We’ve hit the halfway point of the fourth and final season of Succession, and as we previously said goodbye to the beloved Logan Roy (Brian Cox), the show is already establishing someone to take his place. Succession episode 5 boasts a beautifully cinematic corporate retreat layered with fantastic payoffs to previous episodes, a brilliant set-up for the second half of the season, and loads of the series’ iconic dry humor.
Out of the office in Succession episode 5
Once or twice during a season of Succession we leave behind the offices and high-rise apartments and head out to a foreign location for a big gathering. Sometimes these congregations take place on a yacht at sea, sometimes over in England for a wedding; but they always serve as mere vessels to conduct the same business that would otherwise be happening anyway. Sure, you could negotiate the Waystar acquisition anywhere, but why not head out for a corporate retreat deep in the mountains to give us some eye candy?
If we could hand out an Emmy to just the team involved with the production and set design of this episode, it would be well-deserved. Whether it’s beautiful overhead shots deep in the mountains of Norway, or Kendall (Jeremy Strong) and Roman (Kieran Culkin) standing by a fire overlooking the festivities below—every shot jumps right off the screen. The production quality is so incredibly high that it actually feels like you’re on this retreat with them.
What works so well about this type of episode is the “fish out of water” trope. There’s an added layer of discomfort for the characters because instead of negotiating over a cup of coffee in the office, they’re doing so in the middle of extracurricular activities of which they are completely unfamiliar. Some episodes will be remembered and studied long after the show is off-air, and Succession episode 5 this is one of them.
Also, all the outfits in this episode are sublime, from Tom’s (Matthew Macfadyen) turtleneck to Greg (Nicholas Braun) and Roman’s delightful sweater collection—hats off to the costume department consisting of Steven Bocks, Aris Bordo, and Liz Kaplan.
Lukas Matsson returns in Succession episode 5
Although this is his first official appearance in season four, this is not Lukas Matsson’s (Alexander Skarsgård) first dance with the Roy family. Lukas Mattson is the CEO of GoJo, a tech/media/streaming giant, similar to Waystar Royco, but much more modern. Lukas has been in a mad tangle with the Roy’s to purchase Waystar since before Logan’s passing. The deal was his last big project, and it’s now up to his children to get the job done.
It’s not that there was ever any doubt about his status, but Succession episode 5 works hard to establish Lukas as a real antagonistic giant. It’s clear in all his interactions that he holds the power, very similar in stature to the way Logan Roy carried himself. He is not a man to be messed with, and when he sets his mind on a deal the way he has acquiring Waystar, he won’t back down until the sale is final. A true Logan move.
During an intense negotiation meeting, Roman blasts Lukas not only for his business tactics, but for his coldhearted lack of empathy before he parts with “we’re not selling to you.” When it looks like all hope towards a deal is lost, senior executive Frank Vernon (Peter Friedman) receives a call: Lukas has bumped the offer far beyond what was expected, and the deal now seems to be inevitable.
Why would Matsson do this? It’s a glaring example of exactly how Logan Roy conducted himself throughout his entire life. Business is always personal for Lukas, just like it was for Logan. He doesn’t just want to make the most financially sound decision, he wants to eat every one of his competitors until there’s no one left to oppose him. This gargantuan offer is the first step towards a terrifying possibility in which Kendall and Roman are both forced out of the company entirely.
A shake up in the climb to the top in Succession episode 5
There is a massive amount of shakeup in our leaderboard this week, but no one climbs higher up the ranks than Shiv (Sarah Snook). Shiv puts on a masterclass in working both camps, steering her brothers toward the deal that most benefits her, while also forming a meaningful connection with Matsson. All it takes is a few minutes of lending her ear, and it looks like she’ll have him eating out of the palm of her hand.
After speculating last week that a member of the old guard could be in for a climb, one of the bigger wrenches thrown into the plans is the list of people set to be let go if the GoJo acquisition goes final. Among this list are Frank, Karl (David Rasche), and Hugo (Fisher Stevens). No one considers Hugo a legitimate threat for a serious role, but things would look a lot different at the top without seasoned veterans Frank and Karl.
There have been stronger showings from the “CE-Bro” duo of Kendall and Roman than what we see this week. Yes, the pair are in charge now, but they’re willing to tank a deal they won’t find anywhere else and put themselves in the ground just to spite Matsson. I know, spiting the competition is their fathers’ signature move; but this wouldn’t hurt anyone but themselves. They’re still properly figuring out when to bide their time, and when to strike.
Succession episode 5 is prestige TV at it’s finest
The beauty of Succession is that there doesn’t need to be a specific outcome to achieve a satisfying ending. The writing on this show is so damn good that there’s a path to the top for each and every character, and one that will be undeniably satisfying.
Jesse Armstrong and co. have earned every ounce of creative freedom we can expect to see in the second half of the season, and watching their plan unfold over the next five weeks will be nothing short of a masterpiece.
'Succession' Episode 5 Review'Succession' Episode 5 Review
- Breathtaking cinematography
- Brilliant set up for the second half of the season
- Incredibly new character dynamics forming
- We're already halfway through the final season and I don't want it to end!