By Kaleena Rivera | TV | April 18, 2023 |
By Kaleena Rivera | TV | April 18, 2023 |
Grief does funny things to people. So does greed. The moment it was confirmed that Logan Roy was no longer with us, any mourning was on a countdown thanks to the inevitable chaos of whatever will he left behind. In the end, one penciled underline (or is it crossed out?) on a marked-up sheet of paper shifts the battle between The Kids vs. The Old Guard. Once alliances are forged—and then quietly reshuffled—a new king is crowned. Well, two kings. Sort of.
In a series that hangs its hat on duplicity, there’s more double-speak in this episode than a snooty church function. From the elaborate jokes about “accidentally” destroying the aforementioned document, to addressing leadership capabilities, like many a will reading, civility is operating only under the barest of pretenses. Even before they begin hashing out the matter of succession, the knives are already out. Karl, in particular, is in rare form this episode, especially when Tom offers himself up as the interim CEO:
Karl: “The negative case would go, 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 squarely f*cked.”
Tom: “Jesus, Karl.”
For lovers of snark, nothing is more thrilling than seeing the return of Marcia. After what was undoubtedly a luxurious time spent out on Estranged Spouse Island, Marcia has come back for the funeral and, most importantly, to cash in on widowhood (Shiv “Death becomes her”). She manages to unload the mansion more swiftly than she likely expected, thanks to Connor’s irresponsible real estate ambitions (Marcia: “We’re family. I will be looking for between 60 and 70 million”). Of course, Marcia’s presence invites one to wonder as to Kerry’s whereabouts, a question that’s happily answered in the episode’s second half. Personally, I think the inside of a trunk, anaconda, or a sarcophagus, to borrow from Roman, would be preferable to the brutal humiliation that follows when Kerry makes the colossally bad decision to crash the wake.
Admittedly, I find the post-Logan version of Kerry to be a bit out of left field considering how poised she has been up until now, but it’s such a fun turnaround that I’m happy to overlook it. From that cringeworthy audition tape to her breakdown on the plane, Kerry’s been having a time of it as of late. Though being treated like yesterday’s trash that managed to cross its way back across the threshold is a new low—her desperate attempt to check in on her status regarding Logan’s last wishes (“He was gonna write his lawyer or something”) should keep the audience from feeling too bad for her, though Roman’s unexpected compassion toward her is rather touching. But Marcia’s disdain dwarfs his attempt to treat Kerry with a measure of dignity, and when he finally brings it up, it gives actor Hiam Abbass the opportunity to deliver one of the coldest lines in the series’ history: “We’re calling Kerry a taxi to the subway so that she can go home to her little apartment.”
Mistresses are much easier to set aside than family, however. With his eye fully back on the CEO prize, Kendall has to drum up support, but while he tries his damnedest to get his siblings back on the train, they can’t bring themselves to take him seriously. Even his frenemy Stewy is easier to get on board. After some back and forth, Shiv wants the three of them to share the crown, but Kendall and Roman manage to push her out of the arrangement thanks to an unfortunate combination of misogyny and Shiv’s lack of experience.
Shiv doesn’t have it in her to fight about it. She has no one else, so when her brothers vow to keep her as involved as possible (essentially a silent CEO) she takes the deal with no assurances aside from a hasty vow of loyalty based on tragedy they just went through together (“On yesterday”). Of course, there’s also the fact that Shiv is going to have a baby. No one knows—though Marcia shot a few interested looks toward her midsection—least of all Tom. For Shiv, who shows no sign of being interested in a reconciliation, despite that poignant scene on the stairwell, the stakes are even higher now. It stands to reason that should things go south on this agreement, she may become an even greater force to deal with.
While a tough sell at first, between That Piece of Paper and the power of a last name (Kendall is a terrible leader but he knows something about optics), the Old Guard approves the proposal to have Ken and Roman run Waystar. One final wrinkle to iron out is framing their royal ascension (Shiv: “Coronation demolition derby”) positively with Logan’s management of the company. Trashing Logan is only briefly on the table before Roman waves it off completely—attesting to the fact that despite him being gone, Roman’s love for his father remains—with Kendall in agreement.
Except that duplicity is in the Roys’ blood. A lifetime of getting one over another family member is a difficult one to shake off, even after tragedy strikes. Kendall is more like his father than he can imagine. Much like how Logan “was a man of different moods,” so, too, is Kendall. His goals change with each day but one has always remained: defeat Logan. One would think death would conquer that urge, but when Kendall orders a secret reputation hit on his father, it reaffirms that death usually does little to squelch pain. Hugo should have remembered the first rule of dealing with Roys, which is to never tell them anything you wouldn’t want to be used against yourself.
Karl: “Right, and if the message we gave was to be, you know, ‘But that the kids are—”
Tom: “Screw-ups and dipshits.”
Karl: “Maybe, uh, not constitutionally well-equipped at this point to take on the role.”
Gerri: “Look, I think you’re a corporate legend. What you did in the ’90s with cable? Huge.”
Greg: “Long live the King!”
Kendall: “Unless you want me to pull out the strap-on.”
Kaleena Rivera is the TV Editor for Pajiba. When she isn’t still quietly psyched that Karolina threw her support behind Gerri (Gerr-Bear!), she can be found on Twitter here.