The trace of succession: underlined or crossed out?

Logan Roy’s (Brian Cox) ruthless brilliance wasn’t immediately reversing expectations. It would be too obvious. He liked to impute doubt, to destroy people’s self-esteem and integrity, to see their morals and mental health fall apart on their own, and then, yes, reverse the game, already feeling justified. So it would come as no surprise after spending years playing on people’s ambitions and never finding a successor to match him, to leave a piece of paper that kept his friends, employees, and children guessing. Translating Logan Roy has never been an easy task.

So again, and of course, there would be some documents that it would be found to determine the future of the business. Logan never announced or would announce a replacement in his lifetime, but he wouldn’t leave his business without a planned destination. This information, when found and revealed would change the entire game quickly, but Succession is Succession and nothing is that simple. Kendall Roy’s (Jeremy Strong) name was – apparently – chosen by Logan (Brian Cox), which is a surprise given everything that happened between them starting four seasons ago, but perfect given that he underlined the name… or crossed it out. ?… impelling actions after this information is out, all surrounded by the doubts he loved to use to keep himself in charge. Did he pick or cut? Even from beyond Logan has the last laugh.

While we loved the three Roy children acting as a unit, it would never last. It’s all too easy to pull them apart and almost overwhelming for their opponents not doing it so. Shiv (Sarah Snook), pregnant and confused, is once again excluded and she seems rather collateral than expendable. Roman (Kieran Culkin) is certain he heard directly from his father that he was “needed” by the company. That leaves Kendall, who was humiliated, and exposed, but he also knew what his father expected from him, that he be a “killer”. None of the three manage to turn the game around, after all, they spent their entire lives being manipulated to doubt, distrust, and betray each other. Logan, as always, even in defeat, wins.

On the executives’ side, everyone whom Logan once considered discarding – as Roman points out – is trying to get the turn of the tide to their own benefit. Even Gerri, who knew she was being fired seconds before his death, brazenly fights for Power, even if it’s temporary. Tom (Matthew McFayden) has isolated any attempts to disguise his strategy and is also in the running. Now his apparent sweetness and submission take on terrifying connotations, including how he surrounds Shiv and knows how to wait until she gives in. Nothing discreetly, all the scenes in which he approaches anyone who can help him is at the moment of going up the stairs (Roman, Kendall), only Shiv is going down and even falling down the stairs, literally. No matter the responses he gets, including those that everyone sees clearly, it shakes Tom. He continues to use the artifice of flattery, of an apparent weakness to stay at the top. Cowards are always dangerous, they can become the only alternative while others attack each other. That’s a bet. When Tom is informed he will be a father, he will be even more reinforced in his role. Underestimating Tom was Shiv’s biggest flaw, and she knows that the moment her pregnancy becomes public, her ex-husband has new cards to get what he wants. And he will use them.

Roman, so far, is the same cocky as always, but strangely empathetic and easygoing. Maybe because we know Logan’s last words to him were “I need you,” maybe because, as he admitted, he was going behind his brothers’ backs, but he’s positioning himself well for the temporary position he shares with Kendall.

Shiv, well, is bad and worse. We now know what has been distracting her and delaying her breakup with Tom, but she is a victim of business machismo yet again. Logan did choose her once but regretted it and she repeats the exact same mistake that got her out of the chair: she doesn’t know how to shut up. Her ambition, arrogance, and lack of tact make her an insecure-looking leader, which is fatal in the midst of battle. We know that Shiv is more than technically capable, but her decisions are emotional ones. Her personal offense at seeing Kendall’s name instead of hers on the document immediately eliminates her strategic ability. Of course, she knows that there was the element that would bring – and brought – the “old” Kendall to the succession dispute, but she didn’t have the slightest tact in trying to humiliate him by questioning whether he had been underlined or crossed out of the list in front of their common enemies.

I know it’s not a popular opinion, but Shiv’s pettiness solidified Kendall’s fears. All the while she questions whether she can trust Roman or Kendall (knowing the answer is ‘no’) but neither can they trust her. That’s the thing: the Roy unit only works together as they KNOW each other wants the same thing and yet to achieve it they must work aligned as one. Shiv wastes so much energy reacting to the imponderable that she doesn’t focus on actually being able to prove to others that she is fit to lead. Tom is aware of this, waiting like a hyena to pounce on Carrion.

Instead of supporting Kendall and gaining influence over him, Shiv wanted to put Logan on her brother’s head. Kendall was quick to play: the dash can be risky, but it doesn’t write Shiv’s name on the list. Even Greg is in the suspicious paper, except for her. That is even more humiliating! Shiv missed a great opportunity by opposing Kendall again, Roman (noticeably not on that paper either) was quicker to understand the best play. Even more so knowing that Tom is connected to her, whether she likes it or not, I’m not rooting for Shiv in charge. Not anymore.

Kendall was ‘dead’ and came back to life little by little. He has been demonstrating step by step to be the most prepared of the three for the role, always grabbing control when the brothers get lost in personal nitpicking. Shiv might be outraged, but if the three of them don’t come to an agreement, the three of them lose, he reminds her. She asks them to make her name clear as part of the agreement, something neither of them obviously does. But SHE sped up the process against herself, including at least justifying Kendall to act carefully with his sister. To see if he matured professionally, Kendall’s final smile, acting like his father would have acted and been cruel to everyone behind his back was chilling.

Do you think the paper was underlined or crossed out? Sarah Snook is with Shiv. I think that regardless of date or clarity, as it was clear to Kendall, he was always the only one considered by Logan, and crossing or underlining referred to the question of what was missing to define his trait: to become a killer. He is not afraid anymore to compromise integrity. What now?


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