Last week, Shiv was furious at her siblings for being left out of the takeover. However, she remains an essential piece as they move forward with Matsson. The brothers take the lead, ready to extract as much value as possible from Matsson. Yet the GoJo deal means one thing for the family: they lose Waystar Royco. Will Kendall and Roman let it go now that they finally have control of the company they desperately wanted? Directed by Andrij Parekh, “Kill List” takes us to Europe.
The Recap – Succession – “Kill List”
Kendall (Jeremy Strong) returns to his rap phase from season one. As he pulls up to the stairs of Waystar Royco, he listens to Jay-Z. Hugo (Fisher Stevens) meets him downstairs. Kendall wants to leave the office quickly and head to see Matsson (Alexander Skarsgård). When Kendall gets upstairs, he receives applause from the floor. He heads in to meet Roman (Kieran Culkin), who arrived hours ago. They get ready for a briefing about a troubled production. Their blockbuster movie needs millions for reshoots. Roman asks his assistants to get Shiv. Kendall seems surprised.
Roman seems in his element, and Kendall does not. He sent a half dozen emails overnight to Roman about ways they could address Matsson. Before they continue talking, Gerri (J. Smith-Cameron) and Karl (David Rasche) arrive. They want to help with the Matsson negotiations. Shiv (Sarah Snook) and Frank (Peter Friedman) join the room just in time for Matsson to demand all high-level executives make the trip. Kendall floats the idea of not bringing everyone, but instantly the room pushes back.
Greg (Nicholas Braun) arrives on the tarmac with Tom (Matthew Macfadyen). They get ready to leave for Norway. They step into the flight and get ready for takeoff. Kendall and Roman talk about the deal, while Shiv raises the issue of an alarming number of hit pieces on Logan. Shiv seems most concerned. Kendall tells Hugo to crucify anyone who digs up dirt on their dad and returns to his documents.
While they’re studying, Roman raises the possibility of firing Tom. Shiv asks how he’s doing at ACN, and the brothers admit Tom’s doing fine. However, if she wants him gone, they’ll drop him. She does not think it’s needed, and she goes to speak to Gerri. She becomes aware that Tom is on the other side of the wall and hears the whole conversation.
Hugo and Karolina (Dagmara Dominczyk) talk about the team Matsson built. It’s full of impressive young talent, and the men are worried. Matsson kept less than 10% of a video game company he acquired. Gerri reminds them they’ve worked for Logan Roy. Matsson’s team has no idea what is coming.
The Roys ride together in a car to meet with Matsson. The guys seem very nervous, and Shiv tells them to relax. Anything they get above what was initially asked will help them with Pierce/ACN. They get on golf carts that take them to the retreat. A storm settles over their location and continues raining on everyone. Matsson invites the C-Suite to brunch.
In a gondola, Frank, Gerri, and Karl ask about the meeting. Roman and Kendall have yet to discuss it with them, and they offer pointers. The brothers assure the team there’s a plan, and Shiv jokes that “everyone has a plan until they get punched in the mouth.” They know the plan is to bring in more than $144 per share, preferably $147 or $148.
Connor (Alan Ruck) calls to talk to Roman. Marcia (Hiam Abbass) apparently wants to bury Logan in a kilt. Kendall asks if Con can handle it, and he will if he has carte blanche. The siblings agree.
At brunch, the other executives load up on food. Tom and Karolina pass, but their counterparts at GoJo walk in the door. Tom meets Oskar (Jóhannes Haukur Jóhannesson), telling him he can help with any decisions they must make. Hugo gets caught off-guard but throws shade at his rival (who just missed medaling at Sochi). Finally, Karolina tells Ebba (Eili Harboe) she’s “looking good.”
Matsson meets the Roys and the C-Suite. He bros out with Kendall and Roman while asking if Shiv will sue him for touching her. She fires back a “find out” and goes in for a hug. Matsson wonders why they brought the whole team to negotiate, immediately separating Roman and Kendall from the group.
Matsson offers his condolences and asks for them to return the favor. He clearly wants to mess with their heads, and the brothers begin talking over each other. They say $144 does not reflect their value, and Matsson disagrees. Their stock dropped 20%, but Kendall reminds him it jumped 10% on Monday. They also point out that Logan was never part of the deal, so his death does not matter. Matsson jokes he’ll buy the company for $1, and when they laugh, he also notes he wants ATN.
Roman immediately pushes back, asking why Matsson wants ATN. He refuses to tell them why. Kendall asks for a number, which infuriates Roman, but then Matsson drops $187 per share for the whole thing. They’re slightly surprised by the number, and Matsson believes they like the deal. Roman tells him they must talk amongst themselves, and they step outside.
They walk down the hall and tell the group. Gerri, Karl, and Frank love the deal at that number. They want to take it to the board, but Kendall and Roman want to speak with Shiv first. She went back down the mountain, so they set out on foot through the woods.
As they walk down the path, Roman wonders if it’s a play. If Matsson knows it’s an emotional tie to their dad, and they want to keep it, he may start lowballing them. Roman wants to go with the original plan. Shiv meets them and reports a rumor about Menchen’s campaign team having an open line to ATN. She’s worried about the optics of their credibility.
On that note, Kendall brings up that Matsson wants ATN. Shiv agrees to let it go. It’s a toxic asset anyway. However, Roman knows that Logan tried to keep it. They begin playing out the angles, with Shiv continuing to back selling the network. She wants the deal done so they can move on.
At the retreat, Tom and Greg try to game plan. Greg gives intel on Matsson’s sexual habits (it’s Leonardo DiCaprio style) and says there’s a kill list to eliminate redundancies. Tom goes in to gain more intel. Greg joins the Roys and asks what the number came in at. He tries to brand himself as part of the “quad squad.” Shiv tells him he’s an idiot.
Tom goes over and sits with Matsson. He tries to get into the conversation, and Matsson asks him for his opinion on France. Tom is initially confused, and then Matsson asks if the entire country will trend toward Greece or if they’ll be put out of their current state. Surprisingly, Greg shows up and seems to have a point of view. Matsson does not know who he is, and when Kendall vouches for him, Matsson begins making jokes about nepotism in the company.
Kendall tells Matsson to cut the shit and that what he’s doing is rude. Matsson says they’re just passing the time until Kendall counters. They jump back into it, ushering everyone else but Shiv out of the area. Roman and Kendall want to keep ATN, and Matsson says they don’t. Matsson believes he can save it.
Kendall laughs him off. Of course, he can “save” the highly influential news organization. Matsson lays out his plan to essentially make it Bloomberg News. The Roys laugh it off, telling him he does not understand the asset. Matsson makes a crack about Vaulter. Kendall and Matsson begin throwing insults, and eventually, he refers to the boys as a “cover band.” Shiv de-escalates the situation and Roman says they’ll speak to the board.
Oskar steps out and begins sending everyone to the Sauna. The younger guys try to keep up with it but struggle. Frank and Karl actively relax to ensure they end up on the list. Matsson introduces Shiv to Ebba from Comms. After Matsson uses sexist one-liners to describe her role, Ebba admits she keeps track of everything and expects to get paid off when she’s done. She walks away so Matsson can talk with Shiv. He admits he likes to mess around but wants a deal done. He asks if a deal is possible. She believes one is available.
Roman and Kendall are not happy with the deal. Kendall raises a new option: tank the whole deal. Roman feels unsure about that option, but Kendall wants to keep running the ship. Roman intends to bring Shiv into the fold, but Kendall realizes that Roman wants to do it too. They must get Matsson to push the deal overboard, or they’re dead in the water. They agree to tank it.
Shiv and Matsson drink alone from the group. He snorts drugs in front of her while she seemingly nurses a drink. Matsson asks about Karolina so he can fire Ebba. He offers to have her take a bump, and they discuss their relationships with partners. Matsson tells her that he sent a past partner a half liter of blood as a joke, and he kept doing it until it was no longer a joke. He admits that the “girl” in the situation is Ebba. Shiv advises him to stop sending people his blood, have a meeting, and not fire Ebba. She also recommends Karolina and Gerri’s help. Matsson notes Shiv is like her Dad.
Kendall gets Greg to call reporters and leak about the deal going bad. He asks Jess (Juliana Canfield) to schedule a screening of the new movie they’re working on for the next day. The siblings convene as the other board members watch the movie at the retreat.
Shiv is worried about the stories leaking, knowing it was Kendall and Greg. Roman confronts her about spending time with Matsson. She believes there’s intel, and before she finishes, Ebaa walks by. The rest of the C-Suite listens to Shiv as she speaks about a deal. Kendall and Roman pitch them $146 for everything without ATN or a premium with it. They head up the ridge.
Before she heads back up, Shiv and Tom banter. She tells him not to wear such bright shoes. He makes fun of her ears. Tom then tells her he heard about the night with Matsson. She makes fun of his physique compared to Matsson’s.
As they go up the mountain, Roman receives a picture of Logan from Connor. He becomes emotional but clears up before they meet Matsson. When they do, they talk about the movie. The brothers bring up the issues on set, but they’re figuring it out. Matsson stops the conversation and wants to know where they stand. He knows that they’re trying to tank the deal.
Roman and Kendall tell him they need to slow down. Matsson says he preferred dealing with Logan. He thinks they’re “playing Scooby-Doo with him” and that Logan would be embarrassed. He threatens to go around them to get the deal done fast. Matsson will talk to Shiv and the old C-Suite.
Roman goes over to Matsson while he pees and throws everything at him. He breaks emotionally and verbally lays into him about killing their dad. Roman tells him they will not sell to him and that he will slow walk everything to ensure it never happens. Roman hates Matsson, and if Matsson tells anyone, he will tell them it was a negotiating tactic. They walk away with the deal seemingly dead.
On the plane back, Frank gets a call from Matsson. He gives Frank a new number, ensuring Kendall and Roman know that the others hear the number. After the phone call ends, Frank spills it: $192 per share. Kendall tells them to run the numbers and take the offer to the board.
Shiv lets Tom know about the deal. He seems nervous, and then Shiv tells Tom that moves at ATN must happen. Tom asks her if she’s really going to do it, and she says yes…she will be letting Cyd go. She asks Tom to take care of it for her. Shiv then asks him to go to dinner when they get back.
Shiv gets a call from Matsson, who wants a picture of her brothers’ faces. She obliges and sends it to him. Karolina and Jess got a potentially early version of the kill list. Gerri tells the rest of the team it does not matter, but Hugo pushes. Gerri reads out the list, which includes Frank, Karl, Hugo, and the other men. Karolina, Gerri, and Tom survived the cut. Shiv tells the boys congratulations as the episode ends.
Episode Breakdown – Succession – “Kill List”
Shiv made her brothers promise to not screw her over. She ensured that today. A standout episode from Snook shows her working every angle. If the GoJo deal will happen, she wants the biggest payoff she can get. She’s the only one on the team not hung up on their father’s legacy. Roman wants ATN, and Kendall wants the whole thing. Yet Shiv works Matsson better than either of them. Blinded by their own ambition, they pass up good deal after a good deal. Shiv makes the magic happen.
Even more impressive, despite her brother’s best attempts to sabotage the whole thing, is her ability to save her actual allies. Tom, Gerri, and Karolina make it through. While Tom seems like a liability to her on some level, she also knows he’s weaker than he’s ever been. She also knows that he heard what her brothers offered her. In Tom’s mind, the only reason he survives is because of Shiv. Whether it’s an olive branch or a power move does not matter. Shiv now owns Tom in a way she had not before.
Another huge win for Shiv comes from knowing Matsson’s plans. She, perhaps better than anyone, knows that Matsson turning ATN into a “Bloomberg” only helps her. It allows PGN to have a uniquely American voice and dismembers her father’s hate machine. Along the way she gets more money and most important of all, she pushed Matsson over the top. The boys wanted to make Matsson think it was his idea to scrap the deal.
Yet Shiv laid out the playbook for Matsson to beat her brothers if they decided to pull a stunt. It remains possible that Matsson believes he would just stick it to Roman of his own free will. Sure enough, he offered so much money (to Frank in the C-Suite) that they had no choice but to take it to the board. Yet it was Shiv who alerted him that a high enough offer would always carry the day. Shiv plays this one perfectly, and it’s the best move on Succession since Tom betrayed her.
The other big winner here, surprisingly, are the women. Shiv not only ensures that Gerri and Karolina keep their jobs (pitching them to Matsson) but Ebba too. Low-key, Ebba helps Shiv sway the episode in many ways. She confirms her suspicions about the brothers showing the movie when Ebba walks out. The story about Ebba and the blood helps Shiv earn Matsson’s trust. Even her quip about knowing she will need to be compensated keys Shiv into Matsson’s ability to be manipulated by women. For a man who believes everything transactional benefits him (see Leo sex), Shiv knows that stroking his ego will push him into a macho context against her brothers. Again, she benefits.
On the other hand, Roman shows the emotional cracks in the armor when discussing his father. Shiv catches this and clocks it. While Roman believes he “pre-grieved” the resulting emotional breakdown was only a matter of time. Meanwhile, Kendall is so bad at leaking to the press, Shiv calls him on it indirectly twice in one episode. Everything about his demeanor and “fuck you” attitude spell disaster for the deal. He gives away his position and uses Greg to do the dirty work. It’s truly a wonder how they ever thought they could outmaneuver Matsson.
Based on the clip for next week, Matsson remains present. Kendall and Roman continue to break. Tom becomes a confidant for Shiv, and she seems poised to have another big episode incoming. It’s investor day, and the creatives are taking direction from Kendall. This could get very ugly very quickly.