole trip was an exercise in displaying dominance and Matsson got a lot of pleasure out of screwing with them and Roman finally reached his breaking point and told that Swedish weirdo to get bent. Good for him.
I still wonder if this deal is going sideways, though. Between Kendall wanting to be a big boy and Roman hating Matsson very much, there is absolutely a world where these two wreck the whole thing to fill the various bottomless pits their father left inside their souls. But still, good for Roman. I feel like, of all the ghouls on this show, he’s usually the one with his heart in the right place. Or at least right-ish. Sliding scale here.
MUST IMPROVE: It would be funny if Roman tried to grow a big bushy Scandinavian beard after this trip
I doubt it very much but there’s a part of me that hopes the deal goes through and Jess has some stock options and she will have enough in there to cash out and go open her own little consulting business. Which will grow. And grow. And eventually become a Fortune 500 company. Jess Jordan: Power Broker. This is all I want.
MUST IMPROVE: I would like to see Jess Jordan drive a convertible
Various Oskars, Andreases, and Ebbas
The Swedish equivalents of the Waystar executive team are my new favorite characters on the show. We’ve got Olympians and sauna-obsessed madmen and a woman with enough dirt on a mega-billionaire to fund a luxurious future for herself and many branches of her family tree, whether she gets paid the hush money or writes the book. I really did enjoy watching everyone circle each other like middle management cobras, trying to figure out status and power and all of it through passive-aggressive little digs. That was fun. For me. Less so for them.
MUST IMPROVE: Medaling in the Olympics