Spoiler Alert: This recap is for people watching Season Three of Succession, which airs on HBO in the US and Sky Atlantic in the UK. Don’t read on unless you’ve watched episode seven.
Kendall’s big 4-0 turned out to be a big no-no. Here’s your full postmortem for episode seven, titled Too Much Birthday…
(Cruci) fix it up, look clean
At least he didn’t rap this time. We opened with Kendall (Jeremy Strong) rehearsing her portrayal of Billy Joel’s Honesty – later picked up by Beyoncé – for that night’s birthday party. More worryingly, it was a high profile performance involving the messianic Kendall hoisted high on a cross.
The venue was a shiny, warehouse-style conference space. Because nothing says unbridled hedonism like escalators and glass walkways. He went through the guest list with his accomplices, pretending he didn’t care about the “brothers and sisters” coming. This party was to become “highly egalitarian”. Hence the heavily supervised VIP area.
“The Waystar Two are free”
At the top of the Royscraper, Tom Wambsgans (Matthew Macfadyen, this season’s MVP) roamed federal prisons, while the management team debated the acquisition of tech company Gojo, a deal first mentioned by Kendall in episode four. The discussion escalated into another feud between Shiv (Sarah Snook) and Roman (Kieran Culkin). With Kendall sidelined, her younger siblings seeking supremacy have become the default setting.
First, however, sparkling wine was served. Gerri Kellman (J Smith-Cameron) had heard from his contacts at the DoJ that Kendall had exaggerated the explosiveness of the offending documents. Waystar risked getting off with a hefty fine, with no jail time. Tom could close those browser tabs. He was not going to jail. “I’ll remember that,” Logan (Brian Cox) growled. Tom offering himself up as “blood sacrifice” might still prove to be a clever game.
It’s no longer “Terminal Tom,” he celebrated by visiting his cousin Greg (Nicholas Braun) in his broom closet. He began to turn over Greg’s desk and cathartically vandalize his desk, before kissing her on the forehead. Tom couldn’t enjoy the moment without making it strange.
The Gojo chord has lost its mojo
Small problem: the founder of Gojo, Lukas Matsson, instead sent “sherpas” to the meeting. Furious Logan insisted the deal was canceled and PA Kerry (Zoë Winters) stepped in: “He thinks he’s a genius but he made a good piece of tech. Fuck him. It was now admitted that Logan was having an affair with Kerry. Just the 50-year age gap, then.
Logan allowed Vice President Frank Vernon (Peter Friedman) to consider buying rival news giant Pierce in what looked like a backslid move. Matsson was scheduled to attend “Kenfest” that night, so Shiv and Roman agreed to go court him. Logan gave messenger Romulus an envelope for Kendall. Something told me it wasn’t a Purple Ronnie card.
The famous KEN
Time to party! To enter, so to speak, the guests walked through a pink tunnel of “vulvar art”, which did little to help Roman’s oedipal issues. The concept was a journey through Kendall’s life: from nursery to childhood (He-Man lunch boxes, rebuilding his treehouse), to her media career and the fire at Dad’s office. He was especially proud of a gallery of fake newspaper pages. Connor took umbrage at his title – “Connor Roy elected president (to shit his own bag)”, referring to dirt on a camping trip – and demanded that it be removed.
It was a ride in a theme park around Kendall’s unfortunate upbringing. I don’t understand why Zadie Smith and Chuck D didn’t show up. Even Josh (Adrien Brody) or Stewy (Arian Moayed) couldn’t find a place in their iCals.
Greg got comfortable with Comfry
All the series, Greg Sprinkles gave Kendall’s PR assistant Comfry (Dasha Nekrasova) a soft eye. Tom told Greg she wasn’t in his league, “It’s like a haunted scarecrow asking Jackie Onassis out. She is a goddess and you are a 9 foot Cro-Magnon man. Thanks for the pep talk, winger.
The ardor of the leggy prince cooled further when Comfry warned that she may have to orchestrate a smear campaign against him as part of the legal battle. Greg became a gallant gentleman (“Thank you kindly, beautiful maiden”), remembering the Senate hearing of season two (“If it must be said, this is so”).
When a bitter Kendall warned Greg to sue an employee, Greg simply hit a large screen showing the host’s image. It was becoming a John Hughes film. Luckily, steeped in the festive spirit, he asked anyway and Comfry said yes – partly like two fingers up to Kendall. Greg admitted that his acceptance might have been due to “resentment or annoyance,” but was too ecstatic to care. Where’s John Cusack with a boombox when you need him? All he had was Tom, enjoying a cocktail of happiness, envy and bad drugs.
Kendall was the host with the least
Kendall was already vibrating with tension. The wheels came loose when he opened that envelope of his father. A birthday card had the message “Cash out and fuck off” along with a stock purchase document to sign, buying Kendall from Waystar for $ 2 billion. Kendall shook him off like a “mindfuck trojan.” Girlfriend Naomi Pierce (Annabelle Dexter-Jones) suggested he take the money, but he was way too involved in the family psychodrama.
When Kendall realized his siblings had only come to court Matsson, the injured host refused to let them into his VIP cabin and chatted to him himself. We finally met “the Odin of coding”, interpreted by Alexander Skarsgård as a surly techbro only interested in the three Ps: “Intimacy, pussy, pasta”.
Next comes an awkward exchange between Ken and his ex-wife Rava (Natalie Gold). Rava told Kendall that their children had given him a present, but when he looked for it, it hadn’t worked. She also advised him to take the buyout – in part in hopes that Waystar would stop sending his henchmen to dig for dirt on his parenthood.
Ken doll started seeing her car crash in slow motion from a social gathering for what it was. He desperately suggested “saving the mood” by lassoing Springsteen or flying a jetpack through the retractable ceiling, but all to no avail. He sweated the little things, demanding the DJ to play his approved playlist and becoming oddly obsessed with Connor’s refusal to take his coat off. Kendall told her team that it “shouldn’t look like an asshole’s birthday party” – although that’s precisely what it was. He canceled the pint-sized Tiny Wu-Tang Clan tribute and ended his plan to crucify Billy Joel. “It’s a fucking relief,” PR consultant Berry (Jihae Kim) said with flawless comedic timing.
Our host headed to the gift suite to find her children’s missing gift. After frantically rummaging through the heap like a spoiled child on Christmas morning, he ends up sobbing on the floor: “This is so pathetic. I would like to be … home. Oh, Ken.
Sealed with a piss
Roman made his way through the treehouse to find Matsson. Playing on his phone like an oversized teenager, Matsson asked bluntly, “When will your father die?” He had reservations about the prospect of a Logan battle toad, but Roman assured Matsson that his company would maintain a separate corporate identity and that all communication with Waystar would go through him. Waystar’s legacy content library and Gojo’s killer streaming app was a perfect match in media heaven.
Roman suggested sealing their deal by pissing on the much-maligned StarGo platform – a move that appealed to Matsson’s childish side. They put Roman’s phone in the urinal, opened the app, and Matsson “streamed” to the landing page, which still loaded two minutes later. The sneering pair shook hands (unwashed).
The scene continued the urinary theme of the past few weeks – seeing Logan “piss crazy” a fortnight ago and Connor bragging last week that he “pissed with a political laser.” In fact, Succession’s ringing fixation dates back to its very first episode, with Logan continuing to pee on Kendall’s office carpet and protesters bombarding him with plastic bags full of stuff. Something you want to tell us, Jesse Armstrong?
Wild boar on the ground: anniversary edition
What was the most heartbreaking? The missing gift or the push? Inflated with success and in full evil pixie fashion, Roman goaded his siblings. Shiv was seething with rage at being left out of Kendall’s redemption movement, gulping down vodka, taking off his shoes and dancing his demons. Roman dubbed her “the sugar plum failure dance” and accused her of being secretly disappointed that Tom wasn’t in jail, which meant that she should always “share his apartment with the old meat cabinet ”. Probably some truth in there.
As Naomi led Kendall outside, Roman turned to the broken birthday boy. He freely admitted that Waystar was spying on Kendall’s children and when Shiv said he had crossed a line he dismissed them as “stuck assholes who can’t stand to see me win.” Finally, Roman pushed Kendall off at the start, again letting him crawl on the floor.
We left Kendall on the balcony of her apartment, wrapped in a childhood blanket. For 25 sad seconds, the camera lingered on his haunted face. His party had pooped. His trial and his self-delusion collapsed. I worry more and more for his well-being. Too many birthday indeed.
The heir apparent
Roman continues his ascent after putting the Gojo Accord back on track. The problem is, it makes him unbearable.
Line of the week
Party host Kendall smugly asked her siblings, “Who’s not here?” To which they replied: “Your father, your mother, your wife and your children, true friends.” “Brutal.
Notes and observations
- The party’s playlist included J Hus, Meat Beat Manifesto, Chemical Brothers, Dizzee Rascal and Skepta – a strong performance for British artists.
- The director of the episode was Lorene Scafaria, best known for the all-female crime film Hustlers.
- It was Kendall’s 40th. It turns out that her mother’s fiancé “has been hanging around for 40 years.” No wonder commentators predicted a bombshell that Kendall’s biological father isn’t Logan – it’s Peter Munion.
Join us next Monday for a dysfunctional family trip to Tuscany. In the meantime, Tiny Wu-Tang Clan, please leave your thoughts and theories below.