Episode 406 of HBO’s Succession begins with video outtakes of the real, non-mythic, non-PC Logan Roy. He refers to his children as his “f***ing idiot kids,” and we later see how these real moments are cut out to present Logan in a more wholesome, conventional, palatable way.
Then, in the aftermath of his tenuous deal to acquire Waystar RoyCo, Lukas Matsson meets Siobhan “Shiv” Roy on a plane, adding to a developing “will they/won’t they” dynamic. However, as we have seen, Matsson’s behavior was erratic in previous episodes.
So it’s not entirely simple to pin down a method to his madness. Kendall “Ken” Roy mentions Matsson’s tweets and drug rumors, reminding his siblings that they can still follow through on a deal with Pierce Global Media (PGM). Meanwhile, we learn that Shiv is “scheduling” her grief.
When Tom Wambsgans appears to console her, they kiss awkwardly. Why might they get together?
Not only is Shiv in a relatively vulnerable state, but the two have sort of a disjointed understanding of each other. It might be one of those things classified under “crazy enough to work.”
Succession season 4, episode 6 recap — Jeopardizing democratic institutions as a cost of doing business
In the next big moment, Roman Roy meets with Joy Palmer (Annabeth Gish), an executive at Waystar Studios. As they discuss the floundering production of a “Transformers-like action movie” about “Kalispitron,” she questions the rightward lean of Waystar — specifically, how ATN’s propping up of Congressman Jeryd Mencken (Justin Kirk) is jeopardizing democratic institutions.
Roman fires her, ostensibly over “Kalispitron,” but there’s a possibility he’s also just wanting to flex his power or may even have affinities with Mencken. It is a very Roman sort of thing.
Meanwhile, Ken is planning for a product launch of “Living+”, a luxury assisted living community. For his presentation, he wants a small prop house to promote the idea, with less than 24 hours for a practical build.
Ken has some doubters, however. Greg Hirsch says, “It’s hard to make houses look like tech ’cause we’ve had houses for a while now.”
So Ken not only has to appease the crowd but those within his inner circle.
Succession season 4, episode 6 recap — “Bitey”
Next, Gerri Kellman is upset by the news that Roman fired Joy. Roman wastes little time in firing her as well.
Interestingly, and perhaps surprisingly for some, Ken is actually okay with the firings, thinking it makes them look like mavericks who are simply “cleaning house.” Basically, these scenes sort of illustrate how people may rationalize and justify rash decisions (such as impromptu firings), as part of a corporate brand decision, rather than some flawed personal vendetta, or a mere whim.
Roman’s decision and Ken’s reaction are low-key one of the most important elements of the episode, and not just as events that happen. They reveal how pettiness can be seen as a strength.
A bit later, we get some additional unexpected psychological insights into Succession characters, when Shiv and Tom play a game of “bitey” (apparently based on a game one of the series’ writers played with a sibling). Basically, Bitey is when two people cross arms and bite the other one’s arm to see who will back down first.
A game that’s animalistic at its core, Bitey is a sign of two things: (1.) The two may be rekindling their semi-functional dysfunctional relationship; (2.) They are a little bit childish and weird. Though the two appeared to be entirely done just one episode ago, they appear more than ready to give it another shot.
Succession season 4, episode 6 recap — Iffy projections and grand visions
We also see that Ken wants to exaggerate their business numbers and is deliberately exaggerating them as “projections” to be excited about. Then, when it comes time for Ken’s big presentation on Living+, he sort of naturally falls into the role of the proverbial Steve Jobs.
Perhaps to alleviate his nerves and amp himself up, Ken walks out to a song by the rap group Public Enemy (and apparently sees no irony in that). At first, he seems nervous, stumbling with his opening lines about, “Big shoes to fill” after his father’s death.
However, some of that awkwardness subsides when a simulated Logan appears on the screen. Interestingly, it’s apparently not some AI representation of Logan, but Greg had Logan’s original promo video about Living+ edited to paint a rosier vision of finances.
Ken successfully conveys to the crowd that Living+ is supposed to be about peace of mind, fun, tech, and pharmaceutical life enhancements that sustain health and happiness. There is, however, one slight problem…
Succession season 4, episode 6 recap — What is “Doderick Macht Frei”?
Lukas Matsson does not like Living+ and offensively posts on social media: “Doderick Macht Frei”, (Doderick is the name of Waystar-Royco’s Mickey Mouse-style mascot. Don’t feel bad if you didn’t know that, because Doderick is usually only seen in, “blink and you’ll miss it”, moments.)
(Aside from a few examples, such as the first episode where Greg dresses up as the scruffy dog mascot). So, what does the “Macht Frei” part mean?
It’s a reference to a Nazi slogan (“Arbeit macht frei”) that appeared at the entrance of the Auschwitz death camp. Basically, Matsson is comparing Waystar’s assisted living proposal to a Nazi concentration camp.
When asked about the insulting tweet during his presentation, Ken adequately handles it. He also makes clear that he intends to leave financials to David Rasche (Karl Muller), to shift blame.
Lukas deletes the tweet, which is a bit of a win for Ken. Still, the implication that there’s something iffy about Living+ seems to be the main point, and that impression would likely be the character Lukas’s intent.
Also, there is something a bit cult-like about presenters like Ken seemingly offering some utopian future. Though people like to compare Lukas to real rich guys like Elon Musk (who many suggest is failing at running Twitter), it seems almost more like Ken would be the Musk/Steve Jobs personality cult figure here.
It seems that Lukas is trying to take him (and the company) down a notch, make him less full of himself, bring him down to earth, and stop the eventual distribution of special “Kool-aid” to the devout.
What are your thoughts on this episode of Succession? Let us know in the comments!
Succession season 4 episode 7 airs on May 7 on HBO.