Recap: ‘Succession’ S4E5: Viking country

Waystar Royco goes to Norway for a deal, with middling results.


Graeme Hunter

Kieran Culkin, Jeremy Strong and Alexander Skarsgård in HBO’s “Succession” season 4 – episode 5. (Courtesy photograph by Graeme Hunter/HBO)

Colleen Secaur, Contributing Writer

The Roy siblings have spent the entirety of “Succession” either parroting their father, doing his dirty work for bits of praise or claiming to be a radical departure from him, cycling through each phase with increasingly frantic energy. Now that Logan is dead, and Kendall, Roman and Shiv are expected to pick up where he left off, they can’t quite bring the same je ne sais quoi to Waystar Royco he once did.

In the second episode after Logan’s death, which in the show’s timeline is mere days after the fact, it is apparent that each child is falling into self-destructive patterns. Kendall is back to his old ways, blasting Jay-Z in the car and itching for his next fix of Waystar power. Roman is desperately trying to keep the remnants of his family together and on the same page, while also being overly defensive of his father’s memory. Shiv is oscillating between displaying the immense chip on her shoulder and doing her best Logan cosplay. None of them are doing particularly well, in the business sense or the personal sense.

Lukas Matsson, the enigmatic CEO of GoJo, clearly picks up on this dysfunction and ships the entire executive suite of Waystar to Norway to observe “cultural compatibility.” Kendall, clearly already drunk on power and supposedly “death-wrestling ogres” — to which Shiv responds, “you’re reading documents, Ken” — is well on his way to self-destruction. Of course, when Matsson decides to take Waystar for all they’re worth, Kendall attempts to tank the deal while sneaking behind everyone’s back. As he amuses himself playing with his right-wing media empire, the setup for his downfall becomes only more apparent.

At the same time, the actual deal-making “Succession,” which takes up most of the episode, makes almost everyone look like idiots. As much as Roman and Kendall come across as overly sentimental, close-minded fools, Matsson doesn’t fare much better. His proposed plan for ATN, Waystar’s Fox News analogue, is to make it politically neutral, or in his words, “Bloomberg gray” and “IKEA’d to fuck.” This is an objectively stupid business proposal, given the amount of money that the populist, hugely evil media outlet makes off of its fanbase.

There’s also the matter of Matsson’s strangeness, which involves sending bricks of frozen blood to his head of communications, who also happens to be his ex-girlfriend. Shiv, as she did on a much more egregious scale in Washington, D.C., once again finds herself advising a highly powerful and evil man on how to best avoid consequences for disturbing actions against women. Just like in Washington, Shiv is rewarded for this, as she now has a far more direct line to Matsson than either of her brothers, who royally screwed the pooch by attempting to tank the deal and failing. 

As Kendall’s Waystar Royco mania seems to only be ascending, Shiv continues to play both sides and Roman tries to keep them together, it’ll be fascinating to see how the next few weeks shake out. The only thing I’m sure of is that it won’t look good for Kendall.

Contact Colleen Secaur at [email protected].