Spoiler warning: This article contains spoilers for the entirety of “Succession” Season 3, Episode 6.
It’s no secret that “Succession” is inspired by the Murdoch family, from its public feuds to its Fox News parody ATN. Yet the show has never extensively covered the media dynasty’s connection to the Republican Party – that is, until now.
On last week’s episode of “Succession,” Logan’s (Brian Cox) health emergency, negotiation whiplash and Kendall’s (Jeremy Strong) hijacking of the shareholder conference unleashed a swirling vortex of chaos. Episode 6, titled “What It Takes,” picks up after the dust has settled.
Cue the trumpets: It’s a new dawn, it’s a new day, and Logan Roy is feeling good. After being temporarily disarmed by a UTI in Episode 5, the media mogul stages his comeback at a conservative political conference in Virginia. Expensive brandy and neo-Nazi banter suffuse the air as Republicans hoping to secure the party’s presidential nomination plead their case to King Logan. Although the current president dropped his re-election bid after Waystar’s news media spread rumors of his incompetence, in Episode 6, we get to see Logan flexing his political muscles for the first time.
The selection process is also a test of the three Roy children in their never-ending quest to be their father’s favorite and future heir. Throw a top-notch Greg and Tom comedy routine into the mix and you’ve got yourself a potent hour of television. Let’s dive in.
Kendall’s Downward Spiral Continues
As Season 3 continues, the relationship between Logan and Kendall’s general welfare is starting to assume the form of another famous pair of nemeses. “Neither can live while the other survives” applies to the father and son as much as it does to Harry Potter and Voldemort: one can only thrive when the other is at his lowest.
In what is becoming a pattern, Ken starts off the episode strong only to inevitably get knocked down by the end. At a run-through for his deposition with the Department of Justice, Kendall tosses out evasive answers and sarcastic one-liners (“I love sexual assault and I love to cover it up.”) But there’s bad news from his lawyer, Lisa (Sanaa Lathan): Waystar is now cooperating with the DOJ. Worse still, the papers that are supposed to incriminate Logan in the cruise ship scandal “lack some of the explosiveness it was suggested they might have.”
Kendall flips out at his lawyer, incapable of considering that he may have bitten off way more than he can chew. Lisa gracefully refrains from punching him in the face.
Rivalry on the Horizon
On the company plane (so much for no more P.J.s), Waystar’s C-suite talks strategy for the Future Freedom Summit. Logan wants to go full offensive against “The Raisin” (aka the President) for “politicizing” the cruise ship case to get even… which is actually what Waystar did to him.
Shiv (Sarah Snook) and Logan seem like they’re on better terms, until she advises him to keep Roman (Kieran Culkin) out of political strategy for the weekend. “I’m just glad we still have a company to act on behalf of…because of me,” she can’t help but add. Have none of them learned by now? Telling Logan what to do is the best way to ensure he does the opposite.
Old money Republicans mill around a gorgeous oak-paneled hall and lounge around on antique couches. Logan has nobody to impress. He sits in a chair in the middle of the crowded gathering, Airpods in, absorbed in what looks like a Nintendo Switch.
Connor (Alan Ruck) is flocked by some fans (so Conheads do exist!). His girlfriend Willa (Justine Lupe) is back after a few episodes of absence, presumably because she was busy trying to save her failed play. She spends most of the conference writing her next masterpiece in her Notes app. Later, Connor tries to pimp her out to the conference’s leader and a major Republican donor played by the great Stephen Root.
Also a fish out of water is Cousin Greg (Nicholas Braun), who doesn’t seem to understand why they’re at the conference. (“Some guy with an undercut just called me Soy Boy?” he frets to Matthew Macfadyen’s Tom. “Don’t worry Greg, it’s a nice safe place where you don’t have to pretend to like Hamilton,” he replies).
Michelle-Ann (Lisa Emond), a presidential advisor, reveals that the political situation is worse than we knew: the election is only six months away, so a candidate must be chosen by the end of the conference. She asks Logan to back Vice President Dave Boyer (Reed Birney), a “steady old plowhorse” with a lick-lipping problem.
Meanwhile, a British guy (or “Brexit pervert,” in Roman-speak) informs Roman that his mother is getting remarried to some guy he’s never heard of. Shiv and Roman call “firstborn f–er” (Kendall) to tell him that “new Dad just dropped.”
“The Prison of It All”
Greg confides in Tom about how Kendall is threatening to “burn” him for sticking to Waystar’s legal defense. Tom, who has been trying and failing all season to get Shiv to sympathize, tells Greg to worry about going to prison all the time. That way, when he forgets about it for a moment it’ll be a nice treat.
Later, in their hotel suite, Shiv half-tries to comfort her doomed husband…with sex. Tom says it’s pointless: because she doesn’t want to have a baby, it would be “like throwing so much cake batter at a brick wall.” Thanks for the visual, Tom.
That night, Tom and Greg meet up for a midnight snack at a mediocre diner as “training” for the food in prison. “Because of my physical length I could be a target for all kinds of misadventures,” frets Greg. He then bumbles through asking Tom to take all the blame for the cruise scandal, since Tom is going to prison either way. Hollow shell of a man that he is, Tom agrees.
Kendall Throws a Fit
Unsurprisingly, the deposition does not go Kendall’s way because he acts exactly like he did at the rehearsal. He throws a fit in front of everyone, including his babysitter/lawyer Lisa.
Kendall’s alarming lack of self-awareness (or people in his life who are willing to be honest with him) becomes clear when he resolves to fire Lisa. Back at his house, a bunch of groupies laugh at his jokes and hype him up. It’s genuinely sad.
Three’s a Crowd
Besides Boyer, there are two other candidates vying for Logan’s presidential endorsement: alt-right firebrand Mencken (Justin Kirk) and the nicer but blander Salgado (Yul Vazquez). Interestingly, their strategies seem to mirror those of the Roy children. Boyer kisses up to Logan by parroting his anti-Big Tech stance, a very pre-coup Kendall move. Mencken pitches himself to Roman as the only candidate exciting enough to clinch a victory from the Democrats. Salgado appeals to Shiv using reason.
The three hopefuls squabble for a bit in the social hall (Shiv: “You’re so f–ing boring”) but the real showdown takes place behind closed doors, in Logan’s suite. Shiv, frustrated that her political expertise doesn’t bear more weight, advises Logan to flip to the Democrats before settling for Salgado. She’s concerned that Mencken, Roman’s candidate of choice, will cause actual damage to the country if he wins. “You have a trophy husband and several fur coats, I think you’ll be fine,” Roman shoots back.
Connor, of course, nominates himself. “He’s got no track record!” Shiv complains. “Nothing to beat me with,” Connor says, and he’s not exactly wrong. Still, safe but dull Boyer feels like the natural choice. Logan invites him up for a chat and “jokingly” asks if Boyer will fire the deputy attorney general in exchange for his endorsement.
Elsewhere, Mencken makes his case to Roman in a wild speech. It doesn’t make much sense, but his passion sways him over. Shiv is furious when he brings him up again, but Logan goes to bed without stating his decision.
Tom Weighs His Options
Tom dips out of the strategy session to secretly meet up with Kendall at the diner, where he orders another prison-training meal, including a “large cup of room temperature water.”
Kendall tries to convince Tom that he’s his get-out-of-jail-free card – if Tom is willing to tell the DOJ that Logan signed off on the cruise ship cover-up.
Tom may not be a winner by any means, but he’s smart enough to sense that hitching his wagon to Kendall is not a winning move. “My hunch is that you’re going to get f–ed because I’ve seen you get f–ed a lot and I’ve never seen Logan get f–ed once,” he says.
On his way out, Kendall takes a picture of Tom, as if that’ll get him to change his mind. After trying to flip Shiv, Roman, Connor, Frank and Greg, Tom felt like his last hope at nabbing an ally.
Roman Bests Shiv
The next morning, Logan informs Mencken that he’s won his endorsement. Shiv barely has time to break the news to Salgado before Logan calls her over for a family picture with the new face of the Republican party.
At first, she refuses to participate. But when Logan asks if she’s “part of this family or not,” she backs down, as always. She won’t stand next to him, though. “You win, Pinkie,” Logan says – but really, she doesn’t. This is a win for Roman through and through. Whether or not that means anything in the long term remains to be seen.
“Your toilet is your stair machine, your bench, it’s your fridge, your lover, brother, priest… Oh, and also, most importantly, it’s your toilet.” – A Republican at the conference, advising Greg and Tom on best prison practices
“Looks like you were having a whale of a time, flying on the wings of white power.” – Tom to Greg after he catches him partying with some Republicans
“How do you like spelunking in the elephant’s asshole?” – Roman to Shiv, upon their arrival at the conference
“Succession” airs Sundays at 9 p.m. ET on HBO and HBO Max.