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‘Succession’ season 4 recap – episode 6: ‘Living+’

Jeremy Strong plays Kendall Roy in “Succession.” Episode six of the HBO series premiered April 30. (Courtesy of David Russell/HBO)

“Living+”

Directed by Lorene Scafaria

HBO

April 30

By Natalie Agnew

May 1, 2023 6:16 p.m.

Kendall Roy took a big swing, and surprisingly, he didn’t miss.

With its stint in Europe concluded, “Succession” is off to Los Angeles for Investor Day with the virtually guaranteed GoJo acquisition closing in. Under the bright Hollywood lights in episode six, Kendall (Jeremy Strong) and Roman (Kieran Culkin) are flying too close to the sun, while Shiv (Sarah Snook) continues to make power plays in their shadows. The shiny new pitch is the dystopian retirement community “Living+” and power-drunk Kendall wants the perfect stage.

Take one, the camera focuses on Logan Roy (Brian Cox). Briefly brought back from the grave in a prerecorded video, he says, “The Living+ real-estate brand can bring the cruise-ship experience to dry land” – his tone as uninspired as the green screen behind him. When asked for a more “upbeat” take, he lashes out in typical fashion, ending it with a growled, “You’re as bad as my fucking idiot kids.” Kendall smiles in response and asks to play it again.

[Related: ‘Succession’ season 4 recap — episode 5: ‘Kill List’]

In a last-ditch attempt to convince the others to back out of the deal, Kendall and Roman voice their concerns about the “meltdown, human Chernobyl” Lukas Matsson (Alexander Skarsgård). The problem is they are not buying it, especially Shiv. Telling her brothers to lie to her, she confronts them with the truth that they are ineptly attempting to “fuck the deal.”

Crafting his theatrical pitch in a frenzied, self-obsessed state reminiscent of “Too Much Birthday,” Kendall’s new rule is “No one can say no.” He wants a castle in the clouds, “Les Misérables” style, quite literally a Living+ house on the stage with clouds, built in a day. The sky isn’t even the limit – he wants to rocket price estimates to the moon to tank the deal. By Kendall’s rambling reasoning, if the price estimate of Waystar is too high, Matsson won’t be able to purchase it.

While Kendall fixates on the pitch to “live more forever,” Roman is legitimately firing everyone in sight. Though the co-CEO was sent to “sprinkle some sugar” and smooth things over in a meeting with head of Waystar Studios Joy Palmer (Annabeth Gish), Roman becomes flustered with her line of questioning on ATN’s rightward leanings and fires her instead. But it doesn’t stop there. Gerri (J. Smith-Cameron) grills him about his impulsive decision, characterizing him as “a weak monarch in a dangerous interregnum.” And just like that, Roman fires Gerri.

Playing a game of “Bitey” at the investor reception, Tom (Matthew Macfadyen) and Shiv are somehow getting along and causing each other pain in a bizarre, childlike game. The image reflects the depiction of their relationship thus far – she hurts him, and he hurts her, but this time there is a mutual destruction agreement. Later in a discussion about her relationship with Matsson, Tom urges Shiv to be wary of feigning loyalty to opposing sides.

“Succession” is at its most memorable in quiet human moments, and their fascinatingly honest discussion delivers that slice of complex reality in this episode. His career, money, suits and watches: Tom lists all that he loves and prioritizes over their relationship, and Shiv is no different. “Come and live with me in a trailer park,” he bitterly jests at the thought they would give up everything for love. Shiv joins him in laughter, the two at more of a blunt understanding than they have the entirety of the series.

But when Shiv returns to the scene of Investor Day, there is cause for concern, to say the least. Kendall has that “gleam in his eye” and has pressured the finance guy Pete to “go explosive” with the numbers. Even though he scrapes the overindulgent set for a conventional slide format, Roman is starting to envision the mortifying trainwreck to come.

Fumbling out an explanation about how he does not have the talent to sell the product, Roman is out. Kendall dons his custom flight jacket but will have to launch the product without his co-pilot. Further walking the narrow corridor toward the stage, he collides with another reality check. Karl (David Rasche) reminds Kendall that he knows his secrets and is all too willing to disclose them.

[Related: UCLA releases part 1 of 2023 Hollywood Diversity Report]

Putting it lightly, the product launch is evocative of “L to the OG,” and as Roman puts it, “If I cringe any harder, I might become a fossil.” To start, Kendall stumbles through the icebreaker “big shoes,” not once, not twice, but four times, and says, “It says here on my words,” instead of reading the teleprompter. The scene only gets more agonizing when he begins a conversation with the edited-prerecorded video of his father on screen in the “strangest double act ever.” But in a series where the audience is constantly prepared for Kendall’s downfall, it does not come.

Kendall proceeds to ride “the bullshit unicycle” to the moon and give a competent pitch of Living+ as entertainment and security that will “last forever.” Even a malicious tweet from Matsson does not derail him, and Kendall does succeed in catapulting the company’s stock value. Although, the price of success is potential fraud, which he seems to forget. Concluding the 60-minute episode, he dives under a wave headfirst and floats, an oddly hopeful image of the tragic character.

Kendall is reborn in the ocean, but given the history of “Succession,” this phoenix may go up in flames.

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