It’s a whole new world in RoyCoLand. Bryan Cox is still in the credits, and surely we will see Logan Roy in flashbacks. But barring some Wonka-esque jump up behind the scenes that no one saw and a fake body… yeah, he dead! And ass Gerri puts it “it’s so strange being here… without him.” This leads us into a downright Shakespearean episode where everyone is scheming and deceiving in various combinations.
Our cold open is the three canon Roy siblings (poor Connor) who are going through the pre-funereal stage of grieving, each in his or her own way. Kendall is slumped down, broken. Roman brushes his teeth in denial — which will be a running gag(?) this episode. Shiv, entangled in expensive bedsheets fields a call from irony. A doctor tells her she can have that baby she was trying for with Tom.
Speaking of Tom, he’s a wounded puppy wandering around, knowing his goose is pretty well cooked. He’s “here to serve,” as he likes to tell everyone he meets, but the responses range from Kendall’s soft apathy to Karl’s brutal read. By the end of the episode, Tom’s a beaten man, too tired to even try to manipulate Greg. By the way, Greg lets his failing upwards flag fly in this episode. He chats up Marcia with oozingly Eddie Haskell-esque charm, and she seems to adore him. Throughout the episiode, the other Disgusting Brother just does whatever he wants to, from a naked grab for the throne (well, vice throne) to roasting the extended family with his outdoor voice.
We also have a mysterious Macguffin that might motor us through right to the end of the series. Frank discovers a sad little scrap of paper with Logan Roy’s possible will. It includes his pencilled intention for, among other things, well, succession. Or at least it expresses his motive for one point in time. Let’s just say that whatever is written there does not bring them joy. Karl “jokes” that it should disappear. He does not want the “Little Princess to screw it up.” I’d have thought that meant Shiv, but that underestimates his levels of casual misogyny. It’s Kendall. But is it really? Is Kendall the “little princess”? Did the team of MacBeth-ian witches of Frank, Karl, and Gerri change the name when we weren’t looking? And now the MacGuffin is a full-fledged central mystery.
Kerry, who’s been Marcia-blocked from even grieving the powerful man with whom she was having an affair, stands out as an obvious possibility. Leaving the company to Logan’s snooty mistress would duly disgust them. And it would make Kerry’s literal failure to “secure her bag” all the more tragic. We also know that for all his business acumen and stoicism, Logan is not immune to making decisions via emotion. It’s not all that far-fetched to think he would appoint his mistress in throes of… whatever. If it’s to spite his kids, all the better. But then Frank and Karl would have likely had zero hesitation about flushing that letter.
No, if they altered the document, Shiv is clearly the most likely candidate. Of his children, Shiv has clearly been his favorite. Well, he visibly hates her the least anyway. Further, if Roy is the patriarch, the king, and Shiv is his only daughter, the math checks out for “princess.” Her betrayal by the Waystar witches would also drive the narrative that Shiv is being unfairly shut out when her brothers stage the smarmiest coup.
By the latter half of the episode, Shiv is stumbling over steps, sober, and, gasp, being almost friendly to Tom. It’s a bit questionable that our scheming trio of non-Roys would prefer Kendall over Shiv. Kendall, with his drug habit, hidden murder, and general cluelessness would be easier to manipulate than Shiv. Although wouldn’t it be easier to just lose the document. And why would they leave the mysterious bullet point at the bottom that just said “Greg?” Why would they even open THAT door?
Or maybe it’s just Kendall and our narrator will turn out to have always been reliable. But what fun would that be?
Finally there’s the matter of that 4th of the three Roy kids, Connor. In a show where shrewd strategizing often gets shown up by pure luck and blood ties, it would make sense that resident Eeyore, Connor, would come out doing alright. Connor meekly asks Marcia if she would sell the aprartment Logan bequeathed her. To his surprise, he winds up with a handshake on the deed. In addition to being another notch in the gilded road of Connor, it doubles as another monument to the astounding wealth this family, this whole world indeed, blithely throws around. With a spit and a shake, a 63 million deal is done. Money, money, money, money. Some people got to have it, some people barely need it, and the top tenth of a percent toss it around with an utter obliviousness.
- The last three episode titles have all stemmed from Connor’s actions. Does that mean anything? Does anything mean anything in this crazy drama?
- “Does anyone want to take a quick look… at the china!” Frank Vernon’s misdirection skills are… not optimal.
- Karl, on the other hand, shows his teeth when Tom Wambsgans throws his hat into the leadership ring. He “channels” the potential “negative case” board response if they were to recommend him, as a “friend,” thusly: “The question they might ask is ‘you’re a clumsy interloper and no one trusts you. The only guy pulling for you is dead. And now, you’re just married to the ex-boss’ daughter. And she doesn’t even like you. And you are fair and truly fucked!”… hypothetically speaking, of course. Daaaaamn, Sledge Hammer’s got claws. Or as Tom meekly responds, “Jesus, Karl.”
- It is truly perfect that a lot of the maneuvering and machinations take place in the library. With apologies to RuPaul, the library is truly open and reading is (what?) fundamental at RoyCo/Waystar this week.
- Marcia is the winner, tearing mistress Kerry to shreds while dismissing her from the funeral. “We’re going to call her a taxi to the subway so she can go back to her little apartment.” Marcia Marcia Marcia… savage!
- Cousin Greg practically Rifftraxes the eulogy to his fellow Disgusting Brother Tom. And he doesn’t care who knows. His stage whisper is about the decibel level of a jumbo jet.
- Kendall responds to Tom’s “here to serve” mantra with, “I like you. Good luck.” It’s subtly damning. That said, I do think Kendall truly does like Tom. When he thinks of him at all. And that isn’t often.
- By the way, it’s hard to feel too too bad for Tom. Besides being somehow a both supercilious and sycophantic creep at the same time, as a white man with connections, he’s sure to land on his feet. At worst, he’ll have to get by on an eight-figure salary. Also, didn’t he pretty much allow a ton of sexual harassment at sea under his watch? Yeah, fuck Tom!
- That doesn’t mean that I’m not heavily shipping Tom and Shiv to get back together. They’re both awful hypocrites, each is getting screwed by the powers-that-want-to-be at Waystar, and, well, they just fit.
- Safely irrelevant in his dad’s grand apartment, is this a series wrap on Connor? Willa again shows she will stand by her man as she learns to love her sudden new abode. He’s not smart enough nor dumb enough to screw up his status. He will never be a player in the Roy game, but he will also never want for anything. What more is there to say? Cameron Frye has done alright for himself.
- If it is the end of the Connor clan’s storyline, I’ll genuinely miss Willa. She’s perhaps the most likeable, relatable character on the whole show. While she’ll throw slight shade at Connor turning her post-wedding trip into another stage of his futile presidential run, she still ain’t mad about touring Wisconsin, Michigan, and Ohio, or as she slyly asides it “the honeymoon states” (hey, that’s the title of the episode!!!)
- The show gives Cousin Greg his first real path to his inevitable ascendance into power when what might be a typo suggests that he COULD be second-in-command. And then the show roughly takes it away. Of course, everyone laughs when the Ol’ CG clears his throat and points at himself. He’s this close to joining the club of Kenneth the Page, Richard Splett, and others, of unlikely leaders who just make twisted sense, but alas… While some have speculated this is the end of Greg’s line, I disagree. The paper’s still out there with his name in question mark. It’s a long shot, but maybe… ?
- The Swedish coalition can only laugh when the Roys tell him they are trying to figure out who is in charge. They are right to laugh. The plan for who would succeed Logan Roy is the whole premise of the show. It’s literally right there in the name of the show. Come on, guys, you had four seasons to figure this out. You’re blowing it!