Power dynamics seesaw in penultimate Succession chapter


The cycle of abuse rears its ugly head at the HBO drama’s big funeral. Significant spoilers ahead.

The Roy siblings found they're not free from their father after all. (Photo credit: Macall Polay/HBO).

Succession’s penultimate episode, concentrated on Logan Roy’s funeral, plays out exactly the way the legendary media mogul would have hoped: overshadowed by scheming and maneuvering. 

After a rough outing last week, Shiv is back at her best in “Church and State,” taking on the adviser role and helping to cover up GoJo's inflated India subscriber numbers. 

It’s a “golden” opportunity to leak the information, she tells Matsson, drawing upon real-world tactics to bury bad news amidst political and social disarray. Matsson is initially hesitant; those with “little dickies” shouldn’t go to the nudist beach, he reasons.

“A tsunami just came and washed everything away. No one is checking the dicks,” Shiv explains. “Do it. Get ‘em out.”

And the “Red Devil’s” strategy works, teeing her up to angle Matsson for a position as GoJo’s U.S. CEO, which she disguises as an attempt to appease President-Elect Jeryd Mencken. 

Matsson eventually greenlights the idea, though he doesn’t explicitly mention anything about Shiv stepping into the top position, just that “a” U.S. CEO could work. 

When “Queasy Gonzalez” Kendall learns about Shiv’s intentions, he turns quickly to PR guru and lapdog-to-be Hugo Baker. Hugo is to brief the media on background that key, unnamed members of the Roy family don’t support the GoJo deal. 

“This is an explicit plan to fuck the deal. Me, rule the world,” Kendall says. “And you can come, but it won’t be a collaboration, okay? You’ll be my dog. But the scraps from the table will be millions. Millions. Happy?” 

Kendall’s assistant, Jess, may have the integrity to step away from Waystar Royco and its inherent toxicity, but “Big H” is no such man. “Woof. Woof,” Hugo replies. 

Even still, it’s going to be tough for Team Ken-Ro to keep their grubby paws on Waystar. Mencken now has little interest in blocking Matsson’s acquisition, leaving the Roy boys with very little leverage heading into next week’s series finale. 

What makes Succession’s penultimate episode so fascinating, though, is the way it depicts the cycle of abuse continuing. 

At points, “Church and State” feels very cathartic for the Roy siblings. They’re free from their father at long last, and for fleeting moments it feels like they have truly left both him and their mother Caroline behind. But, after all, this is Succession.

Shiv jests about being an absentee mother on multiple occasions. Kendall plans to seize custody from Rava out of anger and spite. After a mental breakdown at the funeral, Roman incites a group of protestors and takes a beating — finding comfort in what he’s always known. 

Despite their respective attempts break free over the past four seasons, the Roy siblings are still beholden to their parents’ decades of physical and emotional torture — right until the very end. Buckle up, folks. Only one episode left to go. 

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