(spoilers for episode 8, season 3 ahead)
This week brings the sound of wedding bells, as the gang heads to Italy to witness the nuptials of Caroline and Peter Munion (Pip Torrens) or “Onion,” as Roman keeps joking, a vegetable that earns quite the running theme in this episode. They may have been the last to know about the engagement, but their presence is required nonetheless. Guess their invitations got lost in the mail.
The episode opens with power games, Logan’s favorite pastime, starting first with a very smug Kerry asking Sandi and Stewy to cool their heels for five minutes. The only thing they love less is finding out about the GoJo acquisition after all the gears have been set into motion. But it’s too good of a deal to do anything more than be annoyed before heading on to the board meeting. A meeting that a recused Logan (due to the investigation being an agenda item) literally looms over as he stands on the other side of the glass wall watching. Even when Logan can’t participate, he will always insist on making his presence known.
A private jet trip later (so much for Sandy wrenching the PJs away from them) lands the Roys in Tuscany in time for the many planned events leading up to the wedding. Of course, there is one small wrinkle, namely that Caroline’s ex-husband and eldest son are on bad terms. But in the interest of having Logan in attendance—at the insistence of Peter, apparently—a newly shorn Kendall is asked to keep himself scarce, a request that leaves him understandably miffed. It’s bad enough that he’s been defeated at every turn, often at Logan’s hand (more often than not at his own, however), but to have his own mother turn him away in favor of her loathed ex-husband is another familial door slammed in his face.
Kendall isn’t the only one feeling touchy these days. Shiv is still feeling raw over how Roman is well on his way to being the heir apparent, so much so that she’s taken to calling into board meetings while lying in bed in her pajamas. See? The wealthy aren’t so different from you and me! Once in Tuscany and back to full, glamorous form in a blue and white halter dress, Shiv takes solace in the best way she knows how, which is being cruel to people she knows can’t do a thing about it. Shiv, along with Tom, who shares the same propensity, have a merry time poking fun at Greg punching above his weight class with Comfrey, especially when he begins to question it (Tom: “The man dying of thirst is suddenly a mineral water critic?”). Their jokes about Comfrey being his “date ladder” land with Greg, unfortunately, driving him to spend most of the episode trying to get close to a beautiful guest. Oh, Egg.
Gerri is there with Laurie (Tomas Arana), the former DOJ she’s been seeing for a number of weeks now. Of course it makes Roman just a bit crazy, especially as she’s made herself less and less available to him. In retaliation, he’s been sending her dick pics which, unsurprisingly, Gerri doesn’t find terribly enchanting. But Roman can’t spend too much time worrying about his sexual mother figure when his actual mother may find herself in trouble soon, since Peter seems like he may be skeezier than is acceptable for the youngest Roy. Although the source of his concern is less about his mother’s well-being and more about ensuring his inheritance is sound, it’s not entirely misplaced; Caroline has made zero arrangements for a prenuptial agreement (“Don’t be so unromantic!”) and the fact that Munion, a man who makes the bulk of his money off of a non-reputable string of elderly homes, stands to gain plenty should something happen to her is enough to make the normally blasé Roman nervous.
Few relationships are without their complications here. Connor, whose presidential candidacy naturally has people inquiring into Willa and her past, needs to decide once and for all how to handle it when the truth inevitably comes out. His impractical solution is to propose to her in the middle of his mother’s garden party, with Willa smiling for the many onlookers’ benefit while she asks for time to think it over. I don’t blame her. Being the public wife of a politician sounds much more constrictive than simply being the kept woman (to use the old parlance) who’s free to do what she likes.
Logan’s messy entanglement is such a huge open secret that it practically enters the proverbial room before he does. It takes a lot of guts to bring your wife and your mistress/assistant to your ex-wife’s wedding. Caroline, in one of the best lines of the episode, finds a contemptuous mirth in the whole affair, summing it up with the fable-like, “the skunk, the porcupine, and the concubine.” Say what you will about Caroline, but no one does a zinger quite like her. Shiv, Roman, and Kendall don’t just get their sharp tongues from their father. When Caroline hones her words and uses them like a weapon against someone, the wounds they leave behind are almost life-threatening. “You’re my onion,” both women tell one another, a volley that starts off as an accusation of false tears, but it’s clear that the lingering hurt here, even one that’s used as a tool of manipulation by Caroline, is rooted in aggrieved soil. Caroline clearly holds old resentments against her children, unfair though some of them may be (holding a thirteen-year-old responsible for her custody arrangement is disquieting, to say the least). Telling your adult daughter that you “probably should never have had children” the night of your bachelorette party officially upgrades your resentments from ‘petty’ to ‘traumatic.’ Caroline knows exactly what she’s doing when she follows the revelation up with the pointed pseudo-compliment to Shiv, telling her that she’s wise to make the decision not to have children and that “some people just aren’t made to be mothers.” Oof. As painful as this all is, it’s made worse by the fact that it spurs on Shiv to declare to Tom that she wants a baby. But when their dark dirty talk gives Shiv the room to tell Tom she doesn’t love him (there goes that enjoyment of hurting people), what seems like a passionate night filled with promise for the future turns into a far off and lonely fantasy as Shiv pumps the brakes on the baby talk, along with the stomach-churning clarification that “I may not love you, but I do love you.” Double oof.
Rome starts the hour feeling pretty smug about not only being instrumental in Waystar acquiring GoJo but also of emerging the victorious Roy child. But there’s a snafu in his plans, which is Matsson himself. He’s making cryptic tweets that sound like he’s making moves that have nothing to do with Waystar, which is causing his literal stock to climb upward further and further. Roman does his best to seem cool about it, but worry begins to creep in as Logan starts casting doubt on the deal. In the midst of this corporate chicanery, Kendall insists on a sit-down with Logan over dinner in an effort to bury the hatchet once and for all. There’s something pathetic about watching Roman literally put himself between Kendall and Logan, shielding his father in a twisted reversal of what the elder brother once did for the youngest when they were children.
After some consideration, Logan agrees to meet for dinner. He’s paranoid enough to suspect that Kendall has poisoned his food, and in case anyone still has any reason to wonder if there’s a bottom to Logan’s monstrousness, Logan sees to it that his grandson tries his meal first. Kendall seems more offended over his father believing his son would wish death upon him than he is at seeing Logan’s willingness to sacrifice a child to ensure his safety, but we’ve long-established that Kendall’s priorities are messed up beyond belief. Kendall finally gets to the point: he wants out of Waystar. He’s willing to be bought out in exchange for no longer having any say in the company or resulting inheritance. But in a horrible twist, Logan refuses to let him go. Despite the horrible birthday card demanding that Kendall walk away, now that it’s exactly what he wants, Logan is determined not to give it to him. If that wasn’t bad enough, Logan corrects Kendall’s assertion that he’s morally superior to him in the most painful way possible, by reminding him of the dead caterer and how in Kendall’s darkest hour, it was Logan who saw fit to use his considerable influence to cover up the situation. It goes to show that with (onion) parents like this, the Roy children never really stood much of a chance of becoming anything close to being well-adjusted adults.
With the concern over GoJo, it’s Gerri who manages to convince Roman to personally meet with Matsson to find out where his head is. Her continuing faith in him is pretty amazing, though not as amazing as her earnest command, “Do not try to f-k Laurie.” But with Roman being the closest thing she has to an ally at Waystar, she certainly has good reason to want to keep him close despite his demonic childishness, even though she’s no longer interested in having a sexual relationship with him. Once Roman meets Matsson, he comes to the realization that he’s no longer interested in an acquisition; he wants a merger, something that will put him on an even playing field with Logan. It seems like an impossible sell, but once back in New York and seated around the conference table, Logan doesn’t seem terribly opposed to the idea. He knows that he will always have the true seat of power, no matter what kind of restructuring or name change may come down the pike.
Then the text message seen ‘round the world happens.
With Logan nearly sold, Gerri gives an encouraging, “Well done, Roman,” text. Unable to tolerate any sort of earnest encouragement, Slime Puppy Roman gives in to his baser instincts by texting back, “Dinner to celebrate Gerri? Eat this,” accompanied by a d-k pic. In the world’s most unfortunate bit of timing, Logan texts him at that very moment (an extremely rare “Good work, kid”), and a slip of the finger makes Logan the recipient of that obscene message. While I’ve spent a lot of time praising Matthew Macfayden (of the ensemble, I believe he’s due more than anyone to receive formal recognition for his work), what Kieran Culkin does with his face when the wrong phone notification goes off is in itself award-worthy. Logan brings the meeting to a screeching halt.
Like a starving alley cat jumping on a porterhouse steak, Shiv leaps at the chance to cut down Roman and Gerri to Logan. She claims that Roman’s a disgusting pig (not wrong), and Gerri is clearly banking these messages for leverage (probably wrong, but I wouldn’t be mad if she did because Team Gerri). If Shiv thinks that she can get back into her father’s good graces with this embarrassing stumble, she’s mistaken, soon dismissed with a “Thank you, Pinkie.” Once Logan has Roman alone in the room, his first question is, “Are you a sicko?” It’s the closest he’s come to stumbling on the truth of his youngest son, but it’s less about the action and more of who it’s aimed at. It’s interesting (and maddening) how Logan displays a willingness to accept that Roman sending an image of his penis could operate as an insult (“Like a ‘f-k you’?”), but loses it when it seems like Roman may send them to her out of interest. “She’s a million years old,” Logan says, in what may be the most grossly hypocritical statement in the entire series. “It’s fucking disgusting.” Okay, Skunk, whatever you say. To make matters worse, Logan wants to get rid of Gerri, but Roman points out that maybe, just maybe, it might not be in their benefit to fire the woman unwittingly receiving penis pictures, especially while still in the midst of shaking off an investigation surrounding very similar wrongdoing. Out in the hall, Shiv tries to work Gerri in an attempt to bring down Roman. Unfortunately for Shiv, she continues to overestimate how clever she is, and what may feel like a diabolic plan comes off as ham-fisted. Gerri doesn’t bite, though she now has to figure out how to swim through these already shark-infested waters with a bucket of chum newly affixed to her head.
Kendall is no longer swimming. He’s completely declawed and tied to a family that’s tossed him aside. Up until now, his lack of self-awareness has allowed him to bounce back time and time again. But with no hope and no way out (not to mention a few snoopy podcasters looking into the caterer’s death), there’s nothing more for him to do than to get completely hammered. If that final shot is any indication, not only is Kendall not swimming, he seems to no longer be breathing at all.
“Is Kendall dead,” is the question we’re left to ponder as we await the final episode of this season. Personally, I don’t think so (I believe Kendall’s death would be a bit more drawn out since the death of a major character is big drama), but if that is the case, it would be a hell of a gutsy move to kill him offscreen. Next week is the wedding ceremony and the face-to-face with Logan and Matsson. It’s unclear who will emerge victorious, or even, with Kendall’s fate uncertain, who will show up at all.
A Moment of Zen With Cousin Greg:
“It’s a gut-cleansing treat.”
The Biggest Lie:
“Gotta fight Gerri and Roman and Ken, but I can ‘cause I’m smarter than them.” -Shiv
The Biggest Truth:
“You’ve won because you’re corrupt and so is the world.” -Kendall
Kaleena Rivera is the TV Editor for Pajiba. When she isn’t wishing she can hang out poolside in Tuscany (sans drowning herself), she can be found on Twitter here.
Header Image Source: HBO/YouTube