On ‘Succession,’ everything is for sale, even family

Last night’s episode proves The Roys will put a price tag on anything.

Photograph by Macall B. Polay/HBO
Culture

When you’ve amassed enough wealth, everything in this world has a price tag, including family. On the latest episode of Succession, the Roy family made it very clear they’re willing to sell parts of their family history to keep the family business in some of the most deplorable ways.

Ever since Kendall Roy detonated a truth bomb implicating his father in the Waystar controversy at the end of Succession’s second season, the third season has seen the Roys scrambling to keep the family business in the family and out of the hands of increasingly concerned shareholders. They’ve tried to promote the pragmatic (and delectably bossy) Gerri Kellman to the role of surrogate CEO to show stability; called in favors from Logan’s BFF, the President of the United States, to get the Department of Justice off of the company’s ass; and even tried to thwart an FBI raid of the company’s New York City headquarters, equipped with nothing more than nice suits and Logan’s signature “fuck off” shield of deflection. But, with Kendall hell-bent on waging war with his father, the family has had to resort to proverbially selling off parts of their family’s integrity in order to buy some goodwill with investors. The family bond is their greatest commodity, and it’s been used with as much emotional care as flipping through Tinder.

The catch-22 of keeping outsiders from taking over the family business by letting those same outsiders see into the family hasn’t been more prominent this season than in last night’s Episode 4. A sizeable Waystar investor named Josh, played with neurotic cool by Adrien Brody, demands to meet with the warring father and son to be assured the family isn’t fractured enough to tank the company. Five minutes into the episode, Kendall and Logan join Waystar execs on a conference call to plan out the meeting, all the way down to details like arriving in separate planes and how they’ll walk into the home. When Josh sees through the facade of their union, Logan feigns affection for Kendall by calling him a “good kid,” and assures Josh that Kendall learned his business acumen from him. The detached media titan even unleashed an emotional nuclear warhead, saying that he loves his son. It takes no more than four minutes for us to find out it was all a business ploy when Logan informs the son he “loves” he’d rather be penetrated by a man in prison than to relinquish control of the company to Kendall.

For a family that almost sent Kendall to prison in season two to keep the family business in the Roys’ control, the commodification of family is one of their reflexes. In last week’s episode, Shiv and her father were so desperate to get the public on their side against Kendall that she released a statement attributing Kendall’s public defiance of the family business to his history of drug abuse, misogyny, and delusions of grandeur that only a member of the notoriously private family would know. If you remember the catatonic daze Kendall walked around with for most of season two as he returned from rehab, then you know how Shiv’s calculated exploitation of one of her brother’s darkest secrets could’ve sent him a dark path of no return. It’s probably why he told his conniving sister in last night’s episode he doesn’t see how they come back from her betrayal.

Kendall telling his sister they may never be the same again is an example of the unintended long-term consequences that a short-term trade of the family’s secrets could yield, just like the 20-year-old Robinhood trader who died by suicide after his short-term stock play turned into a -$730,000 balance. At the end of this week’s episode, after Logan and Kendall sold Josh a fabricated familial bond which broke down as soon as Logan needed a son to help him from collapsing under the heat, Kendall had to watch Josh choose parasitic Stewy Hosseini and Roy archrival Sandy Furness over the Roy family.

The family treated their invaluable family bond like a quick stock flip and could end up having to sell more of the family just to catch up to what they’ve already lost. What’s next? Kendall tells the press his sister asked her husband for an open marriage on her wedding night? Logan reveals he covered up his son’s culpability in the death of a waiter? Will one of Roman and Gerri’s erotic humiliations end up on TMZ? With the Roys fighting for their family business, everything is up for sale, including the family itself.