S1: Guys, this is succession. This is HBO, if you don’t want to hear me talking about Logan Roy talking about. Then don’t listen to this, there are bad language words in this show.
S2: Hello and welcome to the goons Stooges and Rough
S1: Jacks episode of Sleep, Money Succession. Your guide to the greatest show on HBO. I’m Felix Salmon of Axios. I’m here with Emily Peck of fundraise.
S3: Hello, hello.
S1: And we have with us. The guy who literally wrote the book on the rich Michael Mechanic. Welcome, thanks so much. Mike, introduce yourself and tell us about how you became a rich ologist. Is that is that a thing?
S4: I don’t. Rich ologist. Well, I just was obsessed with people who come into wealth and how it affects their lives. So I’m a journalist. I’m a senior editor at Mother Jones magazine for like a dozen years. And I took a couple of years off to write a book called Jackpot, how the Super-Rich really live and how their wealth harms us all. So I kind of embedded with the very rich and their minions and the lawyers who have just their concealed areas and people who trained nannies in personal combat and luxury realtors and Bentley dealers and all these people. I ran around and interviewed a million people, and I wrote up this great book that tells us how our wealth fantasy has run amuck.
S1: This is, of course, succession is on one level, a wealth fantasy that has never been any shortage of wealth. Fantasy shows on TV succession is one of them, although it is not as much more than just a wealth fantasy show. But we’re going to unpack a little bit of that this week, and of course, we’re going to talk about Tom and Greg and Shiv and the whole crew and Adrien Brody, Josh Aronson, the brand new character all coming up on Slate Money. Succession. OK, Emily, I have to say we have we are now up to episode four, we’re getting up to like basically the halfway point in this season, and I have decided that this is not a comedy anymore. Like if succession was ever a comedy, it’s not a comedy. Even at its darkest black comedy, this is actually full on just drama, really.
S3: I mean, this episode, as as all episodes this season, we still had Greg to amuse us, right? We still had Greg chugging his rum and coke.
S1: Greg is playing like literally playing the fool right in the Shakespearean sense, like you can get like a tragedy like King Lear and I. Then there are lots of Lear references, but there is also a fool, right? You need a fool even in the tragedy.
S3: Yes. Yes. This is a drama that is for sure. It’s turning a little tragic. But I still get a kick out of a lot of a lot of the same players out of Greg and Ramon.
S1: Still, if it’s a drama, if it’s a tragedy, at least for this episode, it’s the merchant of Venice, right, Mike?
S4: Yeah. In fact, all of that resounds with me. I I feel like it’s very Shakespearean, and I was actually tell you the truth. I was thinking of Roman as the court jester because, you know, he’s the one who wants to be close to the king. He’s allowed to say kind of whatever comes to his mind is unfiltered, and yet he’s just completely tethered to Logan. You know, he’s inescapably tethered. He needs Logan’s love so much, but he’s allowed to say whatever he wants. He’s that character. I disagree. I think it’s still a comedy, even though it’s a drama. I mean, so there are just so many funny things.
S1: My big thing is that this is this is like the anti-Semitism episode is foreshadowed very early on when the at that point off-screen Josh Aronson is mentioned is like this important four percent holder of Waystar Royko stock. And Roman calls him a chiseling little fuck. And Carl says he wants his pound of flesh, and it says it’s made pretty explicit, pretty early on. And this, I have to say, kind of came out of left field for me. You know where you have like Konnan talking about how there were these rules, about no Jews in the company
S2: looks just I don’t like having my boot on the old man’s throat, but I do. I got me some juice. Oh, up to a point. Oh no, no, no, no. I can pull out the old megaphone anytime I want and I can say, Hey, guess what? I recall my father was a nasty, racist, neglectful individual. What was it that they used to say around here? No blacks, no Jews, no women above the fourth floor?
S1: This is an entertainment company. I mean, like, I was like, This is where I started thinking, like, OK, so we need to make you know, the writers have decided to make the Roy family even more unlikable and evil than they were already, which oh good
S4: god, the tattoo man, the tattoo man and
S1: the tattoo
S4: man, the depths of depravity.
S1: But like the anti-Semitism, I didn’t see that one coming. I have to admit, and it seemed, maybe I’m naive, but like I never I didn’t really consider that to be a thing that still exists in this kind of Felix.
S3: Is this a bridge too far for you, did you? I thought it was. It was. I love that they showed Josh Aronson Msiza, first of all, in his Hamptons beach house. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a msiza on an HBO drama before. And I liked the you’re a bit far from your nearest coffee and bagel because
S4: I figured it was just a pound of flesh and the gold represents your county, your castle.
S3: I guess I wasn’t surprised. I don’t know. I’m I’m a Jewish person and I I’m looking for it everywhere. You know what I mean?
S4: During the 80s, during the 80s, you heard people say stuff like this all the time. Like, just like, shamelessly, always these comments on Jews being cheap and things like that. But I think you noticed Logan on the walk. Also in threatening, Kendall also made another racial slur. But Mexicans,
S2: dad, you’re the silverback, but I put you in the ground that day and you don’t get to come back. You understand. You know, sometimes I certainly get fucked by a spic in a shot block and see what happens.
S4: That was after the lunch where he made this whole show of Maybe you’re the one to talk about manipulation.
S1: Well, Logan Logan is the one who can lie the most convincingly. I don’t think he necessarily convinced Josh Aronson. But, you know, he was very smooth when he was on the phone with the president and saying, Oh, you know, if only I had more time to keep my talent in line, but you know, I’m too distracted by this justice investigation. And he was he was definitely like professional where he was a credible liar and in his full on like business mogul negotiation mode in a way that when Kendall is bullshitting, everyone knows that he’s bullshitting is just not nearly as credible.
S3: So we’re talking specifically about when they’re on their their walk that ends tragically with Logan just collapsing and throwing up that Logan all of a sudden really lays it on thick to show that he and Kendall are OK, and he makes the whole speech like he’s a good kid. I love him. He’s the best one of them. All of this. I feel like his character in all these interviews that I’ve read with Brian Cox, he says, You know, I asked right away, asked Jesse Armstrong, Does Logan actually love his kids? And Jesse Armstrong assured him, Yes, Logan loves his kids. So I feel like he’s not lying. He’s just the complicated billionaire who both hates Kendall and would rather blah blah blah slur in the shower block and also loves Kendall and would definitely love to see him running the company. Like, I think he believes both of those things at the same time.
S4: We’ll say one thing about sort of the billionaire class is everything for these guys becomes transactional. There was a big theme of that in this episode. Like The Friends, We really like you, Josh. Josh wanted to be liked, right? And Kendall even says, I really like you. And there was another scene where Tom was saying to to Craig, I really like you or something like this. Everybody at this level is trying to get something out of somebody else. So even though. Logan loves his children. He’s just constantly manipulating them, and they’re manipulative, manipulating each other to get what they want.
S1: My favorite version of that line is is Tom saying I’d castrate you and marry you in a heartbeat.
S3: I love that. Yeah. Let’s get into Tom and Tom and Greg in this episode, because Tom is like deep, deep in prison obsession right now with his toilet wine
S4: burping the
S3: bad. And he has some kind of like there’s
S1: no cold white wine and prison
S2: Emily. There is no lying.
S3: Will he have time to read at night?
S2: I just keep thinking about, you know? You know, when we get home before dinner and we have to very first class of cold white wine on an empty stomach, you know that very cold glass of wine. I fucking love that. I just love that I like I. So I did a bit of research and I got deep into the prison blocks again. Oh, you know about toilet wine? And turns out you can make it from fruit and ketchup, but you have to you have to burp to win back as it ferments. And I thought, what if I forget to burp the toilet wine? But the truth is, I’m not going to get wine of any temperature in prison chef. There are no fine wines in prison. You don’t get to choose what you eat. You don’t get to say what you do. You know, like, like, how can I read, when is lights out?
S3: But OK? But first, Tom continues to be obsessed with prison. And then there was this like Tom Gregg interaction that I guess showed kind of like a power shift between the two. Like the sort of like driving theme here in this episode is that Greg starts the episode on Kendall’s team and the episode on on Logan’s team.
S1: If he signs the JDA, which is the he has been very confused all season about, like who he wants to have as his lawyer and whose team he wants to be on and whose side is on. But literally like he winds up in the end in like classic Greg mode doing the one thing which is just really spectacularly dumb, which is throwing all of his eggs into the Waystar Royko basket, as though that interests are totally aligned when in fact their interests are almost exactly opposed, right?
S4: I thought I thought I was going to ask for money, but he was just just wanted a job.
S1: Well, that’s the whole point. Remember that like he was offered money by his grandfather in season two. He was offered that $5 million to just quit Waystar Royko, and he realized that like money isn’t wouldn’t help him in a weird way. Like, what would he do then if he had $5 million? He wants to feel like he’s an important part of something bigger than himself. And so he’s actually planned out. This whole like future for himself is, you know, running some distant theme park in upstate New York or whatever. And he can see that like this part of him that really just wants to be part of the family business and wants to be an important part of the family business.
S4: I mean, I think he’s motivated just by being seen as a grown up. What do you say when he was meeting? That was such a great scene with the rum and coke, and you knew he was good. You knew he was going to cave. First of all, from the moment, Logan is just too strong. He’s like, he’s a tractor beam and you can’t escape it. His children can’t escape him.
S3: I love when he just yelled for the Coca-Cola Carrot.
S2: Can we bring, Greg, some Coca-Cola? No, it’s fine, really. No, no, no, no, no, no, no, no. What Greg wants for Greg must have. Thank you. And I feel like
S3: I feel like Kendall. This is Kendall’s loss because Kendall didn’t really give him anything to like, believe in to be on his side. You know, like, people didn’t even even buy him a wash. He didn’t even buy him the watch, like he didn’t manipulate him properly. He could learn a lesson. And that’s the other thing we really, really need to get into. But like Kendall loses, Greg Shiv gets everything she is tasked with doing. She does all the work she gets. She gets Greg to come over, she gets the nazir to disparage the reason and yet isn’t in Logan’s favor. Still, for some reason, but she’s clearly the more competent manipulator. You know, she
S1: is very competent in this episode, and she, you know, the way she just completely steamrollers the Nazi after the Nazi has steamrollered Tom is just like, it’s very clear what the what the pecking order is at Waystar Royko. What’s fascinating to me is that Shiv credits Tom with persuading Greg to sign the JDA. Like that somehow win for Tom rather than just for Logan. But even Tom doesn’t really believe that he had anything to do with persuading Greg to do anything. He’s like, Oh, I guess you forgot it, although it all worked out in that case. Can I wrestle you?
S4: That’s right. The chicken wrestling. I mean, yeah, when he walked in there, it was already a done deal. I mean, Craig had figured it all out and Logan Andrew convinced him.
S3: Why does Greg one? Why does Tom want to wrestle with Greg? Do you?
S4: I don’t get that at all. That was just the ripping. You’ve got to be. You’ve got to be good at riffing and riffing comes up later when you know, at the on the island. When Kendall said, I was just riffing. I thought that was interesting.
S3: I thought it was like, like, just more evidence that Tom is just losing his mind and like looking for any kind of affection or relationship. In all this, he feels like he can’t have that with his wife anymore because she’s like, kind of his boss. Yeah, he’s emasculated
S1: by suddenly again. Like, for the first time, I think, in in the show. Tom seems to be really upset at the idea that he’s outranked by his wife.
S4: But do you see how fast she shut him down in that conversation where he’s whining about that and she kind of plays along for a second that she says, you’re doing it, but he’s like, Yes, yes, ma’am.
S1: Maybe he’s just got all of these he’s obsessed with with power dynamics because he’s convinced that he’s going to go to prison. And so he wants to be fighting Greg, and he wants to be feared the, you know, worried about being affecting all the rest of it. It’s all just a phenomenal worries about prison, really. I will note just as a wardrobe note that Roman started wearing a tie this episode.
S3: Oh, that is very important.
S1: I feel like this is Roman. Like he’s spending a bunch of time in the CEO’s office and he’s, you know, trying to dress for the party. He has a very swanky jacket with a very light, shiny red lining, and he’s he’s trying to take his new position seriously, although I have to admit I’m a little bit unclear. Now I say this what his position is. Is he on payroll waste America? Does he have a job?
S3: Well, he used to be the coast, the chief operating officer in East Coast.
S1: But that’s still there. Maybe you see and in service president,
S4: it’s hard to know what any of them are really doing. You know, we had Roman and the Jerry thing. It’s always entertaining.
S3: Yeah. Is Jerry getting tired of him a little bit in this episode or what’s going on there with her date?
S4: She’s just another. She’s CEO. She’s got to play it safer. I feel like, you know, there’s an interesting exchange in there where Kendall says to shove in that first meeting of family members and lawyers and so forth says, Well, that could be it for us. You know, the letter that Shiv wrote that could be it for our relationship is basically saying. And she says, Thanks, mom. And they immediately cut to Jerry trying to like, get all the siblings to behave. And it’s like, I think about this, like Jerry’s kind of the mom. She’s kind of the den mother. It always has been. But she’s also the sacrificial lamb, right?
S1: We should zoom back a little bit here because you are like an actual expert on rich people having written the book on the subject. One of the things that I’ve been talking to a bunch of folks about with regard to this show is like, to what degree is it realistic because they do spend a lot of time and effort, you know, getting consultants from various different fields to try and make sure that it is realistic in various ways. But when you see the sort of backstabbing and infighting within the royal family, and obviously there are other examples in the real world, you know, from Murdochs to Redstone’s to Rogers is to you name it. Like how? But when you see this kind of jockeying for position among siblings who are all sort of second generation rich, how much does that sort of ring true to you?
S4: It really rings true to me. I mean, you know, you can’t apply it to every family, obviously. But you hear these stories over and over with siblings suing each other are suing the trustees of their trust, bickering over this and that, bickering over inheritance, bickering over succession and power and just, you know, who is loved. I mean, but if you notice in the credits, you never see the dad, you see the kids, you see the dads back or him walking away or walking in the fields or turning away from the kids. And that’s a huge theme in this show. It’s just is this Shakespearean like children’s need for their parents love and not quite getting it. And you see that, especially in these sort of, you know, billionaire families, you know, the parents are present. A guy like Logan Roy had to work so hard to build that company. He was never around those kids, although we don’t hear direct references to it. They were raised by nannies and various household staff, and the seeing the dad was probably a special occasion for them. I mean, you even see it with, you know, with Roman. I’ve got to say one of my favorite lines in this episode was Jess the Rabbit Kim, and she runs over in her high heels with the iPad so she can show, you know, the rabbits to the children. And it’s just stuff. So telling these little details.
S1: Yeah, Kendall’s the only one. Kendall’s the only one with with kids, right? And he’s treating his own kids just as distantly as he was treated himself.
S3: I was going to ask Mike, if you can, if you can think of a like a real life billionaire neglectful dad example from your brain.
S4: Well, in my book, there was a. There’s a woman named Tracey Garry, who grew up in a home big telecom family. You know, they had hundreds of millions of dollars, but it wasn’t. They weren’t billionaires, but they had private jets, they had helicopters, they had like seven states all around the country. And she told me, I think I had dinner with my parents about five times in my entire childhood, like with the family. They were always traveling. They were gone six months of the year. She was raised by a bunch of staff people who, you know, had third grade educations. And as she told me, as a result, as a kid, she barely talked to people. She became like, preternaturally shy because she just had no. There were no children in her orbit and even the family would go there had they had one of these islands where only extremely wealthy people, you couldn’t even go there unless you were a friend of one of those. Florida is like Fisher Island, that kind of place where were like 40 houses on the island. And it was only like super wealthy people. And, you know, it’s no kids. And she was chauffeured to a private school. I mean, all this stuff, and she was incredibly lonely and miserable.
S3: Five meals with her father that year. Incredible. I feel like three meals a day during the pandemic with my shoes.
S2: I mean,
S4: there were things that there were things that she appreciated about her things that her parents did teach her about, you know, business and money and so forth. But ultimately, she became estranged from them. I mean, you see that Naomi Pierce, you know, she’s trying to pull away from the families trying to reject that orbit. It’s really hard to do because you’re dependent upon it. I mean, that’s that’s really, you know, this woman, Tracy Gary actually did the stranger. She basically gave away that inheritance and kind of rejected the family wealth. And now she goes around preaching like how people should be given away their money.
S1: Oh my god, this is this is the theme that runs through Slate. Money goes to the movies or other little mini season, which is which is the classic Hollywood trope of. In order to become pure, you need to give away all of the ill gotten money that you can’t keep the money and also be true to yourself. But this idea of jockeying for succession you had to you had the whole thing from Andrew Carnegie. Was it about how like you just don’t ever want to give your kids anything?
S4: You know, Carnegie? Actually, he was it. He has some parallels with Logan Roy. They’re both Scottish. They both grew up poor and became unbelievably rich. OK, so I wanted to read just a little snippet from an essay by Carnegie. It was called The Advantages of Poverty of All Things and it’s written in. He wrote it. He published in 1891. He wrote the banker who hands over his business to sons because it’s all his sons in that era because they are sons, is guilty of a great offense. The transmission of wealth and rank without regard to merit or quality may pass from one peer to another without serious injury. But the management of business never. There are exceptions where the Sun shows taste and decided ability, which render him the natural successor. But those are rare, far too rare to take into account in estimating the value of a custom. This ability, moreover, should be proved in some other establishment than that of the father. Yes, Chef is really the only one who’s gone off on her own to do anything in this family.
S1: It strikes me that Rupert. Rupert Murdoch is is the exception to the rule, right? He he inherited the publishing company from his father and made it much bigger and much more successful. That made it into national. But it’s rare to think of many other people like that.
S3: I had this conversation this week with a consultant whose firm just consults family businesses, and he gave me the spiel which I was sort of convinced by. But I can be easily swayed, to be honest, but that most businesses in the world are, in fact, family businesses. It’s like 40 percent or something. So it’s actually quite common to be a family business, and they can last for quite a long time. He pointed out some like Italian wineries like
S1: Italian wineries, the Japanese soy sauce makers. Yes, I can tell
S3: you that family businesses that do fine and stick around.
S1: I had an absolutely lovely summer holiday this year in the hotel, but hung back in Biazon in Germany, which has been run by the Finck family for 350 years. So yeah, it totally. It’s totally. I think what happens is that when you start getting aggressive and wanting to expand aggressively and grow, like most of those family businesses, there are faring business as a vineyard. It’s the forest. It’s a hotel, you know, and it just supports the family and it supports itself. And it’s fine. What happens, especially in the 20th century, is this idea that everyone starts going to business school and starts looking for. And then they wind up like listing shares on the stock market and then the shareholders want growth and growth is the thing which really causes, you know, or the reaching for growth causes the companies to overextend and the family’s to lose control. And if you listen to the, you know, salmon family episode of Slate Money, you’ll know that, you know, I’m speaking from personal family experience. You can see this absolutely in in waste. Ironically, it’s in the name. It’s it’s the product of a merger between Waco, which is Logan’s company in WASTO, which is the satellite company. And all of this merging has diluted his control, and it means he no longer controls the company. And he’s now at the mercy of people like Josh Aronson, who can, you know, humiliate him on their private island and then walk off with the rifles. That was the hilarious part of the episode where Kendall and Logan take identical separate helicopters and then identical separate jets to meet Aaronson. Is this normal? Like, I understand, they’re both coming from sort of downtown, I guess. But the idea that instead of just driving to your private jet at sea to greet you would drive to the Wall Street heliport and then take a helicopter to Hillsborough. I’m like, Wow, that’s like, that’s a level of extra that I hadn’t even imagined that people would do.
S4: I mean, the whole island thing, from getting there to everything that happened, there was just a series of tiny power plays. I mean, even like you remember when Kendall was talking about the Beatles, is that he said, Oh, the Beatles, you know, put out their best music when they were getting sued. And watch us as good band and kind of gross great band. And then Logan goes Good. Bad, good, bad. I mean, he just has to rub in his dominance at every moment. I thought that was so funny and then, but just going there, it’s like, OK, I’m going to take the lead helicopter. I held up Kendall. He was going to take the lead. He’s trying to show him dominance. It’s just everything was a game.
S3: But they were dominated by Josh Aronson, who made them go out to his private island because his daughter was sick. But then his daughter was not sick. And the whole thing was obviously just a way for Josh Aronson to manipulate those guys. And what does he say? King Kong is dancing for me. You can’t believe it.
S1: It was. It was this extraordinary and very gratuitous powerplay on the part of Aronson, who almost certainly knew all along what he wanted. Well, I’m unclear on whether the whole point was to literally physically destroy Logan Roy and to get him to collapse on, you know, whether it was a physical test of Logan, which is why he kept on insisting that he walk everywhere, or whether that was like an unanticipated side effect of his power play.
S4: It’s also, you know, so were you convinced that Josh knew what the end game was the whole time? Or do you think he was actually, he was actually convinced by Logan’s collapse?
S3: I, I don’t think he had. He quite knew that end game. I think that that moment where he says to Kendall, like, you just let the the DOJ sort it out, like you said, you’re saying like, just go back. I think he would have maybe wanted that outcome.
S1: Yeah, I think that if if Kendall had been open to that, then maybe the outcome would have been different. Although a lot of things didn’t really make sense to me, like the whole conceit that Kendall would pretend to be aligned with his father for the purposes of a meeting with Josh Aronson just to prevent the takeover by. Sandy and Stewie, and we know isn’t the takeover by Sandy and Stewie exactly like the other side that Kendall is now aligned with? Like what? What, why is this suddenly something he doesn’t want? That one didn’t entirely make, although maybe it’s just a sign of how sort of confused Kendall is in his own mind about what he’s trying to achieve. Like he kind of wants to bring Logan down. But he kind of doesn’t want the family to lose control, and he doesn’t quite know what he’s doing, and he’s not really listening to any of his expensive legal advice, and he’s basically just not competent his the job that he’s given himself.
S4: He’s not a killer.
S1: He’s definitely not a cop.
S3: That’s right. It’s not clear to me what’s going on with Sandy and Stewie, because while all this is going on on the private island back at headquarters, Carl and Frank are like working on something with Sandy and Stewie trying to get with them. There’s some kind of strategy there to Gerry later says, like, it’s not working. Shiv is trying to get involved.
S1: Shiv is trying to hurry things up, but there’s definitely back channel negotiations between the company and Sandy and Stooges, where they’re effectively trying to get Sandy and Stewie to, I’m going to say, withdraw their proposal for the annual meeting and the proxy vote so it doesn’t come to a vote. And so the Logan manages to stay in control. But I can’t imagine what would mollify Sandy. He’s clear that even if he gets board seats, Logan is going to ignore those board members
S4: and in any case, Logan’s guts.
S3: But I was thinking, everyone hates Kendall so much that it would drive Sandy and Stewie back to Logan somehow just to like ice out Kendall, because no one like he’s just he. By the end of this episode, he’s odd man out. He has no allies anymore.
S1: The Stewie Kendall relationship is a fascinating one. You know, because Stewie has been seeing through kind of, you know, the entire show, basically, but doesn’t hate Kendall. I think he just doesn’t take him remotely seriously as a competent player and just sort of laughing at him, really?
S4: Stooges, doesn’t it? Kendall remotely. Seriously, right?
S1: Well, no one does really, except for, you know, Kendall.
S3: No, I mean, Stuart Kendall, seriously enough to bring him in with Sandy and like they were going to do a whole, a whole thing. They were.
S1: He needed Kendall’s votes, right? That was the thing.
S4: Right. But they were they were gaming memory. They were gaming him because he didn’t know Sandy was involved at first. And then in the nightclub, there’s sandy, right?
S1: That’s one of my other favorite lines in this episode was at the beginning, when Kendall gets a phone call and like, as you always do when you get a phone call, you then announce to the entire room, quote, guys, I’m going to need the command pod. Can you clear the room? Just take the phone call, honestly. You’re going to walk out onto the balcony anyway, don’t you? No need to be so dramatic about it.
S4: I want to get back to the moment on the island where Logan professes that he loves his son.
S2: It’ll be OK because he’s a good kid. He’s a good kid. Yeah, he’s a good kid. OK. Yeah. He did what he thought was best. I think he went too far. But he’s a good kid. Yeah, he’s a good kid. And I love him. There’ll be a big number we’ll pay, he’ll view and cry, and I’ll get it. It’ll all be OK and maybe it’ll be him one day. It’s in his blood. He learned it all from me. And maybe. Maybe he’s the best one of all.
S4: You think that Kendall wavers ever so slightly?
S3: I think he bought that completely. Like he softens his face, softened and then he he circled back to it after he made the speech. And that’s when Logan says, like, I’d sooner give it to a racial slur in the shower block than say, you have it.
S4: It was was so brutal. I mean, it’s such a such a brutal, you know, going back on what you just said,
S3: because what he said is exactly what Kendall wanted to hear like. Exactly.
S4: And he knows it. He’s just a master manipulator, and he does love him. But he uses that love to control it.
S3: Like when Logan’s like about to collapse, Kendall is actually concerned about him. Like he loves him. You know, it’s his dad who’s about to die. They’re out there. Even though he didn’t give him that Evian bottle in time, as Roman later points
S4: out, You tried to assassinate our father with the son.
S3: Yeah, it was. I think it was a a really well acted, really, really well-acted scene because you could. The connection was there, but the estrangement was there and it was super awkward and they’re trading barbs. It was. That was great.
S4: I mean, I think Jeremy Strong, I mean, Jeremy Strong is so good at having his face just crumble when he’s face to face with Logan. He’s super, you know, he says, coked up like, you know, jiving around ripping self and making jokes. And, you know, he’s confident and then he gets face to face with Logan and everything changes. And he’s just this mask of shame and guilt and all the baggage. You just cannot face his father.
S3: So let’s compare it to Shiv in this episode, because we talked about this already a little bit like Shiv gets these like jobs from dad at the beginning, you know, watch Carl get the the Nazi on on Team A. Raisin and get Greg, you know, on our side. Yeah, she’s halfway through doing it. And then I guess Carl complains about her to Logan and Logan, just like absolutely like shits on Shiv, basically. And he says things are always moving cows.
S2: Not happy with your level of input. Oh, OK, well, fuck him, right? I don’t need another toothache. Well, you okayed me to go in there and kick some ass and I I gave you a destination. I can’t walk you there. OK, OK. But if you give in to Carl, then everyone starts to carve me out. There’s a line. Nothing is a line. Everything everywhere is always moving forever. Get used to it, OK, which is
S1: genuinely good business advice, but also incredibly like just cutting off at the knees at the same time.
S3: Yeah, yeah. I don’t understand. Like, she’s competent. Like why? Why is Logan not supporting her and supporting Carl, who episode after episode has not impressed me as a viewer? Like, I don’t get the whole Carl thing at all. Like, why is he like cutting her out? So he’s like, totally like diminishing her. But unlike Kendall, Shiv doesn’t like, turn to drugs or try to undermine her dad. She just like, keeps going and like trying her best. I very much related to that because if someone tells me like, I’m not doing a good enough job, I will like do a better job like a normal person, not cocaine. So what’s going on?
S4: You know, there’s really some counter here on on what women do face in high level working world, just not getting undermined all the time and having to behave differently than the men in order to get what they need, you know? I mean, when she walked in with Carl and Frank God, that was an uncomfortable scene.
S1: Well, I think I think a lot of it is just the way the awkward relationship that the professionals Carl Frank, Jerry Hugo, like everyone who isn’t in the family have with Roman Candle and Shiv, right, which is that they don’t take them seriously as competent professionals because they’re really not. They didn’t work their way up in any kind of meritocratic way that, oh, they’re they’re only by dint of their membership in the Lucky Sperm Club. And yet at the same time, they know they have to kind of pay lip service to it. And this being succession, they’re never exactly subtle about the fact that they’re sort of like only paying attention to these pipsqueak because they have to. That’s been a relative constant. None of them have ever actually listened to the ideas beyond maybe Jerry. You know, when Roman says, like, why don’t you set up an executive committee? And Jerry is like, Well, that could be like some PR value in that. But generally, they don’t listen to the kids at all. And so. If Logan is going to give Siobhan the job of being listened to, then he knows that the first thing they’re going to do is to come crying to Logan and say, Why are you making me listen to your daughter? And then it’s up to Logan, really to say you have to listen to her or else to not say that. And clearly he decided to not say that he doesn’t really want Shevaun running anything. He just wants her close to him.
S3: And this does not deter her, though she still keeps doing what she’s doing, which is sort of interesting.
S4: You got to give it to her. I mean, she she keeps going.
S1: I want to go back to this whole Kendall Gregg relationship because it really comes, I think, into quite sharp focus in the conversation that Josh has with Kendall. And Josh basically says, Look, what have you got on Logan if you have nothing on him? Because if you’ve got jack shit, you look like a fake. If you have really damaging shit, you make me want to run away, right? He’s like, What have you got? And Kendall has no answer to this. But what we know? You know, with full dramatic irony here, what we know is that what Kendall has on Logan is literally just what Greg pulled out of his underpants. That’s because that’s the only thing. The only thing that Kendall has that, like the rest of the world doesn’t already know, is like a few pieces of paper that were saved from shredding and be saved from the fire on like, you know, the balcony with Tom and. It’s hard to believe that these few pieces of paper on their own are going to move the needle very far left and even harder to believe that they’re going to directly implicate Logan. But we do know that Greg, as a sort of cooperative witness, could be extremely valuable to Kendall, right, because Greg was right in there with Tom taking the orders, shredding the documents. And so Kendall really needs Greg much more than he needs Greg’s pieces of paper and the way in which Kendall just allowed Greg to slip his grasp. You know, he’s the anti shevaun, right? Like, Chevron is super competent and does what she does her job. Kendall is just like, you know, his ace in the hole. Who’s Greg? Who’s Greg? He just loses. But what?
S3: He didn’t even send them a basket of croissants.
S1: You know, no concern. Or doughnuts?
S3: Pastries. Doughnut doughnuts.
S1: He does nothing for Greg.
S3: It does seem that Kendall’s play has come to an end by the end of this episode. Four. I mean, I guess the DOJ has a bunch of documents now also, but I feel like he’s lost momentum. He’s lost all his allies. He never was able to get his siblings on his side. All he has left is like this big bunny in a cage. I wrote in really big letters on my arms, on my notes. Is the bunny a metaphor at? I don’t know.
S4: You know, one thing I was thinking about, everyone just talks about I got a gun to your head and I think about all the things that everybody has on everybody else. Most of them are things that are going to reflect badly on the whole family and the person who has the the bad thing. So Craig just got those documents that’s going to reflect badly on him because he was involved in the cover up. We’ve got the
S1: tattoo guy,
S4: the tattoo guy and Roman is already to give himself up right
S1: and say, Oh yeah,
S4: we could take him down.
S1: Don’t release the photo because it’s going to react. It’s going to look bad on Roman, who is like this waiting the guy to get tattooed at least as much as Kendall was, but as the Roman and Shiv understand, right? They as shit says to the the Nazi, he’s like, Yeah, we don’t get embarrassed. And Roman’s whole idea is, I don’t get embarrassed. I’m a Roy and woke up. Pontus Kendall is going to get embarrassed. You remember that south by southwest, where, like some, some tech company decided that what they were going to do was pay all of the homeless people in Austin to be mobile hotspots.
S4: Oh my god, yes. Well, reminds me during the first dotcom boom in San Francisco, everyone’s trying to do guerilla marketing and they would spray paint logos on the sidewalk and want. There was some sort of sort of Linux thing that IBM was sort of. So IBM is spray painting the sidewalks of San Francisco, basically vandalizing, and then the city is like, sued them. It was just hilarious. There’s this yearning for authenticity, and that’s actually a theme that comes up in my book. Jackpot and also in the show artists like Kyla Connor, you know? They are. They’ve never had any feeling like they’ve done anything themselves, and they’re dying to do something that feels authentic. And they’re living a sort of shell lives. It kind of comes up when Roman says, talking about the tattoo guy who says, Oh, we’re doing an ironic club crawl. It’s like, why ironic, it’s like because you can’t do anything unironically, right, right?
S1: I think that’s exactly right. The when for Tom’s Bachelor party, Tom is taking it incredibly seriously and it’s like, this is what rich people do, and everyone else is kind of there ironically and consciously vaguely conscious of it, right? You know, when, when, when his sister office offers him, like, maybe he could do a wine tasting show and he’s like, I’m running for president. I go to wine tastings. None of them have any conception of how to be a real person like Roman came back from his management training and he’s like, I’ve you know, I’ve come back from Real America. But he obviously hadn’t, and he had learned nothing.
S3: Well, he did. I don’t think they think humans are are real. I mean, the sight of Roman and and Hugo like tapping on the guy’s forehead to try and find the scars that was so dehumanizing and terrible in it. I mean, I think in the first season of the show, Roman like Paser, tells a boy he’ll give him a million dollars or something if he hits a home run like the family softball game. And it’s very similar. Like, they just play, they play with each other kind of ruthlessly. And then when they go and play with with normals there, they strip them of all humanity and treat them like, like like toys, like how my cats play with the little toy mouse or something. That’s how these people treat other humans.
S4: Yeah, they have no empathy whatsoever at home,
S1: tries to replicate that right by the human furniture and that kind of stuff. But like, yes, he never gets it right.
S3: No. No. Poor Tom.
S4: But even Tom is like constant harassment of Craig, sort of. In this, it falls into the same pot.
S3: Yes, he’s trying to have like a toy with Greg. And the the sad part in this episode is that, like Greg is not his toy anymore because he found his own kind of like levers to power.
S1: Logan’s like, Yeah, yeah, you have a little bit of leverage here, though I’m not going to tell you how much you can get. And then he winds up asking, I mean, it’s so great. Like, you know, can I can I be like number five in parks? You know, it’s all he wants. This is great.
S4: Yeah, just a middle management position.
S1: Favorite lines, might you had too many to count?
S4: Yeah, I and I’ve actually named some of them, so a couple like bonus. I just love the raisin business and I love when Logan says the raisin owes me everything. Every time, every time I hear them talk about the raisin, I laugh. It’s just so funny. But another one? This is like, it’s not so much that it’s funny. It’s just very telling as the line that Connor uses when he comes in, he’s asking for a position so he can run for president again. He says, I want to be a good boy, but I think I need me a little pie here. It’s sort of one of those understated lines, but that’s like his that’s his character, in a nutshell. That’s what he is. He’s the good boy who just wants a little pie.
S1: Which reminds me of Roman when he hands over the photo of the bum with the tattoo and he talks about his dad, he goes, He’s going to love it. Dad’s going to give me my bedtime bath.
S4: Oh boy, that same scene. And he goes, he Typekit calls Kendall Pocahontas, and he goes using the poorest forehead as a post-it. It’s fucking killer.
S1: Cerebral Emily.
S3: Yeah, I mean, probably.
S2: Hey, I hear you tried to kill dad again. It was just heat exhaustion. That’s not what we’re hearing. We’re hearing you took an old man out to die in the Sun. We went for a hike with Josh. You tried to assassinate our dad with the Sun. Do you have a fetish for nearly killing dad? Like just the tip before, like killing dad?
S3: I really enjoyed all of that. There was such a desire
S4: for such a good. There was the writing. This episode was just phenomenal.
S3: Yeah, this was like maybe my favorite.
S4: Yeah, I watch them all twice so I can get all the shit they should.
S1: I mean, this is my one, my one piece of advice for anyone watching this session, especially succession season three, is to watch them twice because the line readings are much more subtle. In this season, you kind of need to watch a second time to realize what they’re saying. A lot of the time and just how good the lines are. Although the one at the beginning, which I have to which we haven’t mentioned, which I have to talk about, was obvious the first time around when Greg’s talking to Kendall and talking about getting summoned over to Logan’s, and he’s worried about what he’s going to meet when he goes to any side about quote goons and Stooges and rough Jax there to administer a beating Jax.
S4: He also says, I’m a sturdy birdie. So, Craig, oh my god.
S1: Yeah, exactly. He goes to Kendall, says, I’m a sturdy body, and of course he proves to be not a steady birdie at all. Which raises the interesting question of when when he says that when he describes himself as being a steady birdie on Team Canada, like, does he believe it at the time? And then eventually he switches, or when he says that, does he kind of know already that he’s going to wind up under Tim Logan?
S4: I don’t know.
S3: He must know. It’s not a loyal guy like we’ve we know this. Like for the past this episode and the previous three, he’s been kind of like trying to figure out like, who’s lawyer? Do I use like what side of my on? I feel like it hasn’t been totally. He hasn’t been totally loyal, and he knows he’s not loyal when he claims to be a sturdy purdy.
S4: And everybody comes to Logan, mostly
S1: except for Josh Aronson. That’s right, although we’ll see. Josh Aronson has now come out. Somehow, he used his back channels to to tell Roman and the rest of the gang that he’s going to vote his four percent with Sandy and Stewie or whatever it was, that the message was. But you know, that hasn’t happened yet. The the big annual meeting hasn’t happened yet. It’s been just about to happen for one and a half seasons now. It’s about time that it comes.
S4: I’ve actually kind of
S1: lowest moving TV series of
S4: all time. I know I’ve kind of lost context of what even happens if Sandy and Stewie get control. I mean, so goes out of the right. And is that such a tragedy?
S1: So, yeah, so what would happen is what happened to the Murdochs when they sold 21st Century Fox to Disney, right? They just got lots of money and no more companies around. I mean, they kept it a rump company. You know, they still have Fox News and The Wall Street Journal and Dow Jones. But yeah, they they basically just said, we can’t really compete on the global stage anymore. We’re going to have to let Disney take over from us.
S4: Well, that’s what I call it Jackpot moment in my book, like a huge liquidity event, right? And that causes all kinds of problems in a family. It just becomes a huge issue because it becomes a huge cesspool of people just to, you know, the family trust and the lawyers and the bickering over who gets what assets and the vacation home. You know, what’s interesting is that doesn’t come up a whole lot yet in the series. They’re so loaded that none of them are ever consciously thinking about their wealth. It’s just there. I mean, that’s an interesting thing about this show.
S1: How common is that? Like, how rich? You need to be to be just completely unworried about money and it just being a thing that you have all been swimming in your entire life.
S4: Well, it’s interesting because most wealthy people, if you ask them, how much do you need to be financially secure, they’ll tell you a third more than they have, right?
S1: But not, but not the ROI is right.
S4: You have the ROIs are so you know, when you get to that insane level of wealth, it’s all about the game, the game of it. Right? I mean, what motivates Logan Roy? Is he a happy man? You know, he’s. He just wants to win. Seems to me that’s all he has left is to hold this company to its powers to be able to call the reason for inheritors to in particular, it’s more especially at that level, it’s more about just again doing something you feel is authentic as opposed to just being the sucking off the teeth.
S1: Exactly. Or like Shari Redstone, you know, she she’s like, she needs to prove that she can run this company. It’s not enough to just be stupendously wealthy.
S3: And so and you’re saying that the fact that they always want a third more money like these people typically feel like they don’t have enough money? Or do they feel like Felix is kind of getting it like they don’t even think about it, they just always have the money?
S4: Well, I guess it depends on the level we’re talking about. I mean, I guess I’m not talking about most billionaires at that level. You know, it’s so clear that you’ll never spend that money in your lifetime, but more people who are climbing up into the, you know, hundreds of millions. I mean, there’s actually been some. There was a big study to talk about my book where that’s what they got out of it.
S1: OK, thank you for ratifying my my theory, which I’ve had for some years now, that the amount of money you need to be a billionaire is $250 million and that this is actually a good sort of definition definitional like point. The billionaire is not about like counting the net worth and saying if you get to a billion billionaire is the point at which you absolutely stop ever worrying about. Will I ever have enough money? Yeah, usually that happens at about two hundred and fifty million
S4: or less even. But it doesn’t mean you don’t stop thinking and obsessing about money. It means you don’t worry that you’re going to lose it all. But it becomes a constant presence in your life. It just sits on your shoulder all the time whispering to you, And how am I doing? Are those? How are those investments doing? How is this doing? I mean, very few people with that kind of wealth can walk around carefree. They don’t, you know, it sucks up a lot of their mental energy and space and time, and a lot of cases become miserable, which is, you know, they’ve got so many they they end up with so many moving parts that they have. It becomes their whole life and identity, and they become miserable, and then they have to hire or entourage of people to take care of all these things for them so they can have a little bit of mental space, which is a you notice everybody in succession. They’re always surrounded by minions who are doing all the things, all the PR, all the, you know, people just come up to them report go away.
S1: And I mean, even Josh Aronson, who’s also at that billionaire level private island, you know, he takes a walk to the beach and then magically out of nowhere what appears at the beach, but like a table in servant serving food and you’re like, Oh yeah, you know, minions. Minions, as far as the eye can see.
S3: But then he still gets lost. Going back, they got lost, right? That’s what happened. There was no
S1: real or not. It was. It was that was that something he did on purpose or was that him? Just. Yeah. And in the whole Emily, we need to. We’ve, you know, we need to carve out a tiny little bit of space here for you to do your monologue on what the fuck was Josh Aronson wearing?
S3: Why was he wearing so many shirts he was wearing? OK, he’s wearing the orange vest he had on like, OK, he had a gray T-shirt. He had an orange vest, a sweatshirt and a black scarf. Also, why did he have so much on? I said to Felix over text. I was like almost Steve Bannon like and the number of shirts this man was wearing. But like if Steve Bannon were Jewish and lived in Brooklyn or something. But like, it was the same vibe to me. It was like he had on all these, all these clothes. And then and then Kendall and Logan, they just had like their like little jackets on, but they looked cold, you know, they really zipped up all the way. So they were kind of casual, but not as casual as Josh. And then when Stewie appears at the at the on the tarmac or whatever he’s wearing, like a full like business wear kind of look. And it’s just interesting to think about what you get to wear. And in terms of power,
S4: well, you know, that was maybe this part of the power play. I get dressed casually. You have to approach me with respect, right?
S3: Mm hmm. Yeah, I think it is.
S1: Mike, thank you for coming on the show. It is so welcome, illuminating and brilliant. And yeah, we will all run out and buy your book. Remind us what it’s called.
S4: It’s called Jackpot.
S1: It has a very sparkly cover, so you can you won’t miss it on the shelves of your local independent bookstore.
S4: You can get it anywhere you want.
S1: So find Mike’s book, and then we will be back next week with a recap of episode five and welcoming back. Mr. Edley of The New York Times knows more about media than anyone else alive. That’s coming up next week on Slate Money. Succession.