Read: The bodily horrors of ‘Succession’
Shiv (Sarah Snook) pulled a ghoulish inverse of that same maneuver. At the family meal, she listed reasons why Tom, her own husband, would make a good patsy—even though behind the scenes she’d lobbied Logan to offer up her brother Kendall. Her going after Tom clearly pushed him to the brink, and now, worryingly for Shiv, he may no longer be submissive to her or her father. So why’d she do it? One theory: Because Shiv thinks she’s supposed to perform tough talk, even while she’s supposed to protect her husband.
It’s typical Shiv confusion. Even after trying to prove she could be Logan’s successor all season, she still hasn’t decided if she’s an antihero or not. As my colleague Sophie Gilbert notes, deep down her slogan appears to be, “I literally don’t give a fuck.” But in her one-on-one with Logan, she refused to outright say who she thinks the sacrifice should be—even though she’d already pushed for Kendall, and even though she’d pleaded that it not be Tom. When Logan pressed her, “So what do you think?,” in the middle of a discussion of her thoughts, it was a request for clarity. She nevertheless evaded giving a final answer.
Kendall, meanwhile, has crafted a persona around the appearance—and only appearance—of straight talk. Management textbooks and Wall Street patter course through his speech patterns, but his old frenemy Stewy (Arian Moayed) exposed the worthlessness of his Gordon Gekko shtick. “You need to fucking make it work, or I will personally fucking destroy you,” Kendall said when Stewy refused to cut a deal. “I will come to you at night with a fucking razor blade and I will cut your—”
Stewy finished the threat: “… dick off, and then push it up your cunt until poo poo pops out of my nose hole. It doesn’t matter. It doesn’t mean anything!”
He’s right. Money, not operatic nastiness, will drive this negotiation. But Kendall blusters this way because he has misinterpreted the lesson that his father reiterated in this episode: “You have to be a killer.” Kendall’s version of business ruthlessness has been, to this point, in vulgar words rather than deed.
That changes now, though. In the gasp-worthy final moments of the season, Logan sent Kendall to go on TV and claim culpability for Waystar Royco’s misdeeds, and Kendall used the opportunity to instead pin blame on his dad. This betrayal was a display of moral clarity aligned with self-interest: the work of a man who’s been broken down into nothing and realizes he can reconstruct himself into the killer he’s always wanted to be. The statement that Kendall read was tellingly brisk and cogent, though it did contain a few fun bits of excessive rhetoric. “The notion that [Logan] would have allowed millions of dollars in settlements and compensations to be paid without his explicit approval,” Kendall said, “is utterly fanciful.”