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SUCCESSION S4E5: “Kill List”

by Travlis Hallingquest
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There is a major character in every episode of SUCCESSION whose presence goes unsung. New York City.  NYC is the setting of a plethora of films and television shows, yet SUCCESSION presents NYC as more than just an asphalt jungle. One’s dealings with the Big Apple will vary upon class, and for the Roys, the city is their oyster, and the pearl is the late Logan Roy’s Waystar Corporation.  “Kill List” opens with Kendall Roy listening to Jay-Z’s 2001 hit “Takeover”; with taking over Waystar being exactly what Kendall has wanted his entire life. Shortly after Kendall’s arrival, the Waystar leadership is summoned by Matsson to Norway to finalize the sale of ATN. The Roys and their entourage of one percenters are leaving the city that they know like the back of their hands, to go into the rich Norwegian’s playground.

At the Norwegian retreat, the American guests are treated to a lavish brunch. Tom comments that they are all being “fattened up” for the kill. Co-CEOs Kendall and Roman board a mountain lift to meet the GoJo SuccessionS4E5_Pic2magnate on a mountain summit. On the ascent, Roman is disturbed by a text from Connor. We never see the contents of the message, but it is an image of Logan being prepared for burial. There is a concern that Marcia wants Logan buried in a kilt, which is a part of his Scottish heritage. The boys hilariously gripe amongst themselves about their father being laid to rest in something he never wore during his mogul reign. Kendall declines to view, rather than focusing on the business at hand. Both brothers are vexed that Matsson all but ordered this meeting days after their father’s death, but Kendall effectively hides emotion more than the vulnerable Roman.

After persevering Matsson’s onslaught of passive-aggressive banter, the brothers are given an offer of $144 per share on a deal originally helmed by the late Logan Roy. Ken and Roman seemingly like the proposal, until Matsson announces that he wants ATN to be thrown into the deal. ATN is not just Waystar’s media department, it was Logan’s prized possession. Although business is at hand, the CEOs have enough respect for their father’s legacy to be reluctant to place it in the hands of an outsider.


Later in the evening, Shiv and Matsson share a private conversation. Shiv finally has a way to the CEO chair when Matsson reveals he is attempting to avoid a scandal involving his Public Relations lead. Matsson slyly uses Shiv to sway her brothers to include ATN in the deal. This move cost Matsson hundreds of millions more, but Matsson will have the upper hand once the deal goes through.  Not realizing that Shiv was working behind the scenes, Ken and Rome believe that they solely closed the deal.

The most profound moment of “Kill List” occurs before the deal is closed. After Matsson says he admired “Logan even though he was a prick”, Roman snaps and severely ridicules Matsson for dragging them across SuccessionS4E5_Pic4the Atlantic and not giving the family reasonable time to grieve.  These moments allow audiences to connect with the cold, distant and privileged Roy family. The episode lives up to its title when a list of people to be let go from Waystar is generated and disseminated by Mattson. Gerri, Tom, and Carolina are the only senior management to remain at Waystar. Frank, Karl, and Hugo are the bigwigs that are given notice that their services are no longer required.

Cousin Greg is nowhere near the level of the Kendall, Roman, and Shiv trifecta. However, now that the old man is gone, he is becoming more relevant than Tom within the Roy circle. Greg has always been a wildcard and Season 4 continues to mold and shape the character into an unpredictable mercenary for the highest bidder.

One-half of the final season of SUCCESSION has transpired.  How do you feel the show is holding up after the shocking occurrence in episode three?  SUCCESSION returns Sunday nights at 9 pm ET on HBO.

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